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Relentless ReformerJosephine Roche and Progressivism in Twentieth-Century America$
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Robyn Muncy

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691122731

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691122731.001.0001

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“Prophet of a New and Wiser Social Order,” 1929–1932

“Prophet of a New and Wiser Social Order,” 1929–1932

(p.126) Chapter 8 “Prophet of a New and Wiser Social Order,” 1929–1932
Relentless Reformer

Robyn Muncy

Princeton University Press

This chapter details events in Josephine Roche's life from 1929 to 1932. As Roche and the miners at Rocky Mountain Fuel (RMF) implemented their “industrial Magna Carta,” they faced two major threats. One was the Great Depression. The other was the determination of Roche's competitors to drive her out of business because of her labor policy. When Roche took over RMF, the United States and most of the industrialized world were on the brink of the most profound economic downturn of the twentieth century. That global economic contraction made Roche's competitors the more eager to force her out of the coalfields and made it harder for her to maintain high labor standards. Remarkably, she held on, heralded by progressives as a “prophet of a new and wiser social order.” In the process, she established her place within an emerging political elite that would soon dominate national politics and government. Indeed, her work at RMF was one of many threads tying the Progressive Era to the New Deal.

Keywords:   Josephine Roche, Rocky Mountain Fuel Company, Great Depression, labor policy, biography, economic downturn

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