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Lot #176
Clarence Darrow

“I am of course a radical as I have always been”: DARROW reveals his socialist beliefs and mentions his best-selling memoir

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“I am of course a radical as I have always been”: DARROW reveals his socialist beliefs and mentions his best-selling memoir

Renowned attorney (1857–1938) noted for the brilliant, eloquent skill he exhibited in representing the defendants in such celebrated cases as the Scopes Monkey Trial and the trial of “thrill killers” Leopold and Loeb. Superb ALS, one page, 7.25 x 10.5, personal letterhead, January 15, 1933. Darrow writes to “My dear Gerson” [probably California physician and political activist T. Perceval Gerson, 1872–1960; Gerson, one of the founders of the Hollywood Bowl, also amassed an impressive collection of autographs related to political and social history that was later purchased for the UCLA]. In part: “I am returning the $1—Of course I am always only sorry that I can’t send my best friends books, without their spending money to buy them. But really the book is expensive and I have a good many friends (luckily) and I just can’t do it. Of course I am glad you liked the book. I am sure that most of it concerns your own ideas. I am of course a radical as I have always been and hoping that our industrial system will be changed. No permanent good can come from the old. If there is any recovery it will last but a short time. I am working some on Technocracy and am glad to see how it is being taken up. If we were not Barbarians no one in the world would be poor.... It is a terrible plight into which our captains of industry have thrown the world. They would rather that the people should starve than to give them a chance. I am hoping much for Russia, and have but little knowledge about it....” Darrow’s socialist leanings soon became national news. Early in 1934, FDR appointed Darrow head of a review board to investigate the effectiveness of the National Recovery Administration (NRA), one of the president’s key New Deal initiatives, which had been created to promote and oversee standards of fair competition and to protect worker’s rights. Though Darrow’s scathing reports, which warned of “the inevitable tendency is toward monopoly with the elimination of the small business,” led to his dismissal just months later, the NRA was declared unconstitutional (for violating the principle of separation of powers) by the Supreme Court and was shut down in 1935. The “expensive” book Darrow refers to in the letter was probably his best-selling autobiography, The Story of My Life, published in the previous year and priced at $3.50, a considerable sum in Depression-afflicted America. A few faint marginal wrinkles, otherwise very fine, fresh, bright condition. Significant content from a great legal mind! JSA/John Reznikoff Auction LOA and RRAuction COA.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title:
  • Dates: #344 - Ended April 15, 2009