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Analytical Essay on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and Its Impact on America

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By 1933, the New Deal was set in motion. Since the 1930s, there has been conversation about Franklin D Roosevelt’s New Deal and how it has affected America. The Great Depression, a period of financial and economic downfall for the majority of America, left many civilians facing unemployment and bankruptcy. During this time, the stock market was on the verge of collapse and as stock prices fell, the market was flooded with investors selling their stocks. This stock market crash morphed into the domino effect, with many Americans experiencing a loss of money and poverty as well as business leaders and farmers were undergoing defaulted loans.

With the election of Franklin Roosevelt, Roosevelt promised to help alleviate the economic crisis and within his first 100 days in office, he implemented the policies stated in the New Deal Program. The New Deal, despite some of it’s failed efforts, contributed to major changes in governmental philosophy and showed how the federal government played a role in ensuring a strong national economy and supportive environment for the people. Roosevelt’s attempt to execute the New Deal in American society provided a boost in infrastructural jobs for a majority of groups, but insufficient parts of this deal, like gender discrimination and racial bias, left many people struggling to survive.

Roosevelt’s New Deal was aimed at promoting economic recovery and encouraged a labour movement to sustain wage growth, but in spite of this some of these programs, it left other citizens in economic downfall. Roosevelt was determined to turn the economic train around, with the intent of benefitting US citizens. New federal agencies attempted to stabilize wages and consumer prices by creating numerous public work programs for the unemployed.

Programs such as the Works Progress Administration (WPA) employed millions in public work projects from constructing bridges and roads to painting murals. Programs such as these, were aimed to subsidize the needs of the general population and multiply eligibility requirements. Providing multiple jobs gave hope to the people that the economy would soon resurface with rising employment rates. It was one of the first few steps into breaking out of the Great Depression and rebuilding the US. Americans took these jobs as opportunities to build their way back up on the economic stool, a step into achieving their American Dream. Refinancing troubled mortgages contributed to drops in the home ownership rates and housing prices. In “Critics of the New Deal”, Huey Long mentions the proposal of debt moratorium to give families a chance to pay other debts and mortgage before losing property (Long). Despite this, the New Deal programs were not completely effective at ending the Great Depression. This was because the New Deal included a few unconstitutional faults, such as the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933. An article by the CATO Institute states that the cut back on food production and the controversy of killing livestock and crops during times of struggle left many civilians in poverty (Powell). Wages were above market levels and left millions of American farmers and peasants unemployed. Because of this …. The AAA was especially devastating to many African American tenants that needed work.

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It was not just the Agricultural Adjustment Act that left blacks being hit hard with the consequences of the New Deal, they were faced with discrimination on multiple occasions while in contrast women were working their way up in the workforce. The Washington Post’s “The New Deal as raw deal for blacks in segregated communities,” highlights how blacks were not willingingly moving into overcrowded ghettos by personal preference. It was the federal government’s rising power that infiltrated the separation of whites and blacks within cities and towns (Lane). The government’s efforts to better the economy were primarily designed to help white citizens, exculding people of color from suburban communities and instead push them into urban housing projects. The Federal Housing Administration further ensured segregation by refusing to insure mortgages near African American communities in an endeavour known as readlining. This act was in an attempt to protect government investments and those of white homeowners. African Americans were a prime example of the many minority groups that suffered throughout the Great Depression and were set back from opportunities. Often being treated as the second hand individual compared to that of a white man, they had long suffered unequal pay and the programs reflected that inequality. On the other hand, women benefited from the major reform programs such as the Fair Relations Act. This guaranteed workers rights and led thousands of women to join unions. Programs such as these established the precedent of the working women in comparison to the stereotypical housewife. An article on the “Relief and Recovery Workers–Women”, adds that, although given lower paying jobs, a lot of women were employed through the Works Progress Administration (Digital Public Library of America).

