Skip to main content

American Liberty League


AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE. On 15 August 1934, after the onset of strikes that would last until 1938, the American Liberty League, funded largely by the Duponts and their corporate allies, was chartered in Washington. In its six years of existence, the Liberty League fought New Deal labor and social legislation, rallied support for the conservative-dominated Supreme Court, and sought to build a bipartisan conservative coalition to defeat the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration and the trade union movement.

The Liberty League called upon businessmen to defy the National Labor Relations Act, hoping the Supreme Court would declare it unconstitutional, and led "educational campaigns" against social security, unemployment insurance, minimum wages, and other New Deal policies. After the New Deal's great victory in 1936, the Liberty League adopted a lower profile. Earlier, Franklin D. Roosevelt, in attacking the "economic loyalists," who were so visible in the leadership of the Liberty League, mocked the league's definition of "liberty" in his last speech of the 1936 presidential campaign, retelling a story, attributed to Abraham Lincoln, of a wolf, removed by a shepherd from the neck of a lamb, denouncing the shepherd for taking away its liberty. The league formally dissolved in September 1940.

Its influence on conservative politics in the United States was large. In the aftermath of the 1938 elections, conservative Democrats and Republicans in Congress stalemated New Deal legislation, using Liberty League themes of opposition to government spending, taxation, and communist influence in the administration and the labor movement to gain support. The Liberty League supported the early activities of the House Un-American Activities Committee and the National Lawyers Committee. The league's attempt to recruit and fund conservative scholarship and university forums on public policy issues prefigured the creation of corporate-funded conservative "think tanks."

The issues raised by the Liberty League in the 1930s remain unresolved, as does its role in history. For those who see "big government," the regulation and taxation of business, and the redistribution of wealth to lower income groups as absolute evils, it has been vindicated by history and is posthumously triumphant. For those who see government as a shepherd or steward seeking to prevent society from reverting to a socioeconomic jungle where the strong devour the weak, it stands condemned as the champion of "free market" policies that today promote economic instability and social injustice, both in the United States and the world.


Brinkley, Alan. "The Problem of American Conservatism." American Historical Review 99, no. 2 (April 1994): 409–429.

Leuchtenburg, William E. The Supreme Court Reborn: The Constitutional Revolution in the Age of Roosevelt. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Rudolph, Frederick. "The American Liberty League, 1934–1940." American Historical Review 56, no. 1 (October 1950): 19–33. A useful early postwar critique that captures the New Deal generation's view of the league.

Wolfskill, George. Revolt of the Conservatives: A History of the American Liberty League, 1934–1940. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1962. The best introduction to the Liberty League.


See alsoConservatism .

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

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"American Liberty League." Dictionary of American History. . 17 Jun. 2019 <>.

"American Liberty League." Dictionary of American History. . (June 17, 2019).

"American Liberty League." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved June 17, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles 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, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use 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

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most 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.