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Conservative CounterrevolutionChallenging Liberalism in 1950s Milwaukee$
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Tula A. Connell

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039904

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039904.001.0001

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Let the People Vote

Let the People Vote

(p.73) 4 Let the People Vote
Conservative Counterrevolution

Tula A. Connell

University of Illinois Press

This chapter details the strategies involved in a 1951 campaign by a coalition of small property owners and anti-tax proponents who sought to halt creation of public housing through a ballot referendum. Leading the coalition is long-time civic activist and savings-and-loan official William Pieplow. Pieplow's elevation of individual rights was tempered by a belief in “public virtue”—a willingness to sacrifice private to public interests, a characteristic championed in the early days of the nation's founding as essential for republican government. Although the referendum campaign received some support from the national housing and builder associations, which vehemently opposed the 1949 Housing Act, the movement Pieplow and his cohorts spearheaded was a genuinely grassroots expression, one that sought to defend against the perceived loss of individual rights that would result from the provision of public housing.

Keywords:   public housing, William Pieplow, public virtue, referendum campaign, 1949 Housing Act, individual rights

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