TVA has been acknowledged as a powerful symbol of New Deal era since its official beginning in 1933. Especially in the Asian countries afflicted with the sad history of cold war and forced modernization, it has had more powerful symbolic meaning. But from 1980s, we could witness the emergence of new studies with a critical approach. The new scholars have different social, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds. More recently, in some valuable researches, the impact of the TVA over the world development (especially after 1945) was debated.
This paper wants to adopt that new perspective. The author, who has tried to find the continuity of American technological discourse between Progressive and New Deal era domestic intellectual development and Cold War Era modernization theory and overseas policy, chose TVA as his first starting point. And the author says that this paper constitutes only the beginning of that long study.
First, the author tries to trace historical and intellectual roots of TVA. Especially , Tennessee Valley region, before 1933, had been a place of grave concern to many people interested in its development. It had been a battlefield of many conflicting groups. Above all, the coming of electricity in late 19th century gave a turning point in its development history. And, after the Great War, the Southern Farmers attracted by fertilizer saw their dream come true there. The auto industry magnate Henry Ford made the poor Southern states a nation-wide focus. But, we could also see the persistent and consistent Progressives like Pinchot and the senator Norris struggle to protect the region from many voracious appetite of private utilities and other dangers. In the twenties, the Republican government tried to lease the Muscle Shoals and its facilities to private sector. But, at the same time, there appeared a consensus that Tennessee Valley should be controlled by a public institution.
Secondly, the author deals with the New Deal era. The inauguration of FDR strengthened the Progressives' position. Furthermore, the Democratic government facing economic emergency took that area development as a big government priority. For that purpose, the new president hired three famous figures as the directors of newly launched TVA. The author analyzes their(actually two of them) intellectual background and belief. They had some points in common-they lived in a secular reform age and had a driven personality. They had their own convictions. And there were differences between them. A. E. Morgan was a man of ideal and tried to use TVA as one of his social experiments, while D. E. Lilienthal saw it as a battlefield against the public utilities. Their clash left an indelible imprint on the history of TVA.
With this historical understanding in mind, we can approach the context of the cold war diffusion of TVA projects and try to understand the historical implication of TVA in analysing the mutation of the American liberalism and reform tradition in the early 20th century.