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Great Depression DBQ Essay

Roosevelts responses aided curtail the problems of the Great Depression by employing the unemployed, aiding the businesses, and restoring confidence in a very panicked public. He alleviated the poorest classes by enacting laws that provided them with safety nets and even some capital to get started with. By raising the standard of living for the desperately poor, he increased the number of able consumers to buy businesses goods and decreased the number of people living in the streets, which in turn set off the reactions that improved all other aspects of American life, thereby beginning to restore the pre-depression conditions.

The Chinese proverb goes, Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. This teaching a man to fish was exactly what Roosevelt did to millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans. He reallocated wealth to those who truly needed it. He didnt want the recipients to remain entirely dependent on the help, as demonstrated by the New Deal act that gave those in poverty a little bit of money so that they had somewhere to start from when getting up and going job-hunting. There was some uneven distribution of this help, as clearly illustrated in Document I. Blacks, women, and immigrants were clearly discriminated against everywhere. As illustrated by Document J, the number of unemployed citizens dropped significantly during the Roosevelt years.

Sometimes he would attack multiple issues with his programs, such as when he fought both unemployment and lack of natural resource conservation by creating the CCC. One fascinating thing that Document J reveals is how much more unemployment there was in the urban areas, since taking away the low unemployment rates of the farm-workers raised the overall rate from about 25 to 37, a total of about 12% change. It was because of this why so many of Roosevelts programs were focused on unskilled workers, such that are normally found in the urban areas.

As Document H demonstrates, Roosevelt redeveloped a very large chunk of American industry. He formed many agencies that eliminated wasteful competition and worked with companies to improve their employee relations. Though portraying the New Deal somewhat negatively, Document D portrays some of the sheer quantity of programs that Roosevelt enacted. These programs improved the ways of life of countless Americans, from getting businesses to agree to recognize unions and their powers of collective bargaining to regulating maximum employee work hours. Document G supports this claim best by agreeing that one of the largest faults of employers is their unwillingness to give workers more power (in this case, that was collective bargaining). Roosevelt had to fight through some very tough criticism of his plans, such as the one in Document G. Nevertheless, he persisted in Roosevelt believed that helping these employees was the key of getting out of depression.

Though Document B is a complaint, it too displays values of what Roosevelt was trying to do. The worker was his top priority; if it meant that helping him would hurt the company, then so be it. He believed that it was most important for the worker to get back on his feet because he was the main consumer in America. It was because of this immense care Roosevelt demanded for the worker that the worker ended up with a new deal.One of the key things that Roosevelts New Deal did was calm the mass hysteria that was beginning to develop from the Depression. For them, the world seemed to be irrevocably falling apart. When Roosevelt stepped in, they could see that someone was actually trying to do something about their problems. Somebody was actually working on ending their grief. This is demonstrated clearly in Document C, where the caricature depicts Roosevelt as explaining that it was natural for the New Deal programs to develop, that it is human nature to want to help others.

Roosevelt attacked problems of people from all walks of life, as demonstrated in Document E, where the elderly are being reassured by being given information about the then newly enacted Social Security, which would provide them with an income for the rest of their lives. Document A discusses how unw illing women seemed to be to publicly accept charity. This was another obstacle in Roosevelts course, for women were half the population, and they needed to be calmed as well as the men. Roosevelt certainly faced opposition even when his motives appeared to be so sincere. Document F displays the Supreme Courts majority opinion after deeming one of his acts as unconstitutional. They claimed that he was too invasive with the government into peoples lives. Though this may be true, government intervention is sometimes the only way to fix a vast dilemma, as it was the case here for Roosevelt.

By directing the aid from his New Deal at the worker, the lowest level on the salary scale, Roosevelt worked from the bottom up to bring the country out of the recession. When the workers could afford to pay for goods, companies could reopen and receive revenue, thusly hiring more workers. The inherencies that Roosevelt attacked most were public panic, the poor state of businesses, and a huge mass of unemployed citizens. By focusing on the consumers of America, Roosevelt ended up restoring both them and the producers.


:America Past and Present, AP* Edition, Revised Seventh EditionWikipedia contributors. “Great Depression.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 25 Feb. 2010. Web. 2 Mar. 2010.

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