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FDR and the New Deal Essay

The stock market crash of 1929 marked a new era for the United States. The roaring twenties came to a screeching halt and many Americans faced absolute poverty in a country which was a beacon for hope, liberty, and wealth. Little was being done about this issue, especially by Herbert Hoover, the current president, whose “hands -off” approach to government did little to fix the dire situation Americans found themselves in. Though many Americans were deep into poverty, they still turned out to the polls and Franklin Roosevelt was elected president in 1932. The New Deal was a strategy of Roosevelt’s to handle the problems of the depression, as he said in his own words, “Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself…”.# His strategy included relief for unemployed and poor Americans, economic recovery, and reform of the financial system.

During his “first 100 days” Roosevelt proposed a record number of legislation. Among the legislation proposed included the Emergency banking act, agricultural adjustment act, civilian conservation choir, civilian works administration, Tennessee valley authority, and during his “second 100 days” the social security act, and the Wagner act. Roosevelt was determined to put America and its citizens back their feet, or as he said in his inaugural address “I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the measures that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world may require.

These measures, or such other measures as the Congress may build out of its experience and wisdom, I shall seek, within my constitutional authority, to bring to speedy adoption.”# Because of these programs and legislation, many achievements were made by the New Deal for America; not only bringing the United States out of the depression, but bringing positive changes for racial equality and opening doors for farmers and blue-collar workers as well.#

The emergency banking act, passed in 1933, rebuilt and strengthened the most powerful banks and reopened them by allowing the government to supply funds to support private banks.# The agricultural adjustment act was also passed in 1933 and it was enacted to stop overproduction by farmers by paying them not to produce. This act brought market improvement for farmers.# The civilian conservation corps was created by congress in 1933 to put young men to work for forest and soil restoration. This put many Americans back to work and off the streets, within the first few months over 300,000 men were employed by the corps and by 1941 there were over 2 million.# The civilian works administration was created in 1933 and it provided 4 million jobs between 1933 and 1934.

This program was responsible for building 500,000 miles of road and 40,000 schools.# The program was ended in 1934. The Tennessee valley authority was created when the government acquired the rights to muscle shoal. The Tennessee valley authority was responsible for overseeing the river valley and the dam that the government built. This program brought much needed electricity and resources to the south.# The Social Security Act was passed in 1935 and created systems for unemployment, the elderly, disability insurance, and child welfare. The Wagner Act was passed in 1935 and it defined unfair labor practices and protected unions from measures such as firing workers for forming unions or participating in union activities. It also created the National Labor Relations Board.

Despite all that the New Deal had accomplished, the New Deal experienced some failure with its success and there were still obstacles facing Roosevelt. Some of the programs and legislation were struck down and deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Some of these decisions included the National Industrial Recovery Act which set a minimum wage and wrote regulations for trade, The AAA (Agricultural Adjustment Act), The Railroad Retirement Act, a New York law creating a minimum wage for women, and it was to begin reviewing the Social Security Act and the Wagner Act.

Because of the situation Roosevelt found himself in he attempted to increase the size of the Supreme Court with his court packing scandal which was his attempt, which proved unsuccessful, to increase the number of justices and appoint his own justices that supported the New Deal. The final nail in the coffin for The New Deal was the recession that Roosevelt faced from 1937 to 1938. With the economy recovering nicely Roosevelt listened to his secretary of the treasury and decided to cut relief programs and shut down federal job programs. However, this proved disastrous and unemployment went up to 19 percent. Because of this, what economic recovery we were experiencing fell through.# Despite attempts to revive what he had destroyed it was too late, a conservative congress prevented him from doing so.

Support for the New Deal and Roosevelt came from groups including farmers, workers, minorities, the unemployed and cities especially in the south and west which benefited from relief programs. Both democrats and republicans also supported Roosevelt in the beginning of his term which can be seen when Congress returned the emergency banking bill in less then four hours for him to sign.# As the New Deal came to an end, liberals praised Roosevelt’s New Deal for providing a stable economy and providing for the overall welfare of society. Conservatives claimed it was an illusion of what the New Deal did for America and that government intervention in the lives of Americans and in the economy was still an approach they disliked. Some very radical critics claimed that the New Deal, despite what it had done, failed to do anything about economic inequality or fight racism.#

Though the New Deal benefited many Americans one group was left out of these programs pretty frequently, which were women. Federal job programs permitted only one person per family to hold a job in the program; this excluded women because the men would take the job.# There was a general feeling of animosity towards women, especially married women during this period that held jobs because people felt that they were “stealing” jobs away from men who deserved them. However many times women were supporting themselves and their children alone and needed the job. The First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt constantly worked for the issues of minorities and women and encouraged her husband not to neglect these groups in his programs.#

Overall the New Deal was the change that was needed to bring the United States out of the Depression and improve the lives of Americans. The New Deal changed the role of government in the lives of Americans and some of its programs and legislation we still benefit from today including Social Security and the Wagner Act. Agriculture still depends on the “price-support and loan” programs in order to have sound economic strength. Before the New Deal the government was obsolete in the lives of Americans and now government is used as a tool to solve the nation’s issues and to provide a
net of support for its citizens.

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