Roosevelt(TM)s aims of relief, recovery and reform 1933-1945

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Zoe Thaxter

How effective was the Roosevelt Administration in bringing relief and recovery to the USA in the period 1933 and 1945?

During Roosevelt’s Presidency his main aims was to bring relief, recovery and reform to America. Roosevelt done this by setting up a number of Alphabet Agencies to tackle the problems America had faced during the Depression from 1933-35, these were unemployment, industry, and farming etc. In this essay I aim to explore how effective Roosevelt was in bringing relief and recovery to America during the period 1933 and 1945.

Roosevelt’s aims of relief, recovery and reform can all be used to access the New Deal. However they are not completely separate; the measures can overlap in many different areas this can be explained by the ‘priming the pump effect’  this is where agencies were giving workers jobs which meant wages, which meant money to spend, by spending this money the demand for goods from factories would increase which, in turn would create more jobs. This one example of where relief and recovery overlap.  

Roosevelt’s biggest concern was the collapse of the American banking system; he had to ensure that the banks were secure and that the people of America had confidence in the banking system to enable relief and recovery to begin; if the banking system is unreliable then people will not put their money into the banks so therefore America will not be able to recover. Roosevelt closed all the banks down in order to look at the books’, only the banks that were properly managed accounts could reopen. Roosevelt spoke for the first time directly to the American people on the 12th March 1933, he ensured them that the banks were now safe and that there was no longer any reason for them to withdraw money, the American people put their trust in them and give him a chance, therefore the banking crises was. For Roosevelt to achieve this he introduced two Act’s the Emergency Banking Relief Act and the Glass-Steagall Act. One of Roosevelt’s ‘Brains’ Trusters’ felt that the ‘American capitalism was saved in eight days’ because of Roosevelt’s actions.

However there were many critics of the banking legislation; Hoover’s supporters felt that all these measures could have been applied before the inauguration and that  Roosevelt had therefore taken all the credit that should have been due to his predecessor. Some critics failed to acknowledge was that this was specifically Roosevelt’s intention. He saw his task as the saving of, rather than the destruction of, American capitalism. Roosevelt was also criticised because many people thought that it was all in the favour of the rich and powerful; the larger banks were given more control over the smaller ones.          

Unemployment was the main consequence of the Depression; with 12 830 000 million Americans out of work in 1933. To resolve this problem Roosevelt set up a number of Alphabet Agencies.

Federal Emergency Relief Agency was one of the first agencies set up during the New Deal, FERA was set up to help the unemployed, relief benefits were given to families who took work organised by the government, with $500 million given to states and local governments. FERA’s effectiveness was limited, some workers were refused office space in some states and its funds were inadequate for the number of unemployed in America.

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Despite the fact that the effectiveness of FERA was disappointing it set the sights of the federal government into giving direct funds for relief. The Civilian Conservation Corps was set up to try and conquer the unemployment crises; especially to try and relive the young unemployed men between 18 and 25 years. Between 1933 and 1941, over 3million men had severed in the CCC, these men received food, clothing and shelter

The CCC to a certain extent was effective in bringing relief to America; for example some men after they had left the managed to find work ...

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