426 C H A P T E R 2 4 F D R A N D T H E N E W D E A T

sleep on chairs, they sleep on the floor. There are conditions in Philadelphia that beggar description. There is scarcely a day that calls do not come to all of our offices to find somehow a bed or a chair. The demand for boxes on which people can sit or stretch themselves is hardly to be believed. . . .

Only the other day a man came to our ofice, as hundreds do day after day, applying for a job, in order not to have to apply for relief. I think we have already stressed the reluctance of individuals to accept relief, regardless of the source from which it comes. This man said to our worker: “I know you haven’t any money to give us. I know there isn’t enough money in the city to take care of ihe needs of everybody,but I wantyou to give me a job.”

Now, we have so many applications of that kind during the day that it has gotten to the point where we can scarcely take their nalnes as they come in, because we have no facilities for giving jobs. In this particular case this indi- vidual interested me because when he heard that we had no jobs to give him, he said: “Have you anybody you can send around to my family to tell my wife you have no job to give me! Because she doesn’t believe that a man who walks the street from morning till night, day after day, actually can’t get a job in this town. She thinks I don’t want to work.” I think it is not neces- sary to dramatize the results of a situation like that. And there are thousands of them. It is only one illustration.

Another thing, it seerrx to me to be important to stress is the effect of this situation on the work habits of the next generation. I think it has not been brought out that in the early period of this so-called “depression” one of the most outstanding features of it was the fact that young people could get jobs even when old people of 40 years and over could not get jobs, and it has become quite customary for families to expect that their young members who are just coming of working ege can replace the usual breadwinner, the father of the famrly. It is easy to forget about these young boys and girls reaching 14, 15, 16,77,18 years of age, who have had no work experience, and if we think of work not as merely a means of livelihood but as an aspect of our life and a part ofour life, it has a good deal ofsignificance that these young peo- ple are having their first work experience, and experibnce not with employ- ment but with unemployment; that in addition to that they are looked to as potential breadwinners in the

“-t’ that they are under the same strain, the

same onus that the father of the family is under, suspected of malingering, sus- pected of not wanting to work–all of these things which the average individ- ual sees not as clearly as we see them in terms of millions of unemployed. . . .

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Franklin D. Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address (1933)

The dominant issue in the presidential election in 1932 was the Creat Depression. The Republicans renominated Heftert Hoouer, who campaigned deJelsiuely on hk record, while the Democrats selecteil NewYork Couernor Franklin Delano Rooseuelt,

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who ofered few specifc proposals to end the depression but radiated confdence as he pledged a New Deal Jor the Amuican people. Roosevelt won the presidency in a land- slide (472 electoral uotes to 59), and the DemocraLs gained control of both houses of Congtess. But in the four long months between the election anil inauguration-soon remedied when the 20th Amendment moped the inauguration from Mareh 4 to Janu- ary 20-the Gteat Depression worsened: Unemployment increaeil, more businesses

failed, anil there were numerous “rttns” on banks, as panicleed depositors withdrew their lfe sauings, which forced soue banlu to close their doors. On inauguratiot day, 80 percent of Ameiu’s banks were closed (either by declared state holiday or by fail- ure), and the country uas near economic ruin. Rooseuelt’s inaugural aililress, excerpted as follows, exuded a sense of uigor anil action at a time when Americans sufered a ci- sk of confdence.

Q u e s t i o n s t o C o n s i d e r

1. In what ways does Franklin Roosevelt seek to build the American peo- plet confidence?

2. ‘What

does Roosevelt believe are the significant problems facing the nation? How does he propose to solve them?

3. For what purposes does Roosevelt refer to the crisis as similar to war?

4. In what ways does Roosevelt differ fromWilliam Lloyd Garrison,Jr. (“A Businessman’sView of the New Deal.” Document 183) in his approach to America’s economic problems?

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 pres- ent situation of our Nation impels. This is preeminently the rime to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditioru 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 Gar is fear itself-name- less, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of fran-kness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the peo- ple themselves which is essenrial 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 dificul- ties.They concern, thank God, only material things.Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our abiliry to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange ^re frozen in the currents of trade: the withered leaves of industrial enterprise

“Iruugunl Addrcss, March 4, 19331’ The Public Popen and Addresses oJ Fnnhlin D. Rooswlt,Yol.2: TheYear oJ Crisis,

1933, comp. Smucl I. Rosenru (NwYork, 1938), 11-16.





lie on every side; farmers 6nd no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.

