LILIENTHAL, DAVID ELI

LILIENTHAL, DAVID ELI (1899–1981), U.S. attorney, public official, and specialist in the development of natural resources. Lilienthal, who was born in Morton, Illinois, graduated from Harvard Law School in 1923 and was admitted to the Illinois bar that year. He practiced law in Chicago and was special counsel to that city in litigation concerning telephone rates until 1931. From 1926 to 1931, when he was appointed to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, he also edited the journal Public Utilities and Carriers Service. In 1933 he was chosen by President Roosevelt to be director of the Tennessee Valley Authority. He held that post until 1941 when he was promoted to TVA chairman. In these capacities he defended TVA against attacks by Wendall L. Willkie and the power companies, resisted attempts to undermine the nonpolitical nature of appointments to the agency, and strove for decentralization of administration, voluntary cooperation of local communities, and planning in response to their needs. In 1946 he left the TVA, as he was appointed by President Truman as the first chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, which managed the peacetime use of nuclear power. His "Lilienthal Plan" called for an end to the nuclear arms race through international control of all atomic energy. He also publicly questioned the wisdom of America's decision to produce the hydrogen bomb. In the wake of controversy created by these views, Lilienthal returned to private life in 1950. In 1955 he formed the Development and Resources Corporation, a private venture in the designing and execution of development plans for underdeveloped countries. He served as a consultant on the utilization of human and natural resources to the governments of Colombia, Peru, Italy, Brazil, Iran, and Vietnam for various periods after 1955. His books include TVA: Democracy on the March (1944), This I Do Believe (1949), Big Business: A New Era (1953), Change, Hope, and the Bomb (1963), Management: A Humanist Art (1967), Atomic Energy, a New Start (1980), and the seven-volume Journals of David E. Lilienthal (1964–83). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. Daniels, Southerner Discovers the South (1938), 46–97; Brooks, in: New Yorker (April 29, 1961), 45–90; P. Selznick, TVA and the Grass Roots (1949), which presents conclusions different from Lilienthal's own. (Bernard Sternsher / Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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