As Cohen summarizes, “When the male breadwinner suffered…traditional authority relationships within the family, between husbands and wives and between parents and children, began to break down.” Disastrous conditions in the city were mirrored in the countryside by falling farm prices, unpayable debt and land dispossession, a glutted market, droughts, storms, and chronic homelessness.Rauchway writes that a total of 11.5 million workers, representing the income of about 30 million Americans, lost their jobs.Rather, the New Deal was guided by a patrician-like desire to appease the American public by presenting novel, openly experimental approaches to an extraordinary problem.
But even these “informal networks” of welfare were no longer sufficient. The Depression pervaded all aspects of American life.
Families in urban environments underwent new pressures and tensions as a result of underemployment unemployment.
Indeed, the 1930s saw both the potential for a “New Left” as well as a slide into extremism.
Radicals promised “state socialism that would control national economies and restore stability.” This reality was epitomized by the fate of the Popular Front coalition, “which terminated with the signing of the Hitler-Stalin pact in the summer of 1939.” Both FDR and the masses wanted to end the Depression and reform the economy so that it would not happen again, but neither wanted to embrace dictatorship. One way to approach the novelty of the New Deal is to understand the system it was reacting against: that of the Hoover administration.
Perhaps two million people hit the road as tramps. Meanwhile, European nations turned to radical forms of government like bolshevism, fascism, and communism.
As Harvard Sitkoff writes, the effects of the Depression increased the likeliness that people would accept these ideologies at home.It helped to decrease the flow of products through the erection of tariff barriers with the Smoot-Hawley Act.Also, instead of lending credit, the Federal Reserve remained largely paralyzed.The Democratic nominee Franklin Delano Roosevelt entered the White House on March 4, 1933.The former New York governor had won the 1932 election by a landslide to become the thirty-second president of the United States.As Kathryn Olmsted states, “Roosevelt wanted to save capitalism” through reform.And so, while the New Deal was groundbreaking in many ways, its horizons were ultimately limited.The program never embraced wealth redistribution, extreme ideologies, the nationalization of private property, or state-protected racial equality. What are historians to make of this seeming paradox between the radicalism and conservatism of the New Deal?The following paper will briefly explore this question through an analysis of New Deal history.Out-of-work veterans and their families camped near the Capitol in hopes of receiving an early redemption for their service certificates.General Douglas Mac Arthur used the United States’ own army to violently evict them.