Johnson, Hugh Samuel
(1882-1942)
   Hugh Johnson grew up in Oklahoma, graduated from West Point in 1903, and served with the First Cavalry in the Philippines and on national park duties. He wrote popular stories about military life for such magazines as Colliers, Century, and Scribner’s. Johnson qualified in law in 1916 and served briefly as judge advocate with General John Pershing in the punitive expedition in Mexico. During World War I, he was involved in the development of the Selective Service System and became army representative to the War Industries Board. He rose to the rank of brigadier general.
   Following his resignation from the army in 1919, Johnson became an executive with the Moline Plow Company. He also became an investigator for Bernard Baruch in 1927, and in 1933 he became part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s team of advisers known as the “Brain Trust.” In this role, Johnson helped to draw up the National Industrial Recovery Act and was then appointed as administrator of the National Recovery Administration (NRA). His energy and vitality did much to establish the NRA, and his wartime experience was evident in the Blue Eagle propaganda campaign associated with the agency. However, Johnson’s rather volatile leadership of the NRA and his colorful language and private life attracted considerable criticism, and he was replaced in 1934. He then served briefly as head of the Works Progress Administration in New York City. After 1937, Johnson became increasingly critical of the New Deal and Roosevelt, whom he accused of being dictatorial in his syndicated newspaper columns and radio commentaries. In 1940 he supported Republican presidential candidate Wendell Willkie and also helped found the America First Committee to preserve U.S. neutrality. Johnson published his memoirs, The Blue Eagle from Egg to Earth, in 1935.

Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . . 2015.

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