The 1930s in the U.S. were marked by an economic crisis, governmental regulatory response, and a significant audit failure. This paper examines the profession's struggle for legitimacy during these times through its choice of narratives regarding professional ethics and independence as revealed in the national professional organization's monthly, the Journal of Accountancy. Initially “ethics is a state-of-mind” or narrative of character was used but transitioned to a more objectively determinable narrative of technique as the decade progressed. To counter governmental regulation, the profession attempted to shift the independence discourse away from regulation of accountants to regulation of client companies.

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