Skip to main content

Pepper, Claude

PEPPER, CLAUDE

Claude Denson Pepper (September 8, 1900–May 30, 1989) was a loyal and outspoken supporter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Depression-era program of reform and relief. Raised in rural Alabama in near poverty, Pepper matured in a legacy of populism that became for him a lifetime political commitment to that strain of liberalism that was the underpinning of New Deal political philosophy.

After graduating from the University of Alabama, Pepper went to Harvard Law School with the help of government aid he was awarded as a result of an army training accident. Following a short period teaching law, Pepper entered law practice in rural north Florida and was elected to the state legislature in 1928. Defeated after one term, he nevertheless established himself as a Democratic Party stalwart. He moved to Tallahassee, Florida, and developed a statewide network of professional and political relationships. In 1934 he ran for the U.S. Senate, losing an exceptionally close race. In the process, he established himself as a rising star in the state's Democratic Party structure. Two years later, both of Florida's U.S. senators died within a month of each other, and Pepper was nominated without opposition in the Democratic primary for one of the vacated seats, a feat tantamount to election in the South's one-party system of the period.

The new Florida senator was quickly confronted with Roosevelt's "court packing" plan to enlarge the Supreme Court in order to obtain favorable judicial review of New Deal legislation. After some hesitation over the radical proposal, Pepper strongly supported the plan. This gained presidential favor and established him as a New Dealer. Thereafter, he never wavered in his support of administration measures. In the face of widespread southern opposition in 1938, Pepper made his support of the Fair Labor Standards Act, a controversial New Deal labor proposal, a principal issue in his reelection campaign. His overwhelming primary victory re-ignited congressional support for the nearly lost measure, further strengthening his position as an administration insider.

In the face of rising isolationism in 1939, Pepper advocated intervention in the early stages of World War II on the side of Britain and France against Germany, a politically courageous course of action that aided Roosevelt's efforts to prepare the nation for war. In 1950, at the height of the Cold War, Pepper was defeated for reelection largely because of his earlier conciliatory posture toward the Soviet Union. In 1963, he was elected from a Miami district to the U.S. House of Representatives and served continuously until his death in 1989. Pepper rose to be chairman of the House Select Committee on Aging, and was later chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee. As a self-styled "last of the New Dealers," he made himself the political guardian of the nation's social security program, which is today the principal legacy of the New Deal.

See Also: DEMOCRATIC PARTY; ELECTION OF 1938.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Danese, Tracy E. Claude Pepper and Ed Ball: Politics, Purpose, and Power. 2000.

Kabat, Ric A. "From New Deal to Red Scare: The Political Odyssey of Senator Claude D. Pepper." Ph.D. diss., Florida State University, 1995.

Kennedy, David. M. Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War. 1999.

Pepper, Claude Denson. Pepper: Eyewitness to a Century. 1987.

Tracy E. Danese

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Pepper, Claude." Encyclopedia of the Great Depression. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Jun. 2019 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Pepper, Claude." Encyclopedia of the Great Depression. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 19, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/economics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/pepper-claude

"Pepper, Claude." Encyclopedia of the Great Depression. . Retrieved June 19, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/economics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/pepper-claude

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.