The New Deal was a series of social, economic and governmental reforms initiated from 1933 to 1938 by the administration of US president Franklin Delano Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression. At the time, Roosevelt's reforms were met with criticism from some quarters and praise from others; in retrospect, the New Deal was a major event in American history. Legacies of Roosevelt's programs can be seen in every state, and it is clear that the New Deal helped shape American society and American attitudes.
Stock Market Crash
In 1929, the American stock market crashed catastrophically, setting off a domino affect throughout the US economy that led to the Great Depression. In addition to its economic struggles, the US was facing major issues in the farming sector as it became clear that land use policies were not sustainable. Many Americans suddenly found themselves extremely poor, which triggered social unrest in the already troubled nation.
Relief, Recovery and Reform
Roosevelt felt that the country needed three things: relief, recovery and reform. The New Deal focused on providing relief to unemployed Americans and the troubled manufacturing sector while promoting economic recovery and reforming the US finance system to prevent the recurrence of the Depression. Roosevelt pushed many acts of legislation and policy that came to be collectively known as the New Deal, a reference to a statement that he made in his inauguration speech.
Relief was provided through social programs that created employment for many Americans. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) employed thousands of people to build electricity-producing dams. New Deal work crews helped construct state park facilities, build homes, pave roads and build public structures, among many other things. The New Deal also established the Social Security program and pushed membership in labor unions as well as sustainable farming policies.
American financial systems also were reformed, and the Emergency Banking Bill of 1933 helped stabilize a struggling banking system. Roosevelt pushed for a federal budget that was balanced, except for the emergency spending that was needed to overcome the Depression, as well as more financial responsibility and other policies that promoted economic health and growth. He also encouraged involvement in the Second World War, which helped revitalize the US economy. In addition, the New Deal had an impact on the arts because it established funding for artists under the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Many enduring artistic expressions of the Great Depression were produced by artists with support from the WPA.
Many programs created by Roosevelt remained in effect into the 21st century. Some still had the same names, and others had evolved and were operating under new names. Among programs that were still in effect in the early 21st Century were the Social Security program, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).