The New Deal and it’s Triumph
The 1930’s were a time of despair, poverty and distress and those who lived during this time believed it would be better to die, than to continue to live this way. When Franklin D. Roosevelt came into office in 1932, the United States was in the most disconsolate moments of the Great Depression. However, he brought with him a promise, a promise to make things better through a series of reforms he was planning on implementing known as the New Deal. In the first one hundred days following his inauguration as president, FDR, had already put into place a variety of programs, all with the goal to briskly improve the lives of those that had been most affected by the Great Depression and boost the economy.
Through these programs FDR hoped to create jobs, lower the amount of people living on the streets, and most of all, uplift the spirits of the American people which had taken the biggest hit of all. The New Deal was a success because even though many minorities were overlooked, the overall population was influenced in a significant positive manner through job creation and governmental aid despite having negative effects in other areas of the country.
Although the New Deal was an overall success in the United States, a significant amount of the minorities, especially the African Americans and Native Americans were neglected as opposed to the rest of the population. During the Great Depression, 50% of the African American citizens became unemployed, due to the fact that they were the first to be fired, and the last to be hired. Furthermore, many of the programs put into place by the New Deal, by improving the lives of other Americans, would damage and harm those of the African Americans. For example, as the excerpt from the Gilder Lehman Institute of American History online textbook , when the AAA was put into place between 1933-1934, more than 100,000 black workers who made their living as sharecroppers and tenant farmers were forced off the land (document B). When African Americans had a job, such as in the WPA, their working conditions would be incredibly harsh and unmerciful.
These men were forced to work under harsh circumstances and if they didn’t they would lose their job. A WPA foreman in the South being interviewed by a questioner from the Federal Writer’s Project claimed that, “As a matter of fact they cannot be sick for more than five days in succession. If they are… they are automatically dropped from the rolls” (document H) demonstrating that these workers cannot afford to be sick if they want to be able to maintain their jobs. Additionally, even though the Black Cabinet was formed during these years, no civil rights reforms became law during the 1930 since the New Deal had no intention of working towards the civil rights movement.
Another minority that was significantly overlooked and even negatively impacted was the Native Americans. As Document G mentions, “Many Indian problems remain unresolved, but every one has been addressed”. Sometimes, by addressing these problems, the government would actually hurt the Native Americans. For example, the Navajo Reduction Program forced hundreds of Indians to kill or sell thousands of their sheep and other forms of livestock; therefore raising the tension between the Native Americans and the government. The New Deal, even though it helped and lessened the economic problems throughout the country, actually weakened the situation of many minorities such as the African Americans and the Native Americans.
The overall population of the United States was significantly enhanced by a number of the programs put into place by FDR through the New Deal. Roosevelt made the purpose of these programs and what he intended to do with them clear through he Fire Side Chats. For example, in one of these many chats, he claims, that “First, we are giving opportunity of employment to one-quarter of a million of the unemployed, especially the young men, to go into forestry and flood prevention work (document B) ” He planned to do this through programs he implemented a short time after such as the CCC and WPA, which gave jobs to young men all over the country, whether they were skilled or not. Slowly, the effect became clear not only in the amount of young men with jobs, but also in the overall attitudes of those in America, which had begun to lose hope. As George Dobbin, he declares that “It’s the first time in my recollection that a President ever got up and said, ‘I’m interested in and aim to do somethin’ for the workin’ man (Document C)” Norman Thomas would have agreed with this whole heartedly since one of this main objectives was to try and support the industrial worker and to improve their conditions.
The results of these programs being put into place were obvious, as unemployment statistics were brought to light. In only two years, the unemployment rate had gone down from 20.6 % to a 14.2% (document E). These percentages strongly supported the idea that the New Deal programs were helping boost the country’s economy once more. Finally, many of these programs brought assistance to other areas of living. For example, the WPA brought hot lunches to schoolchildren and would serve 500,000 meals a day (document D). This made it possible for many children, living in detrimental conditions, to eat at least one nutritional meal a day. Huey Long, a past governor of Louisiana, would have agreed with this hot-lunch program due to the fact that he believed in the re-distribution of wealth from the rich to the poor, and in this case the money is being targeted to those of more humble background. Many programs put into place by FDR such as the CCC and the WPA significantly improved the way of life of hundreds of Americans.
Eventually, even though the New Deal brought with it a lot of progress and improved life conditions, there were some areas of every day life it was not able to amend completely. One of these was the spirit of the American people. Songs such as “No Depression in Heaven” performed by the Carter Family showed the true feelings of those that were still struggling to survive. Lyrics such as “out here the hearts of men are failing” or “no orphan children crying for bread, no weeping widows toil or struggle, no shrouds, no coffins, and no dead (document E)” demonstrated how desperate and disconsolate many of the people are still and how they feel that it would be better to die, than to continue to live this way. Other negative impacts of the New Deal on the United States was the continuous discrimination towards woman and the fact that they were paid lower wages by many of the programs put into place such as the WPA or the PWA. Additionally Alden Stevens mentions that, “the New Deal Indian administration is neither as successful as its publicity says it is,” (document G) showing how improvements were not made in all areas of life in the United States. Furthermore, programs such as the TVA destroyed the environment by flooding hundreds of acres of land in order to build dams and reservoirs. The New Deal did not bring with it only positive effects towards the country. It had negative connotations as well, those which could be observed in different, minor aspects of every day life.
When FDR put into place the New Deal, he had three goals in mind. These were reform, recovery and reconstruction. He pretended to do this through various programs he implemented right away, which included the CCC, the WPA, the SSA, and much more. Slowly the effects of these programs began to be seen all over the country and the overall response was that yes, this program was working. People stopped living on the streets and began working, those who had lost everything now had insurance, and unskilled workers were now learning skills they needed in order to get a job. Even though many minorities were overlooked, and not all aspects of life in America were improved, the general impact of the New Deal was a positive one. Therefore, the New Deal was a success, because through this Roosevelt was able to create jobs and provide governmental aid, despite having slight negative effects in other areas of the country.