1. FDR’s New Deal: The Domestic Program That Remade America
The Great Depression of the 1930s laid bare the many ways in which Americans’ fates were connected. And yet when Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in 1933, the federal government—potentially the mightiest representative of the people’s common interests—had long been confined to a relatively passive function. State governments and an unregulated marketplace determined the country’s direction.
FDR’s New Deal changed that. He believed that if a quarter of American workers were jobless, the federal government could hire them to do useful work—build schools and plant trees, for example. If farmers couldn’t make a living from their crops, the U.S. government could support prices by subsidizing growers to reduce supply. The federal government could secure rights for American workers in private industries and establish a national insurance system—Social Security—to keep them from destitution in old age. It could preserve American landscapes through the National Park Service and encourage a rich indigenous arts tradition by sponsoring American artists. The U.S. government could regulate banks and it could extend credit to homeowners, farmers, and businesses.
With its “alphabet soup” of agencies, the New Deal did all this and more. It affected Americans’ everyday lives in practical and far-reaching ways. Though this expanded role for the federal government was controversial—it remains so today—in the perilous 1930s, as a global economic crisis fomented reactionary responses on one hand, revolutionary impulses on the other, the New Deal represented a moderate path based on the notion that all Americans have a stake in one another and in their country.
2. The Banking Crisis: Ordeal of a Nation, Test for a New President
Franklin D. Roosevelt took office just as the American banking system spun into chaos. Americans had already lost hundreds of millions of dollars in savings as banks across the country failed. Now many states had closed their banks against the stampede of depositors desperate to withdraw their cash.
FDR treated the situation like the emergency it was. Working around the clock with an eager Congress, during his first week in office the new president closed banks nationwide, pushed through a bill to inspect and reopen them in an orderly manner (with plenty of currency issued by the federal government), and went on the radio to explain his solution to the people and ask for their cooperation. “Together we cannot fail,” he said. It worked. People redeposited their money. Many Americans concluded, with enormous relief, that they had put a leader in the White House.
3. A New Deal for Farmers: Franklin D. Roosevelt and Rural America
When Franklin D. Roosevelt became president, America’s farmers were in dire straits, able to fetch a mere pittance for their products after years of falling prices and displaced in droves by property foreclosures and a withering Great Plains drought. FDR saw farming as essential to American culture. He also believed that the country’s economy could not recover so long as its farmers remained paralyzed as both producers and consumers.
The New Deal responded in ways that would lift farm incomes and influence rural life for generations. To address the oversupply of farm products that drove down prices, it established the first subsidies to farmers to limit their acreage in certain staple crops. Through the Farm Credit Administration, which exists today, it refinanced farm mortgages at lower rates and for longer terms. It provided loans to poor tenant farmers to purchase land. It also financed the construction of electrical distribution systems in the countryside and helped rural families install wiring and modern plumbing in their homes and farms.
4. Lights Across the Countryside:The Tennessee Valley Authority
Electricity was the great technological boon of the early twentieth century, driving economic development, saving labor at home and work, and improving public health through such advances as refrigeration. But by the time Franklin D. Roosevelt became president in 1933, electrification was a story of haves and have-nots. The sprawling private utility companies that controlled the nation’s power supply didn’t see much profit potential in extending service to poor farmers. In the Tennessee Valley of the upper South, for example, fewer than one in ten homes had electricity.
FDR tackled this problem by insisting that the electricity-generating capacity of America’s great rivers belonged to its people and should be used to generate affordable public power. The New Deal’s Tennessee Valley Authority, with its series of hydroelectric dams, would serve as the model; by the time of FDR’s death in 1945, it had brought light, literally, to three-quarters of the Tennessee Valley.
5. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Conservationist: An Early Initiative in Sustainability
Franklin D. Roosevelt was a “green” president long before America adopted the term or embraced the sensibility. He saw the country’s wild landscapes and abundant natural resources as the wellspring of American prosperity and was determined to safeguard this legacy for future generations.
FDR launched the nation’s first green jobs program (the Civilian Conservation Corps) and spawned the modern wildlife preservation movement by calling together preservationists in a 1936 conference. He brought millions of acres of land under federal protection as national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges. His administration addressed the environmental disaster known as the Dust Bowl by promoting soil-conserving farming practices and planting great swaths of trees to serve as windbreaks. At a critical time in the nation’s history, with settlement now reaching from sea to sea, FDR encouraged Americans to see the natural resources of their New World continent as resilient, yes—but not inexhaustible.
