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THE BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF IOWA

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Stanley, Claude Maxwell
(June 16, 1904–September 20, 1984)

–engineer, industrialist, and activist for international government and peace—was born in Corning, Iowa, the son of Claude Maxwell Stanley and Laura Esther (Stephenson) Stanley. Stanley graduated from Corning High School in 1922. He earned a B.S. (1926) and an M.S. (1930) in engineering from the State University of Iowa. In 1927 he married Elizabeth M. Holthus, a 1927 graduate of the State University of Iowa. They had three children. In 1932 the Stanleys moved to Muscatine, where they spent the rest of their lives.

    In 1939, in partnership with his younger brother Art, Stanley bought a small Muscatine engineering firm called Central States Engineering, which eventually became Stanley Consultants, Inc. The firm specialized in rural electrification, state highway construction, flood control, and municipal water and sanitary system projects.

    Prior to World War II, Stanley was neither an isolationist nor an outspoken interventionist. He did believe, however, that Mussolini and Hitler represented a growing international evil and that the United States should not abandon Europe to a fascist fate. Stanley was above draft age so did not serve on active duty during the war, but his firm was active in war work. After the war, Stanley Consultants, Inc. returned to electrical plant and other construction projects in both the United States and overseas and prospered in the postwar boom. In 1972 Stanley retired as president of the firm.

    In 1943 Stanley, with two partners, formed a company to manufacture steel cabinets for the kitchens of the new homes they knew would be built after the war. This new company was to be called Home-O-Nize (a play on "harmonize"). After the war and a change of name to HON Industries and a change of products to office equipment, the company prospered. HON is now the third-largest office equipment manufacturer in the United States. Stanley retired from the presidency of HON in 1964.

    In 1947 Stanley joined the organization that would eventually become the United World Federalists (UWF), an organization whose goal was to foster world law, stability, and peace by strengthening the United Nations (UN) through modifications to its charter. Stanley was very active in the organization and served as U.S. president (1954- 1956 and 1964-1966) and world president (1958-1965).

    Over time, Stanley became disenchanted with both the UWF and the UN. In his 1966 valedictory to the UWF, he said, "While the world's population explodes, poverty and hunger persists and economic and social development stagnates... the U.N. has become impotent.... Religious hatred, racial prejudice and destructive nationalism are human inventions that can be eliminated by human devising."

    In 1956 Stanley and his wife, Elizabeth, created and endowed the Stanley Foundation, headquartered in Muscatine. The foundation focuses on "the promotion of public understanding, constructive dialog and cooperative action on critical international issues."The foundation's activities include publishing special studies on global issues and periodically publishing a journal of thought and dialogue on world affairs.

    Politically, Stanley would have described himself as a business Republican with an Iowa Republican heritage, but he would have also called himself a progressive, internationalist Republican. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the progressive Eisenhower but slowly became disenchanted with conservative Republicans and did not support Goldwater in 1964. Stanley voted for Carter in 1976 and actively worked against Reagan in 1980.

    Stanley's international political opinions and their evolution were set forth in two books. In Waging Peace: A Businessman Looks at U.S. Foreign Policy (1957), Stanley voiced support for America's Cold War containment policy, strong military stance, and commitment to international improvement through foreign aid. By 1976, in Managing Global Problems, Stanley instead emphasized cooperation over confrontation with the Soviet Union, along with the need to improve the world order through population control, environmental protection, and the improvement of third world economies. He criticized what he considered two "provincial" American attitudes: that our social, economic, and political systems are the best for everyone; and that all problems are subject to, and require, instant solutions.

    Near the end of his life, Stanley summarized his worldview in a speech given at the University of Dubuque. He stated that the major world problems stemmed from and included an inequitable economic order with inadequate trade relationships between the developed and developing nations, the slow social and economic development of the developing nations, the imbalance of world population growth, and the depletion of the supporting world resources.

    Stanley died in New York City at age 80.
Sources include C. Maxwell Stanley, Waging Peace: A Businessman Looks at U.S. Foreign Policy (1957); C. Maxwell Stanley, Managing Global Problems (1976); and Ros Jensen, Max: A Biography of C. Maxwell Stanley (1990).
Contributor: Chet Doyle

Cite as: Doyle, Chet. "Stanley, Claude Maxwell" The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa. University of Iowa Press, 2009. Web. 26 May 2018