Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




This study chronicles the change in the foreign policy views of the National Farmers Union brought about by U.S. involvement in the Korean War. Abandoning its poignant criticisms of President Truman's earlier Cold War initiatives, the nation's foremost liberal agrarian organization embraced not only American actions in Korea but on a larger scale administration attempts to further what Henry Luce termed the "American Century." This policy reversal created a rift between the national organization and various state and regional branches. The Iowa and Northeastern divisions in particular objected to the shift as a surrender of principle and as a capitulation to the corporate-military domination of American society that threatened the already declining status of the family farmer. These wayward affiliates became Cold War casualties when the Farmers Union revoked their charters for their failure to endorse American activities in Korea. Yet, the national organization's complete about-face on American foreign policy made it, too, a casualty of the Cold War.;This study is based on a wide variety of governmental and private sources, including the newly deposited papers of Iowa Farmers Union president Fred W. Stover. It argues that America's "preponderance of power" following the Second World War led not only to a spreading of the American dream abroad but also to a remolding of political and economic relations on the homefront. The early post-war period became, in the words of President Truman, "the years when the cold war began to overshadow our lives." American priorities gave precedence to increased military budgets, which consumed non-defense related spending and strengthened ties between the military and corporations eager to play a role in shaping the world in the American Image. Organizations such as the Farmers Union initially rejected these goals as antithetical to American tradition and as damaging to their own desires for equity within American society. Political and social pressures, however, brought about an eventual acquiescence in the new American priorities and repudiation for groups and individuals unwilling to accept the Cold War as a way of life.



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