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US’s Economic Recovery in the Aftermath of the Great Depression Report (Assessment)


Week 9

The efforts to US’s economic recovery in the aftermath of the Great Depression of the 1930s sparked a series of economic programs under an umbrella name, the ‘New Deal.’ The mission of the ‘New Deal’ was to: enhance employment vital in poverty reduction; enhance economic recovery to the customary levels, and to revamp the financial system to avert a recurrence of the economic recession.

To many historians, this mission can be summarized as the ‘3 Rs’ i.e. relief, recovery and reform. From these, we can delineate the mission a short-term prevention e.g. creation of employment, or long-term prevention e.g. revamping the financial sector (Jones 101).

Significantly, the dawn of the ‘New Deal’ triggered political realignments with the majority of the congress men shifting support to the pro-New Deal architects, who dominating the congress with their liberal ideas. This was to the credit of the ‘common man’ since they were empowered through different institutions and unions e.g. the labor union.

The realignments enhanced the formation of new coalitions across the board; the Republicans split into liberals, ‘pro-New Deal,’ and conservatives, ‘anti-New Deal,’ with the former merging with majority Democrats in support of President Roosevelt. In effect, President Roosevelt expanded his authority to rarely non-South, Democrat strongholds, consequently enjoying a massive support from the congress (Jones 102).

This new alliance incorporated novel programs to the previous program thus earning the name ‘Second New Deal.’ To the previous program, the ‘First New Deal,’ which was apparently a stimulus program e.g. the ‘Federal Emergency Relief Administration,’ they incorporated, for instance, the ‘Wagner Act,’ which boosted the labor unions.

In a nutshell, the ‘Second New Deal’ was an amalgam of several programs that forged cooperation among several groups/institutions across the board including businesses, labor, consumers and the government.

Noteworthy, whatever prompted the ‘New Deal’ (1933-38) was the preceding economic recession- the ‘Great Depression’ (1929-33). However, the program received a blow in the year 1937 owing to an economic recession; nonetheless, it was not aborted until the year 1941, when the US shifted focus to the WWII.

President Hoover’s era (1929-32) was coincidentally an epoch when the US’s economy was in shreds thanks to an all time high economic plunge. In desperation to make amends, the president resorted to tax cuts, inflating others e.g. doubling estate tax, enacting new ones e.g. ‘Check’ tax on banks, and he instigated the congress to monitor the ‘Stock Market’ which prompted several reforms.

In the wake of the 1932 election campaign, the Democrats through their talisman, Roosevelt, used this as their campaign tool. They viewed these economic recovery efforts as a sham, terming them as ‘statist.’ Roosevelt sustained Hoover’s aggression further by blaming him for the economic recession.

This functioned to de-campaign the incumbent a great deal, a man who had resorted to letting his proxies actively involved in the campaign only to come later after sensing defeat. This was one principal factor the incumbent met his waterloo after conceding defeat to Roosevelt later that year. Moreover, his precarious handling of the ‘Bonus Army’ issue played a massive role as a roadblock to re-election.

One of the most two, important statements, the highlights of President Roosevelt inaugural speech, was “we have nothing to fear but fear itself” (Jones 100). With this, he was trying to restore the fading ‘American Dream.’ He tried to preempt the optimism that awaited the people under his government.

He acknowledges the murky waters of economic depression that impedes progress and feels that this needs to be tackled head-on. This drives us to the second statement in which he believes that the constitution is liberal and gives him the suppleness to explore new endeavors in case of a stalemate.

He says that the “constitution was very flexible about the approaches it would allow and that if things continued to be bad he looked for congress to give him the authority to take more aggressive steps” (Jones 102). The significance of this statement was the reason that the ‘New Deal’ program was initiated in an effort to stem recession.

The important ideas that president Hoover expressed in the dawn of 1932 elections were basically geared towards economic recovery. Hoover, a proponent of laissez-faire theory, believed in carving out a society that would be self-reliance for the betterment of the future.

To this he envisioned a long-term solution to the economic recession. In effect, he initiated the establishment of “the Reconstruction Finance Corporation” (Zubok 140), an agency that would spur economic recovery through lending loans to organizations/institutions e.g. insurances and banks.

