Themes in American History: Capitalism, Slavery, Democracy

Blog Post #4

In the reading of week 14 Lizbeth Cohen, “Culture : Segmenting the Mass, in the Consumer’s Republic , there were a few ideas that I found the most interesting. Although this reading goes pretty much in depth about mass consumption in general I found it really interesting how this all, (to my understanding) came to be known in the twentieth century.  I had initially thought that companies always sold to a target audience, but I was wrong since this reading showed that it was something that they learnt overtime. Instead of companies trying to sell a product that all people would want or that all people need they “ develop more store ‘personality,’ or ‘image,’ to fill a particular ‘niche’ in the marketplace,’ not try to be ‘all things to all people,” (Cohen 297). Which is a very smart business move. I essentially thought that it would be obvious because we are all different with opposed similarities like,  “ age group, income, education, geography, ethnic background, and use patterns,” (Cohen 297). Those differences can pretty much make or break a product. For example it wouldn’t be smart to be advertising an expensive product to a group of people with low incomes since they wouldn’t be able to afford it. In class, (December 8th lecture) we recently learned that during the twentieth century unemployment rates lowered and wages increased for all income groups which is really interesting to note because that could’ve been a result of market segmentation since, “the move from mass to market to segmented markets promised greater, steadier profits through expanding the pool of potential consumers,” (Cohen 298). The reading also hits some points more on the political side, but something I found most intriguing was that “market segmentation techniques were not only implemented in candidate campaigns in the 1960s and 1970s : they were also called on to help mobilize voters around controversial issues,” (Cohen 341). This all really just goes to show how capitalism has pretty much kept increasing and expanding in this country and probably will continue to do so. I think the most important and interesting thing I learned from this reading was that without us (consumers) this countries (and many others) economy would not be the same and that market segmentation has really helped the economy.

Analysis of Raunchway’s “Reflation and Relief”

Despite some of the challenges that Franklin Delano Roosevelts faced when drafting a plan to allow the United States economy to rebound from recession that plagued much of the 1930’s, he was successful in terms of his drafting the New Deal which was implemented in order to “make sure the Depression could not happen again.” This was the central argument that was presented in Raunchway’s Chapter 4, “Reflation and Relief,” which gave much credit to Roosevelt for lifting the United States out of the depression. A statistic that is presented that essentially gives credit to Roosevelt is that the “economy grew at averaged rates of around 8 to 10 percent a year” from 1933 to 1940 which was due to the obvious success of the New Deal. Raunchway presents some of the legislation that allotted success like the banking reforms and other legislation in order to aid the unemployed population that plagued the United States at the time. The empowerment of the Federal Reserve was a key example of this because with much of the blame being pointed at the banks, it was important for the government to step in and begin to stabilize and reopen the banks that had closed due to the depression. Roosevelt and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporations (FDIC) did this by decreasing the reliance of gold in the United States’ economy along with decreasing the amount of money in regulation. This undoubtedly aided the economy in terms of decreasing the value of a dollar which made it “easier for indebted farmers to pay their creditors” or in more universal terms it allowed for the people of the United States to be able to make a liveable income once again. While some of the didn’t become permanent, it was evident that the United States had begun to take a turn from a laissez-faire economic strategy to a larger government controlled economy as seen by the New Deal “had more than doubled federal spending” marking one of the most significant moments in the United States’ economic history.

Final blog post “Reflation and Relief”- Eric Rachway

 Through the excerpt of “The Great Depression and the New Deal: a very short introduction”  the hyperfocus of chapter 4 “reflation and relief” touches upon the thirty-second president Franklin D Roosevelt and his New Deal plan issued in 1933. In the text, Author Eric Rachway, an American historian, and professor at the University of California perceives this writing piece as an explicit informative response to the conjunction of the Great Depression. At the beginning of the text, Rachway introduces the abstract of the American economy during the great depression implanting Roosevelts immediate response of ‘fixing’ America’s economy stating “when Franklin Delano Roosevelt took the oath of office as president for the first time on March 4, 1933, every moving part in the machinery of the American economy had evidently broken. Banks, farms, factories, and trade had all failed.”(Rachway,1). In this sole quote, Rachway issues a foreshadow within Roosevelt’s presidency as “good president” issued the negatives when first in office. Further in the text, Rachway issues Roosevelts agenda as “grew by experiment” analyzing that Roosevelt offered a fresh new start in the aspiring American economy. Moreover, Rachway announces the drop in American unemployment stating “the American economy grew at averaged rates of around 8 to 10 percent a year. Likewise, unemployment fell dramatically from its unconscionable 1932 peak. If merely curing the immediate Depression were the only New Deal goal, its policies of relief and reflation might, pursued vigorously and consistently, have proved sufficient to the task, and their evident success had much to do with the electorate’s willingness to support Roosevelt”(Rachway,2). This particular statistic really struck out inciting the immediate response of Roosevelt’s presidency, moreover, the government statistic of the drop of unemployment is impressive [considering the knowledge of the downfall of unemployment during the era of the Great Depression]. 


