ТОП 10:

The Great Depression and the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt.



1929- Great crush on the Wall Street. It was the beginning of the great economic crisis- The Great Depression. 1932 – The crisis was at its high (17 mln unemployed). The government couldn’t cope with this crisis and the democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president (1933). The first attempt of introducing of public sector into the economic life of the USA (until then – totally controlled by private business under “The New Deal”). Banks received government support, industrial enterprises – subsidies; farmers were given subsidies too in order to restrict production. Farm surpluses (излишки) were purchased by the government. Public works (предприятия) provided work for the unemployed (electric power-stations in the Tennessee Valley). These measures were introduced by Franklin D. Roosevelt and his advisers (The Brains Trust). “The New Deal” reduced unemployment to 8 mln.people. It also included social and labor reforms. Unemployment relief (пособия), old age and disability pensions, more rights to trade unions to negotiate with their employers.

Franklin D. Roosevelt became very popular. The only president who served 3 successive terms and was elected to a 4-th, but he died in April 1945. He was president 1932 – 1945. He was a liberal who played a very important role in history and under his administration in 1933 diplomatic relations were established between The Soviet Union and the USA.

Although the United States had experienced several depressions before the stock market crash on October 27, 1929, none had been as severe nor as long lasting before "Black Thursday" struck Wall Street. At first, economists and leaders thought this was a mild bump, perhaps merely a correction of the market, or in any case, no worse than the recession the nation suffered after World War I.

Numbers soon proved the optimists incorrect. The depression steadily worsened. By spring of 1933, when FDR took the oath of office, unemployment had risen from 8 to 15 million (roughly 1/3 of the non-farmer workforce) and the gross national product had decreased from $103.8 billion to $55.7 billion. Forty percent of the farms in Mississippi were on the auction block on FDR's inauguration day. Although the depression was world wide, no other country except Germany reached so high a percentage of unemployed. The poor were hit the hardest. By 1932, Harlem had an unemployment rate of 50 percent and property owned or managed by blacks fell from 30 percent to 5 percent in 1935. Farmers in the Midwest were doubly hit by economic downturns and the Dust Bowl. Schools, with budgets shrinking, shortened both the school day and the school year. The breadth and depth of the crisis made it the Great Depression. No one knew how best to respond to the crisis. President Hoover believed the dole would do more harm than good and that local governments and private charities should provide relief to the unemployed and homeless. By 1931, some states began to offer aid to local communities. FDR, then governor of New York, worked with Harry Hopkins and Frances Perkins to begin a direct work relief program. This helped only a very few. By 1932, only 1/4 of unemployed families received any relief. In 1932, only 1.5 percent of all government funds were spent on relief and averaged about $1.67 per citizen. Cities, which had to bear the brunt of the relief efforts, teetered on the edge of bankruptcy. By 1932, Cook County (Chicago) was firing firemen, police, and teachers (who had not been paid in 8 months). Breadlines and Hoovervilles (homeless encampments) appeared across the nation.

Those hurt the most were more stunned than angry. Many sank into despair and shame after they could not find jobs. The suicide rates increased from 14 to 17 per 100,000. Protest that did occur was local, not national: "farm holidays," neighbors of foreclosed farmers refusing to bid on farms at auction, neighbors moving evicted tenants' furniture back in, and local hunger marches. Resistance to protest often turned violent. In 1932, four members of the Dearborn hunger march were shot and killed when 1,000 soldiers accompanied by tanks and machine guns evicted veterans living in the Bonus Army camp in Washington, D.C.

FDR, after assuming the presidency, promoted a wide variety of federally funded programs aimed at restoring the American economy, helping relieve the suffering of the unemployed, and reforming the system so that such a severe crisis could never happen again. However, while the New Deal did help restore the GNP to its 1929 level and did introduce basic banking and welfare reforms, FDR refused to run up the deficits that ending the depression required. Only when the federal government imposed rationing, recruited 6 million defense workers (including women and African Americans), drafted 6 million soldiers, and ran massive deficits to fight World War II did the Great Depression finally end.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) was President of the United States from 1933 to 1945, the only President to be reelected three times. As Governor of New York (1929-1932), he ran for President by promising a "New Deal" for the American people. Relief programs, measures to increase employment and to aid industrial and agricultural recovery from the Great Depression, marked Roosevelt's time in office. Americans who lived through the Depression had passionate feelings about Roosevelt. He has been both venerated as a national savior and vilified as a socialist who craved greater federal power. For one, the two candidates disagreed on Prohibition, Roosevelt advocating a repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment (which had outlawed the manufacture and sale of alcohol since 1919). But Prohibition was small potatoes compared to the issue of unemployment and the role of government in aiding the economy.

FDR stand for: Strong stand on public power ; Promised to reduce federal expenses; Promised to balance the budget

Roosevelt did not explain how the government could both aid the public and balance its own books while operating on a reduced budget, but the American public trusted him. On Election Day in 1932, 57.4% of the electorate voted for Roosevelt (or, perhaps more accurately, cast their ballots against Hoover).

How FDR defined himself: Democrat with a capital D; Christian with a capital C; Wilsonian in international affairs; Gentleman Roosevelt was most committed to being well-liked and to getting ahead. He was charming and very successful in using radio to bring his message to the American public, making him the first modern media President. FDR also understood his own limitations as a man of ideas, so he chose well-qualified intellectuals and business people for his staff. This so-called "Brain Trust" included such luminaries as Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, who graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1902 and was the first female cabinet member in United States history. Like his distant cousin, Theodore Roosevelt, FDR knew what the public would and would not accept. FDR was a pragmatic politician, not an intellectual or an idealist. He culled his policies from the suggestions of members of his "Brain Trust," based on which seemed most politically viable. One example of FDR's pragmatic use of the presidency--and of the public's faith in their leader--was the National Bank Holiday. By the time he came to office, 5,000 banks had failed and 47 of the 48 states had declared "bank holidays," stopping some or all bank activity. Some liberal members of Congress wanted FDR to nationalize the banks, but FDR had no intention of taking such a radical step. Instead, he declared a "national bank holiday," closing all banks, purportedly in order to give inspectors time to review their solvency. FDR declared that only those banks in sound financial health, those which had passed inspection, would be allowed to reopen. Most banks were only closed for ten days, so, of course, only a very few were actually investigated. Nonetheless, when the banks reopened, the American public entrusted them with their money once more, which actually made the banks solvent. Merely by restoring public confidence in the banking system of America, Roosevelt saved it at no cost to bankers or to the government.







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