6. Putting People to Work: Job Creation and Work Relief in the New Deal
When Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in 1933, roughly one in four American workers was out of a job, leaving many families with no income at all. The traditional sources of aid—private charities and local governments—provided meager assistance in the best of times and were wholly unprepared to address the suffering of the Great Depression. At his March 4 inauguration, FDR promised to treat this situation like the national emergency it was.
Under his administration, the federal government for the first time acted to help the unemployed not primarily by stimulating business, but more directly by extending a critical lifeline to jobless Americans. This effort took three basic forms: direct relief to those in need in the form of checks or goods such as food; government sponsorship of large-scale construction projects such as dams, airports, and highways; and direct federal hiring of millions of unemployed citizens.
This last approach—work relief—was a defining innovation of the New Deal and found its fullest expression in its largest program, the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Established in 1935, the WPA became the nation’s largest employer. A WPA paycheck sustained millions of Americans in hard times. But the spirit of the program lay equally in the useful work they performed—work that lives on across the country today in public swimming pools and parks, schools and courthouses, books and murals.
7. A Friend of Labor: Franklin D. Roosevelt and Worker Rights
Franklin D. Roosevelt believed that both a strong democracy and a functioning economy rest on the ability of ordinary Americans to work on terms that afford them a decent life. To achieve that condition, FDR thought, workers needed rights and protections in the capitalist marketplace. FDR’s administration established the legal right of American workers to form unions and bargain with employers over pay and work conditions. It created a federal minimum wage and set a ceiling on the number of hours employers can require people to work. It outlawed the use of child workers, a practice that had trimmed labor costs at a terrible price. “No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers,” said FDR in 1933, “has any right to continue in this country.”
8. Work for Artists, Arts for America: Federal Project Number One
Is an out-of-work painter or writer so different from a jobless construction worker? Not to the pragmatic New Deal relief administrator Harry Hopkins. “Hell,” he said, “they’ve got to eat just like other people.”
The arts work-relief program Hopkins launched in 1935 under the Works Progress Administration was one of the New Deal’s most inventive. Federal Project Number One hired visual artists to create bold murals for public spaces and vivid Art Deco posters promoting everything from disease prevention to city zoos. It enlisted writers to collect narratives from former slaves and compose travel guides to diverse American locales. Theater workers staged plays and orchestras performed in venues across the country for free or at a very low admission price. Music and literacy instructors taught millions of classes.
The arts program gave critical early support to such celebrated American talents as novelist Zora Neale Hurston and actor-director Orson Welles and brought the arts to masses of Americans, expressing, in the process, the humanistic values at the heart of the New Deal. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said in 1939, “Art in America has always belonged to the people and has never been the property of an academy or a class.”
9. Social Security: A Safety Net for Americans
The passage of the Social Security Act of 1935 was one of the most hard-fought and important achievements of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. The act established the beginnings of a social safety net for all Americans—a hedge against destitution in a newly mobile, wage-based economy in which the traditional safeguards of family and community did not suffice.
FDR had been adamant that the act’s two main provisions—Social Security and unemployment benefits—should be a form of insurance financed by workers and employers. “We put those taxes in there so as to give the contributors a legal, moral, and political right to collect their pensions and their unemployment benefits,” FDR said in 1941. The Social Security Act also created the first federal welfare for poor children (later called Aid to Families with Dependent Children, dramatically restructured in 1996) and aid for public health clinics.
FDR believed there was more to be done. In his January 1944 State of the Union speech, he proposed an “economic bill of rights” that would expand the rights of citizenship beyond traditional civil liberties such as free speech to encompass a right to necessities such as employment at a living wage, health care, housing, and education. “Individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence,” FDR asserted. His so-called G.I. Bill of Rights partially fulfilled this vision. Passed in June 1944, its tuition grants and subsidized loans gave millions of returning World War II veterans the chance to go to college and buy a home, farm, or business. Thanks in part to the G.I. Bill, a burgeoning American middle class would live as free people in the broader sense FDR had defined.
