Segments descriptions
      American Presidents Series
      Depression, Part 2  

               Description: FDR

Depression, Part 2  
             sampler  3’12”    (87’ lecture).

Why does the statement that it is only the start of
World War II that ends the Depression, have profound meaning for that time, and for all time of history from that day to this?
                                   play sampler



Franklyn Delano Roosevelt (continued).




3 important acts passed in 1935.  These are needed 2 years earlier but FDR put the brakes trying to win over business which does not trust him. 

The National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act) legitimatizes labor unions. 

The Social Security Act pensions for retirees where workers and employers each paid half of the premium. 

The Wealth Tax Act
(Soak the Rich Act) taxes income progressively.  These are passed before the elections and FDR wins a second term in a landslide.




Packing the Court.  FDR attempts to control the Supreme Court by adding a number of justices to the existing 9, but rejected by Congress.  Later he is able to replace justices who die out with his own choices.




Later relief agencies that work.  FDR later succeeds by going further, creating relief agencies that work.  These include the WPA, PWA, and CCC, which created, respectively, jobs for skilled, unskilled, and creative people, and the Fair Labor Board which set work standards.  This reflects the Keynes view of jobs as the answer to the causes of economic depression, and is the opposite from the "trickle-down" view.  The New Deal measures alleviated the Depression to some extent but it takes a war and a war economy to end it.




U. S. isolationism.  Gathering of war clouds caused by fascism, which the U.S. responses to with acceptance.  Hitler appeals to the West for support to bolster his fight against communism.  The

1936 Spanish Civil War is doomed by Western neutrality, a missed moral opportunity to stop fascism.  The mentality of most Americans is disillusionment after World War I.  There is the role of Germany, the American Bund, and Lindberg to foster American support for Hitler.  There is a growing conflict with Japan for dominance in Asia, especially in China.  There is the emerging

Axis Alliance
vision of the carving up of the world.  Western fears underlie the appeasement of Germany. 




WWII begins.  The August 1939 non-aggression pact between German and Russia has its rationale.  The German blitzkrieg leaves only England to face German military might.  Still neutral, the U.S. begins Lend-Lease aid to England.




Pearl Harbor.  The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the controversy over FDR’s role contrasts one theory that FDR let the attack happen to unite Americans to support the war against the theory of his “blundering” not his “calculation.”  There is the issue of which enemy is more dangerous, Germany or Japan, and why the military advisors believe Germany is the more dangerous.




The Second Front and alternative actions present complex strategic issues.  There is the question of Stalingrad’s role in shortening the war. The question that an earlier second front might have greatly reduced the Holocaust.  There are implications of the Stalingrad victory for real politic and post-war relations. 




FDR wins 3rd and 4th terms.  FDR gets Russia’s promise to attack Japan.  The controversy of the use of the atomic bomb is explored.  The fact that only the start of World War II ends the Depression has profound meaning for that time, and for all time of history from that day to this, pointing to the need for a war economy.