In continuation in Roosevelt’s radical immediate ‘New Deal plan’, “Roosevelt began by recusing the banks”. Through the process of his ‘New Deal’, Roosevelt issued an immediate stop in banks using gold as currency, later on asking Congress to ratify his action on stopping gold transactions. This initiated an immediate shutdown, thus providing the reader immediate action President Roosevelt initiates. 


As a result, In Roosevelt’s New Deal, Many reforms would be passed in the essence of restoring America’s economy. Much of them as we know now in History known as the Trading with the enemy act, The banking act 1933, ect. Particularly what I have gained in this reading is the social engagement President Roosevelt has effortlessly shown within his first few months in his Presidency.

Blog Post #4- Rauchway’s Reflation and Relief

The reading Reflation and Relief by Rauchway describes how the United States managed to come back from the Great Depression using economic policies. Frank Delano Roosevelt took an approach that “was indeed to some degree part of American political tradition” (Isaiah Berlin, 1997) as he isolated the U.S. from the rest of the world. He didn’t pay much attention to overseas trade but focused on the “repair (of) finance, agriculture, and manufacturing” (Rauchway, Ch. 4). I was quite surprised to learn that Roosevelt managed to pull America out of the mud through policies that didn’t involve foreign affairs and wasn’t the only one as Berlin considered this approach as a “great social experiment.” 

The velocity of the economic change after the great depression shocked me. I was aware that the period after the great depression was one where the economy thrived, but I wasn’t aware that after the New Deal, the economy grew at rates of 8 to 10 percent a year and the unemployment rate drastically fell from its peak in 1932. All of this was completed in a matter of years. 

Overall the most interesting thing from this piece was the confidence that Americans had for Roosevelt. Nowadays we are used to a separation between the people and the President. Even if some may support the president, many do not. Due to this, seeing Roosevelt speaking on the radio, describing what he had done step by step and explaining the Emergency Bank Act surprised me because it showed the nation as one instead of as separate. Additionally, Roosevelt’s boldness in his policies allowed for such a rapid change. This also added to my knowledge about American history as Roosevelt’s decision to take the US Dollar off the gold standard was one that seemed unfathomable at the time. However, through his decision and other global issues with the gold standard, many countries began to get rid of this, changing the way currency was backed for a long time.

Overall Roosevelt helped take the United States out of the great depression through his bold policies and due to the support he received from the citizens of the United States. He helped boost the economy and backed out of the gold standard which subsequently caused many other countries to follow.


Blog Post #4

Rauchway talks about the FDR presidency and the effects of his work as president effected the United States. Reflation and Relief explains the pros and cons of FDR ideas and how it helped the US dig themselves out of the ditch that was the Great Depression. Due to FDR presidency beginning in the middle of the depression he had to act quickly and efficiently to gain the trust of the American people. At this point, the depression had torn the US economy down, affecting banks, factories, farms, and most profit from any business. During this time, the unemployment rate was at an all-time high having the rate peak at 25.9 percent. One of FDR contribution was the “New Deal” which was a way for FDR to communicate and show the public he was their president. Purposing new methods and way to drag the economy up. The New Deal started off with the bank system. FDR believed the first thing that needed to be fixed was the banking system and first thing he did was to stop the buying and selling in gold. In fact, FDR and such an impact in the first 100 days of presidency that moving forward to new presidents they were all given “100-day periodbecause of how great FDR was. Roosvelt continued to set up programs for the unemployed, homeless, and struggling citizens of America. For example, the Civilian Conservation Corps better known as “CCC.” This funded organization helped put thousands of men 18-35 in jobs. FDR also believed youth working could bring the US out of the depression so he created other organizations such as PWA and CWA. Although not every organization or plan worked out for FDR it still showed the American people, he was always willing to fight for them. 

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. 

