Lecture Guide Part II (covers second half of course for the Final Exam) Franklin D. Roosevelt and the First New Deal, 1933-1935
Milo Reno’s Farmer’s Holiday Movement reflected the anger of the nation’s small family farmers. To deal with their problem and those of other groups, FDR assembled a brain trust composed of Adolf Berle, Raymond Moley, Rexford Guy Tugwell, Bernard Baruch, and others. Within days of taking office, he signed the Emergency Banking Act and had a “fireside chat” with the American people urging them to put their savings back in the banks.
See the New Deal course handout for a brief discussion of the provisions of each New Deal law and program!
Harry Hopkins disagreed with FDR over whether to try to give federal aid (a job or money) to every unemployed person in the nation. FDR preferred to give only some aid and to route it thru local politicians rather than directly thru Hopkins’ agency. Millions of public works jobs were created, and even little Las Vegas got many helpful projects that sparked the local economy and encouraged growth. Conservatives charged that the New Deal resembled the national economic planning of the Soviet Union and Hitler’s Fascism in Germany. Many of the New Deal’s programs borrowed from the new economic ideas of British economist John Maynard Keynes. But how much did Keynesian economics permeate the New Deal? Didn’t the New Deal really try to save capitalism and the upper classes? What did the poor really get from FDR? Did the New Deal really end the Depression? What is the Libertarian view of the New Deal? Today’s conservative historians fault the Federal Reserve Board for worsening the Depression.
The First New Deal has been called the “Broker State.” It was dominated by AAA and NRA planning. Why did these programs not totally succeed, and why were they eventually declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court? Wasn’t the First New Deal a “practical not idealistic” program designed to help capitalists (FHA, HOLC) and get Roosevelt reelected? The effect of the New Deal on tenant farmers, African Americans, Okies, and migrant farm workers was minimal.
The Second New Deal, 1935-1938
Aside from the Republicans, FDR’s opponents in 1935-36 were an elderly California physician--Dr. Francis Townsend, Fr. Charles Coughlin (of Royal Oak, Michigan), and Sen. Huey Long of Louisiana—“Share the Wealth.” Conservatives attacked FDR’s national planning as “bolshevist.” But he won the 1936 election handily, defeating Republican Alf Landon as well as Wm. Lemke (Huey Long’s party) and Socialist Norman Thomas. After the Supreme Court (at the behest of the US Chamber of Commerce and other business groups) declared both the AAA and NRA unconstitutional, FDR turned somewhat against business and pushed the “Second New Deal” which historians have called the “Guarantor State.” He pushed legislation that guaranteed more rights to workers such as: Social Security, the Wagner Act, and the Fair labor standards Act. He also engaged in trustbusting and supported the Public Utilities Holding Act and the Wealth Tax Act as well as a second AAA to control production. He also pushed a Supreme Court packing scheme, which cost him much national support but encouraged several conservative justices to retire. After that, very few New Deal programs were declared unconstitutional. In his second term, FDR did more for poor farmers and for conservation by signing the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act, the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenancy Act, and approving public housing and more urban renewal for ghetto areas of cities.
An anti-New Deal coalition formed by 1937 that limited further New Deal initiatives. Four “little TVA” dam were blocked in Congress and the Tax Act of 1937 largely reversed the Wealth Tax Act. The 2nd AAA barely passed in 1938. The New Deal was further slowed by FDR’s attacks on business and the Supreme Court, by the recession of 1937, and by Roosevelt’s attempted purging of maverick Democrats like Sen. Pat McCarran of Nevada. FDR helped cause the 1937 recession, in John Maynard Keynes’ view, by cutting welfare spending to try and win the 1936 election. Also Social Security began in 1936 and took millions of dollars in salary deductions out of the income stream.
Effects of the New Deal-- There was a great increase in federal power. Also, the New deal institutionalized workers’ rights, it liberalized credit, and it established FHA-mortgage guarantees, farm subsidies, the Welfare State, Keynesian economics, urban renewal, public housing, federal dams, and federal regulation of oil, gas, and other industries, etc.—until President Ronald Reagan restored supply-side economics in the 1980s.
