The Great Depression and the New Deal Assignment

The Great Depression and the New Deal Assignment Six:

The Great Depression and the New Deal

The Great Depression and the New Deal Assignment
The Great Depression and the New Deal Assignment

This is the second part of this week’s assignment. Take time to read the Mini-lecture on the

Great Depression and New Deal and then read the assignment listed on that page. Make sure to do the appropriate readings from the Internet links and text. Write a three-page paper covering the questions I have listed, using the paper to show your knowledge of the readings.

Try to include a balance of your own thoughts combined with specific examples from your studies.

The Great Depression and New Deal

Although the stock market crash of 1929 was not the direct cause of the Great Depression, it did signify the beginnings of what would be the worst economic depression in United States history.

This depression would challenge Americans and their institutions to assess what is the proper way to respond to the economic downturn and its resulting widespread unemployment, poverty, and psychological despair. The federal government’s response, known as the New Deal, would provide a new model of the federal government’s role and responsibility in ensuring the welfare of the economy and the American people.

The reasons for the depression are numerous. It should be noted that what the United States experienced was part of a larger global depression that particularly affected industrial nations.

The United States financial industry’s collapse with the stock market crash led to the failure of thousands of banks, and along with them, the savings of many Americans. The United States economy also had many fundamental problems. Perhaps the most important was the problem of a lack of consumer spending strength in an increasingly consumer-oriented economy. As the economy went into a recession, manufacturers went into a cycle of layoffs and cutbacks on production leading to widespread unemployment. Single industry cities such as Detroit and Akron, Ohio was particularly hard hit. The depression also affected rural areas. This was primarily the case in the panhandle region of Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas as this area experienced a horrific ecological disaster caused by non-ecological farming practices and a severe drought. Thousands of rural people from this region fled the “dust bowl” and went on United States highways searching for refuge. You can learn more about the lives of “Okies” who came to the central valley of California at the Library of Congress American Memory site.

The president during this time, rRepublicanHerbert Hoover, was baffled like most Americans in how to respond to the growing crisis. Although Hoover’s lack of success in dealing with the depression led to a wide spread dislike of his administration, in reality, Hoover attempted several innovative approaches in trying to use the power of the federal government to correct the economy. However, these approaches tended to rely on providing federal loans to businesses and local governments at a time when many of these groups were not eager to borrow money and go into deeper debt. His mishandling of the Bonus Army, a group of unemployed World War I veterans asking the federal government for assistance furthered Hoover’s unpopularity. As the depression worsened on the eve of the 1932 presidential election, the American public ended a decade of support for Republican presidents and placed their hopes on the Democrat candidate, Franklin Roosevelt.

In reality, at election day all Roosevelt really offered was a change. He too had few answers in how to deal with the economy. He spoke about a “new deal” for the American people, but this was more the sloganeering of a campaign than any form of substantive policy. However, this sense of a “new deal” began to show itself at Roosevelt’s inauguration. In his inaugural address ,he demonstrated his skill at relating to common people and assuaging their concerns, delivering the famous line that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” If you have Real Player you can listen to this speech at the History Channel’s site. He continued his calming presence throughout his presidency using the medium of radio to deliver weekly “fireside chats” to the American people. Many folks who lived through this period will still relate how this was the first time they felt a president was truly speaking to them. Roosevelt was also smart enough to realize his own limitations. Instead of attacking the depression by himself, he assembled a group of experts from a variety of fields in what he called his “brain trust.” These men and women would provide advise on strategies with Roosevelt playing the part of a facilitator. What resulted was a hodgepodge of ideas, legislation and programs that are collectively known as the New Deal.

The New Deal was particularly active in the first one hundred days of Roosevelt’s presidency. In reading about the alphabet soup that emerges in this phase of the New Deal perhaps think of it as falling into three categories of R’s: Recovery, Relief and Regulation. Recovery will be oriented toward getting the economy back on its feet with programs such as the NIRA and AAA.

Relief will be directed at helping those who are suffering in programs such as FERA and the CWA. Regulation will be primarily focused at shoring up the financial industry. Although these measures provided temporary relief and hope for many, they still failed to end the New Deal.

Facing growing criticism, Roosevelt’s brain trust responded with a second round of programs in 1935 in what is called the “Second Hundred Days.” These programs might be considered as a fourth R, Reform. In this period, controversial programs such as Social Security and the WPA are begun.

For its supporters, the New Deal represented a turning point in the federal government not just representing the interests of the wealthy, but instead looking out for the common person. The New Deal created a new Democratic party coalition of unions, African and Mexican Americans, and women with its appeal to the traditionally underrepresented. For its detractors, the New Deal ushered in an age of big and wasteful government and marks the origins of the modern welfare state. Indeed, there are some economists that argue the New Deal only prolonged and worsened the depression. Regardless of one’s position, there is no doubt that the New Deal did fail to accomplish its goal of ending the depression. However, in its attempt it created a new dialogue on what is the role and responsibility of government. The H-Net New Deal Network offers a wealth of information on the New Deal including photos, speeches, projects and an online discussion.

Reading: The American Yawp, Chapter 23 “A Great Depression and a New Deal”. (

1) In a brief summary, what was the “Great Depression” and what were some of its primary causes? How did it affect the nation?

2) What was Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal”? What were its goals and how did it attempt to implement those goals. Perhaps note some of the most important pieces of legislation that were a product of the New Deal.

3) Evaluate the New Deal and Roosevelt’s presidency. Do you believe the New Deal was an effective response to the Depression? Why or why not? What do you feel is the most important legacy of Roosevelt and his presidency, at least through the Depression?

Remember to focus on your text readings in this assignment

* Must Include some key quotes( Three or more)

from our text book(The American Yawp , in your essays. Essay that don’t feature quotes from the text won’t receive a passing score.

Use the text for this assignment. Make sure to directly discuss an assigned reading by making direct references to it and consider including quotes like you should with your text.

* Your essay should include an introduction and conclusion. Don’t use the talking points within the assignment as a guide for a series of short-answer responses. Those talking points are just there to help you think about important points as you do the readings.

* Don’t even think about using outside Internet sites or books for these essays. It is perhaps not surprising that the students who do extra “research” that involves going to other websites (often non-academic) often wind up copying passages from those sources into their essay without quotation marks or citation. That leads to plagiarism which I then need to report to our Dean of Students. Ask me questions if you are confused on the information in our text.

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