The New Deal was a huge social and economical programme to restore the faith of the American people in their government. It did manage to help some of the American people, mainly the worst off/lower sections of society, to an extent however it did not help all sections of American people. I am going to discuss whether life got better for all Americans and if so how, and I will also discuss how far Roosevelt was responsible for this. Black people were the most discriminated against at this time.
They were seen as inferior in every way and were not aloud to sit near white people on buses, benches and in restaurants. They could not go to the same hospitals either. There was a large population of Native American Indians as well. They needed more land and a larger sense of independence. Woman did not have equal rights. They were not offered the same jobs as men and were lower payed than men in the ones they did get. Farmers were also in bad circumstances and did not have enough food to eat, they needed help to survive.
Finally there was labour unrest, the masses of workers had little protection against irresponsible and sinister employers because the trade unions that helped get trade unions compensation and better rights for working conditions and pay had no government support and failed to function. All these groups of people needed help from the New Deal to get out of the depression and the mess they were in, but did they get it? The economy was in a terrible state. No one was investing or keeping their bank accounts so the congress realised that drastic measures had to be taken.
Roosevelt demanded extra powers to take action quickly, the senate and House of Representatives gave him the same powers as if the country had been invaded. This emergency period lasted 100 days and 13 new laws were past. This period of time in 1933 famously became known as ‘the first hundred days’. The fireside chats were speeches from Roosevelt that explained his plans and actions in a simple and direct way to try and help people. He asked the Americans to work with him. He also sorted out the banks. Since the 1930, 5000 banks were forced to close and this needed to be sorted out.
The reason for this mass closure was that all the savers had withdrawn their money and businesses could not pay back loans. Roosevelt ordered a four-day holiday and closed all banks. In this time he rushed a banking act through congress. Only honest banks could re-open and be liable for funding to operate. Shortly after the banks re-opened, $1 billion was re-deposited. The alphabet agencies were agencies that helped to fix problems around America. There were agencies such as the farmer credit association, which gave loans to a fifth of all farmers so that they would not lose their farms.
This group of people benefited from the Agricultural Adjustment Agency to. This was a policy to make farmers produce less produce, so prices would go up. And they did which therefore meant that the farmer’s wages doubled from 1933-39. Despite the help for farmers, tenants and sharecroppers did not benefit. Many were evicted because of the lack of work and many became unemployed. Help for the unemployed was underway as well. The civilian conservation corps gave jobs to single men under 25. They lived in large camps and would work by clearing land, preventing floods and planting trees to stop soil blowing away.
The CCC enabled city men to acquire life skills and become fit and healthy from all the fresh air. Between 1933-42 three million took part in these schemes. Despite its undeniable success, black people were still in segregated versions of the CCC camps and only 8000 women were a part of it. This scheme helped a lot of people, just not a large amount of different groups of people. The Civilian Works Administration was designed to give as many people jobs as possible. But apart from building roads, many of the jobs such as sweeping up leaves just gave people something to do.
The Publics Works Administration on the other hand, believed in providing jobs of lasting value. And it worked; formerly unemployed men built dams; houses and sewage systems successfully. Even woman benefited. They were given responsible positions of running the agencies that were helping these people. The new deal definitely helped the unemployed, men and woman alike. The needy were a subject that was close to Roosevelt’s heart. The New Deal set up the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, which gave money to the starving and homeless in order to survive.
Money was also lent to people to stop them losing their homes through the Home Owners Loan Corporation. The needy were being helped and everyone felt as though were going to beat the depression. The industry was also in dire need of help. The National Recovery Administration set about trying to increase workers wages, increase factory goods prices, which had hit rock bottom and give workers better conditions and shorter hours. This would help defeat the depression because more money could be spent on higher prices goods, which would help kick start the economy.
The final alphabet agency to bet set up was the Tennessee Valley Authority. It was designed to help the seven poverty stricken states, which were situated in the Tennessee valley. New forests were planted and soil was improved. Dams with hydroelectricity could produce large amounts of cheap electricity for everyone. The TVA produced thousands of jobs for people and was another success story. There was opposition to the New Deal as well as support. Huey ‘Kingfish’ Long believed not enough was being done for the poor. He proposed a minimum wage and money to be given to all American families.
Doctor Francis Townsend proposed that all people over the age of 60 should get a pension of $200 a month as many older people were suffering. The ideas of these men made some people doubt if Roosevelt had what it took to get America out of the depression. The second New Deal was designed to expand on the success of the first such as the CC and the PWA and forget the areas that they were failing in such as in the AAA where tenants and sharecropper were not being helped. The Work Progress Administration gave work to two million people a year, building roads, bridges tunnels and schools.
It helped to abolish unemployment, make people feel good about being a hard working nation and get rid of the depression. Also in 1937 the Resettlement Administration gave sharecropper and tenants loans to buy their own land. This made the agricultural side of America fairer and more people were able to survive on farms. In conclusion I believe that the New Deal helped farmers as they were given loans and the AAA. I believe that it was only when the second New Deal came around that the sharecroppers and tenants were helped when they were given loans to buy their own land.
So overall the agricultural side of life in America was helped. A lot of unemployed people were helped by the CCC and were given jobs. The PWA also helped give unemployed people worthwhile and lasting jobs. But most of the people that benefited from these schemes were young white males. The tougher areas that needed to be dealt with such as employment for woman and black people only slightly improved. Roosevelt was not as successful as many people wanted him to be. However there was a lot of successful work done to help the needy.
FERA and the HOLC helped people from the brink of ruin and starvation and loss of homes get back on their feet. This made the nation warm to Roosevelt, as he had successfully begun to improve the misfortunate people’s lives. Industry was helped as more high priced goods were being bought which made the economy improve and stabilise however some of the opposition felt that all this tampering to the economy was going to damage it in the long run and also damage to the nations self resilience reputation had been done but Roosevelt’s plans worked and things were looking up.
Overall, did everyone’s lives get better after the New Deal? Well no, but the majority did and even the groups with lower rights such as woman and black people lives did improve a little. So on the whole the New Deal did bring success, confidence and happiness to America once again and we could hold Roosevelt mainly responsible for this.