🚀 Thematic Guides
Theme 1 (NAT) - American and National Identity
Theme 2 (WXT) - Work, Exchange, and Technology
Theme 3 (GEO) - Geography and The Environment
Theme 4 (MIG) - Migration and Settlement
Theme 5 (PCE) - Politics and Power
Theme 7 (ARC) - American and Regional Culture
Theme 8 (SOC): Social Structures
🌽 Unit 1: 1491-1607
1.1Context: European Encounters in the Americas
1.6Cultural Interactions Between Europeans, Native Americans, and Africans
🦃 Unit 2: 1607-1754
2.0Unit 2 Overview: Contextualization
2.3The Regions of the British Colonies
2.5Interactions between Native Americans and Europeans
2.6Slavery in the Colonies
🔫 Unit 3: 1754-1800
3.6The Influence of Revolutionary Ideals
3.10Shaping a New Republic
🐎 Unit 4: 1800-1848
4.2The Rise of Political Parties and the Era of Jefferson
4.3Politics and Regional Interests
4.8Jackson and Federal Power
4.9The Development of an American Culture
4.10The Second Great Awakening
4.11the age of reform
4.12African Americans in the Early Republic
💣 Unit 5: 1844-1877
5.5Sectional Conflict: Regional Differences
5.6Failure of Compromise
5.7Election of 1860 and Secession
5.9Government Policies during the Civil War
🚂 Unit 6: 1865-1898
6.2Westward Expansion: Economic Development
6.3Westward Expansion Social and Cultural Development
6.6The Rise of Industrial Capitalism
6.7Labor in the Gilded Age
6.9Responses to Immigration
🌎 Unit 7: 1890-1945
7.0Unit 7 Overview: Contextualization
7.3The Spanish-American War
7.5World War I: Military and Diplomacy
7.6World War I: Home Front
7.81920s: Cultural and Political Controversies
7.9The Great Depression
7.10The New Deal
7.11Interwar Foreign Policy
7.12World War II: Mobilization
🥶 Unit 8: 1945-1980
8.2The Cold War from 1945-1980
8.3The Red Scare
8.4Economy after 1945
8.6Early Steps in the Civil Rights Movement
8.7America as a World Power
8.8The Vietnam War
8.10The African American Civil Rights Movement
8.11The Expansion of the Civil Rights Movement
📲 Unit 9: 1980-Present
9.0Unit 9 Overview: Contextualization
9.2Reagan and Conservatism
9.3The End of the Cold War
9.6Challenges of the 21st Century
🧐 Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ)
📋 Short Answer Questions (SAQ)
⏱️ 6 min read
June 1, 2020
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), the 32nd president of the United States, sought to fight the worst parts of the Great Depression through his legislative agenda, nicknamed the New Deal. This changed the role of the federal government in new ways (mostly by expanding it) and changed the alignment of political parties (this is one of two major time periods when the Democrats and Republicans began to morph into the parties we recognize today).
FDR’s first priority was supporting the failing bank systems. He quickly declared a Banking Holiday backed by the Emergency Banking Relief Act, where the banks would close and then the federal government would allow those it had inspected and found to be safe to reopen. This helped to restore public confidence in the banks and reversed the runs on the bank once they reopened.
Second, in order to increase tax revenue and increase public morale, the country passed the 21st Amendment, which repealed the 18th Amendment and its prohibition against alcohol.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia
Third, in order to personally communicate with citizens and to help restore their faith in banking (and government), FDR began a series of Fireside Chats (🔥+📻=👍🏦), or presidential radio addresses.
Finally, FDR and Congress started a legislative spree where they passed law after law creating new programs and agencies in effect to address the Great Depression, altogether known as the New Deal. There are two ways to characterize the New Deal: the first way is the “3 Rs” of Relief (stop people from starving right now, Recovery (help the economy get back on track and people employed again), and Reform (change the economic system to ensure this never happened again).
The second is to talk about the First New Deal (1933-1935) and the Second New Deal (1935+). Let’s look at some notable examples of the 3Rs in action:
Agricultural Adjustment Administration
Paid farmers to plow under (not plant) more acreage to increase crop prices. This could hurt black and white sharecroppers by kicking them off land. (declared unconstitutional in 1935 by SCOTUS)
Civilian Conservation Corps
Paid younger men to develop and work on national parks and forests. Gave them jobs and money to send home.
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Insured bank deposits to prevent runs on the bank and thus bank bankruptcies where people would lose all their deposited savings.
Federal Emergency Relief Administration
Provided direct monetary assistance to poor people. It was referred to as being “on the dole.”
