Themes in American History: Capitalism, Slavery, Democracy

Blog Post #4 Ruchway

    In chapter 4 of “Reflation and Relief”, the author, Ruchway, describes how President Franklin D. Roosevelt attempted to make a difference during the Great Depression, by using his New Deal. The beginning of the text explains how when Roosevelt first became the president everything in the American economy failed. Ruchway states, “ Likewise, unemployment fell dramatically from its unconscionable 1932 peak (page 1)”. Because of this, Roosevelt began planning the New Deal in order to fix the economy both for the present and for the future. He begins this plan by rescuing the banks first and declaring the banks to stop the transactions in gold (page 1), in order to regain the economy. Many banks closed up during what was known as the bank holiday. Roosevelt asked Congress to ratify his action and on March 9, “the congress complied with the Emergency Banking Act” (page 1). As a result of this very effective act, banks renewed and opened up not so long after. Ruchway states, “ As one of his advisors, Raymond Moley, later wrote, as a result of the bank holiday, “Capitalism was saved in eight days.” Or at least a part of capitalism, anyway. (page 2)”. There were many more unemployment problems for people living during the Great Depression. To solve those problems, Roosevelt and congress supported different government administrations, one of them being the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). CCC was “chartered initially to provide work for men between the ages of 18 and 35”(page 5). Any unemployed man between the age of 18 and 35 could easily join the CCC and receive jobs that were done in order to “preserve the nation’s crops” (page 5). Those jobs included fixing and building things that were broken, such as bridges and sidewalks. There were other programs such as the PWA and CWA that Roosevelt believed would help young unemployed Americans beat the great depression, and some were more effective than others. Although some Americans were worried about the failure of these organizations because they “have worried about CCC’s quasi-military qualities and the potential for indoctrination of the nation’s youth in government-run camps.”(page 6), Roosevelt proved some of them to be effective in fighting the Great Depression and helping unite the citizens back together. Overall, the author, Ruchway, described many events to me that I have never learned about, and showed readers how Roosevelt attempted and partially succeeded in fixing the American economy by using different organizations.



One thought on “Blog Post #4 Ruchway”

  1. A fine summary. I wonder if you could situate what you have read in the Rauchway chapter in the context of U.S. political and economic history over the long term. Many critics at the time and since have accused FDR and the New Deal as being a kind of “socialism,” while others, like Moley, claimed that it “saved capitalism.” Which is the more accurate view?

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