The stock market crash in 1929 touched off a crisis that left 13 million Americans unemployed by the time Franklin D. Roosevelt took office. The New Deal transformed the United States, but the Great Depression ended only with outbreak of World War II.
II. Hoover and Hard Times: 1929?1933
A. No Food, No Home
The deepening of the Great Depression left many Americans jobless and often homeless. Deteriorating diets left many vulnerable to disease. The crisis not only affected people in urban areas but caused great social disruption in the farm community as well.
B. Farmers’ Holiday Association
The Farmers’ Holiday Association encouraged farmers to keep products off the market to drive up prices.
C. Bonus Expeditionary Force
Fifteen thousand World War I veterans marched on Washington to support immediate payment of cash bonuses, but the Senate refused.
D. Communists and Socialists
Communists led numerous protests against conditions in America, but they gained few supporters. Although the Socialist Party fared somewhat better, they won few election victories.
E. Hoover’s Response
At first, Hoover expressed hostility at calls for direct government relief. As conditions worsened, however, he supported several federal responses to the Depression.
F. Reconstruction Finance Corporation
The Reconstruction Finance Corporation aided businesses and state and local governments. The effort to stimulate the economy from the top enjoyed little success.
G. Hawley?Smoot Tariff
Hoover approved a tariff increase, believing it would protect American farmers and manufacturers. Instead, the tariff further weakened the economy.
H. Hoover’s Traditionalism
Hoover continued to believe in a balanced budget, and he vetoed a variety of relief bills.
III. Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Election of 1932
A. Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Roosevelt appealed to a broad spectrum of Americans, who admired the optimism that he maintained despite his paralysis from polio.
B. Eleanor Roosevelt
Although shy as a young woman, Eleanor matured into a dynamic and influential advocate of social justice.
C. Roosevelt’s “Brain Trust”
As Governor of New York beginning in 1928, Roosevelt responded vigorously to the Great Depression. Roosevelt and his advisers believed in government regulation of big business and in the need to create scarcity to save the economy.
D. 1932 Election Results
Democrats carried the election handily in 1932. Economic troubles continued during the four-month period between Roosevelt’s election in November and his inauguration in March.
IV. Launching the New Deal and Restoring Confidence
A. Launching the New Deal
Congress convened in an emergency session, beginning the massive legislative output of the First New Deal.
B. First Fireside Chat
On March 12, Roosevelt addressed the nation by radio, reassuring the people that banks were again safe.
C. Beer-Wine Revenue Act
A deflationary measure, the Beer-Wine Revenue Act legalized the sale of low-alcohol wines and beers and imposed taxes on those products.
D. Agricultural Adjustment Act
The AAA paid farmers to reduce production in exchange for government subsidies.
E. Other Relief Measures
The CCC served as a jobs corps for young men; the Federal Emergency Relief Act extended aid to state and local governments; and the Public Works Administration was established.
F. National Recovery Administration
The National Industrial Recovery Act was the industrial cornerstone for the New Deal. The wide?ranging law revealed the New Deal’s faith in national economic planning.
The goal of the TVA was economic revitalization of the entire Tennessee River Valley.
H. End of the First Hundred Days
Congress approved fifteen major laws by the time it adjourned in June 1933.
I. Other Legislation
Additional legislation was passed in late 1933 and in the spring and summer of 1934, which benefited farmers, the unemployed, investors, homeowners, workers, and the environment.
J. Interest?Group Democracy
The New Deal seemed to promise something for everybody. As the economy began to improve, the president enjoyed great popularity.
V. Opposition to the New Deal
A. Conservative Critics of the New Deal
With the arrival of partial economic recovery, many businesspeople and conservatives sharply criticized the New Deal.
B. Farmers and Laborers
Criticism was leveled against codes established by the NRA. The AAA also came under attack.
C. The Dust Bowl
A drought and poor farming practices caused an ecological disaster in the southern plains.
