The Future of the New Deal
Author(s): William F. Ogburn
Source: The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 39, No. 6 (May, 1934), pp. 842-848
Published by: The University of Chicago Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2767430
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American Journal of Sociology.
The New Deal
Prof. Tomasz Stanek
The New Deal (RRR)
• The New Deal was the name that Franklin D.
Roosevelt gave to a complex package of
economic programs he effected between
1933 and 1935 with the goals of what
historians call the 3 Rs, of giving Relief to the
unemployed and badly hurt farmers, Reform
of business and financial practices, and
promoting Recovery of the economy during
the Great Depression.
• When Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office
on March 4, 1933, the nation was deeply
• Every bank in the nation had closed its doors
and no one could cash a check or get at their
• The unemployment rate was 25% and higher
in major industrial and mining centers.
• Farm prices had fallen by 50%. Mortgages
were being foreclosed by tens of thousands.
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. The Coming of the New Deal (1959), p, 32
Jonathan Alter, The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope, esp. ch 31. (2007)
First New Deal
The "First New Deal" (March
4, 1933) focused on a variety
of different groups; from
banking and railroads to
industry and farming. The
New Deal instituted banking
reform laws, work relief
programs, and industrial
reform (the National
NRA), and the end of the
The exception was a minimum wage law in 1938, which also finally
abolished child labor. William E. Leuchtenburg, Franklin D.
Roosevelt and the New Deal (1963) p. 262-63
Second New Deal
A "Second New Deal" in 193435 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 Supreme
Court ruled several programs
unconstitutional; however, most
were soon replaced, with the
exception of the NRA. After
1936, the Fair Labor Standards
Act of 1938 was the only major
legislation; it set maximum
hours and minimum wages for
most categories of workers.
Kennedy, David M (1999). Freedom From Fear: The American people
in Depression and War, 1929-1945. Oxford University Press.
New Deal Criticism
Historians on the left have denounced the New Deal as a
conservative phenomenon that let slip the opportunity to
radically reform capitalism. Since the 1960s, "New Left"
historians have been among the New Deal's harsh critics.
Barton J. Bernstein, in a 1968 essay, compiled a chronicle of
missed opportunities and inadequate responses to problems.
The New Deal may have saved capitalism from itself, Bernstein
charged, but it had failed to help and in many cases actually
harmed those groups most in need of assistance.
Paul K. Conkin in The New Deal (1967) similarly chastised the
government of the 1930s for its policies toward marginal
farmers, for its failure to institute sufficiently progressive tax
reform, and its excessive generosity toward select business
Howard Zinn, in 1966, criticized the New Deal for working
actively to actually preserve the worst evils of capitalism.
National Debt as % of GNP
Unemployment and the US
economy during New Deal
• According to Gene Smiley, writing on the Web site of
Liberty Fund, "a number of economists" believe the
New Deal delayed economic recovery.
• A 1995 survey of economic historians asked whether
"Taken as a whole, government policies of the New
Deal served to lengthen and deepen the Great
Depression." Of those in economics departments
27% agreed, 22% agreed 'with provisos' (what
provisos the survey does not state) and 51%
disagreed. Of those in history departments, only 27%
agreed and 73% disagreed.
How did FDR’s New Deal
start? - first 100 days
Emergency Bank Relief Act, Mar 9, 1933: Banks reopen,
deposits…rather than withdrawals…
Economy Act: Mar 20; reducing federal expenditures: salaries
Civilian Conservation Corps: Mar 31, (CCC), 1933-1942:
employed young men to perform unskilled work in rural areas;
under US Army supervision.
