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Directory of Mark Twain's maxims, quotations, and various opinions:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


NEW DEAL

. . . here I was, in a country where a right to say how the country should be governed was restricted to six persons in each thousand of its population. . . I was become a stockholder in a corporation where nine hundred and ninety-four of the members furnished all the money and did all the work, and the other six elected themselves a permanent board of direction and took all the dividends. It seemed to me that what the nine hundred and ninety-four dupes needed was a new deal.
- A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

New Deal hand

Cartoon from the Dave Thomson collection


Concluding his nomination acceptance speech as Democratic nominee for President of the United States in 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt said:

"I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people. Let us all here assembled constitute ourselves prophets of a new order of competence and of courage. This is more than a political campaign; it is a call to arms. Give me your help, not to win votes alone, but to win in this crusade to restore America to its own people."

After his election, the legislation that was passed to address the crisis of The Great Depression became known as "New Deal" legislation. The period of the New Deal ended when the U.S.A. turned its attention to World War II.

Cyril Clemens, a distant cousin of Mark Twain claimed that Roosevelt took the phrase "New Deal" from A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. In 1933 Cyril visited with Roosevelt. The New York Times published a story about the visit:

THE NEW YORK TIMES, December 5, 1933, p. 28

AGREES MARK TWAIN USED 'THE NEW DEAL'
President, Presented With Medal by Author's Cousin, Recalls Reading Term.

Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5. Mark Twain received today belated credit for the authorship of the expression, "the New Deal," the slogan of the Roosevelt administration.

President Roosevelt recalled the use of the phrase in "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court," when he received the gold medal awarded him by the International Mark Twain Society.

Cyril Clemens, a cousin of the author, called at the White House to present the medal personally to Mr. Roosevelt.

The medal bears the inscription, "Franklin D. Roosevelt, great orator." On its reverse is a portrait of Mark Twain. It was given in recognition of the President's campaign speeches.

While talking with Mr. Clemens, the President said that as a small boy he had been taken to visit Mark Twain by his father after the humorist had moved to Hartford, Conn. Mr. Clemens then remarked that the first know use of the phrase "the New Deal" had been by Mark Twain.

"I am well aware of that," the President replied.

 

For more on Franklin Roosevelt and Mark Twain, see The New York Times, September 5, 1936.

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