D. Demagogic Attacks
The most notable critics included Father Charles Coughlin, Dr. Francis E. Townsend, and Senator Huey Long.
E. Left?Wing Critics
As the Depression continued, some Americans gravitated toward left?wing parties.
F. Supreme Court Decisions Against the New Deal
The Supreme Court ruled against the New Deal in several cases.
VI. The Second New Deal and Roosevelt’s Second Term
A. Emergency Relief Appropriation Act
The Emergency Relief Appropriation Act allowed the president to establish massive public works programs for the unemployed.
B. The New Deal’s Cultural Programs
Cultural programs such as the Federal Theater Project and the Federal Writers Project provided employment for artists, musicians, writers, and actors.
C. Control of Business
Roosevelt decided that if business would not cooperate with government it should be “cut down to size” through antitrust suits and corporate taxes.
D. National Labor Relations Act
The Wagner Act granted workers the right to unionize and bargain collectively with management. It also created the NLRB.
E. Social Security Act
The Social Security Act established old?age insurance for some Americans, a measure that acknowledged a greater social responsibility for the government.
F. Election of 1936 and the New Deal Coalition
Roosevelt won a landslide victory over Alf Landon. The New Deal appealed to farmers, urban voters, former Socialists, unions, African Americans, and southerners.
G. Roosevelt’s Court?packing Plan
Roosevelt sought to gain control over the courts, but Congress refused to accept his Judiciary Reorganization Bill.
H. Recession of 1937?1939
The economy improved by 1937, but a recession ensued when Roosevelt ordered cutbacks in government spending.
VII. Industrial Workers and the Rise of the CIO
A. Rivalry Between Craft and Industrial Unions
Craft unions and industrial unions fought bitterly over control of the labor movement.
B. Sit?Down Strikes
The United Auto Workers staged a successful sit?down strike against GM, leading to wide use of the tactic.
C. Memorial Day Massacre
Violence at the Republic Steel Plant exemplified the intense animosity between labor and management.
VIII. Mixed Progress for People of Color
A. Hoover and African Americans
African Americans faced racism in the North as well as in the South. Under Hoover, the Republican Party followed discriminatory practices.
B. Scottsboro Trials
In 1931, eight African Americans were convicted of rape in Alabama, even though medical evidence revealed that the female witnesses had lied.
C. Organized Opposition
African American organizations emerged that actively fought for black rights.
D. Black Cabinet
In an unprecedented move, Roosevelt established a group of prominent AfricanAmerican advisers.
E. Racism in the New Deal
African Americans benefited from the New Deal, but the president never fully committed himself to civil rights. Some New Deal programs damaged African Americans.
F. March on Washington Movement
As a protest, many African Americans, under the leadership of A. Philip Randolph, threatened to march on Washington. Roosevelt responded with Executive Order No. 8802, which established the Fair Employment Practices Committee.
G. A New Deal for Native Americans
New Deal legislation aided Native Americans by, among other things, reversing parts of the Dawes Severalty Act.
H. Depression Hardships of Mexican Americans
The New Deal did little to help Mexican Americans.
IX. Women, Work, and the Great Depression
A. Women at Work Outside the Home
Despite public attitudes against it, more women entered the labor force.
B. Job Discrimination Against Married Women
A significant number of employers had policies against hiring married women.
C. Wives and Husbands Face Hard Times
More married women entered the labor force, but this did not improve the status of women in American society.
D. Women in the New Deal
The New Deal made a number of historic appointments, including the first female cabinet member. Still, the New Deal provided only limited advances for women.
X. The Election of 1940 and the Legacy of the New Deal
A. Wendell Wilkie
Roosevelt ran for a historic third term in 1940, and the New Deal coalition handily defeated Wendell Wilkie.
B. Roosevelt and the New Deal Assessed
Assessments of Roosevelt vary widely, but scholars agree that he profoundly transformed the presidency.
C. Origins of America’s Welfare System
Under the New Deal, the federal government assumed new and far?reaching responsibilities.