When the American stock market crashed on October 29, 1929, the Great Depression began. On this day known as “Black Tuesday”, banks began to fail, companies were forced to fire an abundance of workers, and companies went bankrupt (The History Channel Staff, 2009). Thousands upon thousands of impoverished men needed work to support their families. President Hoover desperately tried to turn the country around, but to no avail. However, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected President of the United States, his main goal was to begin the new deal. Although the New Deal benefitted so many, it also harmed many in several different ways.
Implementation of the New Deal
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected president in 1933 by 57% of the votes (Green, 2013). The idea of the New Deal was not surprisingly one of the key points used in his presidential campaign. According to Dictionary.com, the New Deal is defined as “The principles of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, especially those advocated under the leadership of President Franklin D. Roosevelt for economic recovery and social reforms.” Americans were hopeful that Roosevelt would bring back the prosperity that they once had. Although Roosevelt is the one who came up with the idea of the New Deal, Congress had to pass it first. Even though Roosevelt gets the credit for the New Deal, Congress is actually what allowed him to launch it in the first place.
Significance of the First New Deal
Roosevelt signed a plethora of acts into action during his first 100 days in office. He wasted no time to sign the Tennessee Valley Authority Act into law, which allowed for dams to be built in order to reduce flooding and to create cheap hydroelectric power. The National Industry Recovery Act was signed into law, which required companies to write codes of fair competition to fix wages, prices, working conditions, and restricted the entry of other companies into the alliances. This act also gave the employees the right create unions, and did not require them to join from joining a labor organization (Buchholz, Ray, 2014). During the New Deal, Congress also passed a bill that paid commodity farmers to abandon their fields to end agricultural surpluses and to boost prices. The Civilian Conservation Corps was put in place to allowed young people to build national parks. A lot of people were poor and starving, so the Federal Emergency Relief Administration was put in place to give welfare to the desperate.
Significance of the Second New Deal
Roosevelt did not formally call this the “Second New Deal”, but the term was coined to describe the second stage of his New Deal, which was everything implemented between 1935 and 1938. Even though the first stage of the New Deal provided many needed jobs, there was still a substantial amount of work that still needed to be done. In the second stage of the New Deal, Roosevelt focused most of his efforts on long-term reform. He proposed a new round of programs and solutions to “fix” America and restore it back to how it was before the Great Depression hit. During this period, he enacted the Social Security Act, the Wagner Act, and the Works Progress Administration (Higher Bitesize History). The Social Security Act was aimed to help and provide support for the elderly, unemployed, mothers with dependent children, people hurt on the job, and benefits for children and adults with disabilities. The Works Project Administration was one of the most expensive aspects of the New Deal, but it put millions to work. Eight and a half million, to be exact. According to ourdocuments.gov, the Wagner Act was to guarantee employees “the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid and protection.”
President Roosevelt made his key objectives of the New Deal very simple. Relief, recovery, and reform. Relief was to help the poor and suffering, and some programs put in place for that include the Civil Works Administration (CWA), and the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA). Recovery was aimed to put those people back into a working environment, which includes the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA), and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Reform was designed to regulate the American economy so that future depressions do not happen, which includes the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) (Alchin, 2014).
The poor people and blacks were the most negatively affected by the New Deal. According to cato.org (2003), the National Industrial Recovery Act forced wages above market levels, making it more expensive to hire people. The minimum wage regulations made it illegal for employers to hire people who weren’t worth the minimum because they lacked skills, no matter what race. Blacks alone were estimated to have lost half a million jobs. The Agricultural Adjustment act cut back on farm production, which devastated black tenant farmers. For white poor people, they would lose land with no compensation. TVA’s dams flooded nearly 750,000
acres and the poor were left with nothing.
The New Deal had its fair share of ups and downs. Unemployment was a hard-hitting blow to the American People, and it was President Roosevelt’s goal to fix it. Roosevelt created many jobs during his terms as president, but many jobs were still lost. The New Deal involved several programs that improved the economy and helped restore it back to its prime. Many historians have different opinions on whether the New Deal was successful, but regardless, it will still be a significant part of American History.