The New Deal in America

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NEW DEAL INFORMATION

The New Deal played a pivotal role in shaping modern day America. During the years from 1933-1940, watershed legislation was passed that drastically changed the government’s role in the economy and in the future of the American people. Upon inauguration, Franklin D. Roosevelt faced the greatest depression in the country’s history. America was in a state of panicked disarray, the citizens’ trust lost and their hopes dwindling. It was under these circumstances that the legislation known as the New Deal was created, its sole purpose to combat the depression. The New Deal was comprised of two distinct attempts to fix the economy: focusing on economic planning from 1933-34 and economic redistribution in 1935-36. The circumstances that motivated the New Deal were, to say the least, extreme. America was in the greatest depression in its history. Hundreds of thousands of people left home in search for work. Hungry men, women, and children lined the streets of many major cities, many of whom had been evicted from their homes and had to live in shanty towns, dubbed Homervilles. Many Americans reacted to the Depression with resignation and blamed themselves for their economic misfortune. Others took to the streets taking part in protests that were mostly absent leadership and direction. President Hoover’s actions to relieve Americans were deficient and insensitive in the eyes of many Americans. It wasn’t until democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in 1932, that the government began taking action. Roosevelt faced a vulnerable nation in fear. FDR was quoted saying in his inaugural address, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Roosevelt constantly communicated his message to the American people through speeches and fireside chats, which helped in reassuring the American people. Roosevelt’s plan for aiding Americans started with what he called the New Deal. When Roosevelt envisioned the New Deal, he saw it as an alternative to socialism, Nazism, and inaction. He relied heavily on the advice of a group of intellectuals that he held close to his side while in office. Some of these people were very experienced, left over from the Progressive era, while others were intellectuals from prestigious universities. These individuals helped Roosevelt realize the government’s role in the economy needed to expand and begin regulating big business. The Emergency Banking Act was the first of a number of pieces of legislation that were passed during the first three months of FDR’s first term in office, a time referred to as the “Hundred Days”. This Emergency Banking Act, which provided funds to shore up threatened institutions, sought to stabilize institutions teetering on the verge of collapse. Next came the Glass-Steagall Act which barred banks from buying and selling stocks. Banks trading equities had been a major contributor to the banking crisis in the first place. Glass-Steagall also established the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC, a government entity that insured the accounts of individuals who had deposited their money in banks. In addition, Roosevelt pursued congress to pass a number of new relief agencies including the NRA, AAA, and the CCC. Perhaps Roosevelt’s biggest victory was the passing of the National Industrial Recovery Act, which dealt with the relations between the government and business. The act established the National Recovery Administration, which worked to create industry standards to help promote capitalism and competition. Roosevelt liked the idea of creating more jobs for the unemployed and preferred these methods to those of direct aid to impoverished people. Congress established the CCC, which sent unemployed men to work on public works projects such as forest preservation and flood control. FDR went on to create a number of public works organizations, including the PWA, CWA, and the TVA, all of which strived to create jobs for unemployed workers. The “ Hundred...
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