The 1929 Wall Street crash left the country in a huge economic depression. Initially, the impacts of the crash could not be determined with precisions. The wealthy were hit the hardest by the crash considering that they had invested huge amounts of money and they lost all of it. Besides, the large invest lost in the short run. There was an immediate down turn in the in spending since most of the buyers had no money to purchase American goods. Many investors had borrowed money so that they could buy shares which were now worthless. More than 659 banks were declared bankrupt something that led to people losing trust in the banks. In the years that followed, more and more banks closed down, and companies laid off employees (Skocpol and Finegold 255). The number of the unemployed people reached 14 million by 1933. The agricultural sector was affected as well, and the central southern states experienced an intensive drought that left millions of acres of land dusty and bear. Most farmers went to the capital in search of jobs, but with the recession it was hard to find any job. Most of the Americans were disappointed and began losing faith with the government. Democracy did not seem to solve the depression, and many feared that there would be a revolution.
During his election campaign, Franklin Roosevelt had promised the Americans of a New Deal. Although many Americans did not understand what the New Deal entailed, they were sure that Roosevelt would utilize every resource that the government had to pull the country out of the depression. Roosevelt had four objectives in which he considered his priority including getting Americans back to work, protecting their investments and property, providing the Americans with quality health care as well as reviving the American industry and agricultural sector (Skocpol and Finegold 255). Three days after his inauguration, President Roosevelt embarked on his plan in which his first step was to make what he called Trading with the Enemy Act which allowed his administration to make laws faster with less intervention from the Congress. The first law to be passed under the Trading with the Enemy Act was the Emergency Bank Act. The president ordered the closure of all banks and which would be opened after thorough check up by the government. After a few days, 5000 banks were allowed to open, and the government offered to assist them financially. Besides, President Roosevelt formulated regulations that prevented reckless investment that had contributed to the Wall Street crash (Skocpol and Finegold 256). The government was to keep the American updated with the progress of the New Deal through a radio program which aired every Sunday. Many Americans tuned into President Roosevelt’s fireside chats.
The government needed money to finance its activities. Therefore, it introduced the Economic Act which required a pay cut of all the civil servants including the military. This strategy was effective because it raised more than $1billion towards the New Deal and made it popular. Another project of the New Deal was addressing the issue of the homelessness. Although it was a short-term project, the Federal Emergency Relief Administration helped so many Americans during the crisis by giving them food and shelter (Skocpol and Finegold 256).
The New Deal was a success in the sense that Roosevelt managed to restore the confidence of the American people. Millions of people got job opportunities to work on the government projects. Besides, the government built many schools hospitals and infrastructure. Finally, President Roosevelt saved the Banking system from collapsing as well as capitalism. On the other hand, the New Deal had its failures as well. For instance, in 1937, the country experienced yet another recession which is commonly known as the ‘Roosevelt Recession.’ Secondly, the problem of unemployment in the country was not solved by the New Deal considering that most of the employment opportunities provided by the government were temporary (Skocpol and Finegold 258). Finally, the analysts claim that the New Deal was the most expensive government project in the history of America and some of its projects were considered unnecessary.
If I were given an opportunity to give a fireside chat about President Roosevelt, I would start by congratulating him for the confidence and courage he showed when he took a fallen nation and gave hope to the hopeless Americans. Roosevelt was determined to make America a great nation again. He was a true statesman who was willing to do anything to restore confidence in the Americans who were devastated by the impacts of the economic crisis. His quote that the one thing that the Americans were to be afraid of was fear itself was a powerful encouragement which continues to encourage most of the people who feel down today. I believe that Roosevelt played a significant contribution to what America is today. He deserves the title of the founding father. Although the New Deal had some setbacks, the important thing is that it restored the American Dream.
Skocpol, Theda, and Kenneth Finegold. “State capacity and economic intervention in the early New Deal.” Political science quarterly 97.2 (1982): 255-278.