President Roosevelt was the representative of the liberal bourgeoisie. He was a staunch defender of capitalism, and his policy was aimed at preserving the system. Roosevelt certainly was against anything that could lead to a weakening of the economic and political power of the monopolies. During the period of his presidency, monopoly grew at an unprecedentedly rapid pace. Roosevelt’s policy received a close attention among scientists and politicians. Thus, Roosevelt’s “Social Security Act of 1935” is “one of the government’s largest programs” (Wallach 56). Wallach paid much attention to the Great Depression and Roosevelt’s New Dealthat played a significant role in the American history. Nevertheless, not all aspects of this period are studied in the course book U.S.A. History in Brief. Therefore, it is necessary to study primary sources in order to provide deep understanding of the subject.
Almost immediately after the victory in the presidential elections, Roosevelt pushed 70 legislative acts that were aimed at rehabilitation of industry, agriculture, trade, and monetary system. All these measures were named New Deal, the essence of which was to conduct a state-monopoly regulation of the economy. Moreover, Roosevelt found it necessary to make some significant concessions to the working class. He believed that the reason for the failure of democracy was insecurity and unemployment (Wallach 56). Therefore, Roosevelt provided changes to solve these issues. The policy of the New Deal helped overcome the crisis with minimal costs and consolidate its position. State-monopoly capitalism in the United States received further development. A function of economic regulation entrenched government policies. The policy of the New Deal resulted in the strengthening of the positions of the big bourgeoisie, which could be traced in all sectors of the economy. The most favorable impact of this policy was made on a group of the U.S. monopoly capital. The relevance of the study of Roosevelt’s policy consists in the fact that it was a period of prosperity of monopoly capital, which began to make unprecedented profits in the U.S. history. The paper will discuss Roosevelt's role in overcoming the period of Great Depression, New Deal, and his place in American history as well as elucidation of this topic in both course book and primary sources.
Roosevelt’s Role in Overcoming Great Depression
Roosevelt plaid a crucial role in the U.S. history due to his contribution to leading the country out of the crisis. In the beginning of the 20th century, the United States were among the leading countries in the world. Moreover, it was the most economically prosperous country. With the transition of industrial capitalism to the monopoly, the center of global economic development shifted from Europe to North America. The United States grew faster and produced more. Its share in world production increased steadily. The U.S. position strengthened after the First World War, in particular due to significant profits from the Triple Entente to supply arms and ammunition.
Nevertheless, the theory of prosperity was a great illusion. The reality reduced those expectations. The global economical crisis had the biggest influence on the United States. The crisis began in New York with a crash on the stock exchange. It embraced the banking system, industry, and agriculture. By its nature, it was the cyclical crisis of overproduction, when made products were not realized due to the lack of purchasing power. As a result, the process of social reproduction was disturbed. Many commercial and industrial and transport companies as well as banks went bankrupt. Roosevelt insisted that underproduction, overproduction, and speculation were causes for unbound inflation and disastrous deflation (“State of the Union 1937 - 6 January 1937”).
Roosevelt faced many problems in the employment sector. The inevitable consequence of cyclic crisis was a depravation of workers’ position. Their standard of living was sharply reduced. Panic-stricken people wanted to exchange banknotes for gold. In addition, the number of unemployed grew. Wages fell more than doubled. As a result, many people have lost homes. In the speech of 1937, Roosevelt analyzed the crisis and argued that the neglect of underprivileged people’s needs led to the difficulties in their adaptation (“State of the Union 1937 - 6 January 1937”).
Moreover, the president had to implement reforms in agrarian sphere as the industrial crisis was intertwined with the agrarian one. To curb the fall in prices and reduction of the supply of products, they were destroyed. Thus, wheat was burned in the furnaces of locomotives and steamships. Milk was poured into the water tank. What is more, one poured kerosene on potato and cotton fields. In the United States, the philosophy of American individualism was established. It meant non-state regulation of the economy that recognized its interference in the affairs of private business. Herbert Hoover, who became the 31st president, confined to the introduction of trade protectionism, assuming that the crisis would be overcome automatically. Meanwhile, the situation worsened.
In such adverse circumstances, in order to avoid bankruptcy, Hoover began to lend to banks, industry, and transport companies. The National Credit Corporation was created to cope with problems. Later, it was transformed into Reconstructive Financial Corporation (Wallach, 2010). The task of the bureau was to support the prices of agricultural products. Nevertheless, its activity was not successful and eventually led to the disruption of the market and subsequent destruction of farmers. Social conflicts continued to worsen.
Roosevelt’s New Deal
The period of the global economic crisis, which was ended by the victory of the forces of the alliance, was of cardinal importance in the history of humanity. The role of Roosevelt and his entourage in the definition and implementation of the principles of social and foreign policy strategy is rather crucial. This policy was aimed at preserving and strengthening economic as well as foreign policy positions of the United States. His name is also linked to one of the most important pages in the history of foreign policy and diplomacy of the United States, particularly the establishment of the normalization of diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and the U.S. involvement in the anti-Hitler coalition. Roosevelt performed a pivotal role in the formation and implementation of the New Deal that was the course of democratic orientation.
