Hoover served as President from 1929 to 1933. He had the misfortune to witness the start of the Great Depression in the first year of his presidency. However, as output fell and unemployment rose, he appeared unsure of what, if anything he could do to rectify the situation. He raised taxes and reluctantly approved the Smoot-Hawley tariffs – both policies reduced spending and trade, exacerbating the initial downturn. Illustrating Hoover’s unpopularity and blame for the Great Depression the shanty towns of unemployed which sprang up during the Great Depression were termed ‘Hoovervilles.’
Roosevelt was elected the US President in 1932 with a promise to do something about the economic impact of the Great Depression. He expanded the role of the Federal Government and increased spending on public works to try and provide unemployment. His ‘fireside chats’ on the radio offered a glimmer of hope and stability to a nation shocked by the extent of the economic downturn.
Wife and political aide of American president F.D.Roosevelt. Roosevelt was an active First Lady, giving speeches, writing a column and meeting with the unemployed. She helped to reassure workers that the Roosevelt administration was committed to trying to solve their plight. In 1933, she defused a situation with the Bonus Army – a situation Hoover had responded to by sending in the army. Roosevelt was also sympathetic to civil rights for African-Americans and other minorities.
Keynes was one of the most influential economists of the Twentieth Century. The Great Depression left classical economists stumped as faith in free markets appeared to be misplaced. Keynes saw the Great Depression as a trigger to create a new way of economic thinking. Keynes advocated government intervention to kickstart economies in a slump. He was mostly ignored in the 1930s, but his General Theory (1936) laid the foundations of Keynesian economics and a new branch of macroeconomics.
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1. Impact of Leaders
2. The New Deal
Investigate Aims, What ideas and actions were involved (see your textbook), Opposition to it, What it achieved (see Norman Lowe) and How effective it was (your textbook).
Significant programs: The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and Works Progress Administration (WPA)
: In what ways did the New Deal permanently change the federal government's role in the affairs of the United States?
: Was the New Deal successful in ending the Depression in America, and what was its role in restoring public confidence and creating relief programs for Americans?
: To what extent were the three principal categories of the New Deal (Relief, Recovery and Reform) effective in alleviating the effects of the Great Depression?
: In what ways, and why was the New Deal considered to be a controversial policy by some?
: See Historiography (i.e. how interpretations of the same events shift with time as a result of many different factors) of New Deal in Bruce Dennett and Stephen Dixon - later edition)
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