Our Finest Hour

Our Finest Hour

Will Clayton, the Marshall Plan, and the Triumph of Democracy

Author: Gregory A Fossedal
ISBN: 978-0-8179-9202-6
Publication Date: 2/9/1993
Pages: 349

William L. Clayton was "the principal architect of American post-war foreign economic policy" (Newsweek), yet his seminal contributions to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the Marshall Plan, and the Truman Doctrine have been largely ignored over the past four decades. This gap in the story of free-world cooperation is filled by Gregory Fossedal's vivid biography.

Leaving school and family at the age of fifteen, Clayton made a fortune as founder of the largest cotton brokerage firm in the world and became an outspoken and influential activist for improved government fiscal policies. In 1944, he was appointed by President Roosevelt to serve as assistant secretary of state for economic affairs, his passionate goal being to bring into existence a worldwide free economy.

A businessman-statesman genius, Clayton is a forgotten titan of the Roosevelt and Truman administrations. Concerning Clayton's rejection, for family reasons, of a presidential appointment to serve as secretary of state, Fossedal writes, "He felt he had contributed his talents to the nation's war effort and was content with his place in history. In fact, he was one of the few men who served in Washington, D.C., in those critical years who did not write his memoirs or cultivate a biographer…. This book is meant to be Will Clayton's memoirs."

"This is a timely, well-told story of one man's extraordinarily successful effort to shape a global, peacefully competitive economic community."
- Senator Bill Bradley

"An important addition to our understanding of modern history and particularly of the early phases of the Cold War… insightful and revealing."
- Zbigniew Brzezinski

"Will Clayton was an unswerving champion of global democratic capitalism. Fossedal's study demonstrates democracy in action-that ideas rule the world, and that we are obligated in these revolutionary times to export the American idea to the whole world as Mr. Clayton sought to do."
- John Kemp

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Gregory A Fossedal

Gregory A. Fossedal was a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the author of the widely-praised book The Democratic Imperative. He served as chairman of the Alexis de Tocqueville Institute. He is a former editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal and has also written for the New York Times, the New Republic, Commentary, Reader's Digest, and the American Spectator.

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