New Deal

From Ohio History Central
Children at Works Progress Administration Feeding Program.jpg
Young African American children at a feeding program at Butler County Emergency School, a Works Progress Administration program, 1936.

The New Deal was a major component of President Franklin Roosevelt's plan to help the United States recover from the Great Depression.

In the presidential election of 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Democratic Party's candidate, ran against Herbert Hoover, the Republican Party's candidate and the current president. Hoover's failure to assist the American people in coping with the Great Depression influenced many voters to turn against the incumbent. During the campaign, Roosevelt declared that he had a plan to assist the American people. Known as the New Deal, Roosevelt's plan proposed utilizing federal resources in an unprecedented manner to aid the American people. Roosevelt hoped that his New Deal would allow Americans to cope with the Great Depression, would help end the current economic downturn, and would help prevent another depression from occurring in the future. Because of his New Deal proposals, Roosevelt handily won the election.

As president, Roosevelt immediately set about implementing his plan. Upon assuming office in March 1933, Roosevelt provided guidance and leadership that many Americans desired. Because of the severe economic crisis, most bills that the President proposed received Congress' immediate approval. Roosevelt first hoped to alleviate the suffering of the American people and to implement programs that would help meet his citizens' basic needs. One of his first moves was to declare a bank holiday so that the federal government could help struggling banks to become solvent. Roosevelt proceeded to create additional government programs and offices that provided aid and jobs for the American people. The Federal Emergency Relief Administration, the Civil Works Administration, the Public Works Administration, the Agricultural Adjustment Act, the National Industrial Recovery Act, and the Civilian Conservation Corps all provided relief to the American people, including government jobs. Roosevelt and the Congress implemented these various programs and agencies between 1933 and 1935, and they became known as Roosevelt's First New Deal.

Unfortunately for the United States and its citizens, these various government programs failed to provide relief to all needy Americans. Programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Public Works Administration employed millions of Americans, but millions of other workers remained unemployed or underemployed. Roosevelt faced increasing pressure to do more to assist the American people. Because of this pressure, beginning in 1935, Roosevelt implemented his Second New Deal.

The Second New Deal focused more on ending the current depression and implementing safeguards to prevent another depression from occurring again. There were still programs designed to assist the American people, including programs like the Works Progress Administration and the National Youth Administration, by hiring people, especially men, for government positions. Other Second New Deal programs included the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act, the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act, the Rural Electrification Act, the Social Security Act, the Wagner-Connery Act, the Resettlement Administration, and the Federal Housing Act, among others.

Both Roosevelt's First New Deal and his Second New Deal assisted the American people, including Ohioans. Hundreds of thousands of Ohioans received government aid through one or more of these programs or agencies. Unfortunately for the American people, all of Roosevelt's efforts came to naught. They did not end the Great Depression. At the same time, it is important to remember that Roosevelt's efforts did alleviate some Americans' suffering. The event that finally ended the Great Depression in the United States was World War II. This conflict provided millions of Americans of both genders new jobs and opportunities as the nation mobilized for war.

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