On the first pages of New Deal or Raw Deal? the story of Henry Morgenthau unfolds. Morgenthau was a close friend of Franklin Roosevelt,and FDR appointed Morgenthau as Secretary of the Treasury in 1933. By 1939, the New Deal was into its seventh year, and the Great Depression continued.
On May 9, 1939, Morgenthau met with the leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee in a private meeting of Democrat leaders. Morgenthau included a transcript of the meeting in his “diary,” which was a hodgepodge of documents, memoranda, and diary entries that became thousands of pages by the time Morgenthau left office in 1945.
Morgenthau’s diary is on microfilm at the Franklin Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York. On microfilm roll #50 of the Morgenthau Diary, readers will find the transcript of Morgenthau’s now-famous quote, on frame #41 from the May 9th meeting:
“Now, gentlemen, we have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work.”
In fact, so many people contacted the Library of Congress trying to find the source that one of the congressional librarians contacted Hillsdale College in order to track down the exact citation. Naysayers who searched only in the congressional record alledged that the quote was a fabrication. Below is a link to photocopies of the first six pages of Morgenthau’s transcript from May 9, 1939. The entire meeting is over twenty pages and can be found at the FDR Library, Small Collections, Morgenthau Diary, Roll #50.