Depression and the New Deal 1930–1939

  • Roosevelt administration implements economic safeguards to revive U.S. economy
  • U.S. government expands role as employer of and provider for U.S. citizens
  • Tensions begin to rise in Europe as Germany once again asserts itself
  • 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff raises taxes on almost 20,000 items; some economists argue that tariff worsened Great Depression or that stock market crash of 1929 was in part caused by anticipation of this act becoming law
  • 1932 Reconstruction Finance Corporation provides loans to struggling businesses and state and local government
  • Bonus Army of World War I veterans marches on Washington, D.C., demanding compensation but are rebuffed by force
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt elected 32nd president

1933 U.S. unemployment rate reaches 25%; Roosevelt proclaims five-day bank holiday

Glass-Steagall Act separates activity between commercial banks and investment banks

FDR appoints first-ever female cabinet member, Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins

FDR gives first “fireside chat” on radio; tradition continues until 1944

FDR’s first 100 days in office see creation of countless jobs designed to pull nation out of Depression; seen as perhaps most productive 100 days of any presidency

Unemployment Relief Act creates Civilian Conservation Corps to employ destitute Americans in conservation and other public works projects

Agricultural Adjustment Act controls production of crops, compensates farmers for cooperation

Tennessee Valley Authority established to construct series of dams on tributaries of Tennessee River to generate electricity for region

Federal Securities Act passed; precursor to Securities and Exchange Commission

National Industrial Recovery Act sets nationwide business practices; establishes National Recovery Administration to manage industry recovery, Public Works Administration to employ jobless

20th Amendment shifts presidential inaugurations from March to January

21st Amendment repeals 18th Amendment (Prohibition)

Adolf Hitler becomes chancellor of Germany, promotes policies of Nazi Party

United States recognizes USSR, establishes diplomatic relations

FDR’s Good Neighbor policy seeks to improve relations with Latin America

Major New Deal Policies

  • Emergency Banking Act (1933): Permits Reconstruction Finance Corporation to buy stocks of banks in trouble, infusing new capital; validates “bank holiday”
  • Glass-Steagall Banking Act (1933): Establishes Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to secure bank deposits
  • Federal Emergency Relief Administration (1933): Provides work on building projects
  • Civilian Conservation Corps (1933): Provides jobs related to conservation of natural resources
  • Agricultural Adjustment Act (1933): Pays subsidies to farmers to limit production, which drives prices higher
  • National Industrial Recovery Act (1933): Administers fair practice codes to businesses; creates Public Works Administration; declared unconstitutional 1935
  • Securities Act (1933): Requires corporations to make public disclosure of financial information before issuing new stock
  • Tennessee Valley Authority (1933): Builds and operates dams on Tennessee River, sells electric power generated by dams; important step in modernizing region
  • Farm Credit Administration (1933): Provides easily accessible farm mortgages
  • Home Owners Loan Corporation (1933): Provides easily accessible home mortgages
  • Securities and Exchange Act (1934): Places securities exchanges under federal regulation and oversight; creates Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Banking Act of 1935: Reorganizes Federal Reserve system
  • National Youth Administration (1935): Provides jobs for Americans age 16–25
  • Works Progress Administration (1935): Creates jobs related to infrastructure projects; also provides jobs for artists, actors, writers
  • Social Security Act (1935): Creates unemployment and old-age funds, state grants to care for elderly, needy, and physically disabled; excludes approximately 80% of African Americans, however
  • National Labor Relations Act or Wagner Act (1935): Creates National Labor Relations Board to regulate union elections and labor practices
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (1938): Sets minimum wage, 44-hour work week

1934 Securities and Exchange Commission established

Wheeler-Howard Act (Indian Reorganization Act), partly repeals Dawes Act, restores some Native American tribal rights

Senator Huey Long organizes “Share Our Wealth” program that proposes large tax burden for wealthiest U.S. citizens

1935 Schecter Poultry v. U.S. ruling invalidates National Industrial Recovery Act, barring nationwide business standards

Emergency Relief Appropriation Act allows president to fund relief programs of his choosing; FDR allocates funds to Works Progress Administration

National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act) supports union rights, protects collective bargaining

Social Security Act establishes funds for unemployed and elderly

Revenue Act raises personal income taxes on wealthy

First Neutrality Act prohibits arms shipments to wartime belligerents

George and Ira Gershwin opera Porgy and Bess debuts on Broadway

Italy invades Ethiopia

1936 Butler v. U.S. ruling finds Agricultural Adjustment Act unconstitutional

Margaret Mitchell publishes novel Gone With the Wind

Spanish Civil War begins; ends with Francisco Franco’s rise to power in 1939

Black sprinter Jesse Owens wins four track-and-field gold medals at Summer Olympic Games hosted by Hitler in Berlin

Germany reoccupies Rhineland

Rome-Berlin Axis formed between Hitler and Italian ruler Benito Mussolini

FDR reelected president

John Dos Passos completes final novel in U.S.A. trilogy

Second Neutrality Act prohibits U.S. from making loans to wartime belligerents

1937 United Auto Workers stages sit-down strikes

FDR gives foreign policy speech urging collective security and “quarantining” of aggressor nations

Zora Neale Hurston publishes novel Their Eyes Were Watching God

Japan attacks Nanking, China, killing more than 250,000 people, mostly civilians

Japan sinks gunboat USS Panay in China, formally apologizes afterward

1938 Congress of Industrial Organizations becomes independent union

Germany launches Anschluss with annexation of Austria

Thornton Wilder publishes play Our Town

Irving Berlin song “God Bless America” becomes national hit in rendition sung by Kate Smith

In Munich Pact, British prime minister Neville Chamberlain agrees to policy of appeasement, grants Czech territory of Sudetenland to Germany

1939 Germans and Soviets sign Nonaggression Pact

Germany invades Poland, starting World War II

United States repeals policy of military embargo toward wartime belligerents

Fourth Neutrality Act requires cash-on-delivery for trade with wartime belligerents

John Steinbeck publishes novel The Grapes of Wrath

Nathanael West publishes novel The Day of the Locust

USSR invades Baltic states

 

Credits: Sparknotes

Depression and the New Deal 1930–1939
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