10. Frances Perkins: Advocate for Working People, at FDR’s Right Hand
From a young age and for many years, Frances Perkins devoted her life to securing basic protections for all Americans who work a job: Social Security, unemployment insurance, the minimum wage, and limits on work hours, to name a few prominent examples. Franklin D. Roosevelt put her in the position to get that job done, first as newly minted New York governor by hiring her to head the state labor department, then by appointing her U.S. secretary of labor when he entered the White House in 1933.
Perkins was the first woman in American history to hold a cabinet-level appointment; she became the country’s longest-serving secretary of labor. FDR supported his outspoken and at times controversial labor chief through a number of storms, including a 1939 attempt by the House Un-American Activities Committee to impeach her. FDR believed in Perkins and shared her goals for America. Perkins in turn said she went to Washington, DC, “to work for God, FDR, and the millions of forgotten, plain common working men.”
11. Harry Hopkins: Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Closest Adviser
Harry Hopkins was a rumpled, no-nonsense social worker trained in hardscrabble working-class neighborhoods of New York City. In the opening years of the Great Depression, he ran Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt’s model relief program for the jobless of New York State, and in 1933, he followed FDR to the White House to administer the New Deal’s federal relief programs.
Hopkins, like FDR, believed that “the dole,” especially when dispensed in the shaming atmosphere that often prevailed in programs for the poor, gave the American worker bread at the expense of his or her dignity. Hopkins’s answer—to create government-sponsored jobs performing work of lasting value—found its fullest expression in the very centerpiece of the New Deal, the Works Progress Administration (WPA).
Alone among New Dealers, Hopkins also played a key part in helping FDR meet the challenge of World War II. He was the president’s emissary and closest adviser on wartime diplomacy. Underlying all these roles was Hopkins’s intense personal devotion to the president. FDR trusted him like no one else. The two became like family to each other.
12. Franklin D. Roosevelt, New Yorker: The New Deal in the Empire State
While preparing to run for an unprecedented fourth term in 1944, Franklin D. Roosevelt confessed that what he really wanted was to return to private life and the place of his birth, Hyde Park, New York. “All that is within me cries out to go back to my home on the Hudson River,” he wrote with an uncharacteristic note of personal longing. He would be buried there before the year was out.
New York State was deeply marked by FDR’s life, not only because it was his home—he lived by turns in Hyde Park, New York City, and Albany—but also because it was the place where, as governor, he tested what would become his New Deal for America and found a cadre of brainy, idealistic public servants who would help him implement it in the nation’s capital.
Birthed in Depression-era New York, the New Deal in turn stimulated a great renewal in the state and especially in New York City, the recipient of fully one in seven dollars spent by the massive Works Progress Administration. America’s most populous city is today a showcase for the New Deal’s legacy, from the massive Robert F. Kennedy Bridge to LaGuardia Airport, from the thirteen-panel mural exalting American workers at the Bronx central post office to the nation’s first federally financed public housing project, First Houses, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
13. African Americans and the New Deal: A Historic Realignment in American Politics
In the 1920s and early 1930s, the Democratic Party had yet to break from a long association with white supremacy and its various tools—whites-only primaries, Jim Crow laws imposing racial segregation, the Ku Klux Klan. African Americans, unsurprisingly, voted Republican. But in his reelection of 1936, Franklin D. Roosevelt won 71 percent of the black vote in a historic political realignment whose legacy persists today—testament to the change New Dealers brought to Washington, DC, and to the Democratic Party.
FDR was the first president to invite African Americans to the speaker’s podium at the Democratic Convention and to perform at the White House. He appointed dozens of African Americans to administrative posts. Eleanor Roosevelt stood out as the first presidential wife to work for racial justice hand in hand with civil rights groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. As for the New Deal, African Americans responded to FDR’s populist, pragmatic concern for ordinary Americans when they began to see evidence that it included them. Though it cannot be said that the New Deal treated black Americans equally—programs were often segregated and blacks concentrated in lower-paying jobs, for example—they, too, would see their communities rebuilt and modernized, find opportunities to create and enjoy art, and go to work in the government-sponsored jobs that sustained millions of American families in desperately hard times.