Gold Standard abandoned on Apr 19
Agricultural Emergency Relief Act: May 12
Tennessee Valley Authority Act: May 18, TVA), 1933: effort to
modernize very poor region (most of Tennessee), centered on
dams that generated electricity on the Tennessee River; still
100 days continued: Mar-Jun
Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA), 1933: raised farm prices by
cutting total farm output of major crops and livestock
• National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), 1933: industries set up
codes to reduce unfair competition, raise wages and prices;
• Public Works Administration (PWA), 1933: built large public
works projects; used private contractors (did not directly hire
• Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insures deposits
in banks in order to restore public confidence in banks; still
• Securities Act of 1933, created the SEC, 1933: codified
standards for sale and purchase of stock, required risk of
investments to be accurately disclosed; still exists
• Civil Works Administration (CWA), 1933-34: provided temporary
jobs to millions of unemployed
Civilian Conservation Corps
As part of the New Deal legislation proposed by (FDR), the CCC was designed to aid relief
of the unemployment resulting from the Great Depression while implementing a general
natural resource conservation program on national, state, county and municipal lands.
Flood Control: irrigation, drainage dams, ditching, channel work
Forest Culture: planting trees and shrubs, timber stand improvement, seed collection,
Forest Protection: fire prevention, fire suppression, fire fighting, insect and disease control
Landscape and Recreation: public camp and picnic ground development, lake and pond site
clearing and development
Range: stock driveways, elimination of predatory animals
Wildlife: stream improvement, stocking fish, food and cover planting;
Miscellaneous: emergency work, surveys, mosquito control.
A typical CCC enrollee was a U.S. citizen, unmarried, unemployed male, 18-25 years of
age. Each enrollee volunteered, and upon passing a physical exam was enrolled for a six
month term with the option to serve as much as two years. He lived in a work camp,
received $30 a month (with a compulsory allotment $22-25 sent to dependents) as well as
food, clothing and medical care. During a six month period an enrollee gained an average of
.277 inches height and 7.23 pounds.
Ermentrout, Robert Allen, "Forgotten Men: The Civilian Conservation Corps," (1982) p. 99
CCC example from Michigan
Civil Work Administration
4 mln young people
employed in the federal
programs amounting to
over 1 bln.
• FDR disbanded in 1934
for fear of …fed jobs
resulted in additional 4
Work Progress Administration
WPA - by H. Hopkins
• Apart from “hard”
roads, and airports
theatre, music, and
• Part-time student
• Expired in 1943 but
employed 3 mln.
Devastating draught over plains states
John Steinbeck Grapes of Wrath
The Dust Bowl affected
100,000,000 acres (400,000 km2),
centered on the panhandles of Texas and
Oklahoma, and adjacent parts of New
Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas. The Dust
Bowl was an ecological and human
disaster caused by misuse of land and
years of sustained drought. Millions of
acres of farmland became useless, and
hundreds of thousands of people were
forced to leave their homes; many of
these families (often known as "Okies",
since so many came from Oklahoma)
traveled to California and other states,
where they found economic conditions
little better than those they had left.
Owning no land, many traveled from farm
to farm picking fruit and other crops at
Franklin D. Roosevelt
March 4, 1933
I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction
into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a
decision which the present situation of our Nation impels. This is
preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth,
frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing
conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as
it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me
assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear
itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes
needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark
hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has
met with that understanding and support of the people
themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you
will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.
In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common
difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things.
Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our
ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by
serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen
in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial
enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their
produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are
More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem
of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return.
Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the
Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken
by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our
forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid
we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her
bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our
doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of
the supply. Primarily this is because rulers of the exchange of
mankind's goods have failed through their own stubbornness and
their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and have
abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand
indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and
minds of men.
True they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern
of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit they have
proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of
profit by which to induce our people to follow their false
leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully
for restored confidence. They know only the rules of a
generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there
is no vision the people perish.
The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of
our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient
truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which
we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.
Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy
of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral
stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad
chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all
they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be
ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow
Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of
success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false
belief that public office and high political position are to be
valued only by the standards of pride of place and personal
profit; and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in
business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness
of callous and selfish wrongdoing. Small wonder that confidence
languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the
sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish
performance; without them it cannot live.
Restoration calls, however, not for changes in ethics alone. This
Nation asks for action, and action now.
Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no
unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. It can
be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the Government
itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a
war, but at the same time, through this employment,
accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and
reorganize the use of our natural resources.