They were being engaged in jobs including sewing, clerical jobs, gardening, and librarians. Women were able to offer hard working attitudes that were set because of the WPA program, it was a small but an effective attempt in the ladder of equality. Therefore, because women were given the chance to be given jobs, their American Dream of gender equality was coming true. Roosevelt created the New Deal in hopes of alleviating the economic decline, however with little augmentation of employment there were few positive aspects gained towards the people. The American people were able to create a sense of individualism and pave their way to a better economy through hard work and sacrifice. Roosevelt’s attempt at a New Deal left many minority groups struggling, and improved the economy only in the short term. However in the long term, New Deal had a positive effect on society due to Fair Labor Standards Acts, which “[​mandated] a minimum wage, a 40-hour workweek and improved working conditions…[it] brought benefits to all workers, not just those in unions” (Weiman). This guaranteed working allowed Americans to be given fair rights in the workforce and ensured reasonable hours.

Though there was not much employment during this time period, minimum wage gives workers a baseline starting point build up their careers and give them legal protection/support. With Americans in constant pursuit to attain their own success, it gave an aspiration of upward mobility. As for its negative attributions, the New Deal hit hard on minority groups and those of the lower class. According to the article, “Did the New Deal Work?”, Matthew Bandyk touches on relief policies doing the opposite of what it originally intended, being fueled by the excise taxes on the middle and lower class these taxes were generally on everyday goods. In all, there was a shift in governmental philosophy with the federal government gaining more responsibility to ensure the safety and welfare of the people. The New Deal was more effective on a microeconomic level as it did open doors for women in the workforce and eliminated some aspects of unemployment in infrastructural jobs. It was not as widely effective to completely eliminate the effects of the Great Depression during that time period.

All in all, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s liberal ideals gave the government more activism with the people and optimism to relieve economic decline, Roosevelt created these policies in the New Deal to bring economic security. American people however, despite the struggles, were committed to building their way up to the economy with sacrifice and hard work. With some of the programs of the deal failing many people, especially the lower class, were largely affected.

People of color and civilans of the lower class were set back from the American Dream due to the dminutive opputines given to them. From people of color being pushed to ghettos to ensure protection of investments of whitehome owners and taxes on the lower and middle class that helped finance a majority of these programs. Women in contrast were given greater opportunities in the workforce. The New Deal gave more jobs that were based on public works projects such as bridges, roads, dams and hospitals. With infrastructural jobs, came guaranteed workers rights, reasonable hours and minimum wage pay, that began to start a foundation for those willing to expand on their career. Despite some of its failed efforts, the New Deal provided short term relief from the Great Depression for Americans and ultimately shifted the structure of governmental agencies.

Works Cited

  1. “America’s Great Depression and Roosevelt’s New Deal.” ​Relief and Recovery Workers | DPLA​, dp.la/exhibitions/new-deal/relief-and-recovery-workers/women.
  2. Bandyk, Matthew. “Did the New Deal Work?” ​U.S. News & World Report​, U.S. News & World Report, 11 Apr. 2008, money.usnews.com/money/business-economy/articles/2008/04/11/did-the-new-deal-work.
  3. Lane, Charles. “The New Deal as Raw Deal for Blacks in Segregated Communities.” ​The Washington Post​, WP Company, 25 May 2017, www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-new-deal-as-raw-deal-for-blacks-in-segregated-communities/2017/05/25/07416bba-080a-11e7-a15f-a58d4a988474_story.html?noredirect=on.
  4. Long, Huey P. “Critics of the New Deal.pdf.” ​Google Drive​, Google, 2015, drive.google.com/file/d/1CgPuHD800z3pCZb6O6HSTWuOiElxPdtP/view.
  5. Powell, Jim. “How FDR’s New Deal Harmed Millions of Poor People.” ​Cato Institute​, 14 Dec. 2012, www.cato.org/publications/commentary/how-fdrs-new-deal-harmed-millions-poor-people.
  6. Weiman, David F. “Imagining a World without the New Deal.” ​The Washington Post​, WP Company, 12 Aug. 2011, www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/imagining-a-world-without-the-new-deal/2011/08/03/gIQAtJoBBJ_story.html?noredirect=on.

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