Lecture Honors U.S. History Mr.

Irwin Week 24

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FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT’S SECOND TERM Chapter 16 The Election of 1936: When the election of 1936 came, the American economy had not fully recovered from the depression. Roosevelt had his detractors. Some people in the business community began to become disenchanted with Roosevelt’s policies. Controversial legislation passed during FDR’s tenure included: The Birth of Social Security – In 1935, Congress passed the Social Security Act, which established a system to provide financial security for Americans. The idea behind Social Security was to create a system that would provide regular monthly payments to people who might not be able to support themselves. Social Security was designed to cover people who qualified under any of the three categories below: • • • “Old Age” Benefits and “Survivors” Benefits * Unemployment Insurance * Aid for Dependent Children, the Blind, and the Disabled *

* See my hand out titled How Social Security Works (can also be found on my blog at: www.irwinator.blogspot.com) The Wagner Act – Passed by Congress in 1935, this act legalized certain union practices such as collective bargaining and “closed shops,” a term that describes workplaces open only to union workers. The Wagner Act also outlawed a practice that had been used by companies, called “blacklisting.” During the rise of organized labor, many companies and their managers strongly resisted the introduction and growth of union activity in the workplace. One strategy that was used against union leaders, was to “blacklist” them. The idea was to keep known union leaders from getting hired, which in turn, would deprive them of income. This strategy would also keep them out of the factories, so that they could not influence other workers. NLRB – National Labor Relations Board – Established by the Wagner Act, the purpose of the NLRB was to monitor labor practices and to enforce the provisions of the Wagner Act.

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Child Labor and a Minimum Wage - In 1938, Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act, which banned child labor and established a minimum wage for workers. Interstate Commerce and the NLRB - In the 1939 Supreme Court case of NLRB v. Jones and Laughlin, the court established that the federal government had the authority to regulate interstate commerce. During the 1936 election campaign, The Republican campaign against Roosevelt by criticizing him for: • • Excessive government spending Violating the Constitution

Roosevelt countered by painting the Republicans as autocratic, greed oriented and as a money machine aimed at taking control of the government. Roosevelt seemed to be pro-labor, which in turn had an impact on some of the socialist union leaders in the country. As the result, many union leaders actually encouraged their members to vote democratic, instead of throwing their support behind any 3rd Party candidates. When the election was over, Roosevelt had won 61% of the popular vote. The electoral vote was lopsided in favor of Roosevelt, at 523 – 8! FDR’s victory helped to shore up the previously ailing Democratic Party. A demographic breakdown of the election results indicated that Roosevelt got: • • • • The majority of votes in the major cities. The farm vote Received a large percentage of African American voters. Received a large percentage of immigrant votes (many of whom were voting for the very first time).

These demographics clearly indicate that Roosevelt had most of America behind his policies. FDR’s Second Term: By the time Roosevelt was beginning his second term, the economy had improved somewhat.

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He had shown the nation that he would aggressively approach and attempt to tackle the problems of the nation, head on. This “go for it” attitude was part of his appeal. Realizing that America was still not completely back on its feet yet, during his inaugural speech, he said, “I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished,…” Roosevelt ran into problems with the U.S. Supreme Court. Several of the depression related acts that he had gotten passed through Congress were being challenged in the Supreme Court. FDR was a liberal, reform oriented Democrat. Conversely, the majority of the Supreme Court had been appointed by previous Republican presidents. This was an elderly, conservative Supreme Court, that as a group, applied a strict interpretation to the Constitution. By the time of Roosevelt’s second term, the average age of the Justices of the Supreme Court was 71 years old. Frustrated by the actions and rulings of the Supreme Court, Roosevelt hatched a scheme designed to inject liberal thinking upon the Court. He requested that Congress pass a bill giving him the authority to appoint up to a total of 6 additional justices to the court, in order “to help lighten the work load” of the elderly judges that currently controlled the supreme Court. Roosevelt received a lot of negative feedback as the result of this move, and it stirred up a lot of controversy. Meanwhile the Court was considering whether or not the Constitution permitted the federal government to actively intervene in the economy, or to set up any system of “social insurance,” (such as Social Security). Surprisingly, in March 1937, the Supreme Court reached a 5-4 decision regarding the Wagner Act. The court ruled that it was legal for the federal government to promote unionization through the mechanisms created by the Wagner Act. The Supreme Court later upheld the Social Security Act, which gave the federal government “broad new latitude to intervene in and regulate economic affairs. This shift in decisions coming down from the Supreme Court caused Congress to lose interest in Roosevelt’s “court packing” bill, so it never went any further. Eventually, the elderly justices began retiring, which gave Roosevelt the opportunity to appoint 5 new Justices to the Supreme Court. These new Justices were more liberal minded and weren’t so fixed on laissez-faire. Roosevelt’s appointments to the Court caused a philosophical shift to the left, in the Supreme Court. In 1937, some of Roosevelt’s opponents (including some Democrats) issued a “Manifesto” in which it was stated: www.mirwin.weebly.com page 3 of 4

• • • •

That Roosevelt’s labor policies had actually encouraged sit-down strikes that were disruptions to labor. The Manifesto also expressed a fear that Roosevelt’s administration was creating a class of people permanently dependent on government welfare. The manifesto demanded lower taxes. It also called for a balanced budget.

To top it off, states rights advocates were concerned that Roosevelt’s New Deal policies were infringing upon the Constitutionally rights of states and private enterprise. By 1937 the economy had improved enough to convince many Americans that the depression was finally ending. • • Roosevelt responded by scaling back New Deal programs. By 1939, FDR was increasingly concerned with events in Europe, particularly Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Germany.

A Retrospective on FDR: Conservative critics say that Roosevelt caused the federal government to become too large and intrusive in the affairs of the private sector. Liberal critics say that Roosevelt didn’t do enough. He seemed to strike a balance and through his various programs, he brought about positive change and improvement during one of the most difficult times in American history. What really ended the Great Depression for America was that the country went into a mode of “high production” to support the needs of the Allies and eventually its own needs, as World War II got under way. - End of Lecture-

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