This investigation will explore
the question: To what extent did the New Deal assist to improve the social
conditions faced during the Great Depression? The years 1929 to 1939 will be
the focus of this investigation, to allow for an analysis of social conditions
during the Great Depression and how the New Deal improved it.

     The first source which will be evaluated in
depth is Anthony J. Badger’s book, “The New Deal, The Depression Years,
1933-1940”, written in 1989. The origin of the source is valuable because Anthony
J. Badger is a historian and a professor of American history at Cambridge
University in England. He has an extensive amount of knowledge in American
history and especially the New Deal and Great Depression era because of his
works that he has published throughout the years over these topics.
Furthermore, the date of the publication of this source is 1989, this is a
significant strength for the content and value of this source. Badger has
benefited because of the personal interviews with people form the Great
Depression era, having access to government records and data over the New Deal,
and by having a wide variety of sources for precise detailed information.
However, there is limitation in which Badger was born after the Great Depression,
so we do not his point of view on this situation. The purpose of Badger’s book
is to analyze the different aspects of the New Deal from agriculture, industry,
and politics. This is valuable, because it examines all the aspects of American
society from the government perspective to the citizen’s perspective.

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     The second source that was evaluated in
depth is William E. Leuchtenburg’s book “Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New
Deal,1932-1940.” This book was written by Leuchtenburg in the year of 1963 and it
was also published in the same year. The origin of this source is valuable
because it is written by someone who went through the Great Depression and the
New Deal Era. This provides a new perspective and an in depth idea of the Great
depression. Furthermore, the date of the publication shows us how Leuchtenburg
had a variety of sources, government documents, and prime interviews with
people who went through this time period. However, a limitation is that his
work is more biased towards Franklin D. Roosevelt and all his accomplishment
throughout his presidency. I can understand why he is favoring FDR but the
other views are as important as the one Leuchtenburg had for FDR. Another
limitation is that he was born in a wealthy family so he personally didn’t go
through as much as he saw other families going through. This still is valuable
but not as much as when compares to the general poor public. The purpose of
this book is to gain empathy and knowledge of the hard times during the Great
Depression Era. Also to gain an in depth idea of Franklin D. Roosevelts
actions, policies, and way of thinking for the citizens of the United States of
America.

Section
2: Investigation

     Few historians would disagree
that the New Deal assisted to improve the social conditions faced during the
Great Depression, from the years of 1929 to 1939. As we know from October 29th
1929 to 1939 the United States was in an economic downfall, the Great
Depression. However, with this catastrophe came Franklin D. Roosevelt as the 32nd
president of the United States, who was in office from1933 to 1945. With his
commitment to make America stable and prosperous again, he got sworn in to
office. After the crash of the stock market of 1929 the United States had
officially began the depression years. From unemployment rising from 3.2
percent to 24.9 percent, the work force was getting smaller day by day(Marx).
Not only that but the consumer spending went down by 18 percent(Marx), which
lead to less National spending and less National taxes. One after another the
dominos of the American economy were falling at a unstoppable pace.

     With us knowing the basics of the New Deal
and the Great Depression, we can move on to the more complex situations. The
result of the New Deal changed our country like never seen before. Jobs were on
the rise, unemployment was lowering, GDP was increasing, overall consumer
spending increased, and the social aspect of the American Society was
improving. In this investigation I will be focusing on how the New Deal
improved the social conditions faced by Americans during the Great Depression.
In FDR’s first term from 1932 to 1936, he developed his team known as the
“Brain Trust”. The brain trust consisted of highly qualified and trusted men in
social and economic policy making. To begin with, one of his social program was
the Civilian Conservations Corps (CCC). This was in effect from the years 1933
to 1941 and its main goal was to employ young men in conserving the nations
natural land and resources.  This served
as an employment booster and a social reform. The CCC were an important factor
to save the nation form the Dust Bowl; they helped plant thousands of tree
across the plains to stop the Dust Bowl.

