The Info List - Hugh S. Johnson

Hugh Samuel Johnson (August 5, 1881 – April 15, 1942) was a U.S. Army officer, businessman, speech writer, government official and newspaper columnist. He is best known as a member of the Brain Trust of Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
in 1932–34. He wrote numerous speeches for FDR and helped plan the New Deal. Appointed head of the National Recovery Administration (NRA) in 1933, he was highly energetic in his "blue eagle" campaign to reorganize American business to reduce competition and raise wages and prices. Schlesinger (1958) and Ohl (1985) conclude that he was an excellent organizer, but that he was also domineering, abusive, outspoken, and unable to work harmoniously with his peers. The NRA was terminated by a ruling of the Supreme Court, and Johnson left the administration after a little more than a year.[3]


1 Early life 2 Military career 3 New Deal
New Deal

3.1 NRA 3.2 The Business Plot 3.3 Journalism, later life and death

4 Awards 5 Dates of rank 6 Footnotes 7 References

7.1 Primary sources

8 External links

Early life[edit]

The Army Distinguished Service Medal, awarded to Brig. Gen. Hugh S. Johnson

He was born in Fort Scott, Kansas
Fort Scott, Kansas
in 1881[1][4] to Samuel L. and Elizabeth (née Mead) Johnson.[5] His paternal grandparents, Samuel and Matilda (MacAlan) Johnson, emigrated to the United States
United States
from Ireland
in 1837 and originally settled in Brooklyn, New York.[5] Hugh's father was a lawyer, and he attended public school in Wichita, Kansas, before the family moved to Alva, Oklahoma
Alva, Oklahoma
Territory.[5] He attempted to run away from home to join the Oklahoma state militia at the age of 15, but he was apprehended by his family before he left town.[6] His father promised to try to secure him an appointment to the United States
United States
Military Academy (West Point), and was successful in obtaining an alternate appointment.[1][4][6] Johnson himself discovered that the individual who was first in line for the appointment was too old, and convinced him to step aside so that Johnson could enter the Academy.[6] Military career[edit] Johnson entered West Point in 1899,[1][4][7] and graduated and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 1st Cavalry on June 11, 1903.[1][7] Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur
was one of his West Point classmates.[4] From 1907 to 1909 he was stationed at Pampanga, Philippines, but later was transferred to California.[1][7] In the early years of the 20th century, most national parks in the United States
United States
were administered by units of the United States
United States
Army.[8] Johnson was subsequently stationed at Yosemite and Sequoia national parks.[1] He was promoted to first lieutenant on March 11, 1911, and was named superintendent of Sequoia National Park in 1912.[1] Wishing to follow in his father's footsteps, Johnson won permission from General Enoch Crowder[6] to attend the University of California (at Berkeley) where he received his Bachelor of Laws
Bachelor of Laws
degree (with honors) in 1915 and his Juris Doctor
Juris Doctor
in 1916 (doubling up on courses to graduate in half the time required).[1][6] Transferring to the Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAG), from May to October 1916 he served under General John J. Pershing
John J. Pershing
in Mexico
with the Pancho Villa Expedition.[1] promoted to captain on July 1, 1916, he transferred to the JAG headquarters in Washington, D.C., in October 1916.[1][7] He was promoted to major on May 15, 1917, and to lieutenant colonel on August 5, 1917.[1][7] He was named Deputy Provost Marshal General in October 1917,[1][9] and the same month was named to a Department of War committee on military training (the U.S. had entered World War I on April 6, 1917).[1][10] As a captain, Johnson helped co-author the regulations implementing the Selective Service Act of 1917.[4] Without Congressional authorization, he ordered completed several of the initial first steps needed to implement the draft.[6] The action could have led to his court-martial had Congress not acted (a month later) to pass the conscription law.[6] He was promoted to colonel on January 8, 1918, and to brigadier general on April 15, 1918.[1][7][11] At the time of his promotion, he was the youngest person, at the age of 36, to reach the rank of brigadier general since the Civil War, and the youngest West Point graduate to remain continuously in the service who had ever reached the rank.[6] Ohl (1985) finds that Johnson was an excellent second-in-command during the war in the Office of the Provost Marshal under Brigadier General
Brigadier General
Enoch H. Crowder
Enoch H. Crowder
as long as he was closely watched and tightly supervised. His considerable talents were effectively drawn upon in the planning and implementation of the registration and draft before and during the conflict. However he was never able to work smoothly with others.[12] Upon his promotion to brigadier general, Johnson was appointed director of the Purchase and Supply Branch of the General Staff in April 1918,[1][6] and was promoted to Assistant Director of the Purchase, Storage and Traffic Division of the General Staff in October 1918.[1] In this capacity, he worked closely with the War Industries Board.[4] He favorably impressed many businessmen, including Bernard Baruch (head of the War Industries Board).[4] These contacts later proved critical in winning Johnson a position with President Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration.[4] He was put in command of the 15th Infantry Brigade which was part of the 8th Division, but the unit did not deploy to Europe because the war had ended.[dubious – discuss][13] Johnson resigned from the U.S. Army on February 25, 1919.[13] For his service in the Provost Marshal's office and in executing the draft, he was awarded the Army Distinguished Service Medal in 1926.[13] New Deal
New Deal
career[edit] Johnson was named assistant general manager of the Moline Plow Company on September 1, 1919.[13] Moline Plow's president, George Peek, and Johnson were both supporters of the McNary–Haugen Farm Relief Bill, a proposed federal law which would have established the first farm price supports in U.S. history.[4] Johnson left Moline Plow in 1927 to become an adviser to Bernard Baruch.[14] He joined the Brain Trust of Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
in the 1932 presidential election. His major role was drafting speeches, most notably one that FDR delivered in Pittsburgh denouncing the reckless spending of the Hoover administration and calling for a very conservative fiscal policy.[15] NRA[edit] Johnson played a major role in the New Deal. In 1933 Roosevelt appointed Johnson to administer the National Recovery Administration (NRA). One author claims Johnson looked on Italian Fascist corporativism as a kind of model.[16] He distributed copies of a fascist tract called "The Corporate State" by one of Mussolini's favorite economists, including giving one to Labor Secretary Frances Perkins and asking her give copies to her cabinet.[17] The NRA involved organizing thousands of businesses under codes drawn up by trade associations and industries. He was recognized for his efforts when Time named him Man of the Year of 1933—choosing him instead of FDR.[18]

