For scholars who have studied it, as for many Americans who experienced it firsthand, Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal has long represented a turning point in the modern history of the United States. More than simply a bold program of political change, it marked a critical departure in the governing principles, institutional arrangements, and policies that shape American life.
In this collection of original essays, a distinguished group of political scientists and historians reevaluate the legacy of the New Deal, showing how Roosevelt and his allies forged an enduring public philosophy—modern liberalism—that redefined the relationship of government and governed. Adapting broad principles from the past to the unprecedented circumstances of a worldwide depression, the New Dealers shifted American politics away from its traditional emphasis on self-reliance, private property, and decentralized power. In its place they advocated a new "economic constitutional order"—in effect, a new social contract—in which the government guaranteed protection to individuals against the uncertainties of the marketplace.
Although the contributors differ in their assessment of the successes and failures of New Deal liberalism, all agree that its implications for American political life were profound and far-reaching—in the realm of foreign as well as domestic affairs, for the theory as well as the practice of government. Taken together, the essays offer a fresh look at the many ways the New Deal, in Harry Hopkins's phrase, "made America over."
In addition to the editors, contributors are William E. Leuchtenburg, Marc Landy, Nelson Lichtenstein, Donald R. Brand, Jyette Klausen, Suzanne Mettler, Ronald Story, Seyom Brown, and Morton Keller.