     Furthermore, one of Franklin D.
Roosevelt’s most successful social program was the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The WPA
was one of the most well-known programs out forth by the 32nd
President. The WPA was a mass employment of public works project, this included
construction of any public building, roads, and other projects(Leuchtenburg). This
program employed upwards of 8 million people and averaged a salary of $40 per
month per person. With the money one man could support his family and also be
able to spend for basic necessities. The wages were a security for the worker’s
family but also they increased consumer spending, which led to the buildup of
the economy. The WPA built building, roads, bridges, parks, and airports which
were essential for a prosperous American land. This was a win-win situation for
both the citizens of America and America itself. They employed women and men,
however the men employment rates were higher. This shows the chance given to
women, but still shows the inequality. With that in mind, during the Roosevelt
presidency they came with a new program known as The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA).
NIRA, was a recovery act in which it targets the industrial sector of America
and the Great Depression. In this act they focused on working conditions and
also child labor in hard intensive working conditions. One of the significant
changes put forth by the NRA (later changed the name from NIRA to NRA) was the
reduction of working hours on workers. Also the Wagner
Act of 1935 allowed the workers to negotiate their pay for the number of hours
they work. This social improvement by the government allowed workers to get
their fair share and fair pay. This lead to familial stability and higher rate
of consumer spending.  Also in 1938 the Fair Labor Standards Act
provided workers with shorter work hours and days off. In detail this made
44-hour work weeks and eventually will lead 40 hours work weeks. Furthermore,
this act made child labor illegal, so anyone under the age of 16 years could
not work(Badger). Also the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was put in place by the Roosevelt
administration to provide jobs for the people in the Smokey mountain region and
to create dams for the people in the area(Richards). This was one great
achievement in which a part of the New Deal aided the social welfare of
Americans. In addition, one of the most famous acts passed by the 32nd
president for social welfare of Americans was the Social Security Act of 1935(Hardman).
This act is still in place in today’s modern 21st century
America.  The act was signed and put into
law by FDR on August 14, 1935; to provide support for the elderly, unemployed,
and children. If this isn’t a social welfare act than what is one? The Social
Security Act was one of the major parts of the New Deal and a necessity for
social improvement during the Great Depression.

     Some historians might argue that the New
Deal had a negative impact on social improvements during the Great Depression.
This may seem highly unlikely but one book talks about all the disadvantages,
“New Deal or Raw Deal” by Burton Folsom. He argues that most to all of the
sections of the New Deal have hurt the Unites States of America. He states, “Under consumption theory especially appealed to
intellectuals. If the rich were wrecking American industry, exploiting tax cuts,
and using their economic power to impoverish farmers and laborers, then
capitalism was failing. Government, by implication, needed to step in and
appoint “experts” to planning boards to jump-start the…” This quote shows us
how he thinks that the actions taken by the Roosevelt Administration was all
wrong. People have different views on matters and that is totally acceptable in
History and other subjects.

     It is clear to see that, the New Deal
assisted in the social improvements during the Great Depression Era. With most
sources showing a positive relation between the New Deal and the Great
Depression, I can conclude that the New Deal brought significant social
improvements to American society. The New Deal and its polices still have a
lasting impact on America today and also will for the future of this bright and
prosperous nation of the free.

 

 

 

Section
3: Reflection

     This investigation has allowed
me to gain insight and in-depth knowledge of the New Deal and the Great
Depression Era. With the completion of this historical Investigation, I feel
that I have developed a skill that is fundamental for my academic career. Also
I have gained knowledge over how to analyze historical works and understand the
different point of views by different historians.  For a sophisticated historical investigation,
I chose books by famous professors who have a relation with my topic. The authors
should have a first-hand experience for a well written and detailed oriented
book.

     After reading and analyzing my sources I
understood a new perspective of the hardship that historians have to face. With
all the sources having a different view on the situation it is complex and
surprising to me. For example, “New Deal or Raw Deal” by Mr. Burton talks about
how the New Deal ruined the U.S.A and the economy while on the other hand,
other sources state the benefits from the New Deal to the citizens. Also I have
understood the idea that history can be seen in different views. The same event
can be seen in many ways, and this is all dependent on the historian and their
knowledge.

     With that in mind, this historical
investigation has provided me abundant knowledge over the New Deal and its
effects during the Great Depression. Also I have gained a new perspective on
the ideas and ways historians think over historical events. Finally, the most
important thing I learned is to write an Investigation paper and this will
beneficial for me in my academic career.