The President's Man: Leo Crowley and Franklin Roosevelt in Peace and War

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9780809319961: The President's Man: Leo Crowley and Franklin Roosevelt in Peace and War

Leo T. Crowley is remembered chiefly, when he is remembered at all, as the administrator of Lend Lease at the end of World War II when aid to the Soviet Union was abruptly ended. He typically appears only in passing, when he appears at all, in the standard accounts of the Roosevelt administration. Little wonder, then, that the characteristic response of Stuart L. Weiss''s friends and acquaintances on learning of his research on Crowley was "Leo who?" (p. ix).Yet Crowley ought to be better known. As Weiss shows, he was a significant administrator, troubleshooter, and political operative for Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1934 to 1945. Depending upon which study of the Roosevelt years one picks up, Crowley might be found mentioned in one of his numerous capacities--as chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) from 1934 to 1945; as a political agent looking after Roosevelt''s interests in Wisconsin and the upper Midwest; as an administration liaison with conservatives,

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Leo Crowley has been known only as the administrator condemned by President Truman for cutting off Soviet lend-lease after V-E Day. Stuart L. Weiss revises this view while exploring Crowley's long, significant state and federal career, emphasizing his service as Franklin D. Roosevelt's man for all seasons. Weiss deals effectively with Crowley's flaws and virtues as well as those of the administrations he served. Crowley was confirmed as chair of the FDIC in 1934 despite a charge, unknown to President Roosevelt, that Crowley had committed fraud as a banker in Wisconsin. Crowley then served with distinction for more than eleven years as the administration twice buried a 1935 Treasury Department report that, had it been handed to Wisconsin authorities, could have sent him to prison: Roosevelt valued Crowley's political and administrative talents too highly to allow that to happen. In 1939, Roosevelt, anxious to have business support for stopping the Axis powers, encouraged Crowley to take the chair of a holding company about to be prosecuted by the SEC. After Pearl Harbor, like priorities prompted the president first to name Crowley alien property custodian, then chair of the Board of Economic Warfare to supplant Roosevelt's politically troublesome vice president, and, finally, foreign economic administrator, the person responsible for civilian lend-lease activity In this vibrant biography, Weiss furnishes the reader with detailed portraits of a man faithful to his president even when he disagreed with him and of a president willing to do what he felt was necessary for the good of the country.

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