The Great Depression & the New Deal


Opponents of the New Deal

Liberal Critics

Criticized the New Deal for not doing enough for the working poor and doing too much for buisness.

Conservative Critics

Were alarmed by:

1. Increased regulations

2. The 2nd New Deal's prounion stance

3. The financing of government programs of deficient financing


Father Charles E. Coughlin held weekly radio broadcasts for ending "evil conspiracies" and founded the National Union for Social Justices. He attacked the New Deal on his station until the Catholic Church ordered he stop.

Dr. Francis E. Townsend proposed an idea of using 2% of federal income tax and give every person over the age of 60 $200 a month. Townsend believed by spending it quickly it would simulate the economy. This idea lead to Social Security System

Huey Long proposed the "Share Our Wealth Plan" which guaranteed $5,000 for every American family by taxing the wealthy. Long ran for office but was killed by an assassin.

The Supreme Court

The court killed the NSA and AAA by deciding that the laws that created them were unconstitutional. FDR passed a "court-packing" bill that allowed him to add a new justice for everyone over 70.5, this allowed him to add 6 new justices of his choice. many Americans accused FDR of trying to become a dictator, but did not back down. The court aided FDR in passing the Wagner Act and the Social Security Acts.

Rise of Labor Unions

Formations of the C.I.O.

Many unions made up the American Federation of Labor which mainly consisted of white skilled workers. A group within the A.F.L. wanted to extend the union to workers despite their race or sex. Thus, the Committee of Industrial Organizations was born and led by John L. Lewis made up of industrial union workers. The C.I.O broke away from the A.F.L. its new rival, and was renamed the Congress of Industrial Organizations. It concentrated on organizing unskilled workers in the auto, steel and textile industries.


At the General Motors plant in Flint, MI workers insisted on their right to join a union by participating in a sit-down strike. The President and the Governor refused the company's demands to send in troops, but finally recognized the United Auto Workers union, ending the strike. Union strikers at the Ford plant were however, beaten and driven away.

The U.S. Steel Corp. recognized the C.I.O, but smaller businesses did not and union picketers protested at Republic Steel in Chicago which ended in four deaths by police.

Fair Labor Standards Act

The last major reform of the New Deal established:

  • a minimum wage (40¢ an hour)
  • a maximum workweek (40 hours)
  • child-labor restrictions on those under 16

Last Phase of The New Deal

Recession 1933-1937

The economy gradually climbed out of its nosedive banks were stable and buisness earnings were increasing, but the economy slowly started to slide back. Social Security tax reduced spending as FDR was aiding relief and public works. FDR hoped to decrease national debt and balance the budget by decreasing spending relief.

Weakened New Deal

Congress did not follow FDR and elections in 1938 reduced the democratic majority in Congress. This minority of democrats stopped New Deal reforms. Also, with the rise in Germany of Nazi power concerns turned to domestic affairs.

Life During the Great Depression


Many women sought work to help the family income and increased the percentage of women in the work force. Women were accused of "stealing" the men's jobs when most of the jobs women worked were not sought after by men.

Dust Bowl Farmers

A severe drought ruined crops in the Great Plains in the 1930's turning the plains into a "dust bowl." When farmers top soil blew away and farms turned to dust the "Okies" from Oklahoma and other plain states moved west in search of work.

African Americans

The New Deal helped African Americans find jobs though the WPA and CCC. The Fair Employment Practices Committee was put into action after Philip Randolph threatened a march on Washington.

Native Americans

John Collier commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs established conservation and CCC projects on reservations which allowed Native involvement in the New Deal programs and WPA.

Mexican Americans

Mexican Americans had been a large source of labor in the Southwest. However with discrimination and high unemployment of migrant white workers from the dust bowl many Mexican Americans were forced to return to Mexico due to job competition.

Stories from the Great Depression