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The First State Lobbyists: State Offices in Washington During World War II

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 April 2011

Jennifer M. Jensen
Binghamton University (SUNY)
Jenna Kelkres Emery
Binghamton University (SUNY)


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Copyright © Donald Critchlow and Cambridge University Press 2011

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1. Birnbaum, Jeffry H., “Washington’s Power 25,” Fortune 1997Google Scholar; Cammisa, Anne Marie, Governments as Interest Groups: Intergovernmental Lobbying and the Federal System (Westport, Conn., 1995)Google Scholar.

2. The only academic work that specifically and properly dates the origin of New York’s office in Washington at is an unpublished master’s paper. Jerry G. Udell, “The Governor’s Ambassador: A New Concept in the Representation of State Interests at the Federal Level” (Research Paper for 53.750, Seminar in American Government, American University, 1966). A few other works, such as a 1968 CQ Press guide, note that the New York office existed during World War II, indicating that the office was established in 1943 under Governor Dewey rather than Governor Lehman. Congressional Quarterly Service, Legislators and the Lobbyists, CQ Background (Washington, 1968)Google Scholar. Smith, Richard Norton, Thomas E. Dewey and His Times (New York, 1982)Google Scholar.

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8. David Koistinen notes, “Historians have recently begun to explore public policy responses to industrial decline, although policymaking on this issue at the state level has received almost no attention.” Koistinen’s investigation of postwar Massachusetts is one exception to this gap in the literature. Koistinen, David, “Public Policies for Countering Deindustrialization in Postwar Massachusetts,” Journal of Policy History 18, no. 3 (2006): 326CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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10. The overwhelming bulk of the scholarship and popular literature on intergovernmental relations in the 1940s, or on state lobbying efforts more generally, do not mention these offices. We find it highly unlikely that even a handful of other states established their own offices during this time, if any established them at all. There are no references to early state lobbying offices in Brooks’s When Governors Convene. There are no references to other state offices during this time in the ACIR papers held at the National Archives, or in the historical papers held in the library of the National Governors Association. There is one reference to other states establishing Washington offices in the early 1940s; a 1942 Buffalo Courier-Express article states that “the success of the (New York) bureau is prompting other states to establish similar offices here.” This article could be referring to the Connecticut office, or to the Washington office of the Council of State Governments, which was established during this time. While we have not visited the state archives of the other forty-six states or reviewed the personal papers of each governor who served in these years, we have reviewed online research aids and queried reference librarians regarding the activities of other industrialized states and found no other additional references to Washington offices. While we expect that many more states lobbied informally for specific contracts, we believe that these efforts reflect a decidedly different type of commitment by their governors. Brooks, Glenn E., When Governors Convene: The Governors’ Conference and National Politics (Baltimore, 1961)Google Scholar. Buffalo Courier-Express Washington Bureau, State Office Opens Doors to War Orders in Capital: Volgenau’s Staff Guides New Yorkers as Red Tape Baffles Many Contract Seekers,” Buffalo Courier-Express, 10 May 1942Google Scholar.

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15. Several scholars have written about these associations. Cammisa, , Governments as Interest Groups: Intergovernmental Lobbying and the Federal SystemGoogle Scholar; Haider, Donald H., When Governments Come to Washington: Governors, Mayors, and Intergovernmental Lobbying (New York, 1974)Google Scholar; Farkas, Suzanne, Urban Lobbying: Mayors in the Federal Arena (New York, 1971)Google Scholar; Arnold, David S. and Plant, Jeremy F., Public Official Associations and State and Local Government (Fairfax, Va., 1994)Google Scholar.

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23. Ibid., 93–94.

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29. New York State Executive Department, “New York Produces for Victory: Annual Report of the Division of Commerce, 1943.”

30. New York State Executive Department, “Annual Report of the Division of Commerce, 1941.”

31. “State Office Opens Doors to War Orders in Capital: Volgenau’s Staff Guides New Yorkers as Red Tape Baffles Many Contract Seekers,” Washington Bureau, Buffalo Courier-Express.

32. New York State Executive Department, “Annual Report of the Division of Commerce, 1941”; New York State Executive Department, “New York at Work for Victory and the Future: Annual Report of the Division of Commerce” (Albany, 1942).

33. New York State Executive Department, “New York at Work for Victory and the Future.”

34. New York State Executive Department, “New York Produces for Victory: Annual Report of the Division of Commerce, 1943.”