“Frontier America Challenged: Depression and New Deal in the West.”
As northeastern and Midwestern industry declined after 1929, western mining, oil drilling, farms, and ranches declined with it. The demand for Pacific fish and lumber also declined. As revenues fell, western governors slashed budgets and fired teachers and policemen, etc. to try and balance their budgets. President Hoover, a westerner, vetoed the McNary-Haugen Bill designed to subsidize farmers. Hoover also vetoed Colorado Senator Ed Costigan’s jobs bill in 1932.
Traditionally, the West symbolized opportunity, so thousands of jobless Joads came West, but California agriculture was highly mechanized and needed less labor. California police stopped the unemployed trying to enter Calif. at the state line. The police also tried to crush migrant farm worker strikes like the Salinas Lettuce Strike of 1936.
The Northwest attracted many Okies because the region had more family farms with less mechanization. The Southwest also attracted Okies as well as Mexicans. This occurred as Dixie and the Great Plains cut jobs because of the mechanization of agriculture and the boll weevil infestation, which drove millions of poor workers and farmers westward.
The New Deal in the West- As historian Frederick Jackson Turner noted, the federal government (with railroad and land subsidies, etc.) had always helped the West. So, the New Deal was merely the latest chapter in a long story. The West at first eagerly sought New Deal funding, and created agencies to get it much faster than states in New England. (Vermont even paid back the US government for all the aid it got!).The West embraced federal loans and had long sought federally-built dams. On the other hand, the region also had a long history of individualism (the pioneer spirit). Eventually, western employers resisted eastern ideas about workers’ rights (e.g. minimum wage, right to form unions) and FDR’s female Secretary of Labor, Frances Perkins. The West got the most money per capita (pr person) of any region but eventually turned against FDR.
Escape from Reality: Popular Culture in the 1930s—
This is a short lecture. First, see the handout listing the major literary works and films. The Federal Theater and the Actor’s Studio in New York City emphasized proletarian themes in their plays. These included the capitalist rape of the land, ruthless exploitation of workers, and family and individual crises caused by unemployment and poverty, etc. Some Hollywood films (esp. those of Frank Capra) celebrated American courage and resiliency in the face of poverty. See also the escapism of Laurel & Hardy and Walt Disney’s fantasies.
Isolationism under Fire: American Foreign Policy, 1929-1939
Hoover’s Foreign Policy, 1929-33--Protectionism and war debt collection by the US weakened our Allies. America’s 1929 stock market crash also hurt allies around the world because capitalism is an interconnected economic system. But the US under FDR also insisted on payment of WWI debts. The Johnson Act of 1934 banned further US loans to nations that stopped paying war debts. The London Naval Conference of 1930 did little to promote arms control. Japan got parity in submarines. Hoover’s Secretary of State Henry Stimson ignored land disarmament and only focused on navies, committing the same mistake as his predecessors. This policy only helped Germany and Japan. In 1933, Germany left the World Disarmament Conference and began to re-arm. No one stopped them. There was no pressure by the League of Nations or by the US for nations (esp. Germany and Japan) to obey the limits stipulated in the Washington Naval Treaty. In 1931, Japan invaded Chinese Manchuria and no one stopped the. The Lytton Commission only investigated. The Stimson Doctrine was merely a paper bullet.
Franklin Roosevelt’s Foreign Policy, 1933-1939
FDR and Hitler both took office in 1933. German Socialists and Communists never viewed Hitler as a threat until it was too late. FDR was largely preoccupied with the New Deal and depression. FDR largely ignored the London Economic Conference of 1933, which sought an international solution to the world depression. In contrast, FDR pushed economic nationalism and bought up gold and silver, although he signed the Trade Agreements Act to lower the tariff. FDR established diplomatic relations with Russia by recognizing the Soviet Union, which Woodrow Wilson and Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover would not do. US industrialist Armand Hammer helped Roosevelt and supported the Roosevelt-Litvinoff Agreement of 1933. FDR also continued Hoover’s “Good Neighbor Policy” in Latin America. FDR also went along with the Clark Memorandum (1928); FDR revoked the Platt Amendment. Hoover took the marines out of Nicaragua, and FDR pulled them out of Haiti. FDR renounced intervention in Latin American affairs and the Olney Doctrine.
