The Youth of the Nation: Lyndon Johnson and the National Youth Administration By: Cheryl Boswell
The Texas National Youth Administration (NYA) was remarkably unique for various reasons. Its success was attributed to the leadership of the state’s young director, twenty-seven year-old Lyndon Johnson. Despite reservations, for example Johnson’s young age compared to the other state directors, from many New Dealers and even President Franklin Roosevelt, Johnson able to gain attention and notice among the public and even set an example for other states to follow. What will be the focus is what Johnson’s goals were as director for the Texas NYA. What will be the focus of discussion will include Johnson’s goals and what happened to the Texas NYA after Johnson left. Johnson’s primary goal, as could be expected, was to provide jobs for unemployed youths so they could continue their educations. To do this, he sought to find as much funding as possible for the Texas NYA. He strove to find and create as many projects as possible to employ as many young people as possible. To help make the NYA successful, LBJ relied upon newspapers to spread the word of NYA projects, relief and their successes to the Texas public. He worked to make innovative ideas the most successful they could be. Most of all, he wanted to put as many youths as possible to work so that they could continue their educations.
To begin, a background of how the National Youth Administration was established will be given and why it was thought to be created. In the midst of the Great Depression, not only were there millions unemployed in America, but the youth of the nation were as well. Youths, defined as being between sixteen and twenty-five years, made up one-third of unemployed people in America. President Roosevelt recognized this as a problem, and therefore attempted to help solve this dilemma. FDR established the National Recovery Act in 1933 to help alleviate this problem, but it did not attain its desired effect. What happened was that one million people lost their jobs and could not find other jobs due to the mandatory minimum wage. When this did not work, he (Roosevelt) created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1933. Lindley states that it was FDR’s personal concern for the unemployed youths that led him to create the CCC. In addition, the CCC was “perhaps the most original contribution Roosevelt made to the unemployment crisis, for the government hired young men to work on important conservation projects”. However, the CCC still did not adequately attack the youth unemployment problem. In the CCC, a young man had to be able to leave home and join a CCC camp to obtain a job. This left out thousands of individuals unable to do so. Eleanor Roosevelt, rather than her husband the President was the one who fought to conquer the problem of unemployed youth.
The First Lady was perhaps more concerned than her husband about the youth of the nation as the following statement implies: “I have moments of real terror when I think we may be losing this generation. We have got to bring these young people into the active life of the community and make them feel that they are necessary.”
It was because of her concern that she sought to devise a program that would benefit young people. Harry Hopkins and Aubrey Williams, the top two administrators of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), shared Eleanor’s concern. Their solution was to “create a national program of youth relief patterned after the WPA.” It was at the urging of Hopkins and Williams that Eleanor decided to take their idea to FDR.
FDR was hesitant to create a national youth relief program due to his concern that it would turn into a fascist program, like what had occurred in Europe. Only after he deduced that the program would be one of financial assistance to youths did he finally agree to create the National Youth Administration. FDR knew the program would need...
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