Morris Llewellyn Cooke (1872-1960)

After graduating from Lehigh University, Morris Cooke became a consulting engineer for electric power utilities. He was the Director of the Department of Public Works of Philadelphia in 1911 before working as economic advisor to Governor Gifford Pinchot. During Roosevelt's first term as Governor of New York, he appointed Cooke to the Power Authority of the State of New York. Later, in March 1935, Roosevelt selected Cooke to head the Rural Electrification Administration which he funded through the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of that year. The REA hoped to expand on the success of TVA in supplying power at lower costs to rural regions. A believer in collectivism, Cooke determined that the REA should function as a lending agency to community cooperatives that the people would have to form. He did not think it should operate as a relief agency since few skilled workers were on relief. With loans from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, these people could build the necessary technologies and then purchase power from a distributor. However, Cooke found his structure problematic since existing power distributors refused to relinquish their monopolies by selling power to the cooperatives. Cooke realized that he would have to give the REA jurisdiction to help organize coops, and later assist them through legal channels towards recognition.


Davis, Kenneth. FDR: The New Deal Years 1933-1937 A History. NY: Random House, 1986.