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Dr. Francis Townsend (1867-1960) was an American physician who devised the Townsend Plan, a popular proposal for state-funded old-age pensions. The plan promised to end the Great Depression by opening up jobs for younger workers, while forcing seniors to spend more money in the consumer economy.

In the mid-1930s, Townsend rose from complete obscurity to become the leader of a political movement that claimed the support of more than 25 million Americans. The Roosevelt administration eventually adopted a more austere version of the Townsend Plan when it created the Social Security program.

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