Grave of Hugh S. Johnson
Hugh S. Johnson
in Arlington National Cemetery.

He was faltering badly by 1934, which historians ascribe to the profound contradictions in NRA policies, compounded by heavy drinking on the job. The NRA continued to deteriorate—it was abolished in 1935—and he came under attack by Labor Secretary Frances Perkins
Frances Perkins
for having Fascist
inclinations. Therefore, Roosevelt fired Johnson in September 1934 [19] Sarah Lucille Turner, who had been one of the first women elected to the Missouri House of Representatives, worked with Johnson for a time while he was administrator of the NRA. [20] The Business Plot[edit]

This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (February 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

Johnson was implicated by retired Marine Corps Major
General Smedley Butler in the Business Plot, an alleged political conspiracy in 1933 to overthrow United States
United States
President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in testimony before the McCormack-Dickstein Committee, whose deliberations began on November 20, 1934 and culminated in the Committee's report to the United States
United States
House of Representatives on February 15, 1935. Johnson was not called before the committee because "The committee will not take cognizance of names brought into the testimony which constitute mere hearsay." Journalism, later life and death[edit] Upon leaving the Roosevelt administration, Johnson, who had long been a successful essay writer for national magazines, now became a syndicated newspaper columnist specializing in political commentary. He supported Roosevelt in the 1936 presidential election, but when the Court-packing plan was announced in 1937 he denounced Roosevelt as a would-be dictator. In 1939 he endorsed isolationism—staying out of World War II; he endorsed Wendell Willkie
Wendell Willkie
the Republican candidate in the 1940 presidential election.[12] Johnson wrote a number of articles and stories. One future history piece, The Dam, was written in 1911 and appears in the Sam Moskowitz anthology, Science Fiction by Gaslight. In the story, Japan invades and conquers California.[citation needed] General Hugh S. Johnson
Hugh S. Johnson
died in Washington, D.C., in April 1942 from pneumonia.[2] He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Awards[edit]

Distinguished Service Medal (U.S. Army) Philippine Campaign Medal Mexican Service Medal World War I
World War I
Victory Medal (United States)

Dates of rank[edit]

