Who Benefited From The Social Security Act
The Social Security Act was signed into law by President Roosevelt on August 14, 1935. In addition to several provisions for general welfare, the new Act created a social insurance program designed to pay retired workers age 65 or older a continuing income after retirement.
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Fdr And Organized Labor
Around the time when Franklin Delano Roosevelt took over the presidential office in 1933, union membership recorded a decrease from over 3 million in 1932 to around 2.7 million a year later. That number constituted around 7 percent of all employed workers at the time when the most likely underestimated unemployment rate reached a quarter of the labor force. Extremely limited job opportunities and a huge number of individuals ready to secure any kind of employment created an environment where workers could be easily abused. Despite some attempts of the Hoover administration to empower organized labor , union membership resulted in limited protection of the workers who were willing and able to pay membership fees. However, the declining trend reversed in 1934, and unions would consistently grow during Roosevelt’s presidency, a phenomenon that reflected first, the protective and regulative labor provisions of the New Deal and later, the massive industrial growth during World War II. By the time Roosevelt died, shortly after he was elected to his fourth term, union membership in the United States reached its high peak. In 1945, over 14 million workers belonged to unions, which constituted over 35 percent of non-agricultural workers and over 27 percent of all employed workers.
Consequences Of The Court
Facing strong political opposition and decreasing popular support, the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill was doomed to fail. While Burton Wheeler, a progressive Democrat from Montana, played the role of the public voice of the alliance that formed in opposition to “the court-packing plan,” conservative Democratic senators Carter Glass, Harry Flood Byrd, and Josiah Bailey, were critical to collecting enough opposing votes in Congress. Roosevelt realized that the bill had no chance of being passed and a compromise that did not alter the existing balance in the court was negotiated. The controversy, which historians consider to be one of the most questionable moments in Roosevelt’s career, strengthened conservative opposition to the New Deal. By 1937, an informal yet strong group of congressmen and representatives opposing the New Deal formed in Congress. Known as the Conservative Coalition , it initiated a conservative alliance that, with modifications, shaped Congress until the 1960s.
Also in 1937, Willis Van Devanter, a justice nominated by Republican Theodore Roosevelt, retired and thus, FDR could nominate his first Supreme Court justice. By the end of his presidency, Roosevelt nominated eight Supreme Court justices—more than any other president.
The New Deal Comes To A Screeching Halt In 1938
Andrew E. Busch
May 1, 2006
This article is the fourth in a series on midterm elections in America.
When Republicans and Democrats faced off for the 1938 midterm elections, it had been a decade since Republicans had done well in congressional elections. They had lost seats in both houses of Congress in 1930, 1932, 1934, and 1936, bringing their totals to a mere 88 in the House and 16 in the Senate. In the wake of Franklin Roosevelt’s landslide reelection victory in 1936, it was an open question whether the Republican Party was capable of serving as a viable opposition party.
As FDR began his second term, his program was hardly complete. He aimed for a “Third New Deal” of further government economic controls and redistributionism, and seemed to have the votes in Congress to push it through.
Then, a series of events damaged Roosevelt’s standing and rejuvenated the GOP’s chances.
First, overestimating his popularity and persuasive powers, Roosevelt embarked on his “court packing” scheme, bringing a backlash even among many Democrats in Congress. The attempt seemed to verify Republican charges that the President was engaged in a campaign for one-man rule.
During 1937-38, America was also rocked with a series of sit-down strikes and instances of union violence, mostly instigated by the Congress of Industrial Organizations . Many Americans associated the surge in aggressive unionism with Roosevelt’s encouragement of unions in the 1935 National Labor Relations Act.
Franklin D Roosevelt: Domestic Affairs
FDR’s mandate as a first-term President was clear and challenging: rescue the United States from the throes of its worst depression in history. Economic conditions had deteriorated in the four months between FDR’s election and his inauguration. Unemployment grew to over twenty-five percent of the nation’s workforce, with more than twelve million Americans out of work. A new wave of bank failures hit in February 1933. Upon accepting the Democratic nomination, FDR had promised a “New Deal” to help America out of the Depression, though the meaning of that program was far from clear.
In trying to make sense of FDR’s domestic policies, historians and political scientists have referred to a “First New Deal,” which lasted from 1933 to 1935, and a “Second New Deal,” which stretched from 1935 to 1938. These terms, it should be remembered, are the creations of scholars trying to impose order and organization on the Roosevelt administration’s often chaotic, confusing, and contradictory attempts to combat the depression; Roosevelt himself never used them. The idea of a “first “and “second” New Deal is useful insofar as it reflects important shifts in the Roosevelt administration’s approach to the nation’s economic and social woes. But the boundaries between the first and second New Deals should be viewed as porous rather than concrete. In other words, significant continuities existed between the first and second New Deals that should not be overlooked.
Banking and Finance
The War Years
End Of The Democratic Coalition
Frustrated and exhausted by the turn of events, Johnson stunned the nation by deciding not to run for reelection in 1968. The assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy in early 1968 also greatly set back Democratic hopes of renewing efforts to press social issues. In fact, the tumultuous events of 1967 and 1968 would spell the end of the long domination of U.S. politics by the Democratic Party that had begun in 1932. For 28 out of 36 years, the Democrats held the White House, and even during the eight years they did not, they still controlled Congress for much of that time.
With the Democratic Party in turmoil and split over the Vietnam War, the Republicans, behind Richard Nixon, swept into office in 1968. The Democrats had chosen Hubert Humphrey from Minnesota, a New Dealer and vice-president under Johnson, as its presidential candidate. The Democratic Coalition, however, could not be revived. Labor had been ignored by the Great Society programs, black Americans were disheartened by the slow pace of integration, youth and liberals were staunchly opposed to the Vietnam War—which many called “Johnson’s War”—and the southerners were dissatisfied with the Democratic liberal social agenda.
