Townsend, Dr. Francis E.

Creator of Depression era revolving old age pension proposal, “The Townsend Plan”

Price: $45.00

Description:
(1867-1960) American physician known for the "Townsend Plan," his revolving old-age pension proposal during the Great Depression, which influenced the Roosevelt administration's Social Security system. Born in Fairbury, Ill., son of a farmer, he graduated Omaha Medical College in 1907, was a doctor in South Dakota but joined the Army Medical Corps in WW I. On leaving the Army, he worked in Long Beach, California, becoming assistant city health director. He lost his job during the Great Depression and was forced into retirement. In 1933, he proposed a scheme whereby the Federal government would provide every person over 60 with a monthly pension of $150 (later increased to $200). Townsend argued pensioners would immediately spend the money and therefore create new jobs and bring an end to the Depression. He suggested that his Old Age Revolving Pension Plan could be financed by a Federal tax on all sales (wholesale & retail), and by 1935 his Townsend Club had 5+ million members. In 1935 he handed in to President Roosevelt a petition supporting the Old Age Revolving Pension Plan that was signed by 20+ million people. President Roosevelt proposed his own old-age policy, less generous than Townsend’s proposal. FDR’s policy included a program for poor older people with matching payments from the Federal government, Old Age Assistance, and a national old-age annuity program, later called Social Security. FDR’s programs were included in the Social Security Act, which passed in August 1935. Townsend claimed FDR’s social security legislation was inadequate and in 1936 joined Father Charles Coughlin, Gerald L. K. Smith and followers of the late Huey Long, to form the National Union of Social Justice. William Lepke was selected as their candidate in the 1936 presidential election but won only 882,479 votes. In 1936 Townsend was prosecuted by the Department of Justice for contempt of Congress, but President Roosevelt commuted his 30 day prison sentence. The Townsend Plan continued to agitate for higher benefits after the Social Security Act's passage and reached its peak of support in the months after it was enacted. The Townsend Plan was hampered by Dr. Townsend's personal control over his organization and his vendetta against Roosevelt. But, by continued political pressure, augmented by other pension organizations (inc. California's Ham and Eggs), the Townsend Plan helped induce amendments to the Social Security Act in 1939 that greatly upgraded old-age benefits for both programs. With other pension organizations that promoted state-level Old Age Assistance programs, the Townsend Plan indirectly spurred augmentation of Social Security in 1950, when it finally became a more generous program than Old Age Assistance. The Townsend Plan continued to exist in some form until the early 80s, but fell into political insignificance in the 50s. Uncommon signature on 2 ¼ x 4 slip as “Dr. F. E. Townsend”, mounted onto 2 ¾ x 4 ½ card, with small book picture of Gerald L. K. Smith, Father Coughlin & Dr. Townsend.

Condition: Very good, 2 tiny creases, very minor smudge to “d” in last name; mount remnants on verso of card
Type:Signature






[View Shopping Cart]
[Home] [Articles] [Biography] [Calendar]
[Catalogue] [Search]



enbainc@cs.com

Edward N. Bomsey Autographs, Inc.
7317 Farr Street
Annandale, VA 22003-2516
(703) 642-2040(phone & fax)




Home
Home

Articles
Articles

Biography
Biography

Calendar
Calendar

Catalogue
Catalogue

Search
Search