Thomas G. Corcoran

Pawtucket native Thomas G. Corcoran (1899-1981) played a pivotal role in the establishment of the American Volunteer Group, better known as the Flying Tigers. He also championed the construction of Washington’s National Airport. After World War II, he played a leading role in the establishment of Civil Air Transport (CAT), the Nationalist Chinese airline. He was also instrumental in saving 71 transport planes from falling into Communist hands when Mao Tse-Tung took over mainland China. CAT was later owned by the CIA, and supported United States covert operations throughout East and Southeast Asia. In 1959, CAT changed its name to Air America.

Nicknamed “Tommy the Cork” by his boss, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Corcoran was one of the architects of the New Deal. He graduated from Pawtucket High School, was valedictorian of his class at Brown University and received his law degree from Harvard. As well as drafting New Deal legislation, Roosevelt used Corcoran as his “special emissary to Capitol Hill”.

Elliott Roosevelt wrote, “Apart from my father, Tom (Corcoran) was the single most influential individual in the country.” Much of his work during the New Deal was in conjunction with Benjamin V. Cohen. Together Corcoran and Cohen were known as the “Gold Dust Twins” and were on the cover of Time Magazine’s September 12, 1938 edition.


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