Regional Planning by the Federal Government

July 10, 1933

Report Outline
Initiation of the Tennessee Valley Development
The Muscle Shoals Power and Nitrate Project
Regional Planning in United States and Abroad
Regional Planning in Tennessee River Basin
Possible Results of Tennessee Regional Plan

Initiation of the Tennessee Valley Development

A First Experiment in regional planning by the federal government got under way July 1, 1933, with the taking over from the War Department of the government properties at Muscle Shoals by the newly-created Tennessee Valley Authority. President Roosevelt said in his message of April 10, recommending the Tennessee Valley development to Congress: “If we are successful here, we can march on step by step in a like development of other great natural territorial units within our borders.” Arthur E. Morgan, chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority, likewise emphasized, in a statement upon taking over the Muscle Shoals properties, that one of the purposes of the present experiment would be to develop a procedure which could be applied to similar projects elsewhere.

The Tennessee Valley Authority Act, by which the present experiment was authorized, has three legislative characteristics of general importance. (1) Broad, fundamental principles are laid down by Congress rather than numerous detailed administrative instructions. “We have sought to set up a legislative framework, but not to encase it in a legislative straight-jacket,” said the conference report. (2) The act registers a growing impartial conviction in Congress that the government-owned corporation is the most efficient and satisfactory instrument for carrying on a government business enterprise. (3) The idea of an elastic and independent government “Authority,” reconciling the various interests of several states and the many other conflicts resulting from such a large-scale development, is given a powerful impetus by the new legislation.

Significance of the Tennessee Valley Project

The project involved in the Tennessee Valley legislation is a very large one. An ultimate investment of close to $2,000,000,000 has been estimated. The entire drainage basin of the Tennessee River is directly concerned, and large adjacent areas are indirectly affected by the development. This area is four-fifths the size of England and takes in parts of eight states.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Oct. 15, 2010  States and Federalism
Sep. 13, 1996  The States and Federalism
Feb. 21, 1986  State Financing
May 24, 1985  Federalism under Reagan
Apr. 03, 1981  Reagan's ‘New Federalism’
Feb. 25, 1977  Resurgence of Regionalism
Apr. 07, 1971  State Capitalism
Dec. 23, 1964  Federal-State Revenue Sharing
Jul. 30, 1940  Federal-State Relations Under Grants-in-Aid
Jul. 03, 1937  Regional Planning and Development
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Jul. 10, 1933  Regional Planning by the Federal Government
Dec. 13, 1924  Federal Subsidies to the States
Economic Crises
Regional Planning and Urbanization