Themes in American History: Capitalism, Slavery, Democracy

Blog Post #4 Rauchway

In the fourth chapter of his book, Rauchway notes that the American economy is “clearly broken” and explains how President Franklin D Roosevelt handled the economic crisis. FDR’s plan to solve this crisis was called the ‘New Deal’. Roosevelt’s plans and programs such as the Emergency Banking Act which forced banks to stop transactions and gold. Later on, Roosevelt increased the value of gold and it “put American banks in a much more stable position, increasing the money supply to the American economy.” President Roosevelt also declared bank holidays, all of his efforts were acknowledged and as a result “Capitalism was saved in 8 days”. To decrease unemployment rates and to give young men meaningful jobs, congress created the Civilian Conservative Corps (CCC).  “A young man could join the CCC, sign over a significant chunk of his wages to his family, and head out for a camp,” the corps was also beneficial because it focused on preserving the nation’s crops and forest (page 5). These new changes gave Americans hope and peace of mind in hopes of never having an economic crisis again. 

History seems to be repeating itself in recent years, because of the pandemic America was in an economic crisis, it may not have been as big as the great depression but to some families it was. We know receiving government aid as stimulus checks and I wondered if the same idea and method were used during the Great Depression. Through research, I found that in the New Deal plan President Roosevelt did give out direct cash grants or loans to individuals, firms, and local governments (David C. Wheelock). Our former President Trump and Current President Biden may have used the New Deal plan as a guide or suggestion as to how they should rebuild the American economy and can see what worked and did not and what changes they could make to make it practical and effective in today’s society. 

One thought on “Blog Post #4 Rauchway”

  1. Great—I’m impressed that you did some additional research to determine whether direct payments were part of the New Deal, something Rauchway says FDR tried to avoid (why, by the way?). I think there’s no doubt that Pres. Biden’s approach to the economic crisis caused by the pandemic is informed by the New Deal, although it’s less clear with ex-Pres. Trump. Regardless, the salient question may be whether the approaches that worked then (debatably) will work now, in an economy transformed by globalization and deindustrialization, among other factors.

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