Roosevelt and The New Deal

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Last updated: November 10, 2019


How far was Roosevelt himself responsible for his election victory in 1932?Although Roosevelt did do a lot to promote himself, he was not wholly responsible for his election victory in 1932. The general feeling of the time was not a good one, as Hoover, the current President was doing nothing to help his people out of the Depression, which had occurred as result of the Wall Street Crash in 1929. Until 1932, Hoover refused to accept that there was a major problem.The current government of the time was made up of Republicans, who believed in the policy of laissez-faire (let it be).

They believed that people should be left to sort out their own problems; however, it was help from the government that they actually needed. Even though Hoover continually insisted that ‘prosperity is just around the corner’, he did little to help his people towards this.As Hoover and his government did not do much to help those hit by the Depression, many people ended up living in poverty. Shanty towns called ‘Hoovervilles’ emerged, which managed to show the ordinary people’s contempt for their leader. Hoover also didn’t do much to increase employment amongst those living in squalor. In 1932, 13 million people were out of work and evictions became more common. Hoover even told a newspaper reporter, “Nobody’s actually starving.

” Many of the ordinary people were disgusted with the way that Hoover was running the country, so when Franklin D Roosevelt was introduced as a candidate, they were glad, as they saw him as someone who could help them out of this slump. This is nicely summed up by a quote “In 1932, a Chinaman or a monkey could have been elected against him [Hoover], no question about it.”1Roosevelt’s attitude was very different to that of Hoover and the Republicans. He believed in an ‘active government’ that would help the American people, unlike the Republicans policy of laissez-faire. Some of his plans included spending public money on getting people back to work. He managed to slowly restore faith in the American people and one way he did this was through his speeches. In one made in August 1931, fifteen months before he was elected, he said, “One of these duties of the State is that of caring for.

..its citizens who find themselves.

..victims…as makes them unable to obtain even the necessities for mere existence without the aid of others.”2 This was very different to the Republicans policy of laissez-faire, and it showed the people of the time that Roosevelt was willing to help them, unlike Hoover. Roosevelt’s speeches managed to give hope and confidence to the people, although he was quite vague about his own policies.

However, this did not stop him from wining a landslide election, resulting in the worst defeat that the Republicans had ever suffered, which manages to show how unpopular Hoover was.Therefore, even though Roosevelt did play a part in winning the election in 1932, we can say that other factors such as the Republicans policies and their effect on the ordinary people who were already suffering because of the Depression was a stronger cause.2. How much opposition did Roosevelt face to his New Deal policies?Although Roosevelt did face a large amount of opposition from different kinds of groups, the strength of this opposition is arguable. There were many groups such as the Communists and the Socialists, and individuals such as Dr.

Francis Townsend, Huey ‘Kingfish’ Long and Father Charles Coughlin who thought that Roosevelt was not doing enough to help the American economy.The Communists and the Socialists were extreme left wing parties, and they thought that Roosevelt was not doing enough to help industrial workers. However, they were proved to be unsuccessful, because of the anti-communism in America at that time.Dr. Townsend, Father Coughlin and Huey Long together were known as the ‘Three Messiahs’. They also thought that Roosevelt was not doing enough. Father Coughlin used a radio programme to impugn Roosevelt and his policies. This radio programme proved to be quite successful, as it had the largest radio audience in America at that time.

He also set up the National Union for Social Justice, which had a large membership. However, even though he was popular at first, this popularity faded by the early 1940’s, as he started to become very fascist.Huey Long used intimidation and bribed people to help the poor. He set up a scheme called ‘Share Our Wealth’, which meant that government taxes would be equally shared, and he proved to be quite successful, however, he was assassinated in 1935.Dr Townsend founded Townsend clubs and campaigned for pensions for the over 60’s.

His main aim was to stimulate the economy. He was initially quite popular, as millions of elderly Americans joined his movement, because they were not eligible for an old age pension under the Social Security Act. However, he was later proven to be unsuccessful when it was found that he was corrupt and pocketing the money himself.There were also groups that thought that Roosevelt was doing too much.

These consisted of the Republicans, the wealthy and businesses. They felt that the New Deal was complicated and that Roosevelt was acting like a dictator. They thought that it was unfair that he was taxing the rich and referred to him as, “a traitor to his class.” Alfred Landon, Roosevelt’s Republican opponent referred to the New Deal was “an extravagant waste of money.” However, they were also proven to be unsuccessful, as the New Deal continued to be popular with the majority of people in America, and this is further proven by the fact that Roosevelt continued to win elections with landslide victories.The Supreme Court was yet another group that opposed Roosevelt, however, they had the ability to succeed, unlike the others, who were already unpopular or were individuals acting on their own. The Supreme Court was dominated by Republicans, and they claimed that the New Deal was unconstitutional.

This was shown in a case that was presented before the Supreme Court in 1935. A poultry corporation had been found guilty of breaking NRA (National Recovery Administration) laws, as it had sold diseased chickens for human consumption. However, the Supreme Court ruled that it had no right to prosecute the company, as it claimed that the NRA was unconstitutional.

The NRA was one of many alphabet agencies set up by the New Deal to help recover, relieve and reform the American economy. This made Roosevelt incredibly furious; however, he had to back down and accept the decision made by the Court. He also asked the Court to allow him to appoint six new judges who were more sympathetic to the New Deal. This shocked many people, as it seemed that Roosevelt was trying to attack the American system of government. In the end, his plan was rejected; however, the Supreme Court was able to see that Roosevelt was not frightened of them, and that he wouldn’t be afraid to challenge them again.

