Michigan Resists the New Deal

Click for audio Michigan Resists the New Deal

Sixty-five years ago, two prominent Michiganians swam against the tide and upheld free-market competition over government solutions to the Great Depression.

President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs forced corporations to form cartels and charge their customers higher prices.

Many in Michigan supported this collusion, but not Henry Ford. While other automakers eagerly complied, Ford alone denounced the regulations, saying, "I do not think that this country is ready to be treated like Russia."

Saginaw-born Sewell Avery, president of Montgomery Ward, likewise stood alone in his industry, defying the forced unionization of his workers.

When the Attorney General had National Guard soldiers forcibly remove Avery from his headquarters office, newspapers around the country ran photos and compared Roosevelt to foreign dictators.

Vindication for Ford and Avery finally came when the Supreme Court ruled much of the New Deal unconstitutional. Government price-fixing ended and Avery returned to his post as Ward’s president, where he turned his company around and saved thousands of jobs.

The courageous resistance of these two Michiganians helped curtail government interference to leave a legacy of American free enterprise for generations of consumers and workers.

For the Mackinac Center, this is Catherine Martin.