Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-846f6c7c4f-86qbt Total loading time: 0.33 Render date: 2022-07-07T09:46:48.827Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

“The Spice of the Department Store”: The “Consumers' Republic,” Imported Knock-Offs from Latin America, and the Invention of International Development, 1936–1941

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 July 2012

Augustine Sedgewick
Affiliation:
University of South Florida

Abstract

Major recent work in US history has credited the New Deal with a dubious double legacy. One group of historians has shown how Roosevelt's domestic policies subsidized the consolidation of a political economy and culture of mass consumption, while another has described how his foreign policies generated the strategies and institutions of neoimperialism. Scholars have analyzed these developments in isolation, but this essay demonstrates that they were linked and synergistic. Working from the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to the nascent program for multilateral international development, it argues that an integrated complex of New Deal domestic and foreign policies harnessed the rise of the United States as a “consumers' republic” to the forms of imperialism refined in Latin America in the thirties and forties and deployed globally after the war. This policy complex rationalized the global production of US mass-consumer prosperity, displaced the costs of the Keynesian rehabilitation of US capitalism abroad, and evolved to regulate the metabolism between domestic mass consumerism and international hegemony after 1945.

Type
Labor and Global Commodities
Copyright
Copyright © International Labor and Working-Class History, Inc. 2012

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

1. Ekbladh, David, The Great American Mission: Modernization and the Construction of an American World Order (Princeton, 2009), 7273Google Scholar.

2. Carl Spaeth to William Machold, May 10, 1941, General Records of the OCIAA, Central Files (OCIAA:CF), U.S. National Archives Record Group 229.2, Box 148, Folder: Development Program of IADC; “The Inter-American Development Commission,” n.d., OCIAA:CF, 229.2/127/Creation of the IADC; Rovensky, Joseph C. and Patterson, A. Willing, “Problems and Opportunities in Hemispheric Economic Development,” Law and Contemporary Problems 8 (Autumn 1941): 661664Google Scholar.

3. Green, David, The Containment of Latin America: A History of the Myths and Realities of the Good Neighbor Policy (Chicago, 1971), 5984Google Scholar.

4. Steward, Dick, Trade and Hemisphere: The Good Neighbor Policy and Reciprocal Trade (Columbia, MO, 1975)Google Scholar.

5. List: Don Francisco to Paul Nitze, September 4, 1941, OCIAA:CF 229.2/147/Consumer Goods Available for Import from O.A.R.; quotation: “Means to Increase the Importation of Manufactured Goods from Latin America,” November 9, 1939, Records of the Executive Committee on Commercial Policy (ECCP), USNA RG 353.5.7/42/Minutes and Documents 1939.

6. On the first point, Cohen, Lizabeth, A Consumers' Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America (New York, 2003)Google Scholar, and note 9 below. On the second, Grandin, Greg, Empire's Workshop: Latin America, The United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism (New York, 2006), 3339Google Scholar.

7. Ferguson, Thomas, “From Normalcy to New Deal: Industrial Structure, Party Competition, and American Public Policy in the Great Depression,” International Organization 38 (Winter 1984): 4194, quotations: 62, 89CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

8. Gardiner Means quoted in Jacobs, ‘Democracy's Third Estate’: New Deal Politics and the Construction of a ‘Consuming Public,’” International Labor and Working-Class History 55 (Spring 1999): 34Google Scholar; Brinkley, Alan, The End of Reform: New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War (New York, 1995)Google Scholar; Cohen, , Consumers' Republic; Jacobs, Pocketbook Politics: Economic Citizenship in Twentieth Century America (Princeton, 2005)Google Scholar.

9. Williams, William Appleman, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy, 50th Anniversary Ed. (New York, 2009), 162190Google Scholar; Gardner, Lloyd, Economic Aspects of New Deal Diplomacy (Madison, WI, 1964)Google Scholar; Green, Containment; Smith, Robert F., “The Good Neighbor Policy,” in Watershed of Empire: Essays on New Deal Foreign Policy, ed. Liggio, Leonard P. and Martin, James J. (Colorado Springs, 1976)Google Scholar. Rock, David, “War and Postwar Intersections: Latin America and the United States,” in Latin America in the 1940s: War and Postwar Transitions, Rock, , ed., (Berkeley, 1994), 1540Google Scholar, mirrors the argument from the Latin American perspective.

10. Generally, Ferguson, “Normalcy to New Deal”; Gardner, Economic Aspects, 194–205.

11. “Report of the Committee on Commercial Policy,” December 22, 1933, ECCP, 353.5.7/41/Minutes and Documents 1933.

12. Quotation: Gardner, Economic Aspects, 194–199; for a more detailed bureaucratic taxonomy, Green, Containment, 59–84.

13. See for example George Magalhaes to Nelson Rockefeller, December 12, 1941, OCIAA:CF, 229.2/127/Oreamuno-Magalhaes—Trip to Mexico.