Blog Post 4

       In the reading “Reflation and Relief ” what really had me analyzing was

how Franklin Delano Roosevelt inherited a fundamentally broken economy.

Well banks, farms, factories, and trade had all failed. Over the next few

years, “Reflation and Relie”’ tracked  the new President’s decisive, and

constitutionally problematic actions. In some way Roosevelt tried to fix the

finance, agriculture, andmanufacturing. But then again he would give less

attention to other stuff like “overseas economic affairs”. Roosevelt offered

the “new deal” which consisted of a fresh start but it stated “it was nothing

specific”. Roosevelt really affected people but in a bad way. In addition,

Roosevelt controversial Emergency Banking Act, which ended the gold

standard just days after he took office, his radio broadcast fireside chats to

reassure and communicate with the people, his formation of the Civilian

Conservation Corps to create jobs, and the massive sums he approved for 

relief and public works are just a few examples. The new deal which

Roosevelt was making people actually liked it because  a 1939 institute of

public opinion poll found that 28 percent of Americans picked “Relief and

the WPA,” making it the most popular New Deal measure.  (WPA) was a

program created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935 to boost

employment and the purchasing power of cash-strapped Americans.

Despite the controversy surrounding them, these measures were successful

in reviving the economy, government, and people of the United States.



Blog Post #4

In Lizabeth Cohen “A Consumers’ Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption” the first few pages explain how marketing changed and mass consumption of goods increased after World War II. Cohen quotes a sociologist and states “Americans were increasingly becoming consumers of politics”(332). Cohen also states that mass marketing techniques in the political environment were seen back in War World I with advertising techniques to get women out to vote. The marketing technique was just the beginning of something much bigger later in the years. For example the television helped Kennedy’s campaign. Where he reached voters and Cohen goes on to say that his physical attractiveness made female voters excited. 

The part that caught my attention was “Americans were increasingly becoming consumers of politics”(332). Cohen also states that Americans value “charisma and glamour over more rational self-interest”. To break this down I think she tried to say that Americans care more about how a politician presents themselves compared to what the politician has to offer. In recent years we saw this with Donald Trump where his supporters voted for him because he was Donald Trump, a businessman that owns a business and knows how to make money. He became president and made a lot of false accusations on different minorities. Republicans voted for a racist and gave him power to make major decisions just because he was Donald Trump. 

In the present time we see a lot of this where people give popularity and support to someone because of how they present themselves. As a society we need to look past the “glamor” and choose leaders who are going to help society prosper. These past few years with Covid impacted everyone and many unemployed. We yet to see what our current president is going to do about unemployment and businesses closing.

Blog post #4

Chapter 4 “Reflation and Relief” speaks about when President F.D. Roosevelt took office. Ruchway speaks about what came to pass throughout the precedence of F.D Roosevelt. For example, Ruchway spoke about the great depression which was already existent when Roosevelt took office. The great depression, as Ruchways categorizes it, was “every moving part in the machinery of the American economy had evidently broken. Banks, farms, factories, and trade had all failed.” (page 1.) The great depression started in  1929 and ended in 1939. When  Roosevelt took office he offered the “New Deal” which were programs and projects to restore prosperity in America. Richway refers to the “New Deal” as something that people didn’t really know how it functioned but that it was something that worked so it stuck. Ruchways spoke about the way that Roosevelt started to deal with the great depression and the first step was by trying to fix the problems with the bank. The banking act of 1933 was passed which separated commercial banking from investment banking. The Federal Emergency relief act was also passed which gave a grant of $500 instead of it being a loan to the people.

The change over time that Ruchway was describing in the reading was the before and after effect of the F.D. Roosevelt office. Ruchway Is describing how the Roosevelt office was able to end the great depression and the measures taken to end and ensure that there wouldn’t be another great depression. Ruchway explained that the changes took place through the New Deal which included the Banking act and the Relief grants as well as the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps.) These changes happened gradually. It affected many if not all of the American citizens  during that time, because it  was changing not only the lifestyles of many but also provided Jobs for men between 18-35 years old.

The question that I had as I read this chapter was, why was it that the men who could qualify for CCC had to be single? There were so many other men outside the ages 18-35 who didn’t have jobs, didn’t have a way to provide for their families. Yes I understand that there was a grant offered  to many of $500 but that’s nothing for a large family where both mother and father are unemployed. I would have liked for the author to have also  focused on the family aspect of the great depression, for Ruchway to have spoken with numbers and relief examples of such families who were struggling. Not Just the economic effect of the great depression. 

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.