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Fair Deal


FAIR DEAL was the phrase adopted by President Harry S. Truman to characterize the program of domestic legislation his administration sought to pass through Congress. In September 1945 Truman sent to Congress a twenty-one point program, based in part on the Democratic

platform of 1944. The Fair Deal called for a full-employment law, the permanent establishment of the Fair Employment Practices Committee, and progressive legislation on housing, health insurance, aid to education, atomic energy, and the development of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Congress passed the Employment Act of 1946, which established the Council of Economic Advisers, but Republican victories in the 1946 midterm congressional elections blocked further passage of Fair Deal legislation. In 1948 Truman defeated the Republican candidate, Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York, and Democrats recaptured control of Congress. In his annual message to Congress in January 1949, during which he coined the phrase "Fair Deal," Truman asked for laws on housing, full employment, higher minimum wages, better price supports for farmers, more organizations like the Tennessee Valley Authority, the extension of social security, and fair employment practices. Congress responded by passing a slum clearance act, raising the minimum wage, and extending social security benefits to 10 million more people. The coming of the Korean War in June 1950 and a general prosperity lessened interest in the Fair Deal program, but many of Truman's social welfare proposals—as well as his proposals for the development of atomic energy and the St. Lawrence Seaway, for example—were legislated in subsequent administrations.


Hamby, Alonzo L. Beyond the New Deal: Harry S. Truman and American Liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press, 1973.

McCullough, David. Truman. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992.

Vincent C.Hopkins/a. g.

See alsoMinimum-Wage Legislation ; Social Legislation ; Social Security .

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