No insignia Cadet, United States
United States
Military Academy: June 13, 1899

No insignia in 1903 Second Lieutenant, Regular Army: June 11, 1903

First Lieutenant, Regular Army: March 11, 1911

Captain, Regular Army: July 1, 1916

Major, Regular Army: May 15, 1917

Colonel, National Army: August 5, 1917

Colonel, National Army: January 8, 1918

Brigadier General, National Army: April 15, 1918


Biography portal United States Army
United States Army

^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Cullum, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates..., 1920, p. 1044. ^ a b " Hugh S. Johnson
Hugh S. Johnson
Dies in Capital," New York Times, April 16, 1942. ^ Schlesinger (1958) pp 105–6; Ohl (1985) ^ a b c d e f g h i Hamby, For the Survival of Democracy: Franklin Roosevelt and the World Crisis of the 1930s, 2004, p. 144. ^ a b c White, The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1967, p. 5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Crawford, "He Risked Disgrace to Speed the Draft," New York Times, June 9, 1918. ^ a b c d e f Howard, "Our Twenty-one Generals of Forty Years and Under," New York Times, August 24, 1919. ^ See, generally: Hampton, How the U.S. Cavalry Saved Our National Parks, 1971. ^ "Col. H. S. Johnson Deputy Provost Marshal," New York Times, January 25, 1918. ^ "Plans to Mobilize Schools to Aid War," New York Times, February 17, 1918. ^ "Promotes 10 Brigadiers," New York Times, April 17, 1918. ^ a b Ohl (1985) ^ a b c d Cullum, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates..., 1920, p. 1045. ^ Davis, Jr., Henry Blaine (1998). Generals in Khaki. Pentland Press, Inc. p. 204. ISBN 1571970886. OCLC 40298151 ^ Frank Freidel, Franklin D. Roosevelt: The Triumph (1956) 361-63 ^ Stanley G. Payne, A History of Fascism, 1914–1945, 1996, p. 230. ^ Martin, Madam Secretary: Frances Perkins, 1976, p. 335. ^ see TIME story ^ Martin, Madam Secretary: Frances Perkins, 1976, p. 337. ^ Lawrence O. Christensen; William E. Foley; Gary Kremer (October 1999). Dictionary of Missouri Biography. University of Missouri Press. ISBN 978-0-8262-6016-1. 


Cullum, George Washington. Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.: From Its Establishment, in 1802, to 1890. 3d ed. New York: Houghton, Mifflin, 1920. Hampton, H. Duane. How the U.S. Cavalry Saved Our National Parks. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1971. ISBN 0-253-13885-X Hamby, Alonzo L. For the Survival of Democracy: Franklin Roosevelt and the World Crisis of the 1930s. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004. ISBN 0-684-84340-4 Hawley, Ellis W. The New Deal
New Deal
and the Problem of Monopoly: A Study in Economic Ambivalence (1966) on NRA Ohl, John Kennedy. Hugh S. Johnson
Hugh S. Johnson
and the New Deal. DeKalb, Ill.: Northern Illinois Univ Press, 1985. ISBN 0-87580-110-2, standard scholarly biography Ohl, John Kennedy. "Tales Told by a New Dealer: General Hugh S. Johnson," Montana: The Magazine Of Western History 1975 25(4): 66–77 Schlesinger, Arthur, Jr. The Coming of the New Deal
New Deal
(1958), extensive coverage of Johnson's NRA White, James Terry. The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microfilms, 1967.

Primary sources[edit]

Johnson, Hugh S. The Blue Eagle From Egg to Earth. New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, 1935. Crawford, William H. "He Risked Disgrace to Speed the Draft." New York Times. June 9, 1918. Howard, C.B. "Our Twenty-one Generals of Forty Years and Under." New York Times. August 24, 1919. "Col. H. S. Johnson Deputy Provost Marshal." New York Times. January 25, 1918. " Hugh S. Johnson
Hugh S. Johnson
Dies in Capital." New York Times. April 16, 1942. "Not Since the Armistice..." Time. September 25, 1933. "Plans to Mobilize Schools to Aid War." New York Times. February 17, 1918. "Promotes 10 Brigadiers." New York Times. April 17, 1918.

