What was FDR's role as President during the Great Depression and the New Deal? Write from a very opinionated/subjective point of view: you can support him, oppose him, or decide that his New Deal measures were both positive and negative for the U.S. in terms of economics, morale, or other aspects.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

During the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt (elected President in 1932) instituted many measures to help revive the economy, provide relief for Americans, and prevent a future economic crisis. Known collectively as the New Deal, these measures have been both praised and criticized.

When FDR first took office, he closed all the country's banks for several days to ensure that they were sound enough to reopen. As a result, people began to develop more confidence in what was a shattered banking industry, and he also instituted the FDIC, which insured depositors' money. Without these measures, people would not have had faith in the banking industry, as many banks had gone out of business since the stock market collapse in late 1929. 

Many historians praise FDR's efforts to rebuild the economy and shore up the nation's infrastructure though programs such as the Civilian Conversation Corps, which put people to work in national forests, or the Works Progress Administration, through which people built bridges, roads, tunnels, and other forms of infrastructure. These programs gave people jobs and wages to help to jumpstart a stalled economy in which approximately one-quarter of the workforce was unemployed.

Others criticize FDR's programs for increasing the size of the federal government through large expenditures on so-called entitlement programs such as Social Security, which still exists today to provide income for the elderly. They claim that he moved the U.S. economy too far towards socialism. While FDR's programs did not end the Great Depression--only spending on World War II in the 1940s did that--they did provide hope and some forms of relief, as well as programs that people still rely on today such as Social Security--to a weary and poor nation. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial