chapter  29
Norman Thomas
Pages 8

The image of Norman Thomas that prevails in most accounts of his time and career is that of an idealistic failure. It is an image that he endorsed. Norman Thomas became the national leader of the Socialist party in the United States shortly after the party was destroyed by the political ravages of the First World War and the opening round of this century's faction fights over communism. For nearly fifty years, he struggled to keep a dying socialist faith alive in the United States, while insisting that his innumerable campaigns for social justice, civil liberties, and world peace were doing little good. Thomas ran for the U.S. presidency six times on the Socialist party ticket. In his later years, when friends tried to console him with the fact that Franklin Roosevelt had carried out much of Thomas's political platform, Thomas invariably replied that Roosevelt carried it out "on a stretcher." This was Thomas's epitaph for American democratic socialism, which in his time was widely called "Norman Thomas Socialism."