This is an incredibly tricky question to answer… The sole answer depends on the person questioning. The aims of The New Deal could not possibly satisfy everybody, however they did have an absolutely colossal effect on the people who needed it most, which at the time was pretty much everyone.
However an easier way of looking at it is to first answer the critical question of ‘Did Roosevelt Save America?’
We already know from our background that Roosevelt completely dragged America out of its spiralling depression, and revolutionised it back to its decorous self. Not only did he revolutionise the country, he restored respect and hope into the people of America’s hearts, allowing them once more to live the ‘American Dream’.
However is i mentioned before, the New Deal could not cater for everyone…seeing as one man was trying to help a population of 125,578,763 (1933) out of their individual personal problems. I shall now look at the key question – ‘Was the New Deal a Complete Success.’
There are many references that show us the amount of healing Roosevelt did during the depression period. This was mainly represented by the groups of people he helped. For example:
Farmers – For some farmers, the New Deal was a success and Roosevelt helped them, mainly through the alphabet agencies, to a great extent. Using his agencies, he was able to set up the FCA – this leant loans to a fifth of ALL farmers in America, allowing them to keep their farms and ultimately the whole agricultural industry going.
He also set up the AAA – This actually payed farmer’s to produce less, allowing prices to rise, and agricultural economics get back into flow. They also bought things like livestock off of farmers to give them more money without debt. These two things combined help to turn agriculture around, and get farmers back on their feet. Unfortunately the New Deal did not benefit sharecroppers. At the time there were 3million sharecroppers who did not own land but simply paid the farmer in a part of their crop to use their land. As an immediate effect of the AAA the sharecroppers were employed in helping destroy farm crop and livestock, after this period they were deemed unemployed and had no income.
Unemployed – Again, the unemployed claimed success for Roosevelt. He helped the unemployed population to achieve placement in work. He founded more agencies to help get the unemployed earning money again. He started the CCC which gave men jobs in hard work like road building and flood control in exchange for clothes, food and small wage sent home to loved ones and family. Over three million men to part in the CCC- a key success of Roosevelt’s New Deal and has been recognised as one of his greatest achievements.
He also set up other agencies that got the unemployed back to work…these were the CWA, which was a short term scheme to get more people into work and like the CCC got them into rebuilding the country, but also put them in easy positions like litter picking or leave sweeping… and the PWA which splashed out $7billion on employing the skilled tradesmen into building dams, bridges, sewage plants and houses. It is during 1933 and 1939 that the PWA built 70% of Americas schools and 35% of its hospitals.
The Needy – Again, another success, the needy were helped through the new deal. Again agencies were used to help solve the problems they face. This time the FERA was set up. This was an organisation given $500,000,000 to help Americans who were homeless, penniless or starving. A main majority of the money was used to set up more soup kitchens and provide clothing, education and employment schemes. The HOLC was also set up for home owners. This organisation lent loans to over a million people to stop them losing their homes. This topic ties in to the setting up of a welfare state. Many people were helped by welfare benefits like pensions or unemployment wages.
Industry – Industry again was helped along by the New Deal. Another main success of Roosevelt’s plan was the creation of the NRA agency. The NRA symbol was a great blue eagle. This symbol was put on packaging and used in demonstrations, to increase the agencies popularity, and get people into agreeing with the ideology the act had.
The aims of the NRA were to
– create larger salary bands for workers, so that they could spend more money on goods, and ultimately pump more money back into the economy.
– Raise the price of factory made goods which had fallen to rock bottom prices during the recession and ultimately increase factory owner profits, enabling them to employ more staff.
– And also to make sure work was fair on the employees. This meant ensuring safe working procedures and shorter hours.
Regulations were drawn up for each type of industry and employers were nudged to sign. The regulations created were on this such as fixed goods prices, working hours, minimum wages and to stop child labour. It also opened doors into trade unions and condemned strike breaking techniques that were brutally used by industry owners before the New Deal.
Native American life greatly increased in quality. The Indian Recognition Act was introduced in 1934, meaning that Native Americans had to be provided federal relief when needed. It also helped to find a common ground with Tribal governments. The reversal of the previous Dawes Act of 1887 meant that tribes could now own and make decisions about land. The Indian Reservation Act in the same year also gave Native Americans the right to supervise their own affairs, like creation of magistrates of law and allowed them to freely follow their own beliefs and cultural conduct.
