Lilienthal, David Eli (lĭlˈyənthôl) [key], 1899–1981, American public official, b. Morton, Ill. He was admitted (1923) to the bar, practiced law, and was appointed by Gov. Philip La Follette to the Wisconsin public service commission. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933 made him one of three directors, together with Arthur E. Morgan and Harcourt Morgan, of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). There were severe internal struggles as well as violent disputes with opponents of the TVA. As chairman (1941–46) of the TVA, he fought bitter battles with various competing private interests, and he insisted on nonpolitical administration. He was appointed chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission by President Truman, and in that office (1947–49) he was a pioneer in civilian control of the American atomic-energy program. He wrote TVA, Democracy on the March (1944, new ed. 1953), This I Do Believe (1949), Big Business: A New Era (1953), and Change, Hope and the Bomb (1963).
See his journals (5 vol., 1964–71); biography by W. Whitman (1948).