How did the Tennessee Valley Authority help?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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When historians look at the New Deal, they tend to say that it had programs that were aimed at three separate goals.  There were “relief” programs that were meant to help people who needed money immediately.  There were “recovery” programs to help the economy get back on its feet.  Finally, there were “reform” programs that were meant to ensure that the Depression could never happen again.  The TVA was a program that mixed recovery and reform.  It was meant to ensure that the region that it covered would become more economically productive and less prone to poverty.  In doing so, it was to help promote recovery by giving people jobs.

The main work of the TVA was building dams.  As the dams were being built, they provided jobs for large numbers of people.  This helped fight the Depression because it reduced unemployment and allowed more people to make money.  This work had a long-term purpose, however.  It was meant to ensure that the region could get electricity from the dams.  It was also meant to control flooding and make the river more navigable.  All of these things would make the Tennessee Valley more economically productive.

Thus, the TVA helped by providing people with jobs and by setting up infrastructure to improve the region’s economy in the long term. 

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