14. Paulsen, George E., A Living Wage for the Forgotten Man: The Quest for Fair Labor Standards, 1933–1941 (Selinsgrove, PA, 1996), 6881Google Scholar; Lasser, William, Benjamin V. Cohen: Architect of the New Deal (New Haven, 2002), 7780Google Scholar.

15. “S. 2475 as Introduced by Mr. Black, May 24, 1937,” Collected in Fair Labor Standards Act 1938, Volume 2, US Federal Legislative History Library, HeinOnline, http://heinonline.org/; (accessed March 8, 2010). Emphasis added.

16. Compare “S. 2475 as Introduced by Mr. Black, May 24, 1937,” p. 8, to “House Report 7200 as Introduced by Mr. Connery, May 24, 1937,” p. 8. Collected in Fair Labor Standards Act 1938, Volume 2, US Federal Legislative History Library, HeinOnline, http://heinonline.org/; (accessed 8 March 2010). Emphasis added. See also, US Senate Committee on Education and Labor, and House Committee on Labor, Joint Hearings on S. 2475 and H.R. 7200, Parts I-III: June 2–22, 1937, 75th Cong., 1st sess., (Washington, 1937), 44.

17. Paulsen, A Living Wage, 98–130; also Fraser, Steve, Labor Will Rule: Sidney Hillman and the Rise of American Labor (New York, 1991), 391412Google Scholar.

18. Joint Hearings, 75–77.

19. Testimony of Sidney Hillman, Joint Hearings, 955–958.

20. Statement of Harvey Wilson, Joint Hearings, 509.

21. Butler, Michael Anthony, Cautious Visionary: Cordell Hull and Trade Reform (Kent, OH, 1998), 163180Google Scholar; “The Trade Agreements Program: A Recommendation by the Committee on Trade Agreements,” September 8, 1937, Records of the Interdepartmental Committee on Trade Agreements, Committee Meeting Minutes, USNA RG 353.5.7/5/Volume 21.

22. Minutes, June 14, 1937, ECCP, 353.5.7/41/Minutes and Documents 1937.

23. Minutes, June 18, 1937, ECCP, 353.5.7/41/Minutes and Documents 1937.

24. Minutes, June 25, 1937, ECCP, 353.5.7/41/Minutes and Documents 1937.

25. Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, Public Law 718, 75th Cong., 3d sess. (June 25, 1938).

26. Compare “S. 2475 as Introduced by Mr. Black, May 24, 1937,” and “S. 2475 as Reported to Senate, July 6, 1937.” Collected in Fair Labor Standards Act 1938, Vol. 2, HeinOnline, http://heinonline.org/; (accessed March 8, 2010). Emphasis added.

27. See “Speech of Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins in Opening the World Textile Conference, Washington, DC,” April 2, 1937, Box 49; and Frances Perkins, Untitled Address at ILO Conference, June 1938, Box 50, both in Frances Perkins Papers, Columbia University, New York, NY.

28. Ferguson, “Normalcy to New Deal,” dates this shift to 1934, but the trade program was then still in its most conservative, conventional phase.

29. For the domestic shift, see Brinkley, End of Reform.

30. “Speech of … Frances Perkins in Opening the World Textile Conference.”

31. Gardner, Economic Aspects, 194–213.

32. As Williams notes, citing Gallagher and Robinson's concept of free-trade imperialism: Tragedy, 173–175.

33. Maier, Charles S., “The Politics of Productivity: Foundations of American International Economic Policy after World War II,” in Between Power and Plenty: Foreign Economic Policies of Advanced Industrial States, ed. Katzenstein, Peter J. (Madison, 1978), 45Google Scholar.

34. Green, Containment, 59–84.

35. Olson, Paul R. and Hickman, C. Addison, Pan American Economics (New York 1943), 364369Google Scholar; Wickizer, V.D., The World Coffee Economy (Stanford, 1943), 173Google Scholar.

36. To Jones and Pierson, August 3, 1940, Records of the Office of American Republic Affairs, Miscellaneous Memorandums, 1/4/38 to 9/12/47 (OARA:MM), USNA RG 59.3.3, Box 64, Folder: Economic Cooperation—Vol. 1, January 1940—November 15, 1940.

37. “An Economic Program for the Americas,” June 10, 1940, OARA:MM, 59.3.3/64/Economic Cooperation—Vol. 1, January 1940-Nov. 15, 1940.

38. To Jones and Pierson, August 3, 1940.

39. Cordell Hull quoted in Williams, Tragedy, 163–164.

40. Rovensky and Patterson, “Hemispheric Economic Development,” 661–662.

41. “The Position of Agriculture in Inter-American Trade Relations,” November 9, 1939, ECCP, 353.5.7/42/Minutes and Documents 1939.