Federal Housing Administration
Insured bank loans for building new houses or repairing existing ones (super racist and discriminatory against African Americans)
National Recovery Administration
Regulated business profits, prices, wages, and hours. Gave workers the right to organize & bargain collectively. (declared unconstitutional in 1935 by SCOTUS)
Public Works Administration
Gave money to state and local governments to build dams, roads, bridges, and other public infrastructure projects with new jobs.
Securities & Exchange Commission
Regulates the stock market and business trading practices to avoid the speculative buying that led to the big crash in 1929
Social Security Act
Set up Social Security, a public pension system for the elderly or people with disabilities who were unable to work.
Tennessee Valley Authority
Hired people to build dams, power plants, and flood/erosion control in the Tennessee Valley, a notoriously poor area
Works Progress Administration
Hired people to build infrastructure (dams, airports, bridges, roads, post offices, etc.) and to create culture. Funded artists, playwrights, actors, writers, and photographers.
(Remember, you don’t have to memorize all of these; just be able to recognize them if they came on in a document on the exam and to be able to use a few of them to describe how the US changed because of the New Deal)
A few other important programs worth knowing that don’t have fun, alphabet soup acronyms are the National Labor Relations (Wagner) Act and the Glass-Steagall Act.
The Glass-Steagall Act regulated banks and put dividers between the savings and investment parts of banks.
Two major reforms also came about as a part of the Second New Deal.
The Act created the National Labor Relations Board to preside over labor-management relations and enable unions to engage in collective bargaining with federal support.
It outlawed a variety of union busting tactics.
It said that whenever a majority of the company’s workers voted for a union to represent them, management would be compelled to negotiate with the union on all matters of wages, hours, and working conditions.
Now, labor unions could recruit large numbers of workers. The act led to a revitalization of the labor union movement.
The legislation had three major points:
It provided for old-age pensions financed equally by tax on employers and worker, without government contributions. It gave states federal matching funds to provide modest pensions for destitute elderly. The Social Security trust fund would then be used to make monthly payments to retired persons over the age of 65
It set up a system of unemployment compensation on a federal-state basis, with employers paying a payroll tax and with each state setting benefit levels and administering the program locally.
It provided direct federal grants to the state on a matching basis for welfare payments to the blind, handicapped, needy elderly and dependent.
Not everyone agreed with FDR’s proposals, and he received opposition and criticism from people on his left (more progressive and liberal) and on his right (more conservative and traditional).
For some liberals, the New Deal didn’t go far enough or addressed the problems of the rich businessmen more than poor people, minorities, or women. (They had a point: the New Deal was only possible with the support of conservative Southern Democrats who were deeply racist and oversaw the Jim Crow-fixation of the New Deal). People like Huey Long and his Share Our Wealth Society called for a 100% tax rate for all incomes over a million dollars and the redistribution of those funds to poor people.
In a nationwide radio show, he appealed to the discontent. He called the New Deal the Pagan Deal. When his show became increasingly Fascist and anti-Semitic, his superiors in the Catholic Church ordered him to stop his broadcasts.
He was a physician who came forward with a plan to assist the elderly, who were suffering greatly during the depression. The Townsend Plan proposed giving everyone over the age of 60 a monthly pension of $200 with a proviso that it must be spent in 30 days.
Conservatives were shocked at the new levels of government intrusion and spending and the New Deal’s pro-union stances. (They too had a point: the New Deal was a radical increase in government spending and oversight). The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) invalidated several New Deal programs.
FDR planned to add more justices to the Supreme Court to get his agenda through, but received outraged opposition, even from within his own party. Ultimately the Supreme Court upheld most of the New Deal and FDR backed down from the court-packing plan.
After that failure and when the economy started to slow in 1937, FDR’s legislative agenda began to slow.
The effects of the New Deal were controversial and remain so to this day.
That being said, most historians—and the College Board—state that while the New Deal did not entirely end the Great Depression (that would be WWII), it did leave a lasting impact on the United States.
First, its programs fundamentally and (so-far) permanently changed the relationship between citizens and their government. The US federal government had grown under the New Deal, and many programs (e.g., Social Security, FDIC, etc.) are still very much a part of the US today.
Second, FDR’s policies created the so-called New Deal Coalition, a group of people who usually vote for Democrats and which, with some changes, remains the core of the Democratic Party to this day. This group includes African Americans, Jewish people, working-class families, and those on the lower end of the economic spectrum.
🎥 Watch: AP US History - the Great Depression and the New Deal
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