American History: A Survey (Brinkley), 13th Edition

Chapter 24: THE NEW DEAL

Primary Sources

In the campaign of 1932, Franklin Roosevelt revealed little of what would become the New Deal. And during the interregnum of 1932 and 1933, he refused to announce the specifics of his program. In fact, some of his campaign speeches were so conservative the New Dealer Marriner Eccles later commented that they sometimes "read like a giant misprint in which Roosevelt and Hoover speak each other's lines." By March 1933, however, although he may not yet have known where he was headed, Roosevelt knew where he was going to start. The most quoted line of his first inaugural address was his famous dictum that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." The following excerpts are from later in the speech where he acknowledged the severity of the crisis and outlined his proposed course of action. Read the selection, and consider the following questions: How were Roosevelt's experiences as a member of the wartime Wilson administration reflected in his approach to the Depression? What values of the progressive era did the Roosevelt program embody? How many of the promised programs were implemented during the first two years of the New Deal? How many worked as intended?

Franklin Roosevelt's Campaign Speech

Read the section in the text entitled "Attacks from the Right and the Left," and pay careful attention to the discussion of the American Liberty League. The following documents are newspaper reports on various Liberty League attacks on Roosevelt and the New Deal. Read these articles, and consider the following questions: Did the TVA in fact embody some aspects of socialism? Was it fair to imply that Senator George W. Norris and other TVA backers wanted to build a "socialistic State"? How did Wendell Willkie's business-oriented opposition to the New Deal put him in a position to become the Republican presidential nominee in 1940? What was Roosevelt proposing in 1935 that inspired the comparison to George III, Hitler, and Mussolini? Was the economic planning proposed by Roosevelt stringent enough to justify the charges by the Liberty League, and later by such historians as Edgar E. Robinson (see "Where Historians Disagree" in this chapter), that the New Deal shared many objectives with communism?

Attacks from the Right and the Left

Here are three of the most important bills passed during Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal—the Tennessee Valley Authority, the National Industrial Recovery Act, and the Social Security Act. What are the results of each of these crucial pieces of legislation? Compare and contrast them with regard to (a) their intended goal, (b) their respective philosophies for the role of government, and (c) their ultimate consequences. Do you think the differences in these three approaches to reform can be reconciled? Which version of political economy do you most prefer?

In this 1936 radio address, how does Franklin Roosevelt characterize the New Deal so far? What arguments does he invoke in support of his first administration, and how does he argue the next phase of the New Deal will be different? What references does he make to specific New Deal programs either already passed or in germination?

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