Corporate Conservatives Go to War

How the National Association of Manufacturers Planned to Restore American Free Enterprise, 1939–1948

  • Charlie Whitham

Part of the Palgrave Studies in American Economic History book series (AEH)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Charlie Whitham
    Pages 1-21
  3. Charlie Whitham
    Pages 23-40
  4. Charlie Whitham
    Pages 41-59
  5. Charlie Whitham
    Pages 111-164
  6. Charlie Whitham
    Pages 165-216
  7. Charlie Whitham
    Pages 217-270
  8. Charlie Whitham
    Pages 271-299
  9. Charlie Whitham
    Pages 301-320
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 321-400

About this book


World War II presented a unique opportunity for American business to improve its reputation after years of censure for inflicting the Great Depression upon the nation. No employers’ organization worked harder or devoted greater resources to reviving business prestige during the war than the National Association of Manufacturers, which spent millions of dollars on promoting the indispensability of private enterprise to the successful mobilization of the American economy in an uncompromising multi-media campaign which spanned the factory floor to the movie theatre. Now, using unpublished primary sources, the full extent of the NAM’s wartime mission to raise the stature of American business in the post-war era is revealed. During the war the NAM erected a vast structure of research on an unprecedented scale numbering more than one hundred persons dedicated to planning the best solutions for restoring American ‘free enterprise’ capitalism after the war in a direct challenge to the ‘liberal’ prescriptions of the reigning administration. These studies were painstakingly assembled and widely distributed and served as a complimentary arm to the better-known pro-business propaganda message of the organization. What emerges is a unique and telling glimpse into the minds of the corporate class of wartime America that reveals the determination of a major employers’ organization to exploit the exceptional circumstances of total war to influence both the power-brokers in Washington who wrote economic policy and the American public as a whole to embrace a post-war future ruled by private enterprise capitalism..


American economic history Economics of World War Two Business history Post-war economics National Association of Manufacturers NAM US Chamber of Commerce USCC Great Depression Business conservatives US economic policy in the twentieth century Corporate liberal theory New Deal liberalism Defense mobilization Defense economy Wartime America Conference of Business Economists Corporate conservatives Free enterprise

Authors and affiliations

  • Charlie Whitham
    • 1
  1. 1.Edge Hill UniversityOrmskirkUK

Bibliographic information

Industry Sectors
Finance, Business & Banking