DEATH OF THE BLUE EAGLE

(GEORGE DAVIS?) (1930s)

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On June 16, 1933, the National Industrial Recovery Act was signed amid much fanfare. Said President Roosevelt, "History probably will record the National Industrial Recovery Act as the most important and far-reaching legislation ever enacted by the American Congress." On that same day General [Hugh S.] Johnson was named administrator of the NRA....

In a unanimous decision on May 27, 1935, the United States Supreme Court invalidated the NRA... The decision implied that it would be unconstitutional for the Federal government to deal with a national industrial or social or agricultural problem by dictating to individual factories, stores, or farmers what they should do.. "Extraordinary conditions do not create or enlarge constitutional power."

Frederick Lewis Allen, Since Yesterday: 1929-1939, New York, 1963, pp. 97, 154-155.

''Death of the Blue Eagle'' concerns the ending of the short-lived NRA (National Recovery Act 1933- 1935). Apparently this U. S. Government act was vitally important to the mine workers although it was drawn up with all industries in mind. The NRA was based on the principle of industrial self-regulation under government supervision through a system of fair competition codes. It established guidelines for fair prices and wages, and invited employees and employers to sign up under the slogan "We do our part." When the NRA was declared unconstitutional due to monopolistic practices by unscrupulous members, the entire act was repealed. This song presents a popular interpretation: "the eagle (symbol of the NRA) went down shouting 'Hurray for one and all,' but most folks couldn't take it, they had to let it fall.'' The implication is strongly suggested that although the NRA benefited all, people couldn't accept that and took unfair advantage of the act.

John Cohen, liner notes for "When Kentucky Had No Mining Men" (FOLKWAYS FA 2343; 1967)

Lyrics as recorded by George Davis, WKIZ, Hazard, KY, Nov 15-16, 1966, reprinted ibid.

The other day my paper came,
I set and scratched my head,
While turning through its pages, boys,
Here is what I read.
''The blue eagle he is ailing,''
The little writer said,
But when he finished writing
That eagle he was dead.

Now there's a man in Washington,
Roosevelt is his name
And how he's a-mourning o'er that bird,
It is an awful shame.
He told Hugh S. Johnson,
And Johnson said, ''Mine God''
What can the miners ever do
Without their blue mascot?

The eagle went down shouting
Hurray for one and all,
But most folks couldn't take it,
They had to let it fall.
They took him to the graveyard,
In the merry month of May,
Said, "Who will solve our problems now,
There's no NRA?"

But we have an order, boys,
The UMW of A,
And we must all stick to it
Until the judgment day.
But if you're undecided, boys,
And don't know what to do,
Just think how much a ton you got
In nineteen thirty-two.

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