42. Minutes of the General Advisory Committee of the Division of Cultural Relations, May 9, 1941, Records of the Interdepartmental Committee on Cooperation with the American Republics, USNA RG 353.3/29/General Advisory Committee Minutes.

43. Green, Containment, 102–103.

44. Magalhaes to Rockefeller, December 12, 1941.

45. “Year's Gains Made in Latin America,” New York Times, January, 4 1937, 62.

46. LaFeber, Walter, The New Empire: An Interpretation of American Expansion (Ithaca, 1963), 112121Google Scholar; Green, Containment, 44–48.

47. “The Inter-American Development Commission.”

48. To Jones and Pierson, August 3, 1940.

49. Rovensky and Patterson, “Hemispheric Economic Development,” 662; Hanson to Friele, March 20, 1941, OCIAA:CF, 229.2/148/Developmental Program of IADC; Gardner, Economic Aspects, 195; Green, Containment, 74–80.

50. Maxfield, Sylvia and Nolt, James H., “Protectionism and the Internationalization of Capital: U.S. Sponsorship of Import-Substitution Industrialization in the Philippines, Turkey, and Argentina,” International Studies Quarterly 34 (March 1990), 57CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

51. “Means to Increase the Importation”; and Boris, Eileen, Home to Work: Motherhood and the Politics of Industrial Homework in the United States (Cambridge, 1994), 201301Google Scholar.

52. U.S. Tariff Commission, Post-War Imports and Domestic Production of Major Commodities (Washington, D.C., 1945), 12151219Google Scholar.

53. Dietz, James, The Economic History of Puerto Rico: Institutional Change and Capitalist Development (Princeton, 1987), 224226Google Scholar.

54. Boris, Eileen, “Needlewomen Under the New Deal in Puerto Rico, 1920–1945,” in Puerto Rican Women and Work: Bridges in Transnational Labor, Ortiz, Altagracia, ed. (Philadelphia, 1996), 3354Google Scholar.

55. “Means to Increase the Importation.”

56. Eckes, Alfred E. Jr., Opening America's Market: U.S. Foreign Trade Policy Since 1776 (Chapel Hill, 1995), 147157Google Scholar.

57. Magalhaes to Rockefeller, December 12, 1941.

58. Hoganson, Kristin L., Consumer's Imperium: The Global Production of American Domesticity (Chapel Hill, 2007), 156Google Scholar; quotation, 22–23.

59. Finley to Collado and Duggan, November 1, 1939, OARA, Memorandums Relating to General Latin American Affairs, 1/4/37 to 12/31/47 (OARA:GM), USNA RG 59.3.3/3/June 1939 to December 1939, Volume I.

60. “The Inter-American Development Commission.”

61. Charles E. Egan, “Demand Growing for Latin Goods,” New York Times, June 9, 1940, F7.

62. “Means to Increase the Importation.”

63. Heinus, Frank, Latin American Trade: How to Get and Hold It (New York, 1941), 8586Google Scholar.

64. “IADC M.A.S. Bulletin No. 5,” n.d. [1940–1941], OCIAA:CF, 229.2/128/M.A.S. of the IADC.

65. “Store Agents Close Office,” New York Times, June 10, 1939, 24.

66. “To Develop Resources for Latin Merchandise,” New York Times, January 21, 1941, 37.

67. “Shows Latin Goods,” New York Times, October 11, 1940, 32.

68. “In pottery, glassware, fabrics, etc.…,” n.d. [1940–1941], OCIAA:CF, 229.2/128/M.A.S. of the IADC.

69. “In pottery, glassware, fabrics, etc.”

70. U.S. Tariff Commission, Post-War Imports, 1244–1251.

71. Machold to Nitze, August 11, 1941, OCIAA:CF, 229.2/148/Developmental Program of IADC.

72. “Project Evaluation Report: M.A.S. of the IADC,” November 2, 1944, OCIAA:CF, 229.2/128/M.A.S. of the IADC.

73. Also see Frank, Dana, Buy American: The Untold Story of Economic Nationalism (Boston, 1999), 56101Google Scholar.

74. McQueen to Phipps, August 12, 1941, and McQueen to Phipps, August 15, 1941, both OCIAA:CF, 229.2/128/M.A.S. of the IADC.