In the 1930s, the peace movement grew and merged with Isolationism. FDR met with the Nye Committee and he encouraged passage of the Neutrality Acts, which he would later regret. FDR slowly retreated from isolationism in the late 1930s. Nevertheless, he approved the Munich giveaway of the Sudentenland to Hitler, but was later concerned about the Czech takeover. The 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact was a surprise as was Hitler’s invasion of Poland. The “Panay Affair” in China epitomized FDR’s hesitant approach to aggression. The 1939 Ludlow Amendment almost passed Congress and symbolized the continuing strength of Isolationism.
Hitler saw that the US would not halt his aggression, so he attacked Poland on September 1, 1939. England and France soon declared war and Russia, Italy and Germany declared war, too. The US started as an observer of WWII. From 1939 until the attack on Pearl Harbor (Dec. 7, 1941), the US moved slowly to prepare for war. FDR established the War Resources Board to plan for the war. But once Germany beat France, Roosevelt had to greatly increase the amount of planes needed to defend England. FDR planned “by fits and starts” in a very chaotic way. GM and, Ford, and other war contractors initially preferred to stay with the known domestic market and had to be lured into war production with tax breaks and subsidies. However, FDR smartly invited Republicans into his cabinet (including Henry Stimson) to create bipartisan support for war preparedness. As with the domestic New Deal, Roosevelt preferred to establish multiple agencies rather than one super agency with a powerful head that might rival him. The result was a poor management structure with many overlapping jurisdictions. He created the War Labor Board, the War Production Board, the Office of Price Administration, etc.
US participation in WWII after Pearl harbor again forced the government to dramatically revise all of its production estimates upward. The government worked with the universities to develop SONAR and the atomic bomb. The war was very expensive. Congress expanded the income tax in 1942 so that the middle and lower classes would pay, too. There was much borrowing (issuing of war bonds) and the national debt was dramatically increased. The federal government instituted price (although food prices largely escaped this for awhile) and wage, and rent controls. A black market soon developed for many goods. Unlike the New Deal, WWII resulted in little redistribution of income from rich to poor. Actually, the reverse occurred. There were few strikes, few wage increases, and lots of shortages of cigarettes and food. The war required much sacrifice from the lower classes who ccontributed most of the combat soldiers and sailors. WWII especially helped American farmers who fed Europe, the soldiers, and the American people and made a lot of money. John L. Lewis’ United Mine Workers’ strikes were considered unpatriotic. But some workers (including those in Lewis’ union) got up to a 15% raise (the little Steel formula) during the war.
FDR rounded up Bundists but gave conscientious objectors other work. He sent Japanese Americans living on the West Coast to detention camps. Nissei and Issei were loyal Americans who lost land and businesses during the war. But the US Supreme Court’s Korematsu vs. US ruling favored FDR.
Propaganda- FDR had to sell the war to the American people. He established the Office of War Information. Hollywood cooperated, too. Roosevelt signed the Atlantic Charter that contained the Four Freedom—ideals that he felt we should fight for. FDR did not not enforce black employment upon defense contractors nor did Roosevelt fight for most of the remaining New deal programs after Pearl Harbor. He now courted big business and did not want to fight with executives. To please the corporations, he ceased trust-busting. On the other hand, corporate executives in the Administration got used to the New Deal, and Big Business finally began to accept the Welfare State.
Domestic Life on the Home Front, 1941-1945 is a relatively short lecture. Wendell Wilkie (1940) and Thomas E. Dewey (1944) who lost to Roosevelt in his 3r and 4th presidential elections and the Republican Party eventually accepted a watered down version of the New Deal called “The Dime Store New Deal” in wartime. Republicans keep the pressure on to cut New Deal spending, but the old laissez-faire was dead in Europe and the US.
