Editorial, “Muscle Shoals– Ours,” The Nation, 1924.

Muscle Shoals is a site on the Tennessee River in Alabama where President Woodrow Wilson authorized a hydroelectric dam during World War I to produce nitrates for munitions. The war ended before the dam was finished and during the 1920s a dispute erupted over the future use of the site and the dam.

Should the dam be transferred to private developers, such as Henry Ford, who proposed to use the dam to produce fertilizer and electricity? Or should the dam remain in public hands, owned and managed by a government agency?

The public versus private power debate of the 1920s and 1930s pitted two strikingly different viewpoints against each other. In this editorial column in the left-leaning magazine, The Nation, the authors argue that a public resource like the dam site should be publicly owned and developed. How do the editorial writers make their case for public control?


Editorial. “Muscle Shoals– Ours.” The Nation, December 17, 1924.

Library Item Date: 


Teaching Unit: 

Electricity and the Public Good: Private-Public Power Debates in the 1920s-30s