Write an original essay of about five paragraphs that makes use of the sources provided to answer the prompt. Structure your answer with a clear thesis statement in the first sentence, and supporting examples and reasoning in subsequent paragraphs. Choose specific examples from the sources provided.
How did the New Deal change the role of government in the economy and society of the United States? Why did the change come about?In your answer, make clear the major achievements and limitations of the New Deal and the political factors that led to its success. It will be helpful to use the concepts “social welfare state” and “laissez faire,” and to contrast the New Deal with earlier government policies.
1. Franklin Roosevelt, “First Inaugural Address” (1933)
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.
Source: Franklin Roosevelt, “First Inaugural Address.” March 4, 1933.
2. Franklin Roosevelt, “Statement on Signing the Social Security Act” (1935)
Today a hope of many years’ standing is in large part fulfilled. The civilization of the past hundred years, with its startling industrial changes, has tended more and more to make life insecure. Young people have come to wonder what would be their lot when they came to old age. The man with a job has wondered how long the job would last.
This social security measure gives at least some protection to thirty millions of our citizens who will reap direct benefits through unemployment compensation, through old-age pensions and through increased services for the protection of children and the prevention of ill health.
We can never insure one hundred percent of the population against one hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age.
This law, too, represents a cornerstone in a structure which is being built but is by no means complete. It is a structure intended to lessen the force of possible future depressions. It will act as a protection to future Administrations against the necessity of going deeply into debt to furnish relief to the needy. The law will flatten out the peaks and valleys of deflation and of inflation. It is, in short, a law that will take care of human needs and at the same time provide for the United States an economic structure of vastly greater soundness.
Source: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Statement on Signing the Social Security Act. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/209017
3. Franklin Roosevelt, “Re-Nomination Acceptance Speech” (1936)
That very word freedom, in itself and of necessity, suggests freedom from some restraining power. In 1776 we sought freedom from the tyranny of a political autocracy—from the eighteenth century royalists who held special privileges from the crown….And so it was to win freedom from the tyranny of political autocracy that the American Revolution was fought. That victory gave the business of governing into the hands of the average man, who won the right with his neighbors to make and order his own destiny through his own Government. Political tyranny was wiped out at Philadelphia on July 4, 1776.
Since that struggle, however, man’s inventive genius released new forces in our land which reordered the lives of our people. The age of machinery, of railroads; of steam and electricity; the telegraph and the radio; mass production, mass distribution….
…[O]ut of this modern civilization economic royalists carved new dynasties…built upon concentration of control over material things. Through new uses of corporations, banks and securities, new machinery of industry and agriculture, of labor and capital—all undreamed of by the fathers—the whole structure of modern life was impressed into this royal service….
…[T]he privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over Government itself….
A small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people’s property, other people’s money, other people’s labor—other people’s lives….
Against economic tyranny such as this, the American citizen could appeal only to the organized power of Government. The collapse of 1929 showed up the despotism for what it was. The election of 1932 was the people’s mandate to end it. Under that mandate it is being ended.…
Today we stand committed to the proposition that freedom is no half-and-half affair. If the average citizen is guaranteed equal opportunity in the polling place, he must have equal opportunity in the market place.
These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power. In vain they seek to hide behind the Flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the Flag and the Constitution stand for. Now, as always, they stand for democracy, not tyranny; for freedom, not subjection; and against a dictatorship by mob rule and the over-privileged alike.
Source: Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Acceptance Speech for the Re-Nomination for the Presidency,” Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 27, 1936.
4. Franklin Roosevelt, “Second Inaugural Address” (1937)
Our progress out of the depression is obvious…. By using the new materials of social justice we have undertaken to erect on the old foundations a more enduring structure for the better use of future generations.
…We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics. …
We are beginning to abandon our tolerance of the abuse of power by those who betray for profit the elementary decencies of life.…
True, we have come far from the days of stagnation and despair. Vitality has been preserved. Courage and confidence have been restored. Mental and moral horizons have been extended.…
But here is the challenge to our democracy: In this nation I see tens of millions of its citizens–a substantial part of its whole population–who at this very moment are denied the greater part of what the very lowest standards of today call the necessities of life.
I see millions of families trying to live on incomes so meager that the pall of family disaster hangs over them day by day.
I see millions whose daily lives in city and on farm continue under conditions labeled indecent by a so-called polite society half a century ago.
I see millions denied education, recreation, and the opportunity to better their lot and the lot of their children.
I see millions lacking the means to buy the products of farm and factory and by their poverty denying work and productiveness to many other millions.
I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.
It is not in despair that I paint you that picture. I paint it for you in hope–because the Nation, seeing and understanding the injustice in it, proposes to paint it out. We are determined to make every American citizen the subject of his country’s interest and concern; and we will never regard any faithful law-abiding group within our borders as superfluous. The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.…
In our personal ambitions we are individualists. But in our seeking for economic and political progress as a nation, we all go up, or else we all go down, as one people.
Source: Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Second Inaugural Address,” January 20, 1937.