Moreover, he initiated more drastic actions in an effort to reverse the dwindling economy. To this he, for instance; restricted immigration, and initiated expansion of Federal government employment base. One of his campaign manifestos included massive cutbacks in government expenditure.

On the other hand, Roosevelt campaign idea of supporting farm related programs underscores the difference in philosophy between the two leaders (Jones 103).

Unlike Hoovers’ hands-off philosophy, Roosevelt’s was a devoted type. Moreover, their sharp contrast in their approaches is portrayed by their take on tariffs design. As opposed to Hoover’s protective approach on tariffs, Roosevelt envisioned a competitive one. Roosevelt triumphed finally owing to a sense of hope his ideas instilled to the electors. Unlike Hoover, his radio voice was enthusiastic (Jones 102).

If I were to live back then in the US during the hard economic times of the 1930s I guess I would have given up with life. I would be thinking of shifting to a neighborhood nation in order to seek life sustaining jobs. As for me, when the situation turns to the worst I would throw myself to the streets and protest against the government of the day.

The US’s recovery efforts can be summarized under the rubrics that include ‘Relief,’ ‘Recovery,’ and ‘Reform’ also denoted as ‘3Rs.’ First, on focusing on the ‘Relief,’ the American government injected a lot of efforts in her quest to relieving its citizens against the agony that was destitute.

Following the economic recession, a sorry picture of malnourishment, homelessness and sicknesses were common. Doom and gloom hanged on the faces of its citizens rendering them a pessimist lot. As such, in a quest to relieve pressure off them, alcoholism prohibition was lifted, and people started taking alcohol in the open air, and entertainment over the radio and televisions took a full swing.

Moreover, Agriculture Adjustment Act (AAA), encouraged farmers through direct payments just for choosing to plant certain crops, as opposed to others. Furthermore, Civil Conservation Corps (CCC) created employment; National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) came to the rescue of businesses; and government threw their support to farmers.

Secondly, ‘Recovery’ efforts were fronted through reinstatements of initially redundant employees to their respective private and public jobs. Public Works Administration (PWA) created employment, and in the year 1935, over 8 million people had been employed in a diversity of professions. Moreover, oral interviews were done on former slaves a manifestation of a nation on recovery.

Finally, institutional ‘Reforms’ were seen where federal laws re-aligned to foster a relationship among organizations/institutions including businesses, labor, consumers and the government.

Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) came to being in the year 1934; tribal governments were re-instated; reservation lands were returned to the respective tribes, and Native American religion, arts, and crafts were encouraged. Moreover, National Labor Relations Act empowered employees, and Social Security Act (1935) took care of the employees’ compensation and assurances. In a synopsis, the ‘New Deal’ achieved both micro and macro success.

Week 10

The League of Nations was formed post WWI, and the sole objective was to avert a recurrence of war in the future. Significantly, prior to the WWI, America and European nations had been experiencing advanced civilization; infrastructural development, as well as industrialization, was at full fledge.

All this, in Europe, was destroyed bringing the economies back to their knees. For fear of a repeat, as a matter of fact economies had to recover from the shreds of war, it was important that the League be formed.

The benefits derived from the absentia of both the US and Russia from the League was that while the former was an outsider and she would have been viewed as an intruder to the European affairs, the later was still upholding communism and could not be trusted with membership. Germany was not allowed membership till later (1924) since it was the one believed to have sparked the war (Jones 117).

After witnessing the consequences of war that included the dwindled economies and lost lives, many nations resorted to peace campaigns to prevent the use of wars in the future as a tool for settling disputes. One such campaign fronted by the duo of Frank Kellogg and Aristotle Briand was the Kellogg-Briand Pact (1928), and this was signed by Germany, US and France.

While viewing the slides, the pictures portraying the Germans scavenging for both food and clothing elicit a myriad of feelings from the citizens’ perspective towards the state of the economy. I think they are feeling that the economy is down and reflect that they shouldn’t have entered into war.

In the aftermath of the WWI, the US forged good rapport with the international communities. In essence, its politics, culture and the economy expanded beyond the borders considerably. Importantly, the economy and politics interacted a great deal.

For instance, the US received debts from England, France and Italy ($2.6 billion), German enjoyed a loan facility ($2.5 billion) from the US, and Germany made reparation payments ($2.0 billion) to its allies. This is summarized as the Dawes Plan. Moreover, the US extended trade ties with Russia, consequently becoming its major trade partner in Europe (Jones 130).

