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Essay: To What Extent Was The New Deal "New"?

2689 words - 11 pages

Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal, was a reform policy, that was unique to him, though some of the same ideas were upheld in the Progressive and Populist movements. Roosevelt was successful at introducing his policy in a time where it seemed to be the only hope to get out of the depression. It was the people's ray of light. The Populists and Progressives represented the farmers and those oppressed by the major industrialists, unlike Roosevelt who stood for all common men. Hoover and his two predecessors were a disgrace in the case of reform movement; they didn't really get active towards it. Roosevelt's New Deal was indeed "new", a break from the past and a step into the future by introducing radical new reforms.The Populist Party, or People's party, was the party that represented the common man. It was created towards the end of the nineteenth century. Their goals included creating postal savings banks, enacting immigration restriction, setting a graduated income tax and limiting the presidency to a single six-year term. The Populist platform represented views of farmers in the West. They also wanted the government to shed immigrants from any land that they owned. Denouncing immigrants was perhaps the only unromantic aspect of the populist cause in the 1890s. They were a problem for populists then because manufacturers wanted cheap labor. In short, the immigrants became the "scum of the nation" that made some "cities more foreign than American," and thus were seen as a threat. While there can be no justification for the populists' harsh stance against immigrants, the government taking liberties from big businesses was justified in order to protect the average citizen from the corporate elite. There was no single event that may have comprised the beginning of the Populist movement. However, replacing silver with the gold standard might have begun it all. Then a subsequent depression, in which only banks seemed to profit, soon followed. The bad consequences of the crop lien system quickly became apparent. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the many side effects of rapid industrialization became apparent and not all of those in its path to dominating the American economy were comfortable. One of the side effects was the decline in what mainstream society of the time had considered morals. It was obvious that many populists wanted to maintain the traditional values that were being eroded by saloons, brothels, and gambling. Their popularity lay in the South and West. The battle that the Populist movement demonstrated, was of an agricultural class was pitted against an industrial class. This type of warfare was characterized by such things monopolies, which were a clear outcome of capitalism, and nineteenth century railroads were much too monopolistic for the populists. The railroads were supposedly another corporation that was impoverishing the common people. Poverty was so widespread by the 1890s that it caused many people to turn to...

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