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The New Deal was a sweeping package of public works projects, federal regulations, and financial system reforms enacted by the U.S. federal government in an effort to help the nation survive and recover from the Great Depression of the 1930s. The New Deal programs created jobs and provided financial support for the unemployed, the young, and the elderly, as well as adding safeguards and constraints to the banking industry and monetary system.
Mostly enacted during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt between 1933 and 1938, the New Deal was implemented through legislation enacted by Congress and presidential executive orders. The programs addressed what historians call the “3 Rs” of dealing with the depression, Relief, Recovery, and Reform-relief for the poor and jobless, recovery of the economy, and reform of the nation's financial system to safeguard against future depressions.
The Great Depression, which lasted from 1929 to 1939, was the largest and most significant economic depression to affect both the United States and all Western countries. The stock market crash on Oct. 29, 1929, is infamously known as Black Tuesday and was the worst stock market decline in the history of the United States. Heavy speculation during the rising economy of the 1920s combined with widespread buying on margin (borrowing a large percentage of the cost of investment) were factors in the crash. It marked the beginning of the Great Depression.
To Act or Not to Act
Herbert Hoover was the sitting U.S. president when the stock market crash occurred in 1929, but he felt that the government should not take stringent action to deal with heavy losses by investors and the subsequent effects that rippled throughout the economy.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected in 1932, and he had other ideas. He worked to create numerous federal programs through his New Deal to help those who were suffering the most from the Depression. Besides programs built to directly help those affected by the Great Depression, the New Deal included legislation intended to correct the situations that led to the stock market crash of 1929. Two prominent actions were the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, created in 1934 to be a watchdog over the stock market and police dishonest practices. The SEC is one of the New Deal programs still in effect today. Here are the top 10 programs of the New Deal.
Updated by Robert Longley01of 10
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)FPG/Archive Photos/Getty Images
The Civilian Conservation Corps was created in 1933 by FDR to combat unemployment. This work relief program had the desired effect, providing jobs for many thousands of Americans during the Great Depression. The CCC was responsible for building many public works projects and created structures and trails in parks across the nation that are still in use today.
Civil Works Administration (CWA)
New York Times Co./Hulton Archive/Getty Images
The Civil Works Administration was also created in 1933 to create jobs for the unemployed. Its focus on high-paying jobs in the construction sector resulted in a much greater expense to the federal government than originally anticipated. The CWA ended in 1934 in large part because of opposition to its cost.03of 10
Federal Housing Administration (FHA)Federal Housing Administration/Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images
The Federal Housing Administration is a government agency that FDR established in 1934 to combat the housing crisis of the Great Depression. A large number of unemployed workers combined with the banking crisis resulted in a situation in which banks recalled loans and people lost their houses. The FHA was designed to regulate mortgages and housing conditions; today it still plays a major role in the financing of houses for Americans.
Federal Security Agency (FSA)Photo by Roger Smith/PhotoQuest/Getty Images
The Federal Security Agency, established in 1939, was responsible for oversight of several important government entities. Until it was abolished in 1953, it administered Social Security, federal education funding, and the Food and Drug Administration, which was created in 1938 with the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.05of 10
Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC)Library of Congress
The Home Owners' Loan Corporation was created in 1933 to assist in the refinancing of homes. The housing crisis created a great many foreclosures, and FDR hoped this new agency would stem the tide. In fact, between 1933 and 1935 one million people received long-term, low-interest loans through the agency, which saved their homes from foreclosure.
National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA)Harris & Ewing Collection/Library of Congress
The National Industrial Recovery Act was designed to bring the interests of working-class Americans and business together. Through hearings and government intervention the hope was to balance the needs of all involved in the economy. However, the NIRA was declared unconstitutional in the landmark Supreme Court case Schechter Poultry Corp. v. the United State. The Supreme Court ruled that the NIRA violated the separation of powers.
Public Works Administration (PWA)Library of Congress
The Public Works Administration was a program created to provide economic stimulus and jobs during the Great Depression. The PWA was designed to create public works projects and continued until the U.S. ramped up wartime production for World War II. It ended in 1941.08of 10
Social Security Act (SSA)Library of Congress
The Social Security Act of 1935 was designed to combat widespread poverty among senior citizens and to aid the disabled. The government program, one of the few parts of the New Deal still in existence, provides income to retired wage earners and the disabled who have paid into the program throughout their working lives via a payroll deduction. The program has become one of the most popular government programs ever and is funded by current wage earners and their employers. The Social Security Act evolved from the Townsend Plan, an effort to establish government-funded pensions for the elderly led by Dr. Francis Townsend.09of 10
Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)Library of Congress
The Tennessee Valley Authority was established in 1933 to develop the economy in the Tennessee Valley region, which had been hit extremely hard by the Great Depression. The TVA was and is a federally owned corporation that still works in this region. It is the largest public provider of electricity in the United States.10of 10
Works Progress Administration (WPA)Library of Congress
The Works Progress Administration was created in 1935. As the largest New Deal agency, the WPA affected millions of Americans and provided jobs across the nation. Because of it, numerous roads, buildings, and other projects were built. It was renamed the Works Projects Administration in 1939, and it officially ended in 1943.