Between 1920 and 1930, the federal government adopted changes in its foreign policy. Prior to the WWI, the US’s foreign policy was skewed towards diplomacy. To this they took advantage of their military prowess to involve in diplomatic relations. In the post-WWI era, the next decade (1920-30), many emphases were put on international trade and isolationist as opposed to aforementioned.

The US was slowly drawing itself into what would be the WWII long before Pearl-Harbor Attack by the Japanese. The enmity between the two was historical, and it was slowly simmering culminating into what would be the WWII. Perhaps that was the reason behind secret developments in contingency plans (1920s) by both states. Nonetheless, it came the Nanking Massacre (1937), maiming more than 200,000 US soldiers. In effect, by the time Pearl Harbor was attacked daggers had already been drawn, and the US was in WWII.

Of note, before involvement debate was a rife in the US, whether to be isolated or involved. Those who were for isolation were arguing that the US would better concentrate on issues that mattered to them most, economic depression. Moreover, they felt that a neutral stand would assure them safety. Some quarters were really shocked at Japanese aggression and hence thought of involvement. To this they argued that ‘Axis’ aggression would threaten their interests thus; pressure ought to be mounted upon them.

Prior to the WWII, states were utterly aggressive internationally. This, I believe, was prompted by the fact that they were desperate to make ends meet at the backdrop of ‘Great Recession.’ They wanted to acquire territorial gains in order for them to explore prospective wealth, and expand international trade. To them they believed this to be the remedy for depression.

As an advisor of President Roosevelt, I would advise him to pursue isolationism for the reasons that it was unfortunate that the war coincided with the recession hence; involving in it would worsen the situation.

Week 11

Apart from protecting free trade during the course of the WWII, the other motive that sparked US’s interest into the war was because it had scores to settle with the Japanese. The Pearl-Harbor was a reason enough for the US to attack. Its interest was further renewed by the Germany’s aggression. Moreover, the US was fighting communism which was spreading like a bush fire, preventing it from spilling over to them had it not been contained at its infancy stages (Zubok 159).

As opposed to the WWI, the second war was a ‘total war.’ This war happened at the height of the industrial revolution and different nations used this to test their novel technologies. Heavy artillery, helicopters and submarines, were among the paraphernalia that were used. Furthermore, the attacks were waged indiscriminately to all and sundry.

The Spanish Civil War attracted interests from a number of foreign countries. Their involvement was motivated by a wide spread phobia that, if it were left unrestrained, it had the potential of culminating into the WWII. Also, there was a need to stem both ‘Fascism’ and ‘Bolshevism’ ideologies. These factors divided the Spaniards into two: Republicans, an anti-fascist, and Nationalists, a fascist biased organization (Zubok 159).

The US was reluctant to enter into the WWII owing to the fact that they were in hard economic times and as such, they were weighing their financial potential. Moreover, the previous wars had curtailed their forces significantly, and reflected that they might be overwhelmed. To echo this, the US had been involving in material support to other countries initially e.g. Britain and hence; this eat into its economy a great deal. With this, they entered into the war later on (1941) to save on costs and take advantage of a weakened enemy.

US’s foreign policy between the 1930s and early 1940s was that of an isolationist approach for the better part of that decade until later on in the wake of WWI when it reverted to diplomacy. Prior to the WWII, the US economy had been a rollercoaster kind of economy with the better part of the preceding decade experiencing depression.

At this backdrop, they were a weakened lot hence they could not enter into war. Moreover, its initial efforts to explore isolation ideology initiated a cutback in military personnel to channel efforts towards economic recovery. Hence, there was a deficiency in forces to involve in war. Furthermore, family ties of its citizens with their mother land rendered US an isolationist. However, in the wake of WWII when the economy was regaining, and after Japanese aggression, it changed its policy to diplomacy.

If I were to advise on foreign policy just before Japanese invasion what I would propose to the president, would be no different. With a weakened economy, shrunken army, and imminent attacks on the US’s interests, there was no option but to launch the atomic bomb. This would ensure victory and instill fear to the enemies. The aforementioned reasons justify why atomic bomb came in handy there. Noteworthy, atomic bomb could not be used in German because of family ties its immigrants had with their motherland.

