The New Deal was a series of acts that Roosevelt had enforced after the breakdown of the US economy, which became known as the Wall Street Crash. What followed was known as the depression, when people were to scared to buy into anything, and so the produce was there, just not the demand. The President at the time, Herbert Hoover, believed that the Depression was not actually as bad as it seemed, and he felt that he should not help the people, and that they should be left to get out of the economic rut themselves. Hoover’s unpopularity was emphasised when he was not voted in to office for his second term of Presidency.
Instead, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was voted in, a Democrat. The people were not sure if he could do any better than Hoover, but they were desperate. Their confidence in him paid off as he managed to turn the US economy around, and although many of his methods were controversial, he remained in office for 4 terms, longer than any other President. Roosevelt gave himself 100 days to turn around the American economy. He gave his people hope, jobs, and confidence. He believed that a government should help its’ people as much as possible. He returned confidence in banks by an “Emergency Banking Act”.
The problem was that people took their money out of the banks and kept it at home. This was because banks were closing daily and people’s money was lost if the bank did close. The emergency banking act stated that over the bank holiday, the accounts of all the banks in the country would be evaluated, and only those with stability and a lot of hard cash were reopened. The rest would stay closed. Roosevelt convinced people that their money was safer in a bank than at home, there was new confidence in the banking system. He also had the “Beer Act” imposed.
This made the sale and manufacture of alcohol legal again. The government made money on this buy putting a tax on beer. Roosevelt started to set up numerous agencies to tackle the unemployment problem. One of the, the “Civilian Conservation Corps” (CCC), employed young men to work in the countryside doing conservation work. 250,000 young American men had been given jobs by August 1933. Another organisation that was set up, run by the infamous Harry Hopkins, the “Civil Works Administration” (CWA), managed to find work for 4 million people in only two months.
These jobs only lasted the winter of 1933-34, as the CWA was disbanded after the winter. In 1935,Harry Hopkins set up the “Works Progress Administration” (WPA). It gave work to unskilled workers, and soon became the countries biggest employer. By employing 2 million people a year. It then started employing writers, painters, photographers and actors so that everyone was working and had an income. The “Public Works Administration” (PWA) was set up by Harold Ickes. He was careful as to how he spent the Governments money, and although his organisation achieved a lot, jobs were only available for the skilled and able-bodied.
During the Depression, the group hit the worst were the farmers. In 1933, the “Agricultural Adjustment Administration” (AAA) came into being. Formed by Henry Wallace, the aim was to reduce the size of farmers crops. He hoped that if smaller amounts of produce were available, then there would be less supply and the price would be allowed to rise and the farmers profits would be greater. Farmers were even paid to destroy their own crops. In the Tennessee valley, there was a major environmental problem. Millions of tonnes of topsoil were washed away by the floods.
This destroyed many farms in the area, and the area was producing less and less crops each year. The CCC could not handle a problem of such magnitude and so the “Tennessee Valley Authority” (TVA) was formed. The TVA built many dams on the river and its tributaries and the flow of water could be controlled easily. The dams brought many benefits with them as they supplied a large area with electricity, and the rivers behind them provided ideal transportation routes. The Tennessee valley slowly became a very prosperous area.
An organisation called the “National Recovery Administration” (NRA) was set up to make sure that workers were treated fairly and that they got paid. It introduced the minimum wage and made sure that workers had proper working conditions. Fair prices were set and child labour for under 16’s was abolished. In return for signing onto the NRA, a company was then allowed to use the NRA logo to advertise its’ products. It was thought of as a seal of quality. Roosevelt improved the situation immensely in his four terms as President of the United States.
He turned the economy into a basis for the most powerful, and one of the most prosperous countries in the world. Mass unemployment had become a thing of the past by the end of his reign. He had given respect and confidence to the working man and gave rights to people so that they would not be exploited. People were given standards for their working conditions, and as the standard of living continued to rise, The U. S. A. became one of the most prosperous countries in the world, and this is possibly why it is known as “the land of opportunity. “