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 moment. 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 bounry and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use ofit languishes in the very sight of the supply. . . .

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 fit- ted 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 forth- with on the demand that their cost be drastically reduced. It can be helped by the unifying of relief activities which today are often scattered, uneco- nomical, and unequal. It can be helped by national planning for and supenri- sion 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 by merely talking about it. We must act and act quickly.

Finally, in our progress toward a resumption of work we require two safe- guards 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 provi- sion for an adequate but sound currency.

These are the lines of attack. I shall presendy urge upon a new Congress, in special session, detailed measures for their fulfillment, and I shall seek the immediate assistance of the several States. . . .

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 expe- rience and wisdom, I shall seek, within my constitutional authoriry to bring to speedy adoption.



I 8 2 T H E ” S H A R E O U R W E A L T H ” P L A N ( 1 9 ] 3 )

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 crises-broad Exec- utive 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 refurn the courage and the devotion that befit the time. I can do no less.

We face the arduous days *rat lie before us in the warm counge of national uniry; with the clear satisfacdon that comes 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 dnd permanent national life.

We do not distrust the future of essential democrary. The people of the United States have not failed. In their need they have registered a mandate that they want direct, vigorous action. They have asked for discipline and direcrion under leadership.

They have made me the present instrument of their wishes. In the spirit of the gift I take ir.

In this dedication of a Nation we humbly ask the blessing of God. May He protect each and every one of us. May He guide me in the days to come.


T h e ” S h a r e O u r W e a l t h ” P l a n ( 1 9 3 3 )

Franklin Delano Rooseuelt’s frst New Deal attempted to rcstorc economic eonfdence in the American people, provide dief to the unemployed, rcuiue the saging agricul- tural and business enterprises, and put people to work. Uneuen in its impact and often contradictory and improuiseil, the New Deal “experiment” enjoyed massiue public sup- port duing its inception.The New Deal, however, brought only limited recouery anil, as the economic erisis waned, critiu of the program emerged. Among the most promi- nent citics of Rooseuelt and the New Deal wa Louisiana Senator Huey P Long. Nick- named the “Kingfish,” Long deueloped a feruent following ftom poor whites in l-ouisiana, was elected goyernor, and oeated a political maehine that gaue him alnost dietatorial rule ouer the state. Elected senator in 1930, the demagogue used his popu- laity to spread his Share Ow Wealth program, an implausibly simplistic plan that appealed to many Ameicans’ rcsenttnent towaril the wealthy. Inng claimed that mem- bership in the Sharc OurWealth elubs exceeded 7 million.The 1933 Huey P I-ong autobiograplry, Everyman a King, excerpted as follows, promised economic security for all Auericans with the proposed Sharc Our Wealth plan.



I 8 3 A B U S I N E S S M A N ‘ s V I E W O F T H E N E W D E A L ( 1 9 3 4 )

The ruling classes always possess the means of information and the process by which it is distributed.The newspaper of modern times belongs to the upper man.The uhder man has no voice; or if, having a voice, he cries out, his cry is lost like a shout in the desert. Capital, in the places of power, seizes upon the organs of public utterance, and howls the humble down the wind. Lying and misrepresentation are the natural weapons of those who maintain an existing vice and gather the usufruct of crime.

-Ridpath\ History of theWoild, page 410

In 1932, the vote for my resolution showed possibly a hdf dozen other Senators back of it. It grew in the last Congress to nearly twenry Senators. Such growth through one other year will mean the success of a venture, the completion of everything I have undertaken,-the time when I can and will retire from the stress and fury of my public life, maybe as my forties begin,- a contemplation so serene as to appear impossible.

That day will reflect credit on the States whose Senators took the early lead to spread the wealth of the land among all the people. Then no tear dimmed eyes of a small child will be lifted into the saddened face of a father or mother unable to give it the necessities required by its soul and body for life; then the powerful will be rebuked in the sight of man for holding that which they cannot consume, but which is craved to sustain humanity; the food of the land will feed, the raiment clothe, and the houses shelter all the people; the powerful will be elated by the well being of all, rather than through their greed.

