What was FDR's role as President during the Great Depression and the New Deal? Were his New Deal measures positive or negative for the US in terms of economics, morale, or other aspects?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Historians disagree over whether President Franklin Roosevelt’s programs were economically successful.  However, there is a consensus that they were generally helpful in terms of improving the morale of the American people.

Many historians say that FDR’s New Deal policies brought America’s economy back from the depths of the Depression.  They say that the New Deal gave more jobs to more people as well as giving relief funds to people who could not get jobs.  By doing these things, the New Deal increased the amount of money that Americans had to spend.  When Americans had more money to spend, there was more demand for goods and services and more people had to be hired to meet that demand.

However, there are some who say that the New Deal really didn’t do that much.  They point out that the US economy did not get back to anywhere near pre-Depression levels until WWII brought a need for more weapons and other goods for the military.  They argue that the Depression could have ended sooner if FDR had not intervened as much as he did in the economy.  Examples of these arguments can be found in the link below.

Even though many historians do not think the New Deal was good economic policy, they do agree that it was good for the morale of the vast majority of Americans.  Americans had felt very discouraged because they felt President Hoover did not care enough about them to have the government do much to help.  When FDR took office, they felt that he was trying his hardest to help them.  This raised morale among average Americans.

In these ways, we can see that the New Deal was clearly positive for American morale while its effects on the economy are a more controversial issue.