The New Deal

Campaign cane, 1932

Campaign cane, 1932

Franklin Delano Roosevelt ran for president of the United States in 1932 on a promise to end the Great Depression and bring Americans a “New Deal.”

The Great Depression made Americans question free-market capitalism. The federal government responded with a wide array of initiatives known as the “New Deal.” Its programs fell largely into two categories—recovery and reform. Some failed; some succeeded and became permanent. In the end, the role of the federal government changed. It became larger and more willing to regulate business and help individual citizens. The New Deal sustained the nation’s faith in capitalism.

Political cartoon, 1934

Political cartoon, 1934

President Franklin Roosevelt attempted to revive the U.S. economy by creating recovery programs and bringing about permanent social change with regulatory agencies.

Courtesy of Library of Congress

WPA

WPA

One of the few New Deal organizations that set out to directly lower unemployment, the Works Progress Administration (WPA), formed in 1935, hired people to work on public works projects.

Courtesy of Library of Congress

SSA

SSA

Local communities traditionally provided a safety net for the poor, elderly, and infirm. The creation of the Social Security Administration (SSA) shifted some of the responsibility to the federal government.

Courtesy of Library of Congress

REA

REA

In 1935 when the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) was created, only 11 percent of American farms had electricity. With government-subsidized loans, local companies rapidly expanded service, electrifying half of America’s farms by 1942, greatly improving agricultural productivity. Farmers began to enjoy the benefits of electricity, from mixers to milking machines. [

Electric stand mixer, 1930s

NRA

NRA

The National Recovery Administration (NRA), established in 1933, was meant to regulate production, prices, and wages. Industry and labor supported it at first, but both became disenchanted. In 1935 the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional.

NLRB

NLRB

Seeking labor stability after half a million workers went on strike in 1934, Congress passed the Wagner Act establishing the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in 1935. After two years of uncertainty, the Supreme Court ruled that employees could organize and that unions were not an anti-trust violation.

Courtesy of Library of Congress

FDIC

FDIC

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) sought to rebuild public trust in banks by guaranteeing deposits and tightly regulating banks.

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SEC

SEC

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was created to regulate securities markets. President Franklin Roosevelt said, “There must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments; there must be an end to speculation with other people’s money, and there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.”

Courtesy of Library of Congress

AAA

AAA

The Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) aimed to raise farm income and improve soil conservation through subsidies, purchase programs, and education in seven basic crops. This crop meter was used in Mississippi to measure acreage in cotton fields.

Courtesy of Library of Congress

Crop Meter, 1925

This crop meter was used in Mississippi to measure acreage in cotton fields.

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