At the beginning of the 1930s, the American dollar depreciated rapidly, 17% of the workforce became unemployed, and Americans were losing hope in Capitalist ideas. During the 1932 election, Franklin Delano Roosevelt ran for office with the “New Deal” as his main focus. Soon after becoming elected and entering office on March 4th, 1933, he started implementing many new programs he felt would return the economy’s level to pre-1929. Many problems created by the stock market crash of 1929 were alleviated by the end of FDR’s third term, but the New Deal might not have been a total success. Many of the programs that were generated during the early days of the depression failed to perform as they were intended to, whereas others simply did not meet the standards expected of them. The New Deal had dramatic effects on how the government operated after Franklin Roosevelt’s stint in office, but did it perform admirably against the depression?
During the first one hundred days of FDR assuming office, fourteen different acts were passed to stimulate the economy. The first program enacted was the Emergency Banking Act, passed on March 9th, 1933. The EBA’s intention was to evaluate all banks, small and large, on their practices and finances to guarantee they could handle daily operations without going into default. The Economy Bill quickly followed, passing through Congress on March 13th. Many of the Congressmen did not favor the bill, largely because it lowered all Federal income by fifteen percent. It also, “…delegated to the president broad executive powers to overhaul and slim down the veterans’ benefit system…”(First Hundred Days, p 52.) Other Congressmen were worried about the reduction in veterans’ benefits because a large majority of the American voters were World War One veterans.
Programs to follow were directed at conservation of the environment and relief for farmers. To preserve the environment throughout America and to reduce the amount of unemployed in the cities, a Civilian Conservation Corps was created. The CCC’s purpose was “…to take possibly half a million young men out of the cities and put them in camps where they would plant trees, protect forests, and control floods.” (FHD, p 55.) FDR went to Congress and stated that within two weeks of the bill being enacted, men could be put to work. After hearing this bold promise from the president, Congress passed the bill, even after only receiving it a week prior.
Another massive program which stretched over 41,000 acres, overlapping seven states, was the Tennessee Valley Authority. Among its objectives were cheap public power, production of nitrate fertilizers and the conservation of soil and forests to prevent silting. Among other benefits this program brought to the area were supplying cheap power to much of the Tennessee River Valley, improving the schools and libraries and drawing a new industry to a poverty stricken region. The TVA is still very much active today in...