14. Marian Anderson at the Lincoln Memorial: A Great Singer Makes Civil Rights History
In 1939, when the conservative Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused to let the world-famous singer Marian Anderson perform in the group’s concert hall in Washington, DC, simply because she was black, people of the nation’s capital rose up against America’s long tradition of racial segregation. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, with the support of her husband, became their most influential champion, canceling her membership in the DAR to clasp hands with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and other antisegregationists.
Anderson’s supporters found an even more exalted venue for her performance than the DAR’s Constitution Hall—the Lincoln Memorial. On Easter Sunday 1939, standing before the memorial’s famous statue of a seated Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, and facing a vast, racially mixed audience, Anderson was nearly overcome with nerves. But the words of her opening selection floated over the crowd clear and full of feeling: “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty…”
15. Women and the New Deal: Gaining Ground in Politics and Public Life
When Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected governor of New York in 1929, his predecessor Al Smith observed that men might readily take advice from a woman— but not orders. FDR hired Frances Perkins to head his state labor department anyway. “I’ve got more nerve about women and their status in the world than Al has,” he said with a chuckle.
Indeed, as president, FDR enlisted a diverse cadre of activist women (including Perkins) to serve as key figures in building the Democratic Party and shaping the New Deal. Female New Dealers embraced the administration’s initiatives to empower ordinary working Americans while pushing always for greater recognition of women’s needs in work-relief programs for the jobless, Social Security benefits, and labor-rights legislation.
In a time when women were largely confined to the lowest-paying jobs, New Deal laws establishing the right to unionize and a minimum wage helped many earn a living wage. Though not in the same proportion as men, needy women got jobs created by the ambitious Works Progress Administration, from teaching art classes to weaving rugs. American women, who only in 1920 had gained the right to vote, emerged from the 1930s with a far more prominent role in public life, and ready to go to work in unprecedented numbers to arm their nation for war.
16. A New Kind of First Lady: Eleanor Roosevelt in the White House
In her 1961 autobiography, Eleanor Roosevelt wrote that she had been a solemn, shy child. “Looking back,” she observed, “I can see that I was always afraid of something: of the dark, of displeasing people, of failure.” Yet when ER entered the White House as First Lady in 1933, she had emerged as a woman ready to project her singular voice and unerringly progressive values to every corner of the nation.
As First Lady, ER held press conferences, wrote prolifically for publication, gave speeches, traveled and visited with citizens in their homes, and read and answered a copious stream of letters. In a manner as practical as it was insistent, ER pressed for racial integration, gender equity, human rights around the world, and government programs that would lift people out of poverty, support contemporary art, and give America’s elderly and jobless a modicum of security. It seemed to many that a deep well of compassion inspired ER’s courage. Polls at the time of her death in 1962 revealed the former First Lady to be one of the most admired women in the world.
17. Running for President: Franklin D. Roosevelt as Campaigner in Chief
Unlike many of the world’s leaders during the global crises of the 1930s and 1940s, Franklin D. Roosevelt assumed and retained his office by asking Americans, every four years without fail, to vote for him. The legitimacy conferred by America’s rough-and-tumble campaign seasons and orderly elections was especially important at a time when authoritarianism was taking root around the world—and for an American president who served longer than any other before or since.
FDR ran for president four times. Twice, in 1932 and 1936, he won by historic landslides. In 1940 and 1944, he racked up impressive absolute majorities in the popular vote. FDR was a political fighter, a people charmer, and an optimist in the gloomiest of circumstances—all assets on the campaign trail. But the truth is these qualities only made FDR more objectionable to those who disagreed with his policies. Americans put FDR in the Oval Office for twelve years (his last term cut short by his death in 1945), first because most supported the bold domestic program he introduced with the New Deal and, later, because they trusted him to lead the country through World War II.
18. Is It Constitutional?: The New Deal and the Supreme Court
Franklin D. Roosevelt felt strongly that government could regulate the economy with commonsense measures to protect Americans’ interests as citizens of a proud democracy and not mere “industrial cannon fodder.” But the Supreme Court of the 1930s did not agree. For decades, the court had treated private enterprise as all but immune to federal oversight, rejecting federal limits on the exploitation of child labor and state minimum-wage laws, to say nothing of the industry-wide wage and price codes authorized by the New Deal’s 1933 National Industrial Recovery Act or the farmer subsidies to curtail production set forth in the Agricultural Adjustment Act of the same year. The court struck down both these hallmark New Deal laws, among numerous others.
