History B GCSE AQA Unit 6 (6.3)

How far was the New Deal successful in ending the Depression in the USA?

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Effectiveness/limitations of the New Deal

  • 1933-35 Roosevelt persuaded Congress to pass loads of acts-
  • Unemployment was starting to fall and the economy was recovering
  • However, Roosevelt had criticism, from people who thought the government was doing too much and people who thought the opposite
  • Roosevelt made the Second New Deal, it kept the momentum of the first New Deal going
  • In 1936 Roosevelt was re-elected
  • However in 1937 when the unemployment figure was still at 6 million, Roosevelt became concerned at the extenet of government spending and debt and cut back on programmes
  • The result was alarming, the country went back into depression
  • By the winter of 1937-38 there were over 10 million unemployed
  • The government had to respond by increasing expenditure again
  • The New Deal provided economic recovery yet, in 1939 business was still 25 per cent less than in 1929
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  • Some critics said that the New Deal was not helping the poor enough, the Southern states were benefitting little and blacks least of all
  • One of Roosevelts opponents - Democratic Huey Long was from a poor background, was self-taught and spoke againt big businesses in favour of small ones
  • He was elected US Senate, he supported Roosevelt's New Deal but said it wasn't doing enough
  • Wanted all Americans with over $3 million to have their wealth confiscated and the money redistributed to the poor
  • He intended to run against Roosevelt in 1936, but was shot by a young white doctor
  • Others, mainly Republicans, complained the New Deal was doing too much
  • They said Roosevelt was behaving like a dictator
  • Roosevelt also had opposition in 1935 from judges in the Supreme Court
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Supreme Court opposition

  • Supreme Court ruled that some of the New Deal was illegal because Roosevelt's government had gone beyond what was allowed in the constitution
  • Various acts passed by Congress had restricted people's rights, e.g. the NRA
  • Roosevelt was furious
  • After his re-election he asked Congress to considder changing the number of judges from 9 to 15, with the excuse that there was a backlog of cases to be heard and the elderly judges could not cope
  • However this met a storm of protests, many from Democrats
  • After this, some of the nine judges modified their positions and no more New Deal measures were declared unconstitutional
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Impact of WW2

  • 1939, war started in Europe, many Americans wanted to stay neutral
  • Roosevelt realised this was not an option and increased spending on defence
  • Congress eventually agreed to allow countries to purchase goods, including weapons on a 'cash and carry' basis
  • In 1940, most of Western Europe had been captured by the Nazis and Churchill became Prime Minister of Britain
  • Roosevelt gave Britain 50 old destroyers in return Britain allowed the USA to use some of its bases in North and Central America for its own protection
  • In March 1941, Roosevelt got Congress to support the Lend-Lease programme (between USA and Britain during WW2 allowing Britain to obtain materials from the USA without cash payment, lasted from 1941-45)
  • America could no longer be neutral
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  • In December 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbour, the US air base in Hawaiian Islands
  • The USA declared war on Japan
  • Hitler supported Japan by declaring war on USA
  • Congress supported Roosevelt and declared war on Germany
  • 1939-41, US economy began to recover from 1937-38 Depression
  • Unemployment was still high
  • However 1942 - it fell to nearly zero
  • When war started there were 1,600,000 men in the armed services in 1945, there were 12 million
  • The Gross National Product (GNP) doubled between 1938-1944
  • Expaning industries needed for war meant taking on the laid-off workers
  • Encouraging migration of 1.6 million people from the southern states
  • The Depression was gone
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