What are the strengths and weaknesses of Source A as an interpretation of the role of Roosevelt in the New Deal? Essay

Q1) What are the strengths and weaknesses of Source A as an interpretation of the role of Roosevelt in the New Deal? Source A mainly focuses on Roosevelts popularity. The first paragraph is not evidence at all; it is the authors view on what he believes Roosevelts goals and positive attributes were. A weakness of Source A is that it is too favourable towards Roosevelt. We can see that it is an american textbook, probably aimed as a school textbook.

It is understandable that the author attempts to portray Roosevelt as an honest, caring and simple man, as it was and still is widely believed that Roosevelts actions benefitted America in the long term. It is also very vague about details; it mentions Roosevelts fireside chats, and his unusual attention to the massive amount of mail send to the whitehouse, which I know was true through my own knowledge, but it is all written very generalised. Its lack of detail makes it seem more of a biography of Roosevelt than a textbook on America in the Twentieth Century.

The historian did not write about his opposition; from my own knowledge i know that he was criticised by both right and left wing polititians. As the textbook was published in 1989, it is safe to say that it is free from government censorship (over 50 years after the New Deal), and also accurate; as there are many new sources of information available to the historian than there were in earlier decades. My own knowledge also confirms this. However, there are gaps in the Sources evidence such as the statement about Roosevelt caring about improving his own position.

This was written in brackets, with no evidence backing it up. I know from my own knowledge that this statement is correct, but it is a weakness unless it is backed up by evidence. Overall, it is an interpretation that whilst accurate, it is not objective. The source is clearly very opinionated and in favour of Roosevelt’s actions. Because it is from such a general text book it cannot go in much depth, however it does give the reader a good understanding of the influence of Roosevelt, and how important he was to many people.

Q2) Sources E and F are both sets of statistics. Which of these sources is the more useful to a historian studying the impact of the new deal on the USA? Both sources are focused on unemployment in the USA, which was the biggest problem of the Great Depression. Source E is a collection of government statistics starting before the years of the new deal and ending in 1939. Source F is a leaflet printed in 1936, which was during the time of the New Deal. It is written to look like statistics, but is really an exaggeration of unemployment figures used as propaganda.

Source E is the more straight forward. They are official statistics released by the government. My own knowledge proves that it is reliable. The figures show us that in unemployment gradually decreased in the years after the introduction of the New Deal, because of organisations such as the WPA and other alphabet organisations. This is very useful to historians assessing the impact of the New Deal. The New Deal did not bring recovery, as the statistics show that unemployment was still high.

However it does not tell us that whilst the New Deal was creating jobs, it was also creating reforms, which Roosevelt did to ensure nothing like the great depression would happen again. Source F is propaganda. As evidence of the New Deal’s impact on unemployment it is not reliable if taken literally. However, it is stating that unemployment is still very bad, and since the US is a democracy we can be certain that it is a reliable source. From the figures we can clearly see it is a very cynical joke about the current state of employment in the USA.

The company that had it printed was obviously unhappy with Roosevelt and the New Deal, suggesting that he is enjoying himself and not taking USAs situation seriously whilst the rest of USA is in turmoil. The sources goal is clearly to criticise the president and his policies, with propaganda cleverly made to initially look like statistical figures. However, it is a useful source to historians studying the impact of the New Deal on the USA, as it shows us what the american companies felt about it, and the level of opposition against Roosevelt.

Businesses all around America would probably have felt a similiar way, since the common goal of employment is the same in every business. Source F also indicates that the reforms introduced were not working. Many people thought that the New Deal was taking away the USAs individualism. Both sources are useful in their own seperate ways. Source E shows us that America’s unemployment steadily reduced since the New Deal, suggesting that it was successful in the short term at the least.

However, Source F shows us that while unemployment may have been decreasing, the New Deal clearly wasn’t doing enough to satisfy Americas businesses since unemployment was still too high. Source F also shows us that there was opposition to the president and his New Deal (such as the American Liberty League), which we might not have known if we had only read sources such as source A. Both Sources are equally useful, depending on the priorities of the historian doing the research. Q3) “Roosevelt was bold. He told people what he was going to do.

And he did it. But he was not bold enough. ” Do you agree or disagree with this interpretation? Roosevelt was indeed bold. Firstly we can look at the sheer size of the problem to begin to understand what Roosevelt was facing. Source E shows this; 24. 9% of the working population were unemployed. His immediate goal was to provide relief for the USA, which he did not hesitate to do. Both sources A and C show that Roosevelt understood the incredibly horrific impact of the great depression, especially for the poorer population.

Roosevelt wanted to help those people, which was bold in itself, since he was a right-wing capitalist himself. Source B shows the lengths Roosevelt went to for an ordinary man, who is writing (as one of a daily 5-8 thousand) to Roosevelt to thank him for his financial aid. The man ends with “I never heard of a President like you”. Although the success of Roosevelts policies is arguable, he definetly did provide fast relief. He spent millions of dollars on direct relief such as FERA; which provided $500 to states for soup kitchens, nurseries and small-scale employment schemes for poor people.

He also set up the Home Owners Loan Corporation, which lent money at low rates of interest to those in danger of defaulting on their home mortgage payments. He also set up the NRA which worked on improving working conditions, along with many other alphabet organisations. Source D shows Roosevelt visiting the CCC, which offered work on many different temporary projects. He was criticised for spending too much money, and was yet to receive more criticism following his second New Deal.

With the 2nd New Deal Roosevelt grew even bolder, with far more radical policies set up. He set up measures such as the Social Security Act in 1935, which stated that from 1940 the government would provide pensions to workers aged 65 and over. Roosevelt also said that the government would help state governments to set up unemployment benefit, sickness pay and help for the disabled. He allowed trade unions for employee protection, and set up small farmer assistance which financially helped farmers on small farms from being driven out of competition by the larger farms.

There was a lot of opposition from the right wing, who accused Roosevelt of “betraying his own class”. Even the Left wing criticised him, and black people claimed that he had done nothing for them. Two of Roosevelts organisations; the NRA and AAA were declared unconstitutional and illegal by the Supreme Court. At first, Roosevelt proposed appointing new judges, but so many Americans resented this idea that he didn’t pursue the idea further. These were the lengths to which he had gone. But all this, did not seem bold enough. By 1939 there were still over 9 million workers unemployed.

Source E illustrates the renewed depression, as unemployment rises by nearly 5% from 1937 to 1938. It was the war that brought America back up, and Roosevelt spent billions on re-armament and war-related production, ironically far more than he had ever spent on the new deal. As the UK and other European countries became dependant on the USA for food or other financial help, America simply grew stronger, with all the new jobs created due to the war, the economy was back up again. But this was not really through Roosevelts boldness.

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