+1 (208) 254-6996 [email protected]
  

The pattern of economic reforms that the New Deal wove arose out of con- crete historical circumstances. It also had a more coherent intellectual underpin- ning than is customarily recognized. Its cardinal aim was not to destroy capitalism but to devolatilize it, and at the same time to distribute its benefits more evenly….

… And ever after, Americans assumed that the federal government had not merely a role, but a major responsibility, in ensuring the health of the economy and the welfare of citizens. That simple but momentous shift in perception was the newest thing in all the New Deal, and the most consequential too.

Don't use plagiarized sources. Get Your Custom Essay on
The pattern of economic reforms that the New Deal wove arose out of con- crete historical circumstances.
Just from $13/Page
Order Essay

Humankind, of course, does not live by bread alone. Any assessment of what the New Deal did would be incomplete if it rested with an appraisal of New Deal economic policies and failed to acknowledge the remarkable array of social inno- vations nourished by Roosevelt’s expansive temperament….

 

 

Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Due to electronic rights, some third party content may be suppressed from the eBook and/or eChapter(s). Editorial review has deemed that any suppressed content does not materially affect the overall learning experience. Cengage Learning reserves the right to remove additional content at any time if subsequent rights restrictions require it.

254 MAJOR PROBLEMS IN AMERICAN HISTORY

For all his alleged inscrutability, Franklin Roosevelt’s social vision was clear enough. “We are going to make a country,” he once said to Frances Perkins, “in which no one is left out.” In that unadorned sentence Roosevelt spoke volumes about the New Deal’s lasting historical meaning. Like his rambling, comfortable, and unpretentious old home on the bluff above the Hudson River, Roosevelt’s New Deal was a welcoming mansion of many rooms, a place where millions of his fellow citizens could find at last a measure of the security that the patrician Roosevelts enjoyed as their birthright.

Perhaps the New Deal’s greatest achievement was its accommodation of the maturing immigrant communities that had milled uneasily on the margins of American society for a generation and more before the 1930s. In bringing them into the Democratic Party and closer to the mainstream of national life, the New Deal, even without fully intending to do so, also made room for an almost wholly new institution, the industrial union. To tens of millions of rural Americans, the New Deal offered the modern comforts of electricity, schools, and roads, as well as unaccustomed financial stability. To the elderly and the unemployed it extended the promise of income security, and the salvaged dignity that went with it.

To black Americans the New Deal offered jobs with CCC, WPA, and PWA and, perhaps as important, the compliment of respect from at least some federal officials. The time had not come for direct federal action to challenge Jim Crow and put right at last the crimes of slavery and discrimination, but more than a few New Dealers made clear where their sympathies lay and quietly prepared for a better future. Urged on by Eleanor Roosevelt, the president brought African- Americans into the government in small but unprecedented numbers. By the mid-1930s they gathered periodically as an informal “black cabinet,” guided often by the redoubtable Mary McLeod Bethune. Roosevelt also appointed the first black federal judge, William Hastie. Several New Deal Departments and agencies, including especially Ickes’s Interior Department and Aubrey Williams’s National Youth Administration, placed advisers for “Negro affairs” on their staffs….

Above all, the New Deal gave to countless Americans who had never had much of it a sense of security, and with it a sense of having a stake in their country. And it did it all without shredding the American Constitution or sundering the American people. At a time when despair and alienation were prostrating other peoples under the heel of dictatorship, that was no small accomplishment.

FDR: Architect of Ineffectual Big Government

BURTON FOLSOM

On May 9, 1939, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., the secretary of the treasury and one of the most powerful men in America, had a startling confession to make.…

We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest,

Burton Folsom, New Deal or Raw Deal? How FDR’s Economic Legacy Has Damaged America (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008), p. 1–4, 7–13, 15, 60–62, 119–121, 237–239, 245–246, 251, 254–256, 259–260. Reprinted by permission.

 

 

Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Due to electronic rights, some third party content may be suppressed from the eBook and/or eChapter(s). Editorial review has deemed that any suppressed content does not materially affect the overall learning experience. Cengage Learning reserves the right to remove additional content at any time if subsequent rights restrictions require it.

255 THE DEPRESSION, THE NEW DEAL, AND FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT

and if I am wrong … somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises…. I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unem- ployment as when we started…. And an enormous debt to boot!

In these words, Morgenthau summarized a decade of disaster, especially during the years Roosevelt was in power. Indeed, average unemployment for the whole year in 1939 would be higher than that in 1931, the year before Roosevelt captured the presidency from Herbert Hoover. Fully 17.2 percent of Americans, or 9,480,000, remained unemployed in 1939, up from 16.3 percent, or 8,020,000 in 1931. On the positive side, 1939 was better than 1932 and 1933, when the Great Depression was at its nadir, but 1939 was still worse than 1931, which at that time was almost the worst unemployment year in U.S. history. No depression, or recession, had ever lasted even half this long.…

High unemployment was just one of many tragic areas that made the 1930s a decade of disaster. The Historical Statistics of the United States, compiled by the Census Bureau, fills out the rest of the grim picture. The stock market, which picked up in the mid-1930s, had a collapse later in the decade. The value of all stocks dropped almost in half from 1937 to 1939. Car sales plummeted one-third in those same years, and were lower in 1939 than in any of the last seven years of the 1920s. Business failures jumped 50 percent from 1937 to 1939; patent appli- cations for inventions were lower in 1939 than for any year of the 1920s. Real estate fore-closures, which did decrease steadily during the 1930s, were still higher in 1939 than in any year during the next two decades.…

Did the New Deal, rather than helping to cure the Great Depression, actu- ally help prolong it? That is an important question to ask and ponder. Almost all historians of the New Deal rank Roosevelt as a very good to great president and the New Deal programs as a step in the right direction. With only a few exceptions, historians lavish praise on Roosevelt as an effective innovator, and on the New Deal as a set of programs desperately needed and very helpful to the depressed nation.

An example of this adulation is the appraisal by Henry Steele Commager and Richard B. Morris, two of the most distinguished American historians of the twentieth century. Commager, during a remarkable career at Columbia University and Amherst College, wrote over forty books and became perhaps the bestselling historian of the century. From the first year of Roosevelt’s presi- dency, Commager lectured and wrote articles in defense of the New Deal.

Richard Morris, his junior partner at Columbia, was a prolific author and president of the American Historical Association.…

Order your essay today and save 10% with the discount code ESSAYHELP