So, even though there were quite a few groups that opposed Roosevelt, the strength of this opposition was not strong enough to overcome him. This is shown by the fact that he continued to win elections with landslide victories, proving that even though there were those who opposed it, the majority of American people supported the New Deal in favour of the Republican policy of laissez-faire. This is also shown by the fact that Roosevelt won 42 out of the 48 states and the fact that he was elected President four times.

Roosevelt knew how much opposition he had to face; however, he also knew that the majority of people were with him. In a quote that sums up what he thought of the opposition he faced, he said, “Everybody’s against me except the electorate.”33.

‘The New Deal was not a complete success.’ Explain how far you agree with this statement.When Roosevelt took over as President of the United States, he had many problems to deal with. The situation he inherited was not perfect, as millions of people were unemployed and many more were living in shanty towns.

The previous government, which was made up of Republicans, did not help those hit hard by the Depression, due to their policy of laissez-faire. However, Roosevelt firmly believed in an active government, which would help improve the daily lives of ordinary American citizens.With so many problems to deal with, Roosevelt set up the New Deal to help as many areas of society as he could.His main aims were to get the American people back to work, to protect their savings and property, to provide relief for the sick, old and unemployed and to get American industry and agriculture back on its feet.

To succeed in these aims, he introduced many alphabet agencies, with the aim to relive, recover and reform the American economy.One of the most important alphabet agencies was the WPA (Works Progress Administration), which managed to employ 8.5 million people on 1.5 million projects around the country.

It proved to be quite successful, as it managed to provide jobs for millions of those that were unemployed. It managed to target two of Roosevelt’s aims-to get the American people back to work, and to get American industry and agriculture back on its feet. The New Deal was successful in this area, as it helped to create millions of jobs for those that had lost their jobs due to the Depression.Other alphabet agencies were also set up with the aim to relieve, recover and reform, for example, the FERA (Federal Emergency Relief Administration), which provided $500 million for emergency relief, and the NLRB (National Labour Relations Board), which was set up to ensure workers’ rights.

The CWA (Civil Works Administration) also managed to provide immediate ‘work relief’ for around 4 million people. Also, the Social Security Act was bought into existence in the Second New Deal, and this fulfilled Roosevelt’s aim of providing relief, as it included old age pensions, unemployment and sick pay for many American citizens. Roosevelt was successful in achieving this aim, as it managed to lead to a better way of living for many American citizens, as they now had a basic ‘welfare-system’, and this was unlike anything they had had before.However, the New Deal was not completely successful in its aim to fully recover the American economy, as it never solved the underlying economic problems that resulted in the Wall Street Crash. Also, the economy of America took longer to recover than that of most countries in Europe. However, the New Deal did manage to provide jobs for millions of unemployed people during a period when times were bad, therefore, the failures far outweigh the successes.Even though the New Deal did help millions of people all over the United States, there were those that opposed Roosevelt and his ideas. These were mainly Republicans, businesses and those that were wealthy.

They referred to Roosevelt as “a traitor to his class” because of the high taxes he charged them to help fund the New Deal. Because of this, they thought that he was doing too much, however, the fact that he was elected President four times, and won these elections with landslide victories proved that this opposition was in the minority.The New Deal not only dealt with unemployment and the economy, but also benefited many other areas of society, including industrial workers, native and black Americans as well as women. Many black Americans benefited from the New Deal housing projects and Native Americans gained from the Indian Reorganisation Act of 1934, which provided them with money to help buy and improve land.However, even though the New Deal was successful in many respects, the factor that cut down unemployment to its lowest level was in fact an external factor, namely the outbreak of World War Two.

Throughout the existence of the New Deal, the lowest the unemployment level got to was 14.3% of the population of the working force. This was in 1937, just before Roosevelt cut the budget for the New Deal, which resulted in unemployment figures rising again, and it only ever got lower after this when the war broke out in Europe. America entered the war in 1941, and after this, unemployment figures went all the way down to 4.7% of the working force. This was due to the amount of work now available in factories to make supplies for the armed forces.

This was an amount that was never achieved by the New Deal, and shows that even though it was successful, an external factor i.e. World War Two was more successful in bringing mass unemployment in the U.S to an end.Due to Roosevelt cutting the budget for the New Deal, many workers had to be laid off, and this meant that unemployment figures rose once again. This led the country through a recession in 1937, which lost Roosevelt a fair amount of popularity.

A few middle-class voters lost their confidence in him; however, he was still hugely popular with most of the ordinary Americans.The only other person that was faced with the problems that Roosevelt had to face was Hoover, and it is obvious to see that Roosevelt tackled the problems in a much better way. The New Deal he gave to the ordinary people gave them hope, as it meant that they received the help they needed, and this was unlike the policy of laissez-faire that Hoover adopted.Unlike Hoover, Roosevelt managed to restore faith in the ordinary Americans, and he also partly managed to solve the problem of mass unemployment, even though it was World War Two that brought it to a near end.

This was much better than anything that Hoover attempted to do.Therefore, we can say that the statement is quite accurate, as the New Deal was partly a success, but the influence of World War Two had a greater impact on the lives of the ordinary people, as it was what put an end to mass unemployment in the country. The New Deal was not a complete failure, as we have to keep in mind that the situation Roosevelt received was not that great. He had to deal with mass unemployment and a disheartened attitude from the American citizens, and it is clear that Roosevelt managed to improve both these things while he was in office.

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