There was much fear on the Home Front early in the war, but the threat of coastal attack ended in 1943. There were shortages of goods, many postponed babies, wives (and even some mothers) had to work in war plants, so there were a lot of “latch key” kids. There were many upbeat movies made in Hollywood but also many tear-jerkers. Loneliness and insecurity about the future were rampant. Racial tensions increased as African Americans got many defense jobs that once would have been the sole preserve of whites. But there were “zoot-suit riots” against Mexicans in los Angeles and a bit in San Diego. A. Philip Randolph even led a black “March on Washington” in 1941 to insist on civil rights for minority people.
There was great population movement to cities and to the North and west.
Wartime Diplomacy: Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin
After Poland surrendered, Germany did not immediately attack western Europe. In early 1940, England was confidant of its power and war production remained at a relatively low level. The US was more concerned about German attacks on South American than upon Europe. FDR felt western Europe could defend itself. In the so-called “Winter War,” Finland held off the mighty Soviet Union. But Sitzkrieg soon turned to blitzkrieg, and most of western Europe fell to Germany by late 1940. The Battle of Britain raged over England’s skies into the Fall of 1940 with Germany’s Luftwaffe eventually losing to the Royal Air Force (RAF). Still, Roosevelt feared that German soldiers could attack Britain and he planned for the King to retreat to Canada. The 1930s neutrality acts limited FDR’s ability to help the Allies before 1941. But the Destroyer Deal helped England somewhat.
The America First Committee supported America’s first peacetime draft in 1940 draft while Charles Lindbergh argued against going to war to help England. Journalist William Allen White and the “Committee to Defend America by Helping the Allies” floated many trial balloons for FDR favoring an end to Isolationism. In 1940, however, FDR barely defeated Wendell Wilkie and even promised to keep the US out of war. In 1941, in his State of the Union Address, FDR postulated the Four Freedoms. In March 1941, Congress approved Lend Lease, which allowed Roosevelt to help the Allies. In June, 1941 Hitler attacked Russia and Stalin asked for and got Lend Lease aid. In mid-1941, Churchill and FDR signed the Atlantic Charter embodying the Four Freedoms, and other nations later signed. Before Pearl Harbor, FDR hoped German subs would torpedo US ships, and he moved the hemispheric defense zone to Iceland to help get arms to England.
Origins of Pearl Harbor—US racism against Japan, quota acts, weak US military position in Asia for 30 years, Japan has a bigger fleet than the US by 1931.
Once Hitler attacked Russia, the Russian army moved from the East to the western part of the Soviet Union. This allowed Japan to attack Indochina, which it did. Roosevelt responded by freezing Japanese assets and issuing an embargo against the shipping of iron, steel, and oil to Japan. General Tojo attacked the US Pearl harbor base on December 7, 1941 and the US declared war the next day. However, due to FDR’s sporadic approach to planning war production and troop buildups, the US was not prepared for WWII. Still, the US broke the Japanese Code which helped eventually to win the war, but the first year or so was full of losses.
The lecture will cover the major battles.
Major Allied War Conferences--Casablanca (January 1943)—The US and England pleased Stalin by agreeing to fight until Germany unconditionally surrendered. At Teheran (Nov. 1943)- England and the US promised to open a second front by June 1944 (it will be at Normandy, France). Russia promised to attack Japan after VE Day. At Yalta (Feb. 1945) the Allies agreed on the postwar division of Germany into four zones. Stalin pledged to establish governments in Easter Europe “broadly representative of all democratic elements” and to attack Japan within three months of VE day. FDR died in April 1945 and Hitler committed suicide several weeks later. VE Day was May 8, 1945, and Stalin attacked Japan on Aug. 8, 1945. One reason why new US President Harry Truman dropped the A bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6 was to end the war quickly before Russia got too much Japanese territory. Unlike FDR, Truman never trusted the Soviet Union.
The effects of WWII are covered in the lecture. Simply put, the US and Soviet Union became the world’s major empires, and England, France, and Japan lost most or all of theirs.