Roosevelt and The New Deal - Programs, Pros, Cons, and Results Illustration

The New Deal for Kids - Programs, Pros, Cons, and Results

For Kids

In 1933, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) took office as the 32nd President of the United States, things were a mess. There were over 13,000,000 people out of work and nearly every bank had failed.  Many people lost their homes and were living in cardboard boxes in Hoovervilles on the outskirts of cities. Factories were closed. Many millions of people were hungry and many were starving. There were no jobs, and no hope in sight. This period in history is called the Great Depression because it was the greatest depression (the worst) ever experienced in United States history. There had been other devastating depressions in our past, but, hands down, this was the worst. FDR had a quite a job in front of him to turn the economy around.

The New Deal: FDR's first step, which he did immediately upon taking office, was to create a number of new laws and sweeping reforms to help things get better. He referred to this step as "The New Deal".  The purpose of all these new laws and new federal agencies was to provide relief, recovery, and reform. This restructuring of government was referred to as the 3Rs (relief, recover, and reform.)  Relief: Measures to help the unemployed. Recovery: measures to stimulate the economy. Reform: laws to help lessen the threat of another economic disaster.

Fireside Chats: FDR used radio broadcasts, his "Fireside Chats",  to tell people what was happening, and to explain these new programs. People all over the nation gathered around a radio and listened carefully. FDR's "Fireside Chats" gave them hope that things were going to improve. 

A list of some of the important alphabet agencies created as part of the New Deal, and what each was designed to accomplish: Over 50 different agencies and programs were created as part of The New Deal. They were nicknamed the "Alphabet Agencies". Some of the agencies created in the 1930s like the SSA (social security) and the FDIC (banking security) are still in place today, still protecting people and helping people to achieve a better life.

Opponents of the New Deal: It was not easy for Roosevelt to implement these programs. The New Deal had many opponents. There were two types of opponents - those who said these programs did not go far enough and those who said these programs went too far. The Liberals (the right) thought these programs did not do enough for the people. The Conservatives (the left, the Conservative Coalition) thought these programs went too far to control business. While opponents raged, some in the media, some in Congress, others in speeches, Roosevelt continued his attempts through his New Deal programs to restore the American economy.

The 2nd New Deal: Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) served 3 terms as president of the United States. He was the only president to serve three terms. (This is no longer possible. The term of office is now limited to 2 terms.) Roosevelt did not accomplish all his aims in his first term. In his second term, sometimes referred to as the 2nd New Deal, he added four new alphabet agencies. The FSA - the Farm Security Administration - gave aid to tenant farmers, sharecroppers, and farmers who had lost their farms. The AAA - Agricultural Adjustment Act - made direct payments and controlled surpluses to stabilize farm prices. The NHA - National Housing Act - provided low cost public housing. The Fair Labor Standards Act established minimum wage, maximum work week, and child labor laws.

The Supreme Court: The Supreme Court ruled that the NRA was unconstitutional, and in the following year it declared the AAA unconstitutional. The AAA was rewritten and then upheld. In total, 11 out of 16 of Roosevelt's New Deal programs in cases heard by the Supreme Court were declared unconstitutional because they were programs that the Supreme Court believed should be run by individual states, and not by the federal government.

Impact of the New Deal: Roosevelt's New Deal programs had a lasting impact on the American people, the American economy and American government. Impacts included:

    Extension of the power of the federal government

  • New Deal agencies rescued banking, industry and agriculture.

  • New Deal program were extensive and permanent (FHA, AAA. FDIC, SSA)

  • New Deal programs assured long-term stability of U.S. economy

  • Government became employer of last resort/sponsor of work projects

   Extension of the power of the President

  • Established the role of the President as a strong, executive leadership position

   Deficit Spending

  • Spending more money than the government raises in taxes

  • Priming the Pump - deficit spending to stimulate the economy

   Federal Social Programs

  • Welfare State - government based on the view that the state is responsible for the economic security of its people

  • Entitlement Programs that included Social Security, elderly, disabled, unemployed, handicapped, and dependent children

  • Help people in their time of need, not permanent dependents of the government

   Greater Concern for Workers

  • National Labor Relations Act of 1935

  • Fair Labor Standards Act

  • Right to join unions and bargain collectively

  • Safer work places, right to company pensions, freedom from racial/sexual discrimination

   Conservation and Agriculture

  • Soil conservation

  • Dams to prevent flooding

  • Reclaimed grasslands of the plains

  • Protection of farms and farmers

   Renewal of faith in Democracy:

  • The only bulwark of continuing liberty is a government strong enough to protect the interest of the people, and a people strong enough and well informed enough to maintain its sovereign control over its government." (Franklin Delano Roosevelt)  

  • By reviving the faith and strength of the American people Roosevelt ensured the U.S. would be strong enough to defend democracy should the need arise, and that the U.S. could survive a severe crisis without resorting to dictatorship.

The New Deal: Crash Course (video, youtube)

Game: Great Depression and the New Deal, Matching Game

Quiz: The Great Depression and the New Deal Interactive Quiz with answers

Periodic Table of the New Deal

Huey Long

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Return to: The Great Depression for Kids

For Teachers

Lesson Plans, New Deal