Get Things Moving!

FDR, Wayne Coy, and the Office for Emergency Management, 1941-1943

By Mordecai Lee

Subjects: Political Science, Presidency, The, American Government, American History, World War Ii
Hardcover : 9781438471372, 396 pages, October 2018
Paperback : 9781438471365, 396 pages, July 2019

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Table of contents


1. Inventing the President’s Office for Emergency Management and Its Liaison Officer, September 1939–April 1941

2. The Rise of Wayne Coy: Public Administration with Politics, 1935–Spring 1941

3. Coy Begins as LOEM: “Wayne Coy, the President, and Three Motorcycles,” April–May 1941

4. Coy as LOEM before the War: Public Policy, April–December 1941

5. Coy as LOEM before the War: Politics, April–December 1941

6. Coy as LOEM before the War: Management, April–December 1941

7. Coy as LOEM in the First Half-Year of the War: Policy and Politics, December 1941–May 1942

8. Coy as LOEM in the First Half-Year of the War: Management and Workday Routine, December 1941–May 1942

9. Wearing Two Hats: Coy as LOEM and BOB Assistant Director, May–October 1942

10. Wearing Two Hats: Coy as LOEM and BOB Assistant Director with Byrnes in the East Wing, October 1942–June 1943

11. LOEM after Coy and Coy after LOEM


Recounts the forgotten but important work of Wayne Coy, the Office for Emergency Management's Liaison Officer, during the early years of World War II.


Shortly after Hitler's armies invaded Western Europe in May of 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt activated a new agency within the Executive Office of the President called the Office for Emergency Management (OEM). The OEM went on to house many prewar and wartime agencies created to manage the country's arms production buildup and economic mobilization. After World War II a consensus by historians quickly gelled that OEM was unimportant, viewing it as a mere administrative holding company and legalistic convenience for the emergency agencies. Similarly they have dismissed the importance of the Liaison Officer for Emergency Management (LOEM), viewing the position as merely a liaison channel between OEM agencies and the White House. Mordecai Lee presents a revisionist history of OEM, focusing mostly on the record of the longest serving LOEM, Wayne Coy. Drawing upon largely unexamined archival sources, including the Roosevelt and Truman Presidential Libraries and the National Archives, Lee gives a precise account of what Coy actually did and, contrary to the conventional wisdom, concludes he was an important senior leader in the Roosevelt White House, engaging in management, policy, and politics.

Mordecai Lee is Professor of Governmental Affairs at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and the author of many books, including The First Presidential Communications Agency: FDR's Office of Government Reports and The Philosopher-Lobbyist: John Dewey and the People's Lobby, 1928–1940, both also published by SUNY Press.


"…Get Things Moving! provides a needed look at a significant and heretofore overlooked figure in history. " — H-Net Reviews (H-War)

"Solidly researched, spritely argued, and lucidly written—with headings, subheadings, and even bullet points—Get Things Moving! is a welcome addition to scholarship on Indiana history and the age of FDR. " — Indiana Magazine of History

"This detailed, well-researched study sustains a convincing revisionist interpretation of the domestic scene during World War II … Highly recommended. " — CHOICE

"Underscoring how a seminal, yet relatively unknown, figure worked to advance New Deal initiatives and some of the federal government's response to mechanisms associated with trying to end the Great Depression, Lee illuminates a forgotten element of this historic time in US administrative history. " — Stephanie P. Newbold, author of All But Forgotten: Thomas Jefferson and the Development of Public Administration