Another success the New Deal achieved was social security. All be it in the second bout of the program, it allowed benefits to help the old, sick and unemployed. It greatly benefited people as they no more had to save all their money for old age. At the age of 65 Roosevelt deemed it just to give a state pension to that person. He also gave help to the handicapped, and single or married women with dependant offspring. He also created the Wagner Act, supporting workers who wanted to join unions and prevent employers from sacking workers who were in that union. Trade unions grew in power, meaning more employer-employee communication.
A final contributing factor which reeled in the success of the program was the security of American finance. Roosevelt removed America from the normal gold standard scheme it was working with, meaning that American paper money could not now be exchanged for the same tender in gold. It meant that people would stop holding money back rather than pumping it back into the economic cycle. He also introduced the Securities and Exchange Commission to oversee transactions going on within the Wall Street Market.
As you can see these agencies and help programs really helped America to turn around and into a better place. These factors greatly linked together to benefit the complete success of the New Deal, however we must also take into consideration the people who were not directly helped, and what effect the New Deal had on them.
The Republicans were pretty much the first to pick at Roosevelt for faults in his ‘wonderful’ New Deal. They thought that he was trying to become a dictator, and instead of using democracy, he went along and did things without voting on them. They also blamed Roosevelt for his later TVA and NRA plans being too much like communist economical planning schemes of the Soviet Union.
The republicans also objected to the masses of money he was spending in trying to turn America around, they thought that money was being wasted on less significant agencies like the WPA, spending money on unnecessary jobs. This led on to the troubles between Roosevelt and America’s Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court had the power to overrule any bill the president put forward. And by the 1930’s the majority of the Supreme Court were Republicans. They believed that the New Deal was decaying the American Constitution, so designed to defend individual freedom against an oncoming dictatorship or aggressive governmental control.
Business leaders also got very angry at Roosevelt for intervening. They were enraged by his decision to raise minimum wages as it meant employers had to spend more money on employee’s wages and make less profit. They were also outraged at his support for trade unions and having to pay social security for workers, another point of aggression was that the harsh strike banning practices that most employers were used to using had now been condemned, meaning that workers were allowed to strike at any point. This added another target to the Republicans propaganda and in 1934 a group of business leaders formed the Liberty League and tried to overthrow the New Deal.
The rich who were unaffected by the fall in share prices and the wall street crash also got angry at Roosevelt for having to pay taxes for the New Deal Agencies. They felt that F.D.R’s policies had taken away some of their stature and power.
Another limitation of the New Deal was that it provided no support for both Black Americans and Women. At the time, black people were still treated as second class citizens, and racism and discrimination still ran rife throughout America. Segregation carried on throughout the New Deal as agencies were split in two, and made to live in separate CCC camps. Black people found it very hard to find employment, and by 1935, 30% of the black population of America was living on relief benefits. A large chunk missing from the New Deal was a civil rights act, and this meant life and treatment towards black people carried on exactly the same as it had done before- Roosevelts excuse for this was that he needed support from Southern American democratic congressmen, who were strongly opposed to civil rights for black people.
Women were also not helped by the New Deal. Most of the relief programs set by Roosevelt were for hard labour and construction- jobs traditionally filled by males. Only around 8000 women were helped by the CCC and their average wage was half that of a males in 1937.
All in all you could say that the New Deal was full of advantages and disadvantages. In some views however, the argument could be that the New Deal only seemed so special because the main bulk of the population were helped by it, and that it completely ignored the people at the top of the ladder like the rich or the republicans. They could also argue that despite the many policies, the New Deal still didn’t solve all of America’s unemployment issues. Some industrialists also argued that some of the rules and regulations of the New Deal (like the NRA) actually prevented industrial recovery by allowing for resistance in strikes.
Another argument is that 1937 saw the rise of the ‘New Depression’ where unemployment again rose, trade rates fell and the world arms race and isolationist policies before war saw a world trade slump, perhaps suggesting that the New Deal was not quite strong enough.
However some could say that it was an extremely powerful bill, which saved democracy, provided lots of jobs, homes and one almighty morale boost- something which was much needed at the time, increasing hope and happiness for America. It also created the Social Security Act, securing the American public of a prosperous retirement and allowed them to not worry about falling ill or having an accident. These points helped to return America to the golden land of chance that it had once been.
In my personal view, i think that there is some truth in the statement ‘The New Deal was not a complete success’ because it did not reach out to EVERYONE who needed help, for example only a fifth of farmers received loans to keep their farms, and only a million people were affected by the HOLC. However, I do think the New Deal was incredibly effective to most citizens, and really did help America build its charming character back up again, both socially and economically.