Prompt: How “revolutionary” was the New Deal? Evaluate the significant changes that it brought and determine how different the nation became because of it.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” was the ultimate reform movement, providing bold reform without bloodshed or revolution. Although many Americans criticized President Roosevelt for his “try anything” approach and wasteful spending, Roosevelt saved the American system of free enterprise by stepping in and actually doing something to help the unemployed, starving masses during the Great Depression. Before Roosevelt was elected, the gap between the haves and have-nots was ever-widening and the country probably would have experienced a revolution if another laissez-faire president like Hoover had been elected in 1932. When Roosevelt was elected, he created a series of reforms to deal with the countless problems in American society; many failed, though some achieved long-lasting success and exist to this day. The New Deal was the ultimate “revolution” providing lasting reforms like Social Security and the Fair Labor Standards Act, and establishing precedents that continue to shape the lives of millions of Americans to this day.
Roosevelt was a radical president in many ways, expanding Federal power and establishing numerous precedents that have served to empower the federal government ever since. Unlike previous presidents, Roosevelt believed that the American government had an obligation to help its citizens in a crisis. Roosevelt also felt that doing anything was better than doing nothing and he was criticized frequently for this. Nonetheless, most of his “alphabet agencies” served their purposes and provided immediate rather than long-term relief to over nine million desperate Americans. He started by creating the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC, which provided employment in government camps for three million young men. These men served doing useful, but (some would say) unnecessary tasks like reforesting, firefighting, draining swamps, and controlling floods. The Works Progress Administration, or WPA, was another extremely helpful agency during the Depression, putting $11 million dollars into public buildings, bridges, and hard-surfaced roads, creating millions of new jobs. To the American people who were used to coming into contact with the government only at the post office and on other infrequent occasions, Roosevelt’s system was ground-breaking; never before had the government intervened to help farmers in need (AAA), or homeowners struggling with mortgages (HOLC), or families starving during the winter (CWA). Roosevelt had no uncertainties or misgivings about the use of Federal money to help Americans. If the U.S. government would not help its own citizens, then who would? Roosevelt also made other revolutionary changes with his New Deal.
The plight of the worker had always been of concern to Roosevelt, and he did much during his time as president to improve overall working conditions. Firstly, Roosevelt set up the National Recovery Administration, or NRA, to assist labor unions in their struggle against greedy corporations. The NRA, for the first time in American history, guaranteed the right for labor union members to choose their own representatives in bargaining. The Fair Labor Standards Act, or “Wages and Hours Bill”, established maximum hours of labor, minimum wages, and forbid children under the age of sixteen from working. By limiting the number of hours a single worker could work, Roosevelt created new jobs and improved the working conditions for existing workers. Roosevelt was one of the first Presidents to earnestly fight for the rights of the average worker. The Fair Labor Standards Act is still in use today (though the monetary values have been increased to account for seventy years of inflation), and unions still have the rights that Roosevelt guaranteed to them with the NRA. Roosevelt, it seemed, went out of his way to ensure that workers were treated fairly and given their due rights. Roosevelt’s crowning achievement to Americans was the Social Security Act, which he signed in 1935, creating the pension, insurance for the old-aged, the blind, the physically handicapped, delinquent, and other dependents by taxing employees and employers; in essence, Americans were providing for their own futures. Social Security still exists today, and though some people oppose it, it no doubt provides a valuable service to people unable to care for themselves—which was Roosevelt’s strong point: appealing to the “forgotten man”. However, he had yet another lasting achievement that truly revolutionized America.
After the Wall Street Crash of 1929, it became apparent that speculation and overselling stocks and bonds were key causes of the crash. Roosevelt passed the Federal Securities Act to encourage honesty during the sale of stocks and bonds; promoters were required to transmit to the investor sworn information regarding the soundness of their investments. While many crooked businessmen hated Roosevelt for this, many historians argue that his wise actions saved the American system from untimely demise. With the passage of this Act, Roosevelt encouraged fairer trading and less speculation, which ultimately revitalized the American economy.
Roosevelt was a revolutionary for his time. He challenged the accepted role of government in society by intervening to improve the quality of life for countless Americans. Though his actions were controversial, it is clear that they had a positive effect on American society. Ultimately, though, it would take World War II to lift the American economy out of the Great Depression; Roosevelt’s New Deal served to satisfy the American people’s demands for action until America joined the war in 1941.
Aboukhadijeh, Feross. "Roosevelt and the Revolutionary New Deal" StudyNotes.org. Study Notes, LLC., 05 Jan. 2014. Web. 13 Mar. 2018. <https://www.apstudynotes.org/us-history/sample-essays/roosevelt-and-the-revolutionary-new-deal/>.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal
In 1929, The Great Depression seized America. The country wallowed for four years in
desperation, until a new leader was elected. Franklin Delano Roosevelt came to the presidency in 1933 focused and with a plan like never before. His so called “New Deal” was the innovation of policy at the time, and the public responded in turn. The country seemed to be on the steady process to recovery. The twelve years of desperation from 1929 to 1941 changed the face of America today. While kissing away college scholarships and hours at my government-sponsored after-school job, I had a revelation like a concertgoer at the ’69 Woodstock (minus the LSD): these two defining periods of American history were simultaneously changing my life despite the eighty years difference in that moment. As we continue on our own path to what we hope will repair the shards of our shattered American capitalism, I wondered if my faith in President Obama’s plan was justified. The similarities between the 2009 recovery and the New Deal were immense, and I sought my answer through analyzing Franklin D. Roosevelt’s response to an even greater economic plight. Economists still debate the true success of the New Deal and the resounding impact it had on the country. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal policies eventually succeeded in rebuilding the American economy to functionality and its legacy is still proving effective in today’s modern economic dilemmas.
In the 1920’s the United States was on the road to recovery. Having survived World War I and now an established international powerhouse, the U.S. economy was becoming a lion in world economics. The American stock market had risen to new heights, and had become a central force in the American economy. However, like a child with sugar and climbing a tree, this proved to be more of a demon than a blessing. An article published in the New York Times on March 24, 1929 described the credit frenzy of the decade:
…the number of brokerage accounts had doubled in the past two years [1927-1929]. . . .
It is quite true that the people who know the least about the stock market have made the most money out of it in the last few months. Fools who rushed in where wise men feared to tread ran up high gains. (Norris)
This article was the doomsday prophecy that soon came true. The stock market suffered through scrapes and scratches in the months that followed, dipping for weeks at a time then rallying back to a lesser average than before. A mere six months after the article appeared in the New York Times the credit that American stockholders were consuming ran out. The Dow Jones Industrial Average spiraled out of control over the course of two days, crashing 12.8 percent on October 28 and an additional plummet of 11.7 percent the next day; the day that became to be known as Black Tuesday. (Norris)
This crash and burn was not exactly a zombie apocalypse, but it was the pivotal turning point in the U.S. economy’s road to hard times;...
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