One of the rising stars in American politics during the 1930s was Paul Vories McNutt. As governor of Indiana, McNutt refashioned the state government...

One of the rising stars in American politics during the 1930s was Paul Vories McNutt. As governor of Indiana, McNutt refashioned the state government to address its citizens needs during the Great Depression, and was seen by many of his contemporaries as a future president of the United States. Yet McNutt never attained this goal, and his political career ended barely a decade and a half after it began. In Paul V. McNutt and the Age of FDR (Indiana University Press, 2015), Dean Kotlowski recounts McNutt’s life and career, explaining both his many achievements and how his ultimate ambitions were frustrated. The son of a small-town Indiana lawyer, as a young man McNutt distinguished himself academically and socially, and after serving in the army during World War I he assumed leadership positions at both Indiana University and in the American Legion. As a Democrat, he won the governorship in the 1932 election, and over the course of his term he won plaudits for his effectiveness in the office. Yet afterward his ascent stalled, as his potential rivals steered him towards service as high commissioner in the Philippines in order to sideline him. McNutt returned in time to pursue the Democratic Party’s 1940 presidential nomination, but Franklin Roosevelt’s decision to run for a third term ended both McNutt’s hopes for it and what proved his best chance to become president. Though McNutt continued to serve in key offices throughout World War II, these lower-profile posts led to his eclipse politically and his abandonment of politics soon after.

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