In Profiles in Courage, JFK wrote, “A man does what he must – in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers, and pressures – and that is the basis of all human morality.” True political courage means to risk your entire career and reputation for the betterment of his city, county, or country. Franklin D. Roosevelt guided our country through one of its largest calamities. His political courage shone through the dark times with his confidence, optimism and savviness.
During the darkest days of the Great Depression, when everyone was at their lowest low, Franklin D.
Roosevelt delivered his first inaugural speech before 100,000 people (History.com). He promised the citizens of America he would act swiftly and face the “dark realities of the moment” (History.com). This resurrected feelings of confidence in the American people that they had elected a man who was not afraid to make bold decisions to face the nation’s problems. Hereafter, Roosevelt issued a four-day bank holiday to keep people from taking their money out from the banks.
On the 9th of March, Congress passed Roosevelt’s Emergency Banking Act, that reorganized the banks and closed the ones that had gone under (History.com). Three days later in Roosevelt’s first “fireside chat”, a public address that seemed informal and brought comfort to the American citizens, he urged them to put their money back into the banks. By the end of the month almost three-fourths of the banks had reopened. Roosevelt’s journey to end the Great Depression was just beginning (History.
His next act was to end Prohibition, by making it legal for Americans to buy alcohol (Miller Center). In May, Roosevelt signed the Tennesse Valley Authority Act into a law, allowing the federal government to build dams along the Tennesse River (History.com). That in turn, controlled flooding and generated inexpensive hydroelectric power for the citizens in that region. In addition, Roosevelt had won passage of twelve other major laws in his first one hundred days in office. Nearly every American had something to be happy about and something to protest about in the assortment of bills, however, was taking up his promise of acting against the troubles of the Great Depression. Regardless of Roosevelt’s best efforts, the Great Depression continued. The American citizens grew angrier and increasingly desperate.
In response to the visceral reactions, launched the Second New Deal. Roosevelt then created the Works Progress Administration to provide jobs for the unemployed citizens. The WPA built parks, highways, post offices, bridges and schools. The WPA also gave work to artists and musicians (History.com). In July of 1935, the National Labor Relations Act, created the National Labor Relations Board to supervise unions and to keep businesses from treating their employees badly (Miller Center). In August, Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act. The Social Security gave provisional payments to the unemployed, promoted the health of dependent children and the disabled and gave public health services to all citizens.
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