World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Brain trust


Brain trust

Brain trust began as a term for a group of close advisers to a political candidate or incumbent, prized for their expertise in particular fields. The term is most associated with the group of advisers to Franklin Roosevelt during his presidential administration. More recently the use of the term has expanded to encompass any group of advisers to a decision maker, whether or not in politics.


  • Etymology 1
  • Roosevelt's "Brain Trust" 2
    • Members 2.1
      • First New Deal 2.1.1
      • Second New Deal 2.1.2
      • Other advisers 2.1.3
  • See also 3
  • References and sources 4


The first use of the term brain trust was in 1899 when it appeared in the Marion (Ohio) Daily Star: "Since everything else is tending to trusts, why not a brain trust?" This sense was referring to the era of trust-busting, a popular political slogan and objective of the time that helped spur the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act and was later a key policy of President Theodore Roosevelt's administration. The term appears to have not been used again until 1928, when Time magazine ran a headline on a meeting of the American Council on Learned Societies titled "Brain Trust".[1]

Roosevelt's "Brain Trust"

Franklin Roosevelt's speechwriter and legal counsel Samuel Rosenman suggested having an academic team to advise Roosevelt in March 1932. This concept was perhaps based on The Inquiry, a group of academic advisors President Woodrow Wilson formed in 1917 to prepare for the peace negotiations following World War I. In 1932, New York Times writer James Kieran first used the term Brains Trust (shortened to Brain Trust later) when he applied it to the close group of experts that surrounded United States presidential candidate Franklin Roosevelt. According to Roosevelt Brain Trust member Raymond Moley, Kieran coined the term, however Rosenman contended that Louis Howe, a close advisor to the President, first used the term but used it derisively in a conversation with Roosevelt.[1][2]

The core of the first Roosevelt brain trust consisted of a group of Columbia law professors (Moley, Tugwell, and Berle). These men played a key role in shaping the policies of the First New Deal (1933). Although they never met together as a group, they each had Roosevelt's ear. Many newspaper editorials and editorial cartoons ridiculed them as impractical idealists.

The core of the second Roosevelt brain trust sprang from men associated with the Harvard law school (Cohen, Corcoran, and Frankfurter). These men played a key role in shaping the policies of the Second New Deal (1935–1936).


First New Deal

Second New Deal

Other advisers

See also

References and sources

  1. ^ a b Safire, William "Safire's Political Dictionary" (2008)
  2. ^ James Kieran "The 'Cabinet' Mr. Roosevelt Already Has", New York Times, November 20, 1932, p. XX2. Roosevelt himself had recently tossed out the term when speaking to newsmen. Boller, Presidential Campaigns: From George Washington to George W. Bush (Oxford University Press 2004) pp. 237–8 (available at: )
  3. ^
  • Moley, Raymond. (1939). After seven years
  • Tugwell, Rexford. (1968). The Brains Trust
  • Editorial cartoons
  • Rosen, Elliot. (1977). Hoover, Roosevelt, and the Brains Trust.
  • McElvaine, Robert. (1984). The Great Depression: America 1929-1941
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.