How the New Deal Improved the Lives of American Citizens

Topics: New Deal, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Democratic Party Pages: 9 (3371 words) Published: January 21, 2014


By 1900 the American nation had established itself as a world power being the largest steel producer in the world, turning out 10,000,000 tons a year. A boom in urban construction meant that cities were growing. Telephones were in wide use and homes were being electrified. Skyscrapers were the newest frontier in design. By 1920 more than 500 had been built in New York alone. After the First World War the Republican Party won a landslide victory and as a result Warren Harding (The Republican Candidate) was voted into office in 1920. This was because his policies appealed to the majority of the American people. Throughout the 1920’s, numerous Republican presidents were in power. President Harding believed in what he called ‘Normalcy’- letting the USA get back to normal life before the war. His key Policies were: Isolationism which meant that the USA was not to get involved in foreign wars or disputes. (This meant the rejection of Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations) He also proposed that Higher Tariffs should be placed on foreign goods to make them expensive in the USA so that people would buy American goods instead, allowing US industry to grow. Furthermore, He promised to lower taxes. This would help businesses to grow and gave workers more money to spend. This would encourage people buy American goods and Invest in American Industries, helping them grow even more. These policies appeared to reflect exactly the mood of the American people at the time; therefore it is no surprise that the result of the 1920 election entirely vindicated Harding. Harding secured 60.3 per cent of the vote compared to 39.7 per cent for the Democrat candidate James Cox. (1)Harding clearly appealed to the American Electorate. Undoubtedly, his campaign slogan, “Let us return to normalcy”, was exceedingly popular to a nation still recovering from the effects of war. To them,’ normalcy’ implied the removal of wartime restrictions and a refusal of Wilson’s policy for continued involvement in foreign affairs. Because of this the Republicans were in a strong position to reverse the ‘Progressivism’ of the Democrat years and instead return to ‘laissez-faire’ politics and a reduction in Government intervention. These policies helped to create the economic prosperity in the 1920’s. In the 1920’s, the profits of many American companies rose enormously. Goods were produced quickly and cheaply because of new mass production techniques. The biggest economic boom came in the industries making consumer goods. Sales of household goods, such as vacuum cleaners and washing machines, boosted the electrical industry. This was made possible by the republican government cutting taxes and protecting industry form foreign imports, giving people money to spend and invest. These investments would help industry expend and even more. The ‘Fordney-McCumber Tariff Act’ of 1922 raised tariffs higher than ever before. Advertising credit and hire purchase made it is easy to spend. (As shown in source 2) American society was full of contrasts in the 1920 and there were some real advances for many Americans. Jobs were had easier to find and were better paid than before. The amount of Billionaires in America had increased by 400% .People could also enjoy themselves like never before. Millions of Americans went to the cinema each week to watch new stars such as Charlie Chaplin and Rudolph Valentino. Hollywood became the centre of a multi-million dollar industry. (Source 3) Due to social change, women gained greater freedom. A symbol of this independence was the flappers. (Source 4) Because times were good there was a feeling of confidence in America. The single most important industry was the motor industry. By 1929 there were 26 million cars on the roads. (As shown in source 5) A large car industry helped create further jobs in related areas, such as car parts and road construction. It also helped the growth of...
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