In 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected the U.S. president. By that time, the situation in the country had become critical. To change it, the extraordinary measures were needed. Roosevelt’s government implemented large-scale reform that that became known as Roosevelt’s New Deal (Wallach 56). Despite the fact that the New Deal was not deliberate advance system innovation, it is one of the most famous and effective reforms in history. Roosevelt implemented more reforms than he had promised in the election campaign.
The theoretical basis of the New Deal was learning of the famous English economist John Maynard Keynes. In conditions of profound changes in the economy under the rule of the capitalist monopolies, Keynes and his followers recognized the essential participation of the state in regulating economic life. Therefore, the main purpose of the reform was to active state intervention in the process of social reproduction. Roosevelt considered national security as a priority in his policy: “Among our objectives I place the security of the men, women, and children of the Nation first” (“State of the Union 1935 - 4 January 1934”).
During the first inaugural address of 1933, Roosevelt argued that the American Constitution was so practical and simple that it was possible to encounter extraordinary demands without losing essential form (“First Inaugural Address, Saturday, March 4, 1933”). This speech is memorable due to the criticism of the psychology and essence of the Great Depression. Roosevelt practically declared war on the crisis.
Programs and measures of Roosevelt’s plan brought a number of positive changes in people’s lives. They included the insurance of bank accounts, new rules for the stock market, formation of unions for protection of the workers’ unions, providing financial aid for farmers, hiring people for planting trees, cleaning up waterways, and the constructions of dams and bridges. By and large, “The Social Security system helped the poor, disabled, and elderly” (Wallach 56). Roosevelt’s concern of farmers’ affairs is clearly presented in his speech of 1938. He argued that national life rested on two producing forces: industry and agriculture (“State of the Union 1938 - 3 January 1938”).
Denying the policy of crude individualism, Roosevelt hoped to overcome the crisis by planning management, imposing order in the country, and establishing good relations with neighboring countries. Along with course reading, the policy of neighborhood is discussed in Roosevelt’s Speech of 1940. In this speech, he argued that “there is a true public belief that the United States has been, and will continue to be, a potent and active factor in seeking the reestablishment of world peace” (“State of the Union 1940 - 3 January 1940”). Moreover, the speech presented Roosevelt’s plans on world trade, national defense, and solution of unemployment problem.
In the course book, there is no information about Roosevelt’s attitude to religion. However, it is crucial to study this aspect, as it is an important characteristic of president’s policy. In Roosevelt’s speech of 1939, he paid much attention to the role of religion in public affairs. He insisted that religion was a source of “democracy and international good faith” (“State of the Union 1939 - 4 January 1939”). The president believed that religion gave a man a sense of dignity and respect to his or her neighbors. Roosevelt argued that religion, good faith, and democracy complemented and supported each other (“State of the Union 1939 - 4 January 1939”).
Along with political changes, Roosevelt promoted transformation in ecological sphere. These reforms were represented by the creation of Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) that means a program of public employment of the unemployed people under the New Deal. It was focused mainly on the conservation of natural resources. In Radio Address on the Third Anniversary of CCC, Roosevelt stated that “projects which benefit both the nation’s youth and conservation generally.” This radio address was written in order to justify CCC as a successful experiment in Roosevelt’s New Deal. As reforms of CCC are not depicted in the course book, Roosevelt’s speech depends the understanding of its activity. Roosevelt regarded the conservation as a concern of the federal government.
The politics of Roosevelt embodied the features of liberal-reformist variant (Wallach, 2010). The most important instrument of his policy was the state budget, by means of which financing expanded reproduction and social programs were carried. As a result of the policy of New Deal, the position of the big bourgeoisie was strengthened. It was traced in all economic sectors, namely industry, banking, and agriculture. The concentration of production and the banks intensified. The most favorable implications were for leading groups of American monopoly capital.
Roosevelt’s reforms represent a great interest as they struggled with the Great Depression and brought about positive changes in the American society. The Great Depression, its reasons as well as Roosevelt’s policy and strategy of the New Deal, are clearly presented in the course book U.S.A. History in Brief. Nevertheless, in order to understand a full picture of Roosevelt’s intentions and plans, it is necessary to study the primary sources. Roosevelt’s addresses and speeches provide wider representation of Roosevelt’s reforms, offering a possibility for better understanding Roosevelt’s role in the American history.
As for the New Deal, it should be noted that it matched the historical era of allegations of state-monopoly capitalism and reflected the trend of the U.S. economy transition. Through an active regulatory role of the state, the country was able to overcome the crisis. The political activity of the workers, farmers, urban petty bourgeoisie, and the black people forced Roosevelt to show flexibility, to maneuver, and accommodate the interests of various strata of the population and make concessions to workers.
Thus, Roosevelt’s role in the formation and implementation of the New Deal in the country, the course of democratic orientation, which played a prominent role in the stabilization of the economic and social situation in the country in the aftermath of a deep economic crisis of 1929 - 1934 years, cannot be overestimated. Roosevelt showed himself to be an extraordinary and flexible politician, who could guess the right trend and respond to the changes in the mood of all segments of the society promptly and accurately. Roosevelt did everything to maintain and develop the existing socio-economic system in the country and strengthen a dominant position of the United States around the world. Roosevelt, in contrast to many other presidents, has always remained sober and pragmatic politician.