You are on page 1of 5

Name 1

New Deal Program

The Great Depression settled over the United States in late 1929 like a dark cloud that

seemed to want to linger for some time. And it did for more than a decade. The Great

Depression sent Americans into a period of hopelessness. From the Roaring Twenties when

Americans enjoyed the good life, the Great Depression was a complete turnaround, from the

prosperous years of the 1920s to a complete collapse of the country’s economy. It was an

economic disaster like no other. Millions of Americans lost their jobs. Businesses failed.

With no source of income, Americans had no source of living, of food, of their basic needs. It

seemed that America was on the brink of despondency. The election of 1932 ignited a sense

of hope for the nation. Government intervention came in the form of the newly elected

president Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) and his New Deal Program.

In his inaugural address, FDR regarded the nation’s call for “action and action now1.

Action replaced principles as the president seemed prepared to try anything that would get the

country out of the Great Depression. This action now approach was translated into three

aims- relief, recovery and reform2. These formed the foundation of the New Deal Program.

Relief was the first step, aimed at helping displaced Americans during this distraught time.

After that would come recovery and out of that, the country would be able to take reforms,

actions and measures to ensure that the nation would never be paralyzed by another

depression.

Looking at the actions of the New Deal, it would seem that FDR borrowed some of

the ideas from the past- the Populist, the Socialist, the Farmer’s Alliance and even the

Progressive movements. Speaking with the business and labor groups, the president was able

to get the picture of the extent of the Great Depression. Drawing in the advice of experts and

1
Franklin D. Roosevelt, The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Vol.2 (New York: Random House,
1938), 13.

2
John Garraty, The Story of America Beginnings to 1914 (Florida: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1991), 831.
Name 2

intellectuals- lawyers and university professors which FDR called the Brain Trust, the new

government was able to map out the New Deal program3. Seeing the dangerous effects of the

Depression on the country’s economy, the first resolution the New Deal program addressed

was the bank crisis.

Noting that it was the stock market crash that unravelled the Great Depression, FDR’s

first order was a bank holiday, where every bank in the country was closed for four days4.

The bank holiday was meant to provide federal assistance to troubled banks while those in

good condition would later reopen. Bank reforms ensued. One important act was the creation

of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). The FDIC ensured depositors’ money

to up to $5,0005. To further prevent the stock market crash, the Securities and Exchange

Commission (SEC) was also created through the Securities Exchange Act of 19346.

But saving the banks and the fiscal market was futile if people would not be able to

support themselves- hold jobs, have homes and be able to provide for their families’ needs.

Americans that lost their homes benefited from the Home Owners’ Loan Act of 19347. In

addition, the government established the Civil Works Administration (CWA) which created

an estimated four million jobs and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) which sent

unemployed young men to do work on conservation projects like plant trees and put up

parks8. Such programs helped the uplift the self-worth of unemployed Americans. The New

deal program was also responsible for institutionalizing social security. The passing of the

Social Security Act in 1935 set up an insurance system, paid in part by workers and their

3
James West Davidson, et al, Nation of Nations A Narrative History of the American Republic, Vol. 2 (USA: McGraw-Hill,
1998), 903.

4
Winthrop Jordan and Leon Litwack, The United States, 7th ed. (New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1991), 667.

5
Ibid, 668.

6
Davidson, et al

7
Ibid, 905.

8
Garraty, 832.
Name 3

employers. The legalization of social security cemented the foundation of a “modern welfare

state”9. It strengthened the government’s duty to look after its citizen’s welfare.

Furthermore, it was during the time of reign of New Deal program when the government

recognized and respect organized labor. Through the Wagner Act, the National Labor

Relations Board (NLRB) was created and the board was in charge of organizing unions and

upholding union rights10.

FDR’s New Deal Program also took charge of the country’s agriculture scenario. The

Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) was set up to aid farmers11. There was also the

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), touted as the program’s “boldest and most original”

concept12. The TVA created dams and produce cheap electricity in a bid to avoid effects of

natural disasters like flooding and conserve electricity and cut electric costs13.

The New Deal program touched the American’s lives not only because of the creation

of the alphabet agencies that covered the relief, recovery and reform aspect of the program.

The program extended subsidies to farmers, businesses and most especially the people.

However, like any program, the reach of the New Deal program was limited. Civil rights was

never a prominent subject in the program. Women, African American and minority groups

did not obtain tangible benefits. This was a pity especially since the First Lady; Eleanor

Roosevelt was a staunch supporter of civil rights. It seemed that it was not enough to

challenge the prevailing discrimination. The New Deal program also did not solve the

financial crisis, in fact the national debt increased from $22.5 million in 1933 to a staggering

9
Davidson, et al, 913.

10
Ibid, 914.

11
Jordan and Litwack, 671.

12
Ibid, 672.

13
Davidson, et al, 906.
Name 4

$43 million in 194014. Despite these limitations and criticisms, the New Deal program still

had social and economic impact. For one, it provided permanent stabilizers into the

economic system, reassuring that money would circulate despite the hard times. The passing

of the Social Security Act and the Wagner Act boosted the welfare of the people and the

labor unions. Yet, the greatest success of the New Deal program was political. FDR was able

to unite urban and rural Democrats together15. In addition, he was able to attract African

Americans and women. While there was still inequity, such groups were given more attention

during the New Deal than in the preceding years16.

The New Deal program did not solve all problems brought on by the Great

Depression but it made life less difficult and most especially, gave hope to a nation of

dejected citizens.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Davidson, James West et al. Nation of Nations A Narrative History of the American
14
Jordan and Litwack, 689.

15
Davidson, et al, 931.

16
Ibid.
Name 5

Republic, Vol. 2.USA: McGraw-Hill, 1998.

Garraty, John. The Story of America Beginnings to 1914.

(Florida: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1991.

Roosevelt, Franklin D. The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt Vol.2.

New York: Random House, 1938.

Winthrop, Jordan and Leon Litwack. The United States, 7th ed.

(New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 199.