TVA's Triumph:

For decades the 42,000 square miles of the Valley of the Tennessee were ill-faring land. Floods devastated the lowlands and rains eroded the deforested hills. There was little industry. The malaria-ridden people were as impoverished as the soil. Like Aesop's fabled dog in the manger, Tennessee's paunchy, vituperative Senator Kenneth McKellar championed the land and the people; he wanted no improvements without patronage. When the vast, experimental Tennessee Valley Authority was created in 1933 he set out to force the spoils system upon it.

He failed. Year after year TVA shunned politics, awarded jobs on a merit basis. Shaking with rage,...

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