75. Ibid.

76. Memorandum of Conversation: Beulac and Briggs, 28 November 1939, OARA:GM, 59.3.3/3/June 1939-December 1939, Vol. 3.

77. Machold to Nitze, August 11, 1941, OCIAA:CF, 229.2/148/Developmental Program of IADC.

78. Soule, George et al. , Latin America in the Future World (New York, 1945), 176177Google Scholar.

79. Rovensky and Patterson, “Hemispheric Economic Development,” 666.

80. Merson to Spaeth, October 8, 1941, OCIAA:CF, 229.2/134/Reports Misc.

81. Spaeth to Machold, April 7, 1941, OCIAA:CF, 229.2/148/Development Program of IADC; Soule, et al. , Future World, 182185Google Scholar; Erb, Claude C., “Prelude to Point Four: The Institute of Inter-American Affairs,” Diplomatic History 9 (July 1985): 250267Google Scholar.

82. Soule et al., Future World, 194–199.

83. Hanson to Spaeth, April 1, 1941, OCIAA:CF, 229.2/148/Developmental Program of IADC; standard of living: Adolf Berle quoted in Green, Containment, 81–83; Rovensky and Patterson, “Hemispheric Economic Development,” 662.

84. For country-by-country descriptions, Soule et al., Future World, 200–229.

85. Generally, Hanson, Simon G., Economic Development in Latin America: An Introduction to the Economic Problems of Latin America (Washington, DC, 1951), 492516Google Scholar. On Mexico, Dion, Michelle, “The Political Origins of Social Security in Mexico During the Cárdenas and Ávila Camacho Administrations,” Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos 21 (Winter 2005): 5995Google Scholar. For Brazil, Malloy, James M., The Politics of Social Security in Brazil (Pittsburgh, 1979), 5182Google Scholar. For the consumer goods sector, Bulmer-Thomas, Victor, “The Latin American Economies, 1929–1939,” in Latin American Economic History Since 1930, ed. Bethell, Leslie. (New York, 1998), 101Google Scholar.

86. Thorp, Rosemary, Progress, Poverty, and Exclusion: An Economic History of Latin America in the 20th Century (Washington, DC, 1998), 1345Google Scholar.

87. Bulmer-Thomas, Victor, The Economic History of Latin America Since Independence, 2nd ed. (New York, 2003), 250CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

88. Roxborough, Ian, “Labor Control and the Postwar Growth Model in Latin America,” in Rock, , ed., Latin America in the 1940s, 248262Google Scholar; Middlebrook, Kevin J., The Paradox of Revolution: Labor, the State and Authoritarianism in Mexico (Baltimore, 1995)Google Scholar; Spalding, Hobart, Organized Labor in Latin America: Historical Case Studies of Workers in Dependent Societies (New York, 1977): 94206Google Scholar; Malloy, Social Security in Brazil, 51–82.

89. Schell, H. H., “Report of H. H. Schell,” in Report of Nineteen Members on National Research Council Tour of Industrial Exploration of South America, 1941, OCIAA:CF, 229.2/150Google Scholar.

90. John D. Gill, “Comments on the Economies of Five South American Countries: A Condensation of More Important Findings, 5/31/41,” in Report of Nineteen Members.

91. Frederic A. Williams, “National Research Council South American Tour: Report of Frederic A. Williams, 6/1/41,” in Report of Nineteen Members.

92. For postwar imports, Eckes, America's Market, 157–159, 167–176. For the abandonment of Latin American development in favor of Europe and the Far East, see Rock, “War and Postwar Intersections,” 30–35.

93. Benjamin, Jules R., “The New Deal, Cuba, and the Rise of a Global Foreign Economic Policy,” Business History Review 50 (Spring 1977): 5778Google Scholar; trade: Rhodes, Carolyn, Reciprocity, U.S. Trade Policy, and the GATT Regime (Ithaca, 1993), 5378Google Scholar; aid: Erb, “Prelude to Point Four.”

94. Green, Containment, 201–208; Bethell, Leslie and Roxborough, Ian, “The Postwar Conjuncture in Latin America: Democracy, Labor, and the Left,” in Bethell, and Roxborough, , Latin America Between the Second World War and the Cold War, 1944–1948 (New York, 1992), 2022Google Scholar.

95. Bethell and Roxborough, “The Postwar Conjuncture”; Roxborough, “Labor Control.”

96. Green, Containment, 178–179.

97. O'Brien, Thomas F., The Century of U.S. Capitalism in Latin America (Albuquerque, 1999), 108, 124130Google Scholar; Wythe, George, Industry in Latin America, 2nd ed. (New York, 1949), 63Google Scholar.

1
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

“The Spice of the Department Store”: The “Consumers' Republic,” Imported Knock-Offs from Latin America, and the Invention of International Development, 1936–1941
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

“The Spice of the Department Store”: The “Consumers' Republic,” Imported Knock-Offs from Latin America, and the Invention of International Development, 1936–1941
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

“The Spice of the Department Store”: The “Consumers' Republic,” Imported Knock-Offs from Latin America, and the Invention of International Development, 1936–1941
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *