Franklin Delano Roosevelt Essay, Research Paper
Franklin Delano Roosevelt?s New Deal programs for relief and works projects were beneficial to America?s economic collapse while helping the nation as a whole. Before these programs, however, the nation was in a most needy state. On October 24th 1929 a day known as “Black Thursday” came. The stock market crashed and so did the economy. Unemployment ran rapid through the country whereas millions of Americans were out of work and money. The nation succumbed to one of the fiercest events in history- the Great Depression. Roosevelt, the governor of New York at the time, was well aware of the need for action and swept the election of 1932. In his inaugural speech he spoke of a “New Deal” for America and thus the New Deal was born. As soon as Roosevelt took office, help was on the way as he created many programs to take the nation out of hard times. The most important ones were FERA, or Federal Emergency Relief Administration, the CWA, or Civil Works Administration, and the WPA, or Works Progress Administration. Each one of these programs had an impact on the nation that aided in helping the people and the badly scarred economy. They also lifted the spirits and morals of the people. In addition, the lasting effects of the New Deal programs are still felt today, which proves that the relief and works progress programs were of outmost benefit to America.
Roosevelt was determined to directly relieve the suffering of the American people. In his inaugural speech he said, “I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people”. He meant that, as president, he promises a new America that will help the people and preserve their morale. Roosevelt was committed to helping the nation out of the economic crisis and directly helping the people. The New Deal was made up of numerous programs to help the nation surpass the depression. Roosevelt had long been a supporter of direct government assistance. He believed the government should provide for the welfare of the people. Because of his strong belief in governmental aid, he carried the nation through the depression. The first of his relief works projects was designed to be a quick jumpstart to help families receive money. This was called FERA.
The Federal Emergency Relief Administration, commonly known as FERA, was established as a temporary program that would run on direct governmental aid to give the states large grants that were passed on as direct cash payments for needy families. Roosevelt, along with Harry Hopkins, was allotted $500 million for direct relief of the people. FERA was the first major effort made to cope with the problems the nation was facing. It was short-lived because it stressed the importance of immediate relief rather than long-term recovery. The goal of this program was to bring the unemployed to a higher financial level so that the working class could survive in order to become self-sufficient. FDR placed Harry Hopkins in charge of FERA. Hopkins recognized need for speedy distribution of funds. He disbursed FERA grants widely and rapidly. The pressure of the emergency created by the Great Depression was so intense and the power of Roosevelt?s voice was so persuasive that Congress did just about anything he wished. This opportunity gave Roosevelt the lead in emergency legislation where Congress would have, instead, seized the initiative and done the job rather badly. Because of this Roosevelt had the ability to create these imperative programs. This was only the beginning of the New Deal. FERA was a temporary program that would not revive the economy and the people. Americans felt humiliated and had a loss of pride. This was so because getting handed money from the government tends to be shameful and having a job shows self-worth and responsibility. Aside from that, Roosevelt didn?t want to kill the spirit of the country so that the free enterprise would get a chance to work effectively again. FERA was an early form of welfare; Roosevelt knew this and thus began to devise another program aimed at conquering the economic collapse and improving the face of the nation.
In the fall of 1933 the Civil Works Administration, or CWA, was formed as a temporary measure to provide work. It was designed to give jobs for up to 4 million people at a given time. Jobs were necessary because they get money circulating through the economy and through the treasury. The CWA allowed for men to work and receive money while also improving the nation. Some men who were put to work through the CWA had money in their pockets for the first time in over a year. The kinds of jobs the CWA workers held were designed to give money to the employees while also giving back to the nation. Many people had jobs in the fields of construction, teaching, social work, and medicine. All of these jobs gave back to the nation and the community. The CWA basically helped people help themselves. The country improved from this work by gaining 240,000 miles of roads, 30,000 schools, 3,700 playgrounds, 5,000 public buildings, and 800 small airports. Because of all these great advantages, people were becoming educated and had the luxury of traveling and commuting. The CWA was praised by many including Governor Landon of Kansas who wrote that the civil-works program is one of the soundest, most constructive policies. Not only did the CWA help the people receive money indirectly, but it also stimulated the economy by giving people money to spend, which is what Roosevelt desired for the nation.
The CWA was a temporary measure, yet it was an astounding success. It?s impacts are still seen today. The major accomplishment of the CWA was that it gave a billion dollars to the economy within just a few months. Employees received $15 each week, which allowed for minimum living standards. Already the economy was uplifting. The CWA system of distributing cash through work was preferred against just handing out checks like welfare. The former promoting self-worth and preserving skills and not harming one?s pride. It was through this program that the economy started moving again.
The CWA was adequate as a short-term solution, but many argued that a larger works project program was needed for a full recovery from the depression. The Works Progress Administration was then formed out of the CWA. It also was the most successful of all the New Deal programs, as it pulled over $10 billion into the economy within only three years, (1935-1938). There was a heavy emphasis on spending money on wages rather than machinery or materials- the use of human labor was valued. Roosevelt favored this program because it had an emphasis on creating jobs as a way of maintaining morale by de-emphasizing welfare-like payments. President Roosevelt declared to Congress that they must preserve not only the actual bodies of the unemployed from destruction, but also their self-respect, self-alliance, courage and determination. This is what would bring the economy out of the inferno of depression.
The WPA was an active program that, like the CWA, supplied people with jobs. Three-fourths of all the WPA projects involved construction. Many public buildings were built such as museums, hospitals, and zoos- all of which did the public good. Workers improved 572,000 miles of rural roads, built 40,000 new public buildings, repaired 85,000 existing buildings, and built 78,000 new bridges and 24,000 miles of sidewalks. Indeed, the WPA improved society as a whole. All the projects promoted involvement in the community and gave the citizens money. Other WPA projects included: stuffing mattresses, canning peaches, surveying property boundaries, sealing mines, and creating books in Braille. All of these efforts benefited the entire nation. Safety was now a growing concept and the WPA served everyone as to promote safety. The WPA provided a work ethic- workers not just getting handed money, but actually working to be paid and, at the same time, America was drastically improved.
The WPA had produced many positive results. The Grand Coulee Dam, a WPA project, was created through the efforts of the workers during the depression. Its construction, often called the “eighth wonder of the world”, provided a tremendous boost to the regional economy during the depression years. The dam provided power for irrigation and it brought thousands of jobs and billions of federal dollars to the region. It served as an emblem of the New Deal?s impact on the region as a whole. The WPA put up money to support a vast variety of public projects such as post-offices, libraries, schools, airports, and highways. All of these are still in use today, demonstrating that the WPA had a powerful and lasting impact on the nation. The WPA also encouraged tourism. It allowed for workers to create and improve large scale building projects such as dining lodges in Missouri state parks. The WPA made important contributions that benefited both the state and the nation. The 342 designated historic sites in the Ozarks bear witness to the profound role played by the New Deal that continues to enrich the lives of millions of visitors.
Roosevelt also made a significant step concerning the values of the WPA. He signed an executive order forbidding discrimination in WPA projects. This was one of the strongest actions, in his time, in support of equality for African Americans and other minorities. African Americans, who accounted for less than 10% of the American population, particularly benefited from the WPA making up 15-20% of its 8.5 million employees. At this point, Roosevelt was bettering the nation and making things possible that didn?t seem at all possible in the past. Although the Great Depression is viewed as an era of hard times and widespread misery, it proved to be a golden age to all the improvements by the WPA.
When Franklin Roosevelt became president in 1933 the nation was in the depths of the worst depression it had ever experienced. Roosevelt took an optimistic view of the situation and worked to achieve economic stability. After Roosevelt took office there were millions unemployed and the country was in a downward spiral. The nation listened to him through the radio as he brought hope to the stricken country. To put through his New Deal, Roosevelt put down conservative businessmen, reactionary senators, and even recalcitrant Supreme Court justices. It was through this that he strove for the once good economy that millions of Americans longed for. In a years time Roosevelt, through the New Deal, had enacted more significant social and economic legislation than had been passed in all of America?s history. He got things done, as he pledged, for the people and the nation. Although each one of the programs for relief and works projects was costly, the high morale of the workers was well worth the money spent. In just a few years all the money spent to revive the nation will have been reacquired. The WPA was the final product of the New Deal which was the combination of the FERA, the CWA and the efforts of Roosevelt and his cabinet. The FERA was started as a preliminary measure to help jumpstart the economy and allow for some money to be given to the people. It then evolved into the CWA, which was an experiment that proved successful. The nation gained so much from the efforts of the workers. The nation was not out of the depression yet and there was persistence pushing for another program and so the WPA was created. It remains today as one of the highest regarded measures taken to relieve the nation of economic hardship. More importantly, the WPA served a crucial function in convincing Americans that the government could respond to their needs. The effects of the New Deal are still seen today. High schools were built that serve the people in providing education, thus promoting intellectualism for many future generations. Dams such as the Grand Coulee and the Hoover Dam are still active today in providing the surrounding area with power. Indeed, the accomplishments of the New Deal created a lasting impression. When the New Deal came to a close the downward spiral had been reversed- by the end of 1938 the nation?s economy was picking up speed and well on it?s way to becoming prosperous again. Despite its doubters, the New Deal?s programs for relief and works projects created a lasting impression on the nation along with people and landscapes of America thus providing a foundation for future growth.
David Whitney, The American Presidents (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, 1975) p. 287
Adam Woog, Roosevelt and the New Deal (San Diego: Lucent Books, 1998) p. 50
John Gunther, Roosevelt in Retrospect (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1950) p. 285
Ibid., p. 279
William Leuchtenburg, New Deal and War (Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life Books, 1964) p. 32
Woog, p. 52
Leuchtenburg, p. 32
Ibid., p. 32
Ibid., p. 33
Woog, p. 52
Ibid., p. 62
Ibid., p. 63
Colorado State Archives. 11 Sept. 2000. 19 Oct. 2000. http://www.archives.state.co.us/wpa/home.htm
Woog, p. 64
Out from Under: A ?New Deal?. 19 Oct. 2000. 19 Oct. 2000. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/centennial/may/newdeal.html
Denny, James. OzarksWatch. 19 Oct. 2000. 19 Oct. 2000. http://220.127.116.11/ozarkswatch/ow703e.htm
Works Progress Administration. 19 Oct. 2000. 19 Oct. 2000. http://www.africana.com/tt_117.htm
Merle Curti, Rise of the American Nation (New York: Haircourt, Brace & World, 1961) p. 710
Whitney, p. 284
Leuchtenburg, p. 15
sorry- I lost them!