The Presidency of FDR


In 1932, Americans realized that they had an increasingly 
great financial problem on their hands, and tried to correct it by
centralizing power. The President acquired so much power that the 
nation almost became a communism, especially with Roosevelt's 
introduction of the New Deal.

 When Franklin Roosevelt became President of the United States 
in 1933, the nation was in the depths of the worst depression it had 
ever experienced. President Roosevelt, a very energetic and 
enthusiastic person, inspired the people with his own confidence and 
faith in the future. He gathered a group of people sharing his views 
to help him, and provided food, clothing, and shelter for millions of 
unemployed and poverty-stricken Americans. This was part of what he 
called the New Deal, of which his three objectives were relief, 
recovery, and reform for American citizens. In another attempt at 
recovery, Congress attempted to revive the nation's agriculture and 
industry and place the economy on a solid foundation. They printed 
extra money to loan to industries that quickly paid it back. By 1933 
nearly 14 million Americans were jobless. In response, the Roosevelt 
administration immediately launched what seemed at the time to be a 
wonderful program of direct relief. In 2 years, federal agencies 
distributed 3 billion dollars to the states. However, the people 
unemployed wanted jobs, not welfare, thus the Works Progress 
Administration (WPA) came into existence. This helped restore some of 
the lost jobs. 

 By 1936, the New Deal program faced a large and growing body 
of opposition, some from within the Democratic Party itself. Many 
critics felt that the government was interfering too much with the 
free enterprise system, and in doing so, was threatening individualism 
and democracy. This absorption of power by the president is what is 
known as the Imperial Presidency. By the end of 1938, the opposition 
had become so strong that President Roosevelt decided to postpone 
other large reforms he had been considering.

 Innumerable committees were created to deal with the problems 
of the time, and the President was in control of all of them. All
this power that the President acquired caused the executive branch to 
become bloated. World War II also prompted the government to recruit 
many, many Americans into the army. Since the President has complete
control over the army, a greater army gave him more power. The 
president also had control over the federal police. However, with all 
the manufacturing that had to take place to accommodate for all the 
necessities of war, many new ideas came into action. In order to boost 
the economy, power was readily and radically centralized, and the 
government introduced the policies of cost plus, resource allocation, 
wage & price controls, and prohibition of strikes. Cost plus and 
resource allocation gave the government much power to control 
industries. The government would withhold certain raw materials from 
companies unless they were using them to make war utilities. However, 
if they did choose to agree with the government, they could set the 
prices for their products and make extra money. Wage and price 
controls were another method of the government to boost industry.
The government would increase the price for which a manufacturer must 
sell his goods and the minimum wages allowable for different types of 
workers. This made everyone happy because the only person suffering 
this way was the consumer - or in this case, the government.

 After the Second World War, a cold war with the Soviet Union 
began. President Roosevelt anticipated that this cold war would 
bankrupt the Soviet union in their trying to outdo America's weapon 
production. Thus the United States had to allocate much of its 
production into yet more weapon manufacturing and research. With the 
government controlling all of America's output, economy, and industry, 
the nation had moved from a capitalistic economy to nearly a communism

 Americans' social rights had also been tampered with in the 
pandemonium caused by the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold 
War with Russia. The social revolution in the 1960s made many people 
happy, but also gave unnecessary power to the government, especially 
the president. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 revoked the right of 
states to choose who gets to vote, and let the federal government 
decide. The Roe versus Wade case put control over abortion into 
federal hands, and Brown versus the Board of Education let the federal government control segregation in schools and other situations. The 
nation has started moving back in the direction from which it came 
before World War II, but until now has not readjusted completely. Time 
and effort, however, may shift some of the governments - and 
president's - power acquired during the 20's back into citizen hands.


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