One Year: 1942

Season 4: Episode 1

The Most Hated Man in America

In 1942, it was up to Leon Henderson to stop inflation. He became a nationwide villain.


Episode Notes

At the beginning of World War II, the greatest threat to the American war effort wasn’t the Nazis or the Japanese—it was runaway inflation. The man in charge of stopping it was the country’s “price czar,” Leon Henderson. In 1942, he controlled how much coffee ordinary people could drink and how many tires they could buy. Those rules made him a nationwide villain. But would they save the country?

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Sources for This Episode


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Bartels, Andrew H. “The Office of Price Administration and the Legacy of the New Deal, 1939-1946,” the Public Historian, Summer 1983.

Coughlan, Robert. “Leon Henderson,” Life, Sept. 14, 1942.

Davenport, Walter. “What Price Henderson,” Colliers, Sept. 6, 1941.

Frohardt-Lane, Sarah. “Promoting a Culture of Driving: Rationing, Car Sharing, and Propaganda in World War II,” Journal of American Studies, May 2012.

Henderson Curbs Rent in 20 Areas,” New York Times, May 27, 1942.

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Wong, Wailin and Amanda Aronczyk. “Uncle Sam wants YOU to fight inflation,” Planet Money, Feb. 4, 2022.


About the Show

The people and struggles that changed America—one year at a time. In each episode, host Josh Levin explores a story you may have forgotten, or one you’ve never heard of before. What were the moments that transformed politics, culture, science, religion, and more? And how does the nation’s past shape our present?

The fourth season of One Year covers 1942, a year when inflation threatened to sink America, disinformation was rampant, and a worker revolt changed music forever.

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