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Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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In 1932, voters still had not seen any improvement, and wanted a new president. President Herbert Hoover was nominated again by the Republicans and he campaigned saying that his policies prevented the Great Depression from being worse than it was. The Democrats nominated Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a tall, handsome man who was the fifth cousin of famous Theodore Roosevelt and had followed in his footsteps. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was suave and conciliatory and was stricken with polio in 1921.

During this time, his wife, Eleanor, became his political partner and she influenced the policies of the national government. Roosevelt’s political appeal was great for he utilized his charm in private conversations and also relieved human suffering. He believed that money rather than humanity was expendable. Many Democrats speedily nominated Roosevelt. In the campaign of 1932, Franklin Roosevelt preached his New Deal to voters and Hoover lost votes. Roosevelt became president by an overwhelming defeat.

The early New Deal pursued the three R’s of relief recovery and reform by passing much legislation at this time. The first “R” called relief was accomplished by the passing of the Unemployment Relief Act which created the Civilian Conservation Corps, the passing of the Federal Emergency Relief Act which created the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, the passing of the Agricultural Adjustment Act, and the Home Owner’s Refinancing Act. All these legislations were for immediate recovery and relief.

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The second “R” called recovery was accomplished in ways such as passing of the Emergency Banking Relief Act, the surrendering of gold and abandoning the gold standard. The last “R” called reform was pursued by the passing of the Tennessee Valley Authority Act, the Federal Securities Act, the Beer and Wine Revenue Act, and the Glass- Steagall Banking Reform that created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Unemployment in America increased and there needed remedial action quickly and the New Deal had a great effect on labor and labor organizations. The Civilian Conservation Corps was the most popular of the New Deal and this law provided employment for millions of men. Their work included reforestation fire fighting, flood control and swamp drainage. The actual first major effort of the new Congress to grapple with the unemployed adults was the Federal Emergency Relief Act which three billion dollars were granted to the states for direct dole payments or preferably for wages on work projects.

Also, labor under the National Recovery Administration granted additional benefits. Workers were formally guaranteed the right to organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing. Also there were maximum hours of labor and minimum wages.

To help the farmers, which had been suffering ever since the end of World War I, Congress established the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, which paid farmers to reduce their crop acreage and would eliminate price-depressing surpluses. However, it got off to a rocky start when it killed lots of pigs for not good reason, and paying farmers not to farm actually increased unemployment. The Supreme Court killed it in 1936. The New Deal Congress hastened to pass the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act of 1936, which paid farmers to plant soil-conserving plants like soybeans or to let their land lie fallow. The Second Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 was a more comprehensive substitute that continued conservation payments but was accepted by the Supreme Court.

Franklin Roosevelt controlled Congress, but the Supreme Court kept on blocking his programs, so he proposed a shocking plan that would add a member to the Supreme Court for every existing member over the age of 70, for a maximum possible total of 15 total members. For once, Congress voted against him because it did not want to lose its power. Roosevelt was ripped for trying to be a dictator. FDR’s “court-packing scheme” failed, but he did get some of the justices to start to vote his way. However, his failure of the court-packing scheme also showed how Americans still did not wish to tamper with the sacred justice system.

The New Deal Coalition is a political coalition, which was created by Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s. It included Democratic Party organizations, big city machines, labor unions, minorities (racial, ethnic and religious, especially Blacks, Catholics and Jews), liberal farm groups, intellectuals, the Mountain West, and the white South. It was opposed by the Conservative Coalition of northern Republicans and southern Democrats. The New Deal Coalition dominated presidential elections in 1932 and lost control of Congress in 1937. The coalition fell apart after 1966 but it remains the model that Democratic Party activists seek to replicate. The coalition brought together liberal interest groups and voting blocks that supported the New Deal and voted for Democratic presidential candidates from 1932 until approximately 1966, which made the Democratic Party the majority party during the Fifth Party System.

There were many changes of the New Deal such as the “AAA” and NRA were replaced by other legislations because these legislations were unconstitutional. These legislations were replaced by the second Agricultural Adjustment Act and the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act. A Second New Deal in 1934-36 included the Wagner Act to promote labor unions, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) relief program, the Social Security Act, and new programs to aid tenant farmers and migrant workers. The final major items of New Deal legislation were the creation of the United States Housing Authority and Farm Security Administration, both in 1937, then the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which set maximum hours and minimum wages for most categories of workers.

No other twentieth century president enjoyed the levels of popular admiration that Franklin D. Roosevelt did during his twelve years in office but the policies of his administration inevitably aroused opposition. The evolution of Roosevelt’s New Deal cannot be understood apart from the opposition that it aroused. In some cases Roosevelt skillfully borrowed ideas from his opponents and co-opted their followers. Some land mark legislation of the New Deal was the product of just such tactics. But eventually a coalition of conservative opponents emerged and systematically curtailed the most ambitious plans of the New Deal. By early 1935, the New Deal legislation of the previous two years had aroused growing voices of criticism on the left and right of the political spectrum, and by several important Supreme Court rulings. Persisting severe economic difficulties fueled the rise of powerful political leaders who offered immediate solutions to the nation’s economic problems.

Foes of the New Deal condemned its alleged waste, incompetence, confusion, contradictions and cross-purposes. Critics deplored the employment “crackpot” professors, leftist “pinkos” and out right Communists. Business people accused Roosevelt of confusing noise and movement with progress. Bureaucratic meddling and regimentation were also bitter complaints of the anti-New Dealers. Promises of budget balancing to say nothing of other promises had flown out the window and national debt skyrocketed. Critics accused the New Deal of fomenting class strife. New Dealers defended their record.

They admitted that there was waste but they pointed out that relief had been the primary object of their multifront war on the depression. They also argued that it had been trivial in view of the immense sums spent and the obvious need for haste. They also declared that the New Deal had relieved the worst of the crisis in 1933. It promoted the philosophy of balancing the human budget. The collapse of America’s economy system was averted, a fairer distribution of the national income was achieved and the citizens were enabled to regain and retain their self respect.

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