Then, those ofus who have pursued that phantom ofJefferson,Jackson, Webster, Theodore Roosevelt and Bryan may hear wafted from their lips in Valhalla:


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A Businessman’s View of the New Deal (1 934)

The flood of legislation that produced the frst New Deal sought to solue the eeonomic problems created by the Creat Depression. Although it enjoyed widesptead publie sup- port, the prografi brought only moilest economic tecouery.The New Deal program, how- euer, did ehange the role of gouernment, especially the federal gouetnment.The National Recouery Administration, for example, had labor, business, anil gouernment oficiak draw up “codes of fair pructices” to establkh priees, wages, and hours in the workday. Participating businesses displayed the BIue Eagle crest to show “We Do Our Part,” Congress also passed legislation anil oeated bureaucracies to regulate the actiuities oJ banks and the stock exchange to pteuent another economic collapse anil to restore con-

f;dence in jnancial actiuities. In addition, Rooseuelt dropped the gold standail and experimented with the ualue of the dollar to boost prices. Such actiuities enlarged the size of the Jederal governtnent, broadened its scope, and greatly increased the debt. In




1934, The Nation magazine publkhed a seies of articles by businessmen discussing uarious issues of the New Deal. Recently retired Boston investment banker,William Lloyd Carrison, Jr., grandson of the famed abolitionist, ofered the following commen- tary on the New Deal.

Q u e s t i o n s t o C o n s i d e r

1. ‘What

are Garrison’s views on the New Deal?

2. According to Garrison, what New Deal programs seem to be working?

3. What does he believe are the problems of the New Deal?

4. What does Garrison hope to accomplish with this article?

. . .What he [Roosevelt] chose to call the New Deal was, in part, his concept for coping with an acute and threatening emergency. Without delay he dis- played his courage and vigor of action by his affirmative handling of the demoralized banking situation, then on the verge of collapse. His steady and confident temper generated a new hope which was immediately reflected in national sentiment and duly recorded in the quotations of the market-place. But that episode was merely a beginning. The New Deal, being both a phi- losophy and a mode of action, began to find expression in diverse forms which were often contradictory. Some assisted and some retarded the recov- ery of industrial activity. Bold and novel experiments on the part of the New Dealers soon began to startle the conservative element. An enormous out- pouring of federal money for human relief and immense sums for public- works ptojects started to flow to all points of the compass.The nation began to think in terms of nine ciphers. Six billion dollars was added ro the national debt, thereby offietting in an incredibly short time the farsighted post-war reduction of that debt by the Coolidge Administration in the years of plenty. A bureaucrary in Washington grew by leaps and bounds, led and manned by the faithful, eager to make history. And finally, to lend the picrure the heightened academic touch, John Maynard Keynes, of Cambridge, Eng- land, appeared in Washingon and again commended the plan of buyrng Utopia for cash.

Meanwhile the old &eedoms, or, if you prefer, the old anarchies, of the business world are in process of restraint. New statutes hedge about the activ- ities of bankers, broken, industrialiss, and all those who direct the use of capi- tal. Even the rights of sovereign States and their individual citizens seem to be somewhat dimmed. The lines of separation of governmental functions have become decidedly hazy. The President is dmost a legislator. A bureau chief becomes the judicial interpreter of administrative law A Supreme Court justice lends his wisdom to the administrative arm. Controls, restrictions, pro- hibitions, and warning become the order of the day. The American business man, once the symbol of free initiative, awakens to find himself “cribbed, cabined, and confined,” shorn of much of his former prestige. If he possesses a sense of humor he must recognize, of course, that the old hand of the old





dealers was obviously overplayed. The aberrations of the war markets, the dizry height of commodity prices just prior to Armistice Day, the fantastic and frantic happenings from 7922 to 1929 explain for him the political earth- quake of 7932. He is busy adjusting himself to the new circumstances as he gazed upon a situation where a huge unemployment dominates the necessi- ties of political action, as poverry and distress on the grand scale have to be dealt with daily by the masters of the state.