Indeed, by the election of 1936, which carried FDR and his party to an overwhelming victory, the Supreme Court seemed ready to read the Constitution as an absolute bar against New Deal policies. In 1937, a frustrated FDR made a move that, ironically, would prove one of the most unpopular of his presidency. His proposal to restructure the highest court in the land for essentially political purposes met with stiff opposition and died in Congress. But that same year, the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence underwent a historic—and timely—shift. Jurists began to uphold New Deal laws, allowing the federal government to set a federal minimum wage, ban child labor, establish Social Security, and guarantee workers’ right to unionize.
19. The New Deal Democrats: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Democratic Party
In the dreary Depression year 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s appeal as the candidate of change and action helped him become the first Democrat in eighty years to win an absolute majority of the popular vote—and to establish Democratic majorities in virtually every region of the country. FDR’s New Deal and the 1936 landslide reelection that followed its introduction consolidated this historic shift in voting patterns.
FDR broadened the Democratic Party, pulling together a coalition that included labor unions and progressive farmers, the big city machines of the North along with the traditionally Democratic South. FDR’s candidacy energized Jewish and Catholic voters, and he brought African Americans into the party for the first time. This New Deal coalition—joined around the basic idea that government can take an active part in protecting Americans from destitution, economic exploitation, and the denial of opportunity based on prejudice—dominated American political life through the 1960s.
20. Chief Executive: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Congress, and the Presidency
Franklin D. Roosevelt took an extraordinarily active approach to working with Congress. He introduced much important legislation, exercised the presidential veto with unprecedented frequency, and often went straight to the American people to raise support for his initiatives in Congress.
In the first years of his administration, with Congress eager to attack the suffering of the Great Depression, FDR’s approach yielded a program that changed the role of government in American life: the New Deal. After conservative Democrats split from the president’s coalition in 1938 and helped put the brakes on his domestic program, FDR nevertheless won Congress’s persistent backing as commander in chief during World War II. The active way FDR led as president—admired by many, criticized as egotistical by others—elevated the office itself, making the White House a more prominent institution in American government and the president a more salient symbol of the United States, at home and around the world.
21. Talking to the People: FDR, Radio, and the Press
Franklin D. Roosevelt was good at talking to people. That was how he gathered information on the many subjects he had to master as president, and it was how he conveyed both his policies and the spirit of his leadership to the American people.
FDR mastered the popular new media of the day—radio especially, but also film in the form of newsreels shown in movie theaters—to project his confidence and warmth to communities across the nation. Millions tuned in to his radio “fireside chats,” a shared ritual that brought Americans together in bewildering times and set a precedent for presidents addressing them directly.
In addition, though a majority of newspaper publishers and editors did not support the New Deal, FDR’s response—one future leaders would emulate—was not to withdraw but on the contrary to circumvent intermediaries wherever possible, inviting reporters to twice-weekly press conferences and abolishing a requirement that they submit questions in advance. FDR was the first president to establish such a strong personal media presence, creating the image of a leader at once quite human and larger than life.
Download the in-depth history as a pdf to print, save, and share.
II. Hope, Recovery, Reform:
The Great Depression &
FDR’s New Deal
1933 – 1939
Hope, Recovery, Reform includes twenty-one chapters on
events of the 1930s, from how the New Deal put Americans
back to work to FDR’s groundbreaking media presence.
click the “In Brief” button at upper right.
click the chapter arrow at lower left.
1. FDR’s New Deal:
The Domestic Program
That Remade America
It was a cold, bleak day in the nation’s capital when Franklin D. Roosevelt placed his left hand on a three-hundred-year-old family Bible and, after closing the oath of office with the words “so help me God,” gripped the podium and prepared to address the American people for the first time as their president.
Many of the faces looking back at FDR wore a “terror-stricken look,” as incoming secretary of labor Frances Perkins would recall. On March 4, 1933, the Great Depression was at its appalling nadir.
But as FDR promised “action and action now,” people in the crowd began to stomp their feet in enthusiastic assent. When he proclaimed that “our greatest primary task is to put people to work” and assured the audience his administration would treat the economic crisis “as we would treat the emergency of a war,” some onlookers wept with relief. After the speech, nearly half a million Americans wrote FDR to wish him success in the great effort ahead.
