Honors English III
December 21, 2010
The New Deal’s Lasting Effect on Society
“I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people,” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said after winning his party’s nomination in 1932 ("A New Deal for Americans"). The 1930s was a time of great economic depression; in response the New Deal was FDR’s plan for America’s recovery. By 1933, when FDR took office, one in four Americans was unemployed. Furthermore, there was widespread hunger, malnutrition, overcrowding, and poor health. The New Deal was made to combat these tragic conditions and it did so through the means of welfare and government intervention. Indeed, the New Deal was a radical change to the way America had operated before, but radical times call for radical change. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had an outstanding impact on America in the 1930s and the years to come. His plan, the New Deal, restore confidence to the American banking system, started major labor reform, created and expanded infrastructure, gave help to rural areas, and influenced the way people thought for many years.
The American banking system had completely collapsed in the early 1930s. There were runs on many banks. Furthermore, people stood in extremely long lines to take even a little portion of their remaining savings left. Many banks were failing. Suddenly, millions of Americans had no savings whatsoever. Moreover, businesses struggled to survive, and many had to close down. Herbert Hoover then established the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to help overwhelmed banks, but it was too little too late. In effect, the American people now had near to no confidence in the banking system anymore. When President Roosevelt came into office, he inherited these terrible banking conditions. One of the first actions he took when he gained office was tp call for a special session with congress. During this session, he called for a national banking holiday, which later closed all banks in America for several days and made a plan for the banks to reopen (Bondi 112). Because this action may have angered the public, FDR had explained himself in his first ever fireside chat. He explained why the nation needed a bank holiday and why Americans should not all withdraw their money, and that their money will be safe. Every so often FDR would speak and explain himself to the American public through radio to appeal to them for help getting his agenda passed. When the banks had reopened, Americans had redeposited more than half of the money that they had been so quick to take out of the banks. The New Deal also established the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). The FDIC guaranteed and insured deposits in member banks (Bondi 113). Proven to be very effective, FDIC is one of the New Deal programs that still exist today. The banking holiday and the FDIC helped to restore confidence to the failed banking system (“The New Deal”). After these measures, businesses and the stock market slowly started to recover; the 1930s was getting back on track.
Similar to the banking system, labor conditions were also suffering during the 1930s. Many people were paid dirt cheap wages and did not have the right to unionize or go on strike. The New Deal sought to change that. The National Recovery Administration was the first measure laid down by the New Deal to help better labor conditions. Although it was deemed unconstitutional two years after its passing, while it was in effect, it established minimum wages and maximum work hours (Friedrich). Soon after the NRA was taken out, congress passed the Wagner Act. This act established the National Labor Relations Board and limited the means with which employers may react to workers who create labor unions, engage in collective bargaining, and take part in strikes (Bondi 117). This act paved way for the new revolutionary and more effective method of striking – sit down striking. Many of these strikes...