Date of Award

Spring 2012

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

Committee Chair

Chester Morgan

Committee Chair Department

History

Committee Member 2

Max Grivno

Committee Member 2 Department

History

Committee Member 3

Deanne Nuwer

Committee Member 3 Department

History

Abstract

William (Bill) Colmer first entered Congress in 1933, the same year that President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal began to reshape the role of government in the United States. While the New Deal's efforts to combat the Great Depression proved popular in the beginning, by 1935 many congressmen, especially southerners, began to distance themselves from the administration's attempts at social reform. Although many of his colleagues refused to endorse the increasingly liberal agenda of the New Deal, Congressman Colmer remained loyal throughout the decade. His loyalty to the administration was due in part to the south Mississippi district he represented. District Six was Mississippi's melting pot and contained the largest labor force and the most diverse industries in the state. Also, the presence of organized labor set District Six apart from other Mississippi congressional districts. While the conservatism of Colmer's later career has been well documented, his earliest years in Congress have not. This thesis will focus on the liberal Bill Colmer, and his record regarding labor legislation helps measure and explain his New Deal liberalism.

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