Analysing the Success of Roosevelt's The New Deal Projects

When many people think of the Great Depression they visualize the images of people living in shanty towns, long bread lines, and people moving west to places like California in search of work, but what no one thinks about is how Franklin Roosevelt, president during this time, combatted this depression. President Roosevelt knew the “do nothing” option was inevitable, so he went straight to work. This belief set the stage approaches in dealing with the depression crisis, with their own successes and failures.

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the president elected in a time when America was at rock bottom. He knew something had to be done to deal with the depression, but he wasn’t sure what was needed most. It wasn’t until a month before his inauguration that he said to his advisors, “Let’s concentrate upon one thing: Save the people and the nation, and if we have to change our minds twice every day to accomplish that end, we should do it. It was famously stated by President Roosevelt during his inauguration speech, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” President Roosevelt’s plan to resurrect America can be divided into two periods: the first hundred days, where the First New Deal was created, and after the first hundred days, where the Second New Deal was created. On his first day in office after his inauguration, Roosevelt declared a four-day bank holiday to stop people from withdrawing their money from shaky banks. On March 9, 1933 Congress passed Roosevelt’s Emergency Banking Act, which reorganized the banks and closed the ones that were insolvent. On March 12, the day before the banks were set to reopen, Roosevelt held his first “fireside chat”. In the chat directly to the American people, he assured the American people that any bank open the next day had the federal government’s stamp of approval. With President Roosvelt reassuring the American people that the banks set to open up the next day had the federal government’s stamp of approval, close to $1 billion in cash and gold had been brought out from under mattresses and hidden bookshelves and redeposited in the nation’s banks. 

From here, President Roosevelt went on to create many administrations and acts under the First New Deal to provide much needed support that was needed urgently. One administration created under the first New Deal was the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA). This administration created a federal program to protect American farmers from the uncertainties of the market through subsides and production controls. In addition the First New Deal also created the Tennessee Valley Authority which began a bold experiment in flood control, public power, and regional planning. However the most ambitious of all acts created under the First New Deal was the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA). The NIRA containined a guarantee to workers of the right of collective bargaining and helped spur major union organizing drives in many industries. It created a substantial federal public works program (the Public Works Administration). Most importantly and least successfully, it also established the National Recovery Administration (NRA), which attempted to stabilize prices and wages through cooperative “code authorities” involving government, businesses, and labor. However, just when things were starting to get better, two significant pieces of legislation of the First New Deal were struck down. In 1935, the U.S Supreme Court found both the AAA and NIRA overreached federal authority. All in all, the First New Deal created the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA), the Civil Works Administration (CWA), the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the Farm Credit Administration (FCA), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Federal Emergency Relief Act, the Glass-Steagall Act, the Homeowners Loan Corporation, the Indian Reorganization Act, the National Recovery Administration (NRA), the Public Works Administration (PWA), the Resettlement Administration, the Securities Act of 1933, and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). After his first hundred days in office, FDR was moving swiftly and America was starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. After the Supreme Court found some parts of his first New Deal overreaching of federal authority, FDR went to work again, this time focused on long-term relief that would last for the American people. In the spring of 1935, responding to the setbacks in the Court, restiveness in Congress, and a growing popular clamor for more dramatic action, the Roosevelt administration proposed several important new initiatives, one being the National Labor Relations Act, also known as the Wagner Act. The Wagner Act revived and strengthened the protections of collective bargaining contained in the original and now invalidated NIRA. The Wagner Act also created the National Labor Relations Board to help enforce the guarantee as it promised workers. Also created under the Second New Deal was the Works Progress Administration (WPA). This new organization provided jobs for unemployed people. WPA projects weren’t allowed to compete with private industry, so they focused on building things like post offices, bridges, schools, highways, and parks. The WPA also gave work to artists, writers, theater directors and musicians.

However, the most important act created under the Second New Deal was the Social Security Act. The Social Security Act established programs intended to help the most vulnerable: the elderly, the unemployed, the disabled, and the young. It included a pension fund for all retired people over the age of 65, to be paid through a payroll tax on both employee and employer. In all the Second New Deal created the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Farm Security Administration, Federal Crop Insurance, the National Labor Relations Act, the National Youth Administration, the Rural Electrification Administration, the Social Security Act, the Surplus Commodities Program, and the Works Progress Administration. 

All of these acts were successful in some way. This in turn led to Roosevelt being elected president again in 1936, 1940 and 1944, until his end in the presidency in 1945, when he died. FDR’s work during this time of hardship in America would set the stage for upcoming presidents who hoped to continue Roosevelt’s legacy as his work as president was significantly better than his predecessor, Herbert Hoover. 

07 July 2022

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