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The strength of opposition to impact the New Deal in the period 1933-1937 Essay

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The New Deal had serious competition, which was fundamental towards the New Deal particularly in the period of 1933-1937 in numerous ways. There were alternatives which factored towards helping the economy providing radical yet simplistic reforms, several pressure groups also hindered the success of the New Deal, it was scrutinized by both sides of the political spectrum where Hugh Brogan claims the “Left for not doing enough”1 this is true, certain left wing activists such as Francis Townsend2, Father Coughlin3 and Huey Long4 did not enhance their potential to cause everlasting impact.

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He also claims the “right for doing too much”5 this can be interpreted differently, but I partially agree that the Liberty League tried to prevent the success of the New Deal “as business leaders were not going to help him”6 this suggests the Right aimed to hinder rather than help the New Deal.

The strength of opposition had potential to cause serious impact, this varied as some more than others contributed. It is unclear how opposition enforced certain policies, but they certainly cause change to some extent, where many were able to prosper, as it was clear that “society needs reform”7. Politically there was enough opposition to create severe importance however there were also other schemes that contributed to impacting the New Deal, but I believe due to the New Deals success in the beginning created no opportunity for oppositional groups to contribute any significance, no matter how strong they were to influence the New Deal.

From the Left, many activists had their own ideologies and beliefs, many like Huey Long, Francis Townsend and Father Coughlin believed the New Deal “were not going far enough” which Coughlin envisaged, yet he initially stated “the New Deal is Christ’s Deal”8 however he turned against the New Deal because Roosevelt failed to carry on his radical reforms, which should not be underestimated as “Roosevelt was afraid of Coughlin’s influence”9 his sheer strength alone was enough to cause change, he had influenced 40 million Americans listening to his radio sermons, this was more popular than “FDR’s fireside chats”10 his significance was minor however he did prove to be a threat, but It is evident that Coughlin could not of done much to impact the New Deal because it seems his polices were “vague”11 his inconsistency of ideologies proved to be his downfall, when attacking the New Deal he believed it was a communist conspiracy, yet he too fought for similar polices which I believe worsened his credibility, overall his authority and strength did impact the economy, his significance undoubtedly was there yet lost popularity consequently losing his radio program, but he was too radical to have any importance towards the New Deal “his radical style seemed to alienate his audience”12 this again was another reason why he could not generate enough support to overwhelm the New Deal, numerous historians such as .

Evidently Townsend was different from conventional opponents of the New Deal, “he wanted to improve the New Deal”13 this was successful as he implemented many ways that prolonged the New Deal becoming more effective. Clearly suggests that “Townsend’s idea’s influenced Roosevelt’s thinking of the New Deal”14 Pennington believed that Townsend proved to be beneficial, similar to Coughlin he too had support of 5 million members, but in my view he was inadequate, yes he helped pass through the Social Security Act, which incorporated the Old Age Revolving Pensions however “it was not received by elderly people”15 which undermines his impact of the New Deal. His significance is questionable, but he provided alternatives that contributed towards helping the economy.

Lastly from the left, and definitely perceived to be the biggest threat to the New Deal was Huey Long, like Coughlin was an early supporter of the New Deal16, he was otherwise known as the “Kingfish”17 who consisted the characteristics of “intelligent, avaricious and cynical”18 he too was a “strident critic”19 of the New Deal, he pinpointed certain aspects which help provide solutions towards the economy. He proved to be influential which his Share Our Wealth Scheme showing “creative methods of financing public works in Louisiana”20 I believe it is considered to appeal to mainly the poor, but Roosevelt acknowledged this, I assume Roosevelt used Long’s ideas compared to Townsend and Coughlin as he proved that policies actually worked thus most of his policies would have been employed in the New Deal.

However he too seemed inadequate, as, “he was not offered a federal post”21 which suggests his contribution to the New Deal would have been minute. His significance in Louisiana was successful however it is questionable if his ideas would be embraced on a national level; I firmly believe his policies would not have been favorable, as it is evident because the 1936 election provided a strong belief in capitalism with 27 million Americans behind Roosevelt also it was suggested that it was “highly improbable”22 that he would of beaten Roosevelt in 1936 election this highlights his weaknesses when facing the New Deal, was not able to generate enough support which was also another problem with many opponents of the New Deal.

Certainly from the Left they had “much in common”23 they all disliked Roosevelt, this was stated by Badger which I to some extent agree yet it is deemed that “they all addressed the real problems” and “the real Deal’s failings” which supports the assertion of opposition being beneficial, highlighting the failures of the New Deal, clearly Roosevelt would have been aware of this, it is thought of the Left “advocating simple solutions”24 however their “solutions did not bring the results”25, it was possible for Long to Capitalize support from Coughlin and Townsend, crushing Roosevelt and the New Deal the picture source26 strengthens Badgers assertion that the New Deal was often flawed because of the cost but as the New Deal provided many Left wing polices, it only enhanced the New Deal evidently showing more organisation and impact covering most aspects of America thus shunning any credit from opposition, it is evidently shown resulting from the second New Deal with the “Social Security Act, Rural electrification”27 and also National Labour Relations Act consequently quietening opposition of the New Deal.

It is clear that they were too radical to go beyond the New Deal; it must also be considered that the New Deal created 6 million Jobs, yet 11 million were still unemployed, this was where the Left incorporated their radical views, yet they were often flawed which prevented their success. The Left did have more significance compared to the right as certain movements and parties helped the New Deal in many aspects, which Clements pinpointed Governor Floyd B Olson of Minnesota, led the Farmer-Labour Party introducing many radical economic reforms but similar to Long, they both died which their policies died with them as well.