Yet he finds the practicd problem of producing profis at this juncture to be extremely di{Iisuh, save where government spending has happily flowed out in his direcrion. fu matters stand to&y, an industrial or mercantile con- cern can only find its foreign markets sharply restricted but sees its home market adversely affected by serious drought and by widespread and mfitant strikes. It must reckon with higher taxes, higher material costs, and higher wages. It must carry on its business in terms of a dollar that is subject to fur- ther possible devaluation. It finds the government establishing or fostering competing agencies of business, and it fears further legislation hostile to its interests. On the other hand, the talons of the Blue Eagle look less terrifying since the bluff General Johnson relinquished his efforts to do the impossible. The voluntary cooperation of business developed under the NRA should stand as a permanent national benefit. The attempt at price-fixing will pre- sumably go to the error side of the trial-and-error column. Likewise the attempt to advance wages ahead of the effective demand for goods has revealed its futiliry to say nothing of its economic unorthodoxy.

The morale of the business man is, however, shaken as he observes increas- ingly in the government service, and in command of vasdy powerful bureaus, men who are frankly Socialists in their economic faith. For the New Deal turned out to be a tripartite adventure which looked to results far beyond national recovery. It sought a recasting of our social scheme and embodied what is termed a “planned economy.” . . .

What could be done to save us &om such a calamity? The President alone has the power to give effective encouragement to business at this time. The business and banking community awaits some sincere assurance that there will be less interference by government agencies with the law of supply and demand. It wants to hear that an immediate effort will be made to check the flood of expenditures, thereby insuring an honest purpose to balance the budget.

A more hopeful and even more significant move would be the early inclusion among the President’s advisers of more men of high reputation and long e4perience in the realm of practical affairs.The responsible man of affairs, with capital at risk in enterprise, who has known the alternations of hope and fear and has come to comprehend the sigmficance of those consequences which tie together the periods of peak prosperity and panic decline, has pro- cured an education through experience that has in it the beginnings of wisdom.

Willim Lloyd Gurison,Jr, “The Hand of Improvidence: What Busincsmen Think,”

The Natiot 139 (14 November 1934): 562-563. Reprintcd with pcrmission from tllc Novcmbcr 14, 1934 isuc of

The Nation.




To a man of such training, much of the hasry and emotional legislation of the New Deal is not only absurd but hopelessly obstructive to the govern- ment’s own program of recovery. . . .

The democratic plan of government is not fool proof. It works very badly-panic succeeding prosperity. . . . But a mere transfer from individual monopoly to state monopoly, with its consequent regimentation and fetter- ing of essential freedoms, can effect no cure of the malady. A democrary can be wrecked by bureaucrats, however high-sounding their ideals, who fail to conserye the nation’s credic and thereby open wide the door, even if unin- tentionally, to the destructive forces of anarchy. When the history of our times is written, it is probable that the demoralization of the voters of the country by the distribution of floods of money from the public treasury cou- pled with a false philosophy which declares that every man is entitled to be maintained out of the public funds, will be regarded as the most glaring of the political errors of our generahion.

Even so, is there not some effective and hopeful means for deding with our immediate national problems? As affairs now stand, specific recornmen- dations seem well-nigh futile. So general has been the flouting of economic law that “confusion now hath made its masterpiece.” The false price and wages levels decreed by the NRA; the disruptive and punitive character of the Securities Act and the Stock Exchange Act, with the consequent starving of the heawy industries; the prentice work of the New Deal surgeons upon the corpus of the pubiic utilities-all suggest that time and reflection must first be permitted to color the thought and action of the Congress, the Cab- inet and the Chief Executive.

We may be grateful, however, that some measure of recovery from the depths of depression is evident throughout the world. This tendency should help to carry us gradudly, if haltingly, forward.

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T h e ” D u s t B o w l ” ( 1 9 3 5 )

The Creat Plains region of Oklahoma, the hxas panhandle, Kansas, Colorudo, and New Mexico is lenown for its sparse rainfall, thin soil, high winds, anil expanse of natural prairie grasses. During the late 19th and eaily 20th centuies, the prairie grasses ailequately supported the runching industry, but during the First World War,

farmers, who were enticed by high grain prices and using fiactors, plowed up millions of aaes oJ the gtass cot)er to plant wheat. In doing sq they helped oeate an environmen- tal tragedy. ln the mid-1930s, a drought strucle the region, and without the natural root system to keep the soil in place, high winds loosened the top soil and swiiled it into great dust clouds called “blatle blizzards.”As this article in Literary Digest made clear to its readers, the eontinued winds ureaked havoc in what became known as the Dust Bowl. Nearly 60 percent of the area’s population was driuen out, and many, called Okies. moved to cities on theWest Coast.


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