GCSE History Coursework Assignment B – Was the New Deal a Success?
Question 1 - Study source A. Use the source and your own knowledge of the period to explain why people supported Roosevelt in the 1932 election. (5)
Source A is taken from a speech of Roosevelt’s during his election campaign in 1932. It begins with an almost religious pledge for a New Deal. Roosevelt says that his campaign, ‘is more than a political campaign: it is a call to arms.’ Roosevelt is trying to say that his campaign is not just political, but that he is trying to gather everyone up so that he can have their help, ‘not to win votes alone, but to win in this crusade to restore America.’ Again the word ‘crusade’ is a religious reference. In this speech there are two religious references. These are ‘pledge’ and ‘crusade.’ To win an election in 1932 it was an advantage if you were bound to politics with a Christian faith that drove you as most of the American population were Christian, and would vote for a Christian president. Hoover is also Christian, but if FDR weren’t Christian he would have had less support from the American population. So a major reason why FDR was supported by the American population was because he was Christian.
However apart from the Christian view, one of the main reasons why people supported FDR in the 1932 election is because his competitor was so disliked by the majority of the American population. Hoover said in his election campaign that if he were re-elected he would carry on with his ‘rugged individualism’ in the hope that America would turn itself around. People had hated receiving no support from the government and having to carry out this rugged individualism which is the act of fending and working for yourself, for your own success. FDR said he would do the opposite if elected. He said that he would bring in the New Deal and give the American population lots of support. He said he would get rid of ‘rugged individualism’ that a lot of the American population hated. Being a Democrat he promised a lot of support for the poor, which was a vast majority in America at the time due to the depression. He also promised to help the unemployed, which again, was a vast majority in America.
As I said before, the poor and unemployed made up a large number of the population of America at the time and FDR gained a lot of support by promising to provide these people with support. Hoover however offered no support, but only hope that the country would turn itself around. FDR looked much better in the eyes of the American population compared to Hoover because of their election campaigns. The depression had allowed FDR to use his promise of support as an advantage over Hoover in the election.
The source does not stray from this view. Roosevelt pledges to help the American population using the New Deal. He tells them that this for him ‘is more than just a political campaign’ because it is also a call to arms of the American people to help him ‘not to win votes alone’ but also to win in the crusade he has to restore America. He promises to wage war and get rid of the ‘destruction, delay, deceit and despair’ that the depression had caused. He also tells the American population, ‘with confidence we accept the promise of a new deal.’
As a less significant point FDR also had support due to the fact that he was in a wheelchair and a lot of the American population could relate to him. They thought he had been through a lot in his life and that he knows about hardship, that he can lead them out of the depression. He however posed in pictures without his wheelchair to show that he was also a strong leader. The American population admired FDR as he had been through hardship but still was a proud man and a strong leader, and this is a reason why people supported him.
In conclusion the reason why people supported FDR in the 1932 election is because he was a Christian, he was an admirable figure, and because he offered support instead of none like Hoover which a lot of the American population desperately needed to have.
Question 2 - Study Sources B and C. How do these judgements on the New Deal Differ? (7)
To begin with, I can see that both of these sources, B and C, were written by American Historians in 1945. However after reading them I found they both had very different judgments of the New Deal.
Source B has 3 paragraphs. Paragraph 1 starts with a rhetorical question, ‘What, then, are the major achievements of the New Deal?’ The historian then answers this question by talking about how the New Deal brought about the, ‘restoration of self-confidence,’ and restored America with ‘excitement and hope’ compared to the ‘depression and discouragement’ that the depression had caused. This paragraph shows that this historian has a very positive judgment on the New Deal. He believes that it really restored the lost self-confidence in America and that it gave American excitement and hope for the future. Paragraph 2 goes into more detail. It tells us one of the New Deal’s more measurable achievements was the, ‘rebuilding of the country.’ It also tells us that Roosevelt talked this problem with ‘energy.’ It finishes by telling us an example that ‘three million young men in the civilian conservation corps planted 17 million acres of new forests and built over 6 million dams to stop erosion,’ which is an amazing achievement.
It concludes in the third paragraph by summing up Roosevelt’s actions as president. The American historian tells us before Roosevelt ‘unemployment had reached 14 million.’ We are also told that Roosevelt had introduced ‘unemployment assistance and old age pensions, and he banned child labour.’ This is in most peoples view a great step forward for America. We know that these issues are used in our government today, over 70 years on, which shows us these issues were obviously liked and continued to be liked up until this very day. It also explains how during Roosevelt’s presidency the government had strengthened and expanded with its ‘activities to help people.’ One of the main oppositions to Roosevelt was on the grounds that the government had too much power. This source tells us that ‘although the government has greater responsibilities, it has no greater power,’ counteracting the view of Roosevelt’s opposition and turning it round to say that the government just had to work a lot harder for the population. The source tells us that the power was, ‘still in the hands of the people,’ as they had the power to give the government the power. It concludes with the statement, ‘the charge that Roosevelt has been a dictator is not true.’
This source in my view has a very positive judgement of Roosevelt and his New Deal. It compliments the actions Roosevelt took as president and counter argued the opposition’s view of Roosevelt and his New Deal.
Source C provides this opposite view of Roosevelt and his New Deal and is also written by an American historian in 1945. Source C has two paragraphs. Paragraph 1 begins by highlighting that a quarter of people depend on ‘employment by the government.’ It also states the fact that there was a ‘national debt of $250 billion, compared to a pre-Roosevelt debt of $19 billion’ and that ‘inflation has doubled prices and reduced the lower paid to poverty.’ Compared to the previous source which highlighted none of these points it seems to be a very negative source towards Roosevelt. It is as if the list is never ending when the source carries on talking of how ‘more people are on government relief’ and how ‘Roosevelt is still calling for more power.’ This paragraph is harshly criticising Roosevelt and his New Deal. The 2nd Paragraph criticises Roosevelt for having used the power he had and the billions of dollars at his disposal ruthlessly. It leads on to say that, ‘the only result of this will be a dictatorial government.’
This source then tells us that, ‘Roosevelt’s reputation was sinking sadly in 1938.’ The historian explains that this was because there were, ‘eleven million unemployed,’ because, ‘the cities were filling with jobless workers. Taxes were rising,’ and ‘the debt was soaring.’ We are then told one of Roosevelt’s major criticisms which was that, ‘the war rescued him and he seized it like a drowning man.’ The source then comes out with the only positive remark it has of Roosevelt, but it is said as if it was the war that saved America, not Roosevelt.
Both of these sources, even though they were both written by American historians in 1945, are very opposite in their views of Roosevelt and his actions during presidency. Source B talks only positively of Roosevelt highlighting the points that he ‘restored self confidence, rebuilt the country, introduced unemployment assistance, old-age pensions and banned child labour whilst strengthening the government, keeping the power in the hands of the population and leading the country in a democratic manner.