A new deal body politic: Landscape, labor, and the civilian conservation corps

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Abstract

This essay illustrates how the work performed by the more than three million young men who joined the Corps between 1933 and 1942 transformed both the bodies of these enrollees as well as the American landscape. Moreover, it shows how these two sets of interrelated changes in turn altered American politics in two fundamental ways. First, the physical changes affecting both the young men joining the CCC and the natural landscapes upon which they labored influenced New Deal politics by raising public support for Franklin Roosevelt's efforts to expand the modern welfare state during the 1930s and early 1940s. At the same time, the bodies and landscapes reconfigured by the Corps also reshaped the politics of conservation in the United States in ways that broadened both the movement's composition and its concerns. This essay argues, then, that the legacy of the CCC involved more than the creation of jobs in a sometimes misguided effort to conserve the country's natural resources. Instead, it concludes that in transforming both the natural and corporeal terrain of places like Camp Roosevelt, the Corps was in fact altering the nation's political landscape as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-461
Number of pages27
JournalEnvironmental History
Volume7
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2002
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)

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