This new biography of Herbert Lehman―the first in a half century―fills the void left by historians and political scientists who have neglected one of the truly great liberal icons of the mid-twentieth century. Based on extensive research in archival sources, Herbert H. Lehman restores this four-term Governor of New York, US Senator, national and international humanitarian, and political reformer to his rightful place among the pantheon of liberal heroes of his era. By focusing on Lehman’s interactions with Al Smith, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, and John Kennedy, Duane Tananbaum shows how Lehman succeeded politically despite his refusal to compromise with his conscience. In his thirty-five years of public service, Herbert Lehman fought the Republicans in the State Legislature to provide economic security for New Yorkers during the Great Depression, and he battled the bureaucrats in the Roosevelt and Truman administrations and the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration to feed the starving people in Europe and Asia during and after World War II. His efforts on behalf of “the welfare state,” civil rights legislation, and immigration reform helped keep the liberal agenda alive until Congress, and the nation, were ready to enact it into law as part of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society in 1964–1965.
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