Abstract: Ohio governor James Allen Rhodes (1909-2001) lived both an authentic American success story and an embellished populist myth. The son of a coal miner, Rhodes survived the insecurity that characterized the lives of early twentieth-century working-class Americans, matured after an extended adolescent aimlessness, and became Ohio's most powerful governor. He also exaggerated key parts of his biography and omitted other events in order to authenticate his credentials as a champion of the common man. From this odd mix of fact and fiction emerges a story of an important but overlooked politician. This dissertation is the first full length investigation into Rhodes' life and political career, placing him in a larger context of regional political change, the rise of the consumer culture, and the working-class origins of populist economic security. Before Rhodes, Midwestern Republicans opposed the New Deal and saw nothing more than slavery in Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt's promise to deliver economic security to American voters. As Ohio's longest serving governor (1963-1971 and 1975-1983), as a child of the insecure working class, and as a young politician maturing in the 1930s, Rhodes made security the central part of his Republican philosophy. That concern led him to challenge Midwestern Republican orthodoxy, pioneer Republican Party efforts to capture the working-class vote, and attempt to radically alter the Rustbelt economy of the Midwest.