The New Deal was first and foremost a response to the calamity of the Depression. But over the course of a decade, it came to encompass a multifaceted domestic policy that transformed the role of the federal government, improved the lives of countless Americans immediately and for generations to come, and marked the American landscape with an array of new public features, from swimming pools to hydroelectric dams.
The first one hundred days
In the first hundred days of his administration, FDR had the political winds at his back; a hopeful nation and Democratically controlled Congress pledged their support. In turn, FDR and his team brought enormous vigor and drive to these first days in the White House. They worked day and night forging solutions that were muscular, pragmatic, myriad, and largely untried.
The day after his inauguration, FDR closed the nation’s banks to halt a disastrous bank panic, and he set advisors working on a bill to reopen solvent institutions. Three days after inauguration, he had dozens of farmers boarding late-night trains to Washington, DC, to advise him on a bill to buoy sagging farm incomes. The approach: pay farmers to reduce plantings of certain crops, curbing the oversupply that had driven down prices. The bill, passed in May, was “in the nature of an experiment,” FDR told the press. “If the darn thing doesn’t work, we can say so quite frankly, but at least try it.”
The same day FDR signed the farm bill, he approved an ambitious program of federal grants for cash relief of the destitute jobless—the first of its kind. Its administrator would be the social worker Harry Hopkins. Within two hours, working in a crowded hallway, Hopkins gave out more than $5 million in grants to state agencies; he urged governors to wire their requests immediately. To those who criticized his haste, Hopkins replied dryly, “People don’t eat in the long run. They eat every day.”
Together, in their first one hundred days, FDR and his team racked up a record unmatched by any administration before or since, winning passage for sixteen major pieces of legislation.
The Second New Deal
The work continued in what many have called the Second New Deal of 1935. In some cases, this entailed midcourse adjustments to earlier approaches. By 1935, for example, the administration had labored to help the unemployed and lift the economy through large-scale public-works projects, on the one hand, and cash relief on the other. But one of its most popular ventures had been the temporary Civil Works Administration, which helped the unemployed by giving them jobs. In May 1935, FDR built on this model by creating the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The largest program of the New Deal and one of its most successful, the WPA gave millions of people a desperately needed wage and built useful new facilities in nearly every American community.
The Second New Deal also saw passage of the Social Security Act establishing federal retirement benefits, unemployment insurance, and the first federal welfare program for the poor—all ways to not only gird individual Americans against future hard times, but also protect the economy from the drastic reductions in consumption that occur when the people find themselves penniless.
FDR won the election of 1936 in a historic landslide; a mere eight electoral votes (those of Maine and Vermont) went to his opponent. The people had thunderously affirmed their support for the New Deal.
The year 1937 brought a loss of momentum. FDR, thinking the worst was past, had cut back on government spending. The so-called Roosevelt recession followed. Meanwhile, FDR’s unpopular postelection proposal to appoint additional Supreme Court justices—a bald attempt to override a court that had proved hostile to New Deal policies—split the Democratic Party and emboldened Republican opponents.
Though New Deal lawmaking slowed, in ‘37 and ‘38 the administration nevertheless pushed through legislation to promote the construction of public housing, offer loans to tenant farmers, and establish a federal minimum wage.
Looking back and ahead
Some programs worked better than others. Despite government refinancing and delayed foreclosures, for example, the farm foreclosure crisis continued unabated until World War II. Assessing the New Deal in 1938, FDR frankly admitted that insufficient knowledge and the need to experiment had led to inconsistencies of method.
But one thing is certain: by the end of the ‘30s, the United States was no longer a nation prostrated by fear and despair. Americans had gone to work by the millions to feed their families, create new social institutions, and build the national infrastructure. They knew their own strength.
The New Deal left the country far better equipped to face the next calamity—World War II—and set the stage for the G.I. Bill, a tide of postwar prosperity, and the broadest middle class the world had ever seen.
A. Alphabet Soup
The New Deal revamped labor relations and inaugurated old-age pensions, built bridges and planted trees, reformed banking and managed farming output. It was magisterial in scope. Critics, then and