35. “How Connecticut Expands Sub-Contracts,” magazine article, date unknown, Connecticut State Archives, Robert A. Hurley Papers, Hartford, Reading Group 005:28, Series 2 Subject Files, Box 437, folder “Defense—Connecticut War Industries Commission” (hereafter cited as Connecticut State Archives, Robert A. Hurley Papers).

36. Connecticut’s WIC augmented the state’s Defense Council, which the governor had established in June 1940. Hurley spent a total of $50,000 on the WIC in 1942, 80 percent of which came from the governor’s contingency fund. Connecticut was not alone in establishing these sorts of organizations; by 15 February 1941, forty-six states had established a state defense agency of some sort. Aid to Small War Firms Is Curtailed,” Hartford Courant, 16 June 1943Google Scholar. Council of State Governments, The Book of the States 1941–1942, vol. 4 (Chicago, 1941)Google Scholar.

37. Businesses and unions had expressed their concern about these businesses, and at an early WIC meeting, the governor stated that “there was danger of certain towns including Danbury and Shelton becoming ‘ghost towns’ because of the loss of markets, etc., of the fur hat and textile industries. “Minutes of Meeting between Gov. Hurley and Manufacturers, May 19th, 1942.” Connecticut State Archives, Robert A. Hurley Papers.

38. “The Connecticut War Industries Commission Comprehensive Report April 1st to August 31, 1942,” Connecticut State Archives, Robert A. Hurley Papers.

39. Letter to Mr. John A. Coe, American Brass Company, Connecticut State Archives, Robert A. Hurley Papers.

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41. “Connecticut Progress,” monthly pamphlet issued by the Connecticut Development Commission, March 1942, Connecticut State Archives, papers of the Department of Economic and Community Development, Hartford, Reading Group 022, Series 1 Connecticut Development Commission, 1939–71, Item 34, folder “Connecticut Progress.”

42. Letter from John F. Robinson, executive secretary to Governor Robert A. Hurley, 8 July 1942.

43. Upman Gets State Job in Washington: Former Highway Deputy Manages War Industries Office, Committee Urges Pay for Him,” Hartford Courant, 1 September 1942Google Scholar.

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45. Funds Given for Office in Washington: Governor’s Plan for State Development Headquarters Is Granted Total of $22,500,” Hartford Courant, 2 March 1944, 14Google Scholar.

46. Ibid.

47. Ibid.

48. Ibid.

49. Ibid.

50. Ibid.

51. Ibid.

52. Jensen, “Filling the Hall of the States,” 128–30.

53. New York State Executive Department, “New York at Work for Victory and the Future.”

54. New York State Executive Department, “New York Produces for Victory: Annual Report of the Division of Commerce, 1943.”

55. Writes Glenn Brooks, “The dominant faction within the Governors’ Conference firmly opposed the creation of a strong, activist group of governors. Most of all they were opposed to the suggestion that the governors should strive to influence national policy, either as a formal instrument of government or as an ad hoc pressure group.” Speaking to his colleagues at the January 1910 meeting of the Governors’ Conference, Governor Charles Evans Hughes said, “How the Federal administration shall be conducted is not a matter which concerns State Governors in their official capacity. Whether Congress shall pass a law or not, is for Congress to decide, and with respect to this it is the President’s prerogative to make recommendations.” President Taft came as a guest to that meeting, and indicated that he would stay out of conference affairs, and suggested that they meet away from Washington. This sent a message that they would not be interacting much with the federal government. Brooks, , When Governors Convene, 14–15Google Scholar. “Governors’ Conferences, Their Scope and Purpose,” speech by Governor Hughes. Charles E. Hughes, “Proceedings of the Second Meeting of the Governors of the States of the Union” (presented at the Governors’ Conference 1910 Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., 18–20 January 1910).

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67. Salisbury, “An Exchange Theory of Interest Groups.”

68. Regional Economic Information System, Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Department of Commerce. Data in 1942 dollars.

69. Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1943 ed. Table 305, “Employees and Pay Rolls of State and Local Governments, by Type of Governmental Unit, by States: January 1942.”

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75. This letter was sent to the heads of the state agencies, including Elliott V. Bell, superintendent of banks; Hilo R. Maltbie, chairman of the Public Service Commission; Holton V. Noyes, Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets, 12 March 1943. Thomas E. Dewey Papers, Series 4, Box 216, folder 5.

