The New Deal

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What was the New Deal? What were its three Rs and their impacts?

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What was the New Deal?The New Deal is a term used to describe a broad series of experimental, socially liberal laws and programs that were designed to get people back to work during Great Depression. The New Deal was a project of President Franklin D. Roosevelt that was enacted...

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between 1933 and 1938. 

What were the three Rs, and what did each of them do?

Franklin D. Roosevelt described the New Deal using three Rs: Relief, Recovery and Reform. The three Rs represented the three primary goals of Roosevelt's plan to help the U.S. recover from the Great Depression.

  • Relief: Provide money to out-of-work Americans to be spent on food and housing. This relief came in the form of temporary housing, and the Public Works Administration, which helped to undercut unemployment by putting people to work on useful structures, such as government buildings and infrastructure. The theory was that jobs result in money, and more money in circulation results in a more stable economy.
  • Recovery: Create programs that restore the United States economy to a healthy condition. One of the primary recovery programs was the National Recovery Administration (NRA), whose goal was to establish fair market practices in industry and mitigate competition to keep inflation at bay. Recovery also included programs within the housing sector that were designed to make it possible for more individuals to purchase homes. 
  • Reform: Enact legislation to stabilize the American economy. Roosevelt believed that the depression had been caused by an unstable economy. The Reform facet of the New Deal sought to stabilize the economy through government regulation. During this phase, several important U.S. agencies and programs were developed, including the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Social Security System, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
Who did the New Deal help?    The goal of the New Deal was to mend the United States during the Great Depression. During that time, both the people and the economy suffered. Roosevelt's New Deal had programs that helped unemployed individuals and stabilized the U.S. economy.  
Who did it not help? Why not? Be specific, give examples.   One of the primary faults of the New Deal was how brutally it discriminated against African-American people. During that time, Democrats held the majority in Congress. It was the time of the Jim Crow South, and Southern Democrats were still extremely racist. To pass any New Deal legislation in Congress, Roosevelt needed the support of those racist Southern Democrats. Roosevelt prioritized his reform over civil rights, letting many racist bills pass so that he could remain in favor of Congress and get his bills passed.

Many programs, such as the National Recovery Administration, offered jobs to white people first, then when they finally did offer employment to African-Americans, offered them at a lower pay scale. Under the New Deal's agricultural program (the Agricultural Adjustment Administration) white land owners would make more money if they left their fields fallow. These policies forced African-American sharecroppers off the land in great numbers. More than 100,000 African-Americans were forced off the land (and thus put out of work) between 1933 and 1934.  Additionally, the Federal Housing Authority restricted the neighborhoods in which African-Americans could guarantee a mortgage, and various public works programs maintained segregated work camps. Unfortunately, there are many examples of African-Americans either being offered less, or being excluded entirely from the benefits of the New Deal. Much of their exclusion and suffering occurred because Roosevelt allowed it to happen, as he feared losing support in Congress.
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