How successful was Roosevelt in delivering relief, recovery and reform during the New Deal?

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How successful was Roosevelt in delivering ‘relief, recovery and reform’ during the New Deal?

The Great Depression is now considered as one of the greatest global economic crises in world history. It began with the stock market crash in New York in 1929, and had a detrimental effect on the U.S. economy; due to globalisation, other economies were influenced as well. Therefore, the Great Depression is a topic of considerable interest among historians and it needs accurate and objective evaluation. This essay discusses how F.D. Roosevelt, the President of the United States, tried to address the economic decline in America, and to what extent Roosevelt was successful in delivering promised ‘relief, recovery and reform’. However, to start with, it is worth considering the circumstances and some causes of the Wall Street Crash. It is important to understand what kind of country America was; this explains such a massive shift in economic policies and views on the role of government.

Above all, the beginning of the 20th century nowadays is seen as the time of the birth of modern America. Despite a sense of frustration and anger present in society since the end of the First World War, the war did not affect the U.S.A. to the same extent as it affected other countries. Apparently, America was in the advantageous position of being distanced from battlefields and thus able to overcome the war with far fewer economic and civilian losses. From the end of the World War, America experienced economic growth which acted in conjunction with the development of technologies and consumerism. Businesses were developing rapidly and became an important part of American society. Taking this into account, the stock market had significant interconnections with people’s daily life, even those who did not own any shares. Moreover, regardless of the fact that by 1929 some regulations and restrictions had been implemented, the U.S.A was still one of the most economically free countries. It was outstanding because of its very little control over the private sector, its independent central bank system and self-regulated stock market, which had no effective control over its actives (Clements, p. )).

The stock market, located on Wall Street, by some critics was referred to as The Great Bull Market. Nowadays it is known as a phenomenon which occurred and developed between 1924 and 1929. In this period, extreme optimism and high speculation on the part of investors helped some common stocks to generate extremely high levels of profit.

When it comes to discussing the collapse of the stock market, it is popularly believed that the Wall Street Crash led to the Great Depression. However, many historians have argued that it was simply a sign of a depression already approaching (Clements, p. ). Many other factors caused the crash of the market, which in the long term also contributed to an overall economic decline during the 1930s. Such factors as overconfidence in the economy (which was experiencing continuous growth since the 1870s), persistent media encouragement of buying shares (participation in the stock market was widely promoted in the popular press and on television), and also the culture of buying goods, including shares, ‘on the margin’. Whatever were the reasons behind the crash, its effect cannot be underestimated: altogether, 16,410,030 shares were sold on ‘Black Friday’, 29. October 1929. This caused loss of confidence in the market: historians point out that the market structure was maintained largely by the confidence that people had in it (Clements, p. ).
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When the Great Depression hit the economy, President Herbert Hoover was a newly elected president from the Republican party, who blamed the depression on external events. His response to the Great Depression mainly consisted of a combination of business-stimulation policies and voluntary relief programmes. This approach proved itself unpopular amongst the electorate in 1932 elections, when F.D. Roosevelt, the Democrat, received a mandate for “one of the great public experiments in American history” (Walker, p. ). Roosevelt presented his New Deal, which he mentioned during his acceptance speech after receiving the nomination (Clements, p. ). This programme focused ...

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