Chapter 16: The New Deal
Forging a New Deal • FDR’s Inaugural Address was designed to encourage optimism and give the country hope: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” In his first Hundred Days in office, he pushed many programs through Congress to provide relief and create jobs. • 1stsuccesses was the Emergency Banking Act, which stabilized the banking industry. The Bank Holiday= All banks were closed for inspections and the sound ones were reopened.
The Glass-Steagall Banking Act created the Federal Deposit Insurance Cooperation (FDIC) to insure bank deposits so that people could never again lose their savings. • Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), created which still regulates the stock market today.
To stimulate the economy & create jobs, Roosevelt created the 1. Federal Emergency ReliefAdministration (FERA), which put federal money into local relief agencies and also into public work programs. 2. Civil Works Administration (CWA) provided 4 million people with jobs building roads, airports, and other facilities. 3. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) provided more than 2.5 million young men jobs maintaining forests, beaches, and parks.
4. National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) allowed government to regulate industry and set fair business practices. 5. Homeowners were helped with the National Housing Actand the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which still provides federally insured low cost loans today. 6. Another program that still exists is the Tennessee Valley Authority, which brought electricity to rural areas with federal subsidies (money).
Some of the key players in Roosevelt’s administration were his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, and FrancesPerkins, the first woman cabinet member. He also assigned key positions to African Americans such as Mary McLeod Bethune.
FDR continued and expanded his programs with the Second New Deal. In 1935, he created the Works Progress Administration and the Rural Electrification Administration. He also supported the Social Security Act, which was designed to help those who could not support themselves. Activity Pg. 544 List the 3 types of insurance that Social Security first covered. 1. 2. 3. Not all of FDR’sprograms worked the way he wanted them to, but Americans were happy that he was trying.
He was reelectedby an overwhelming majority in 1936, winning 523 to 8 in the electoral college, over Kansas Speaker of the House Alf Landon.
New Deal Critics • While many Americans were happy with Roosevelt’s New Deal, some were not. The New Deal fell short of many people’s expectations. The New Deal’s labor acts and social security bill covered few African Americans or women. New Deal legislation did nothing to curb an alarming growth of violence against blacks as lynching increased significantly. Despite these faults, African Americans generally supported FDR.
Eleanor Roosevelt made several stands to symbolically support African Americans. In protest of Jim Crow laws, she refused to sit with the whites at a meeting in Alabama; she sat in the aisle between the black and white sections of the hall. Later when the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to let Marian Anderson—a renowned African American concert singer—rent their Constitution Hall, Eleanor Roosevelt and others resigned from the group and arranged for Anderson to sing at the Lincoln Memorial.
Politically, many Republicans thought that the New Deal went too far and that many of its programs smacked of socialism. Conservatives also did not like the Social Security Act or the Revenue Act that increased taxes on the wealthy. • Other political critics felt that FDR’s programs did not go far enough to end poverty.
Some of FDR’s critics were demagogues, leaders who use propaganda to manipulate the truth to gain supporters. 1. The first FDR opponent to attract large followings was the conservative radio personality Father Coughlin, whose weekly broadcasts attracted 10 million listeners. Coughlin was later taken off the air after blaming all the Jewish bankers for the depression and praising Adolf Hitler.
2. The second was Huey Long, (Kingfish)a senator from Louisiana who thought FDR did too little to redistribute the wealth of the nation. Long’s program “Share our wealth” would confiscate all incomes over $ 1 million or inheritances of over $5 million and hand out the money to the poor.
3. A third critic was Dr. Francis Townsendwhose idea for caring for the nations’ elderly would eventually result in the creation of the Social Security System.
4. FDR did make a serious mistake in 1937 when he tried to increase the number of Supreme Court justices so he could pack the court with those sympathetic to his cause. The huge public outcry forced him to withdraw the proposal.
Last Days of the New Deal • The New Deal did not end the Great Depression. It brought relief and helped people with a huge influx of government money, much of which was borrowed. • In 1937, even FDR was worried by the large nationaldebt and wanted to balance the budget so that there would be no deficit(money spent that was not covered by revenue). • To fund the New Deal, the government had to borrow massive amounts of money. As a result the national debt rose from $21 billion in 1933 to $43 billion by 1940. • In order to achieve a balanced budget, Roosevelt cut back on programs such as the WPA, but the country had another economic collapse and entered a recession. • It became clear that government spending was only propping up the economy, not bringing about recovery.
The New Deal was, however, a boon to labor unions. The Wagner Act, passed in 1935, protected labor unions; membership rose from 3 million in 1933 to 10.5 million in 1941. Even unskilled workers were encouraged by John L. Lewis to join his new Congress of Industrial Organization (CIO), which staged a successful strike against General Motors.
The passage of the Wagner Act, in 1935, legalized collective bargaining and led to an era of strikes. Many work stoppages took the form of sit-down strikes, in which laborers stop working, but refuse to leave the building and supporters set up picket lines outside. Together the strikers and the picket lines prevent the company from bringing in scabs, or non-union substitute workers. These tactics, although not always successful, proved quite powerful. In 1939, the Supreme Court outlawed the sit-down strike as being too potent a weapon and an obstacle to negotiation.
The New Deal also changed the face of American culture by getting government into the act of patronizing the arts. Government funds were used to support literature, radio, and movies. The WPA had projects to preserve folk music, provide free music lessons for children, and fund the painting of murals and other works of art. Writers such as Richard Wright and Saul Bellow received funds to support their writing. Many arts programs are still funded by the federal government.
The New Deal’s Effects on Culture • Literature: Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth (1931), Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), and John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (1939) were all Depression-era novels that were destined to become classics. James Agee and Walker Evans lived with Alabama sharecroppers to produce their nonfiction masterpiece Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941). • Radio and Movies: Radio became a major source of entertainment with comedy shows and the first soap operas. Movies also gave Americans a needed escape from hard times. For a quarter, customers could see a double feature or take the whole family to a drive-in theater. Some films of the day were Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup and Monkey Business, and The Wizard of Oz. • The WPA and the Arts: FDR believed that the arts were not luxuries. He earmarked WPA funds to support unemployed artists, musicians, historians, theater people, and writers.
WPA: The Federal Arts Project
Kansas Cityfrom Politics, Farming, & the Law Thomas Hart Benton,1936
WPA: The Federal Music Project
WPA: The Federal Theater Project
The Cradle Will Rock, 1937 The theater, when it’s good, is always dangerous! Orson Welles & John Houseman
WPA: The Federal Writers Project
The New Deal changed what Americans wanted from government and the president. The public now expected the president to take a pro-active approach to solving problems and promoting legislation. People expected the government to help them in times of crisis and thus allowed for more government intervention in their lives.
Many New Deal programs still exist today—the FDIC, the Securities Exchange Commission, and Social Security. • Many of the dams and roads built by the government during the Great Depression still function. • It was not, however, New Deal legislation that ultimately brought an end to the depression. The nation did not recover economically until it entered World War II.