External links[edit]

Hugh S. Johnson
Hugh S. Johnson
at Find a Grave "1933 Man of Year." Time. January 1, 1934. Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture – Johnson, Hugh

v t e

Time Persons of the Year


Charles Lindbergh
Charles Lindbergh
(1927) Walter Chrysler
Walter Chrysler
(1928) Owen D. Young
Owen D. Young
(1929) Mohandas Gandhi (1930) Pierre Laval
Pierre Laval
(1931) Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
(1932) Hugh S. Johnson
Hugh S. Johnson
(1933) Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
(1934) Haile Selassie
Haile Selassie
(1935) Wallis Simpson
Wallis Simpson
(1936) Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek
/ Soong Mei-ling
Soong Mei-ling
(1937) Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
(1938) Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
(1939) Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
(1940) Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
(1941) Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
(1942) George Marshall
George Marshall
(1943) Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
(1944) Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
(1945) James F. Byrnes
James F. Byrnes
(1946) George Marshall
George Marshall
(1947) Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
(1948) Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
(1949) The American Fighting-Man (1950)


Mohammed Mosaddeq (1951) Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II
(1952) Konrad Adenauer
Konrad Adenauer
(1953) John Foster Dulles
John Foster Dulles
(1954) Harlow Curtice
Harlow Curtice
(1955) Hungarian Freedom Fighters (1956) Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
(1957) Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
(1958) Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
(1959) U.S. Scientists: George Beadle / Charles Draper / John Enders / Donald A. Glaser / Joshua Lederberg
Joshua Lederberg
/ Willard Libby
Willard Libby
/ Linus Pauling
Linus Pauling
/ Edward Purcell / Isidor Rabi / Emilio Segrè
Emilio Segrè
/ William Shockley
William Shockley
/ Edward Teller / Charles Townes / James Van Allen
James Van Allen
/ Robert Woodward (1960) John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
(1961) Pope John XXIII
Pope John XXIII
(1962) Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr.
(1963) Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
(1964) William Westmoreland
William Westmoreland
(1965) The Generation Twenty-Five and Under (1966) Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
(1967) The Apollo 8
Apollo 8
Astronauts: William Anders
William Anders
/ Frank Borman
Frank Borman
/ Jim Lovell (1968) The Middle Americans (1969) Willy Brandt
Willy Brandt
(1970) Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
(1971) Henry Kissinger
Henry Kissinger
/ Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
(1972) John Sirica
John Sirica
(1973) King Faisal (1974) American Women: Susan Brownmiller / Kathleen Byerly
Kathleen Byerly
/ Alison Cheek / Jill Conway / Betty Ford
Betty Ford
/ Ella Grasso / Carla Hills / Barbara Jordan / Billie Jean King
Billie Jean King
/ Susie Sharp / Carol Sutton / Addie Wyatt (1975)


Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
(1976) Anwar Sadat
Anwar Sadat
(1977) Deng Xiaoping
Deng Xiaoping
(1978) Ayatollah Khomeini (1979) Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
(1980) Lech Wałęsa
Lech Wałęsa
(1981) The Computer (1982) Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
/ Yuri Andropov
Yuri Andropov
(1983) Peter Ueberroth
Peter Ueberroth
(1984) Deng Xiaoping
Deng Xiaoping
(1985) Corazon Aquino
Corazon Aquino
(1986) Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
(1987) The Endangered Earth (1988) Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
(1989) George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
(1990) Ted Turner
Ted Turner
(1991) Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
(1992) The Peacemakers: Yasser Arafat
Yasser Arafat
/ F. W. de Klerk
F. W. de Klerk
/ Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela
/ Yitzhak Rabin
Yitzhak Rabin
(1993) Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II
(1994) Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich
(1995) David Ho
David Ho
(1996) Andrew Grove
Andrew Grove
(1997) Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
/ Ken Starr
Ken Starr
(1998) Jeffrey P. Bezos (1999) George W. Bush
George W. Bush


Rudolph Giuliani (2001) The Whistleblowers: Cynthia Cooper / Coleen Rowley
Coleen Rowley
/ Sherron Watkins (2002) The American Soldier (2003) George W. Bush
George W. Bush
(2004) The Good Samaritans: Bono
/ Bill Gates
Bill Gates
/ Melinda Gates
Melinda Gates
(2005) You (2006) Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin
(2007) Barack Obama
Barack Obama
(2008) Ben Bernanke
Ben Bernanke
(2009) Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg
(2010) The Protester (2011) Barack Obama
Barack Obama
(2012) Pope Francis
Pope Francis
(2013) Ebola Fighters: Dr. Jerry Brown / Dr. Kent Brantly
Kent Brantly
/ Ella Watson-Stryker / Foday Gollah / Salome Karwah
Salome Karwah
(2014) Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel
(2015) Donald Trump
Donald Trump
(2016) The Silence Breakers (2017)


Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 167826805 LCCN: n85092186 ISNI: 0000 0001 2300 4213 GND: 143615165 SUDOC: 099458152 BNF: cb165237378 (data) NDL: 00541472 SN