The WWII impacted heavily on the US’s economic and social fronts in equal measures. The economy shifted focus to military production. In spite of creation of employment, the wage bill was particularly low. The US was desperate to arm itself ahead of WWII at the backdrop of depression. The society changed as afro-Americans started getting better jobs; German-Americans and Italian-Americans were scrutinized, and Japanese-Americans did not get fair treatment. Patriotism was taught in schools (Zubok 159).

The Japanese-Americans treatment, though unfair, it was warranted for they represented a potential threat. The Japanese sympathizers would have waged war against the US if they were to be granted freedom mingle with the rest of the citizens.

Week 12

Post WWII era that commenced in the year 1947 was typified by psychological warfare pitting the two superpowers: the US and Russia. In essence, both boasted ownership of atomic bombs and were confident in annihilating one another had war emerged between them. This protracted state of political cum military anxiety instigated espionage between these nations (Towle 160).

I believe the best way the general public would have taken to deracinate communism was through public campaigns demonizing such ideologies. This would help to change the mindset of many, having greater impact than handpicking personalities.

Decolonization is an antonym of colonization (forceful ruling of nations). Decolonization conveniently happened in the post-WWII when all the colonial masters had been weakened by the ‘total war.’ The UN campaigned for this by encouraging autonomy. Importantly, in the post-WWII, the efforts to restore colonies were thwarted by the fact that allies were always lacking.

As such, most states in Africa and Asia gained independence. Consequently, decolonization fostered new relationships between the colonial masters and their former colonies. Moreover, some colonies realigned themselves in the US-Russian Cold War. In a synopsis, the international relations changed.

Cold war was a psychological war that was fought between the US and the Russians. This was instigated by an ideological difference i.e. capitalist democracy versus totalitarian communism (Lendvai 196). Also, there was sustained competition between the two nations on control of territories and the people.

To contain communism around the world, the US did use divide and rule method, and it also employed diplomatic relations in some instances (Towle 161).

Basing on the quotes presented herein that touches on Mao Tse-tung, the main threat synonymous with communist China were a nuclear attack. As such, the US ought to have explored diplomacy in order to disarm China. Those who were living between the years 1950s and 1960s, on seeing the ‘mushroom cloud,’ they felt haunted because this was a constant reminder of the WWII and its associated losses (cold blood death).

The Cold War began immediately after the WWII, and the main recipe here was possession of atomic bombs. All the nations involved had confidence in triumphing in any war thanks to the atomic bomb (Lendvai 196). Communism was getting out hand in the East Asia. Communism triumphed in China and hence assumed power extending aggression on its neighbors e.g. Taiwan.

In essence, Cold War spread in the Middle East and Central America. As a student in the 1950s, the thought that I would have harbored while being taught about the Cold War were that the world, just like a bombshell, were about to explode. The emergence of atomic bombs was a threat to world’s security. I would have felt insecure and lived in constant fear.

Works Cited

Jones, Howard. Crucible of Power: A History of American Foreign Relations from 1945. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2009. Print.

Lendvai, Paul. One day that shook the Communist world: the 1956 Hungarian uprising and its legacy. Boston: Allyn, 2008. Print.

Towle, Philip. “Cold War”: The Oxford History of Modern War. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. Print.

Zubok, Vladislav. The Diplomacy of the Crucial Decade: American Foreign Relations During the 1960s. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2019, April 15). US’s Economic Recovery in the Aftermath of the Great Depression. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/uss-economic-recovery-in-the-aftermath-of-the-great-depression/

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"US’s Economic Recovery in the Aftermath of the Great Depression." IvyPanda, 15 Apr. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/uss-economic-recovery-in-the-aftermath-of-the-great-depression/.

1. IvyPanda. "US’s Economic Recovery in the Aftermath of the Great Depression." April 15, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/uss-economic-recovery-in-the-aftermath-of-the-great-depression/.


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IvyPanda. "US’s Economic Recovery in the Aftermath of the Great Depression." April 15, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/uss-economic-recovery-in-the-aftermath-of-the-great-depression/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "US’s Economic Recovery in the Aftermath of the Great Depression." April 15, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/uss-economic-recovery-in-the-aftermath-of-the-great-depression/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'US’s Economic Recovery in the Aftermath of the Great Depression'. 15 April.

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