When Franklin Delano Roosevelt became president of the U. S. A in 1932 he faced a nation with great problems. Only one president had faced the problems confronting Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover. No one doubts that Roosevelt tackled the problems better then Hoover. But the question still remains whether the ‘New Deal’ did actually succeed. Roosevelt was able to get his ideas through congress quite quickly, but there was opposition from the Republicans, who said he was doing too much, and some Democrats said that he wasn’t doing enough.
As soon as Roosevelt became President he set about trying to solve America’s problems which were caused by the great depression. These included over 12 million people unemployed, one million homeless and numerous bank failures. In his first one hundred days in office, Roosevelt introduced many new ideas. He closed all the weak banks and loaned government money to the stronger ones to increase trade. He controlled the stock markets and gave the Americans renewed confidence in the whole economy system. Most of this work was carried out through agencies set up to do the job.
They were called the alphabet agencies. , because they were always known by their initials. There were nineteen alphabet agencies. They ranged to help all different aspects of the nation. Here are a few examples: There was a Civil Works Administration, which was set up to build roads, bridges, hospitals etc. A Civilian Conservation Corps where thousands of unemployed people were given worthwhile jobs. An Agricultural Adjustment Act to help farmers to rebuild and modernise their businesses and the National Recovery Act to improve general working conditions.
Roosevelt’s ideas were finally proving worthwhile, having taken his inspiration from an economist called Keynes that you have to spend money to create jobs and stimulate the economy to grow again. Unemployment was in recess and people were putting up posters saying, “I’m glad I’m American,” when suddenly everything began to go wrong for Roosevelt. In 1935 two brothers’ were found guilty of breaking one of the NRA codes, by selling a batch of diseased chickens, but appealed against the verdict, to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court ruled in favour of the brothers, the Schechter brothers were acquitted and the code they had signed was declared illegal. This destroyed the NRA as over 750 of their codes were found to be illegal. The Supreme Court tried all 16 of the agencies and 11 were declared illegal. Roosevelt was furious and couldn’t do anything to stop the nine Supreme Court judges wrecking his whole New Deal. About this time there was also some politicians attacking Roosevelt’s New Deal.
A major threat to Roosevelt was Huey Long, the Senator from the state of Louisiana. He said that FDR wasn’t doing enough to solve America’s problems. His ‘Share Our Wealth’ policy said that the rich should be taxed more and the money given to the poor. He became very popular with thoughts that he could be the New President in 1936, however he was assassinated in 1935. Roosevelt kept strong, and passed two new acts. The Wagner Act which forced bosses to allow their employees to join trade unions.
The Social Security Act, which meant workers, could pay in money and receive a pension. Roosevelt’s 2nd New Deal was working and Roosevelt and the Democrats had a great victory in the 1936 presidential elections. However this was just the beginning of the end of Roosevelt’s problems, there were strikes, unemployment began to rise again and the 2nd New Deal failed. When deciding whether Roosevelt really helped American life in the 1930’s we have to look at other sources and see what they make of it. Many people either loved or hated Roosevelt.
His New Deal did not get the country totally out of depression but it did make life a lot better in the 1930’s unemployment fell, but was followed by a sharp up rise. Roosevelt did have many opponents, who said that he wasn’t doing enough, however we have to remember that Roosevelt was faced with enormous problems and really did try hard to over come them. He got the whole economy system up and running and really gave America a helping hand out of the depression. I think that if any thing improved the conditions in the 1930’s it was Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his New Deal.