In February 1942, the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr appealed for the United States and Great Britain, as a binding goal in the war against Hitler's Germany, to commit to creating "a genuine homeland" for Jews "under their own sovereignty, within the framework of the British Empire." "The Jews were the first, as they have been the chief, victim of Nazi fury," Niebuhr wrote in The Nation. "Their rehabilitation, like the rehabilitation of every Nazi victim, requires something more than the restoration of the status quo."
The Great Depression emboldened Americans to tolerate radical experimentation in search of solutions to economic problems. Amongst the thorniest of those problems was that of Southern poverty. Indeed, FDR claimed in 1933 that Southern rural poverty was the nation’s “number one economic problem.” The new book “Trouble in Goshen: Plain Folk, Roosevelt, Jesus, and Marx in the Great Depression South” (University Press of Mississippi) focuses on visionary economic experiments that Americans undertook in the rural South to solve that problem.
Author Fred C. Smith examines the economic and social theories — and the histories of those theories — that resulted in the creation and operation of the most aggressive and radical experimentation in the United States. Trouble in Goshen contains careful case studies of three communitarian experiments, the administrative details thereof, as well as the struggles, actions and reactions of the clients of The Tupelo Homesteads, Dyess Colony and Delta Cooperative Farm.
The Tupelo Homesteads were created under the aegis of the tiny Division of Subsistence Homestead — a short-lived, “first New Deal” agency. Tupelo Homesteads, the most successful of the DSH projects, still retains its architectural integrity and its identity as a government facility.