Hand in hand with this we must frankly recognize the overbalance of
population in our industrial centers and, by engaging on a
national scale in a redistribution, endeavor to provide a better
use of the land for those best fitted for the land. The task can be
helped by definite efforts to raise the values of agricultural
products and with this the power to purchase the output of our
cities. It can be helped by preventing realistically the tragedy of
the growing loss through foreclosure of our small homes and our
farms. It can be helped by insistence that the Federal, State,
and local governments act forthwith on the demand that their
cost be drastically reduced. It can be helped by the unifying of
relief activities which today are often scattered, uneconomical,
and unequal. It can be helped by national planning for and
supervision of all forms of transportation and of communications
and other utilities which have a definitely public character. There
are many ways in which it can be helped, but it can never be
helped merely by talking about it. We must act and act quickly.
Finally, in our progress toward a resumption of work we require two
safeguards against a return of the evils of the old order: there
must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits: and
investments, so that there will be an end to speculation with
other people's money; and there must be provision for an
adequate but sound currency.
These are the lines of attack. I shall presently urge upon a new
Congress, in special session, detailed measures for their
fulfillment, and I shall seek the immediate assistance of the
Through this program of action we address ourselves to putting our
own national house in order and making income balance outgo.
Our international trade relations, though vastly important, are in
point of time and necessity secondary to the establishment of a
sound national economy. I favor as a practical policy the putting
of first things first. I shall spare no effort to restore world trade
by international economic readjustment, but the emergency at
home cannot wait on that accomplishment.
The basic thought that guides these specific means of national
recovery is not narrowly nationalistic. It is the insistence, as a
first consideration, upon the interdependence of the various
elements in and parts of the United States - a recognition of the
old and permanently important manifestation of the American
spirit of the pioneer. It is the way to recovery. It is the
immediate way. It is the strongest assurance that the recovery
In the field of world policy I would dedicate this Nation to the policy
of the good neighbor - the neighbor who resolutely respects
himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others the neighbor who respects his obligations and respects the
sanctity of his agreements in and with a world of neighbors.
If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize as we
have never realized before our interdependence on each other;
that we cannot merely take but we must give as well; that if we
are to go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army
willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline, because
without such discipline no progress is made, no leadership
becomes effective. We are, I know, ready and willing to submit
our lives and property to such discipline, because it makes
possible a leadership which aims at a larger good. This I propose
to offer, pledging that the larger purposes will bind upon us all
as a sacred obligation with a unity of duty hitherto evoked only
in time of armed strife.
With this pledge taken, I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this
great army of our people dedicated to a disciplined attack upon
our common problems.
Action in this image and to this end is feasible under the form of
government which we have inherited from our ancestors. Our
Constitution is so simple and practical that it is possible always
to meet extraordinary needs by changes in emphasis and
arrangement without loss of essential form. That is why our
constitutional system has proved itself the most superbly
enduring political mechanism the modern world has produced. It
has met every stress of vast expansion of territory, of foreign
wars, of bitter internal strife, of world relations.
It is to be hoped that the normal balance of Executive and legislative
authority may be wholly adequate to meet the unprecedented
task before us. But it may be that an unprecedented demand
and need for undelayed action may call for temporary departure
from that normal balance of public procedure.
I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the
measures that a stricken Nation in the midst of a stricken world
may require. These measures, or such other measures as the
Congress may build out of its experience and wisdom, I shall
seek, within my constitutional authority, to bring to speedy
But in the event that the Congress shall fail to take one of these two
courses, and in the event that the national emergency is still
critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will then
confront me. I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining
instrument to meet the crisis - broad Executive power to wage a
war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be
given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.
For the trust reposed in me I will return the courage and the
devotion that befit the time. I can do no less.
We face the arduous days that lie before us in the warm courage of
national unity; with the clear consciousness of seeking old and
precious moral values; with the clean satisfaction that comes
from the stern performance of duty by old and young alike. We
aim at the assurance of a rounded and permanent national life.
We do not distrust the futu ...
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