What made Roosevelt’s New Deal successful in overcoming the consequences of the Great Depression of 1929?
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the country and the government was facing a financial crisis more severe than any that preceded it. Federal legislation in the previous decades centered around the idea that government interventions would create a reliance for aide in future crisis situations. This notion could no longer be upheld with forty percent of the population living in poverty, and over thirteen million people out of work.[footnoteRef:1] The inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) in 1932 brought a whirlwind of legislation passed extremely quickly, and subsequently expanded the role of the government into citizen’s lives in attempt to stabilize the effects of the depression. This legislation came to be known as FDR’s “New Deal,” which was an attempt to fulfill his election platform promises of the “government’s responsibility to guarantee every man a right to make a comfortable living.” [footnoteRef:2] The New Deal policies and additional legislation continued to be produced by the federal government up until the start of the second world war in 1939, which brought about the need for millions of employment opportunities surrounding the manufacturing of wartime goods. Overall, the New Deal legislation was partially successful in overcoming the consequences of the great depression, but it did not entirely succeed. This is shown through the fundamental causes of the depression, American society during this time, and the legislation of the new deal. [1: Romasco, The Politics of Recovery, p. 3.] [2: Foner, Give Me Liberty!, p. 812-813.]
Prosperous and roaring, the 1920s in America was a decade of soaring stock markets, mass production of goods, cultural battles, and conservative politics.[footnoteRef:3] A “new society” brought about a standard of living which soon became centrally important to Americans.[footnoteRef:4] Employment was no longer a source of pride in a craft or a skill. Instead, work became the path to individual fulfillment through consumption of material goods and various forms of entertainment. “From 1923 to 1929 [...] consumer spending on clothing, housing, and utilities all fell, while spending on food, tobacco, household appliances, medical care, and recreation rose.” The newfound mass production of goods made such a large demand for consumption feasible, and a widespread acceptance of going into debt to purchase these consumer items became a widespread and accepted practice. A new form of payment, known as buying on credit, emerged to propagate this practice even further.[footnoteRef:5] Consumers could set up new installment buying plans to purchase their goods in a series of payments rather than paying the total upfront cost. This system of debt accrual led to most American families having no savings, a serious sign of forthcoming catastrophe. [3: Foner, Give Me Liberty!, p. 771.] [4: ...