Raymond Moley

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Raymond Moley
Moley receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1970.
Moley receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1970.
BornRaymond Charles Moley
September 27, 1886
Berea, Ohio
DiedFebruary 18, 1975 (age 88)
Phoenix, Arizona
OccupationPresidential adviser, professor of law, author

Raymond Charles Moley (September 27, 1886 – February 18, 1975) was an American political economist[citation needed]. Initially a leading supporter of the New Deal, he went on to become its bitter opponent before the end of the Great Depression.

Early life and career[edit]

Moley (furthest right) accepts the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Richard Nixon on April 22, 1970.

The son of Felix James and Agnes Fairchild Moley,[1] he was educated at Baldwin-Wallace College and Oberlin College and received his PhD from Columbia University in 1918. He taught in several schools in Ohio until 1914. In 1916 he was appointed instructor and assistant professor of politics at Western Reserve University and from 1919 was director of the Cleveland Foundation. In 1918–19 he was also director of Americanization work under the Ohio State Council of Defense. He joined the Barnard College faculty in 1923, then became a professor of law at Columbia University from 1928–1954, where he was a specialist on the criminal justice system.

Advisor to FDR[edit]

Moley supported then-New York Governor Franklin Roosevelt, and it was Moley who recruited fellow Columbia professors to form the original "Brain Trust" to advise Roosevelt during his presidential campaign of 1932. Despite ridicule from editorial and political cartoonists, the "Brain Trust" went to Washington and became powerful figures in Roosevelt's New Deal, with Moley writing important speeches for the president. For example, he wrote the majority of Roosevelt's first inaugural address, although he is not credited with penning the famous line, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." He was responsible for FDR's use of the term "the Forgotten Man" in earlier speeches.[2] He claimed credit for inventing the term "New Deal,"[3] though its precise provenance remains open to debate. Moley also wrote various pamphlets and articles on the teaching of government. Praising the new president's first moves in March 1933, he concluded that capitalism "was saved in eight days."[4]

Move to the right[edit]

In mid-1933 Moley began his break with Roosevelt, and although he continued to write speeches for the president until 1936, he became increasingly critical of his policies, eventually becoming a conservative Republican. He wrote a column for Newsweek magazine from 1937 to 1968, and became an early contributor to the free market publication The Freeman, and, later, the nation's leading conservative periodical, National Review.[5] In these roles, he became one of the best known critics of the New Deal and liberalism in general. Moley's After Seven Years (New York: 1939) was one of the first in-depth attacks on the New Deal, and remains one of the most powerful.[according to whom?]

Moley was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Richard Nixon on April 22, 1970.[6]


He wrote several books including:

  • Lessons in Democracy (1919)
  • Commercial Recreation (1919)
  • Facts for Future Citizens (1922)
  • After Seven Years (1939; online e-book)
  • The Hays Office (1944)
  • How to Keep Our Liberty (1952; online e-book)
  • The First New Deal (1966)


  1. ^ Moley, Raymond. Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. 1997 Jul 21. Retrieved 2008-10-15.
  2. ^ Shlaes, Amity, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression, Harper Collins, 2007.
  3. ^ Three phonotapes of interviews of Raymond Moley, 1970, relating to Franklin D. Roosevelt and The First New Deal and Moley's diary; Raymond Moley papers; Audio-Visual file; Hoover Institution Archives.
  4. ^ Moley, Raymond. "After Seven Years". Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1939, p. 155.
  5. ^ Chamberlain, John, A Life With the Printed Word, Regnery, 1982, p.138; Agnew, Jean-Christophe, and Rosenzweig, Roy, A Companion to Post-1945 America, Blackwell, 2002, p.309.
  6. ^ Nixon, Richard (April 22, 1970). "Remarks on Presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Eight Journalists". Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. Archived from the original on 2011-10-01. Retrieved 2011-12-25.