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82. Since the Revolutionary War, the state had provided cannons, guns, rifles, aircraft fighters, aircraft engines, submarines, helicopters, and tank components for the nation’s war efforts. Connecticut had supplied 54 percent of the nation’s munitions during World War I, and during World War II Bridgeport was known as the “arsenal of the free world.” The Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Company was in East Hartford; Sikorsky Aircraft was based in Bridgeport; and the Electric Boat Company had its headquarters and shipyard in Groton. These defense products were directly linked to the unemployment rate in the state, and during World War II the state’s unemployment rate fell to one-half of one percent. David Pinsky, “Defense Contracts and the Connecticut Economy” (Storrs, Conn.), 4; Cavanaugh, Jack, “State Seeks Ways to Retain Manufacturing Companies,” New York Times, 10 April 1988Google Scholar; Roth, Matthew, Connecticut: An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites (Washington, D.C., 1981)Google Scholar.

83. In addition, other states perceived a “competitive threat” after seeing their counterparts flourish as a result of the war manufacturing boom. Koistinen, “Public Policies for Countering Deindustrialization in Postwar Massachusetts.” The South and the West were the ultimate beneficiaries. Hooks, Gregory and Bloomquist, Leonard E., “The Legacy of World War II for Regional Growth and Decline: The Cumulative Effects of Wartime Investments on U.S. Manufacturing, 1947–1972,” Social Forces 71, no. 2 (1992)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Nash, Gerald D., The American West Transformed: The Impact of the Second World War (Bloomington, 1985)Google Scholar.

84. U.S. Department of Commerce, “Census of Manufactures: 1939” (Washington, D.C., 1940).

85. Council of State Governments, The Book of the States 1941–1942Google Scholar.

86. Clive, Alan, State of War: Michigan in World War II (Ann Arbor, 1979)Google Scholar.

87. Directorate for Information Operations and Reports, U.S. Department of Defense, “Military Prime Contract Awards by State: Fiscal Years 1951 to 1983” (Washington, D.C., 1984).

88. Salisbury, “Interest Representation.”

89. David O. White, “Robert Augustine Hurley: Governor of Connecticut, 1941–1943,” Connecticut State Library,

90. Van Dusen, Albert E., Connecticut (New York, 1961), 369Google Scholar.

91. Cross, Wilbur L., Connecticut Yankee: An Autobiography (New Haven, 1943), 369–70Google Scholar.

92. Ingalls, Robert P., Herbert H. Lehman and New York’s New Deal (New York, 1975), 71Google Scholar.

93. Ibid., 54–55.

94. Ibid.

95. Beyer, Barry K., Thomas E. Dewey, 1937–1947: A Study in Political Leadership (New York, 1979)Google Scholar.

96. Smith, , Thomas E. Dewey and His TimesCrossRefGoogle Scholar.

97. Beyer, , Thomas E. DeweyGoogle Scholar.

98. Michigan governor Murray Van Wagoner, a Democrat, who served from 1941 to 1942, spoke about this in a speech to his colleagues at the Governors’ Conference annual meeting in 1942: “Government has had a place in this war—a vital place. But no government agent ever got a contract placed, or a job of production finished. The best way to get war orders is to get production and technical engineers together, representing buyer and potential seller. In Michigan, we advised our manufacturers to go right to the government purchasing men, whether they be military or civilian. Or better yet, go right to the prime contractor, and find out what sub-contracts are available, and get the engineers together to find out what their plants could handle. No meeting of non-technical officials ever placed a war contract.” Van Wagoner, Murray D., “Operating the Tool Shop of America,” Vital Speeches of America 8 (1942), 662Google Scholar.

99. Nevins, Allan, Herbert H. Lehman and His Era (New York, 1963)Google Scholar.

100. Moving to the Senate was unusual at this time; fewer than one in five governors did so after leaving the governor’s mansion.

101. Salisbury, “An Exchange Theory of Interest Groups”; Salisbury, “Interest Representation.”

102. White Declares Victory, Says Message Clear,” Arkansas Gazette, 6 November 1980Google Scholar.

103. Dilger, Robert Jay, The Sunbelt/Snowbelt Controversy: The War over Federal Funds (New York, 1982)Google Scholar; Beer, “The Adoption of General Revenue Sharing”; Haider, When Governments Come to Washington.

104. Jensen, “Filling the Hall of the States.”

105. Pierson, Paul, Politics in Time: History, Institutions, and Social Analysis (Princeton, 2006), 169Google Scholar. See also Gerring, John, “Is There a (Viable) Crucial-Case Method?Comparative Political Studies 40, no. 3 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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