Picture Source 128 portrays Roosevelt’s success of the New Deal by focusing on the forgotten man, where he utters “Yes, You Remembered Me”29 this clearly indicates all opposition were all insufficient to help, clearly his success preventing opposition to generate any momentum to play down the New Deal, also Amity Shale’s suggests “opposition proved shrill and marginal” he also claims that “from the Liberty League to Father Coughlin” proved to have no such impact, but I believe he underestimated the potential that they created, they could of generated a superior strength, during the period of political change, during a period where Hitler was able to be dictator of Germany, opposition, especially from the Left could easily of overhauled Roosevelt and the New Deal.

Certainly there were creative ways of tackling the Depression; however the New Deal was superior during a time of confusion and despair. The New Deal from face value looked turn things around, and certainly they provided stability and prosperity. Establishing authority in which opposition found hard to compete with.

All opposition clearly impacted the New Deal in some way, but I truly believe that the Republican Party proved to be the biggest threat of all, as they created different ways of restraining the new Deal success, they also link with the Supreme Court surprisingly the most significant opposition came within Roosevelt’s government, as it was mostly dominated by republican judges, they were “striking down some of the New Deals Measures”30 they clearly impacted the New Deal, however unlike the Left it did not necessarily benefit New Dealers, it can be seen as restraining the success of the New Deal as they declared “11 out of 16 of the alphabet agencies were unconstitutional”31.

Roosevelt believed the Supreme Court hindered rather than help the New Deal, Roosevelt tried to use a notion of “court packing”32 where judges over 70 should retire, however this backfired, arguably worsening his reputation, which reflected towards the New Deal badly, also considered to be the “darkest moment”33 of FDR’s campaign, yet it is suggested that “Roosevelt responded with compromise”34 based on the context of the supreme court it clearly shows no compromise towards the Republican judges but its impact is shown however their contribution was .

Roosevelt did handle his opponents effectively, it is claimed that FDR would “take the fire out of opposing arguments”35 by cooperation, which he successfully did with Townsend and Long, however there were times where he failed to understand the strength of opposition when it comes towards the Supreme Court, he was ambitious to limit their power however he did underestimate the strength In which they condemned Roosevelt’s actions.

The strongest opposition from the Left would be Huey Long, yet from the right it would be the Liberty League,

In conclusion opposition to the New Deal was significant; they demonstrated a variety of alternatives which challenged the New Deal. Both sides of opposition certainly contributed to influence the New Deal, but I believe


1) Kathryn Cooper

2) Anthony Badger

3) Clements

4) The Roosevelt’s Presence

5) Joanne de Pennington

6) The New Deal-America’s Response to the New Deal

7) The USA 1917-45 Doug and Susan Willoughby

8) Franklin D Roosevelt Profiles in Power Patrick Renshaw

9) The presidency of Franklin D Roosevelt by George Mc Jimsey

10) The forgotten Man- Amity Shlaes-picture source

11) The survival of Democracy Alonzo L Hamby

12) The Limits of Liberty- American History

13) Hugh Brogan, The penguin History of the United States of America

14) Chris Rone AQA history USA

15) The FDR years On Roosevelt and his Legacy.

1 Hugh Brogan The penguin History Of United History of United States America p560

2 Francis Townsend focused on boosting the economy by raising pensions over 60s

3 Charles Coughlin a Canadian priest who broadcasted popular sermons

4 Huey Long, Governor of Louisiana, Launched Share Our Wealth Campaign

5 Hugh Brogan The penguin History Of United History of United States America p560

6 Hugh Brogan The penguin History Of United History of United States America p560

7 Joanne de Pennington p128-129

8 Susan and Doug Willoughby p139

9 Peter Clements prosperity Depression and the New Deal the USA 1890-1954 p146-150

10 Susan and Doug Willoughby p139

11 The Era of Franklin D.Roosevelt, 1932-1945: A Brief History with Documents

12 http://www.dtman.com/steve_private/school/newdeal.htm

13 Susan and Doug Willoughby p139

14 Joanne de Pennington p128-129

15 Susan and Doug Willoughby p139

16 http://www.dtman.com/steve_private/school/newdeal.htm

17 He was called the Kingfish from the radio show of Amos and Andy

18 The survival of Democracy-Alonzo L. Hamby FDR and the world in crisis p262-263

19 The survival of Democracy-Alonzo L. Hamby FDR and the world in crisis p262-263

20 http://www.dtman.com/steve_private/school/newdeal.htm

21 http://www.dtman.com/steve_private/school/newdeal.htm

22 http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/New_Deal_opposition.htm

23 Anthony Badger The New Deal p292-294

24 Anthony Badger The New Deal p292-294

25 Anthony Badger The New Deal p292-294

26 http://resources.dynamic-learning.co.uk/Titles/MWH_2/e2de78b5-0012-4643-933a-ef

27 Joanne De Penningtonp128-129

28 The Forgotten Man- Amity Shales Picture Source

29 The Forgotten Man- Amity Shales Picture Source

30 Limits of Liberty American History 1607-1980 p462-463

31 http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/New_Deal_opposition.htm

32 http://www.dtman.com/steve_private/school/newdeal.htm

33 http://www.dtman.com/steve_private/school/newdeal.htm

34 http://www.dtman.com/steve_private/school/newdeal.htm

35 http://www.dtman.com/steve_private/school/newdeal.htm

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