Out of the ashes of the great depression, a new economy was reborn by the courage and leadership of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The Great Depression was one of the worst economic events the world had ever seen. Countries across the globe were affected because of the downturn in the United States. From 1929 to 1939 15 million Americans were impacted by the economic downfall, and the unemployment rate reached a record high of 24.9 percent, more than twenty percent of the U.S. population. The citizens of the U.S. had no hope, until FDR was elected in 1933, and introduced the New Deal. FDR effectively brought the U.S. back from the worst economic depression in modern history, by serving the public’s urgent demands and interests through his own procedures and policies.
FDR’s presidency brought back hope to America when he assumed control of the Federal Government. Before the depression most people relied on private charities during difficult economic times, however these could not hold up for long during the crisis. By 1933 the charities had been deprived and the relief system was falling apart. FDR and the Federal Government then introduced the Federal Emergency Relief Administration(FERA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). FERA was allocated with 500 million dollars that was available nationwide.
The first 250 million dollars was given to the states on a matching basis, and each state would secure one dollar of federal money for every three that had been spent on unemployment relief. The other 250 million was given to the administration of FERA to distribute on a discretionary basis. The CCC was given the responsibility of employing men between seventeen and twenty five, who would receive payments of $30 a month for work. “My dreams have been realized, thanks to an educational advisor and the lessons learned in the CCC.” (Watson, Stanley) FDR successfully helped the nation’s unemployed through these two major organizations and he continued to support other American groups that were in need.
The agricultural industry was heavily impacted by the depression. “During the worst of the depression many of the farmers had to deny their families butter, eggs, meat, etc. and sell it to pay their taxes.” (‘Prosperity and Depression.’) As it became clear that government intervention was needed, the Agricultural Adjustment act was signed by FDR in 1933 and was one of the first legislative acts he passed during his first 100 days. The policy was designed to control and reduce the prices of crops in the open market.
The Secretary of Agriculture was then empowered to fix marketing quotas for the major farm products in the industry, to eliminate surplus production of the market, and to decrease production of many staple crops. Another organization was introduced, the Commodity Credit Corporation. It began to distribute loans to farmers as long as they signed production-control agreements, and the prices of prominent farm products increased by almost 85% between 1932 and 1937. Like many of FDR’s policies, the Supreme Court ruled that the AAA was unconstitutional when it came to certain production control aspects and the organization was shut down. The AAA was certainly not a failure as it successfully restored the prices in the agricultural market and supported farmers across the nation.
African Americans and people of color were impacted the worst out of everyone in the states, as they had to deal with the same crisis everyone else was experiencing however they also were subjected to discrimination. Unemployment included a quarter of the workforce in the U.S, while African Americans lost close to half of their workforce. “Negroes can function in supervisory capacities just as efficiently as can white men and I do not think that they should be discriminated against merely on account of their color.” (Ickes, Harold)
Many of the New Deal policies that FDR introduced such as the AAA and the NRA were extremely harmful to people of color. For example, the AAA drove many black farmers off their land and were then forced to migrate south. The NRA established 700 industrial cartels, and the minimum wage adjustment made it illegal to hire those who lacked skills, resulting in 500,00 African Americans losing their jobs. For these reasons it is arguable that FDR’s New Deal Policies were not successful because they did not help all citizens of the U.S., however by 1935 the WPA employed 350,000 African Americans and the CCC introduced over 400,00 black members.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal policies might have had scattered failures and missteps, however it successfully help to transform America’s depression into a sustainable economic state. Prominent policies such as the AAA, CCC, and FERA were able to support the mass amounts of unemployed Americans, and triumphantly restored hope in America’s economic system.
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