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What Caused Republicans To Gain Power In Congress In 1938
They didn’t take power.
While the Republicans did make huge gains in the 1938 Congressional elections, it wasn’t enough to hand them power in either the House of Representatives or the Senate.
Republicans used the Recession of 1937 to say that Roosevelt’s policies weren’t working and weren’t ending the Great Depression. Also there was some infighting in the Democratic Party between the main-base and the conservative faction within the Democrats. Unions were also fighting over leadership, which weakened the Democratic stronghold with them.
In the House of Reps. the Republicans netted 81 seats, most of them in the northern states. The Republicans gained seats in states like Indiana , Michigan , and South Dakota
They also got hit hard in the Senate. Republicans gained 7 seats using the same message they did in the House races above. Republicans won races in Kansas, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey, Connecticut, and New Hampshire.Light Red- Republican Gain
The End Of The New Deal
Roosevelt intended to introduce more legislation during his second term , but two main factors made this a much more challenging task than during his first term: the lack of political support and the threat of war. In 1938, Republicans gained seven Senate seats and 81 House seats. In the aftermath of the failure of the 1937 court-packing plan and the 1938 election, the bipartisan Conservative Coalition solidified and strengthened in Congress and many liberal proposals were defeated. A handful of liberal measures did pass when the Conservative Coalition was divided .
The Depression continued with decreasing effect until the United States entered World War II in December 1941. Under the special circumstances of war mobilization, massive war spending doubled the GNP. Civilian unemployment was reduced from 14 percent in 1940 to less than 2 percent by the end of 1943.
Historians and economists disagree whether and, if yes, to what extent the New Deal helped the U.S. economy recover from the Great Depression. However, they all agree that the primary factor of the eventual economic growth that followed the New Deal was driven by the demands of the war effort.
Birth Of A Strong Party
The Democratic-Republican Party successfully promoted the candidacy of Andrew Jackson for president in 1828. Jackson was the first actual populist, or “man of the people,” to represent the party and was called the first westerner since he was from Tennessee which was considered the western frontier at that time. Serving as the party’s leader, Jackson was the national symbol against greed and unfairness. During Jackson’s presidency in the 1830s the party switched its name from Democratic-Republicans to simply Democrats. The Democrats controlled the White House, Congress, and state offices from the mid-1830s to the Civil War. Democrats Van Buren, James K. Polk , Franklin Pierce , and James Buchanan followed Jackson to the White House. Democrats only lost the presidential elections of 1840 and 1848 during that lengthy period.
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Midterm Elections Of 1938
The road was not always smooth in these first years of the Coalition. The midterm election of 1938 showed how the loose-knit coalition of interest groups, though destined to be long lasting, could also be vulnerable. A series of events in 1937 greatly undercut Roosevelt’s popularity. In an effort to gain support for his New Deal reforms, Roosevelt pursued a highly unpopular proposal to add seats to the U.S. Supreme Court in early 1937. That was followed by a major economic downturn, leading to increased unemployment and decreasing farm produce prices. In addition, fighting between two labor unions, the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations , following the CIO’s split from the AFL the previous year, further heightened labor unrest. The New Deal appeared to be in disarray. To make matters even worse, Roosevelt decided to personally campaign against certain conservative Democratic congressmen running for reelection. The president had become weary of conservative Democrats joining with northern Republicans to block NewDeal legislation. Known as the “purge of 1938,” Roosevelt’s political involvement in local elections was very unpopular with the public.
The Democratic Party Organization
Although by the mid-1930s the Democratic Party was a long-standing major political party, it had little structure. It was actually more of a hodgepodge of informally linked small organizations. The national party leadership had become disorganized and weakened from the election failures of the 1920s. By 1936 the main support for Democratic candidates, including Roosevelt, came from masses of unorganized voters—the poor in the cities and countryside, farmers, youth, black Americans, ethnic minorities, labor, and the college educated. As a result, support for the Democratic Party greatly expanded but the party itself changing very little. It was the Roosevelt administration and the various motives of the Democratic Coalition, not the Democratic Party, which led to political changes in the 1930s.
A Mass Political Movement
Prior to the 1930s political involvement had been out of reach to many in the nation. Through their laissez faire policies, Republican administrations during the 1920s had encouraged the growth of large corporations that increasingly controlled the economy and society. These corporations were in turn controlled by a small group of business elites. The social base for the Republican Party was strongly linked to the Anglo-American segment of society and Protestant religious association. Adding to this white, Protestant domination, state laws and cultural traditions in the South hindered most black Americans from voting. Companies used various means, including violence, to limit labor union development and keep power away from lower-class workers, many of whom were recent immigrants. Lower and middle class urban workers and ethnic groups could find no place in the dominant political parties. The economic crisis of the early 1930s and the arrival of the New Deal brought this form of social and political domination to an end.
Judicial Procedures Reform Bill Of 1937
In February 1937, Roosevelt introduced the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill, frequently called the “court-packing plan.” This legislative initiative proposed to add up to six more justices to the U.S. Supreme Court—for each judge over the age of 70 and six months who served more than 10 years, the president would appoint a new judge . The controversial plan did not violate the Constitution as it did not specify the number of Supreme Court justices. However, political opposition to the bill emerged immediately—and not only among anti-New Deal conservatives. Even Roosevelt’s own vice president was critical of the idea. Hardly any politician believed that the president was driven by motives other than being able to appoint pro-New Deal judges who would make the execution of his agenda possible.
Upsurge In World War Ii
Both the AFL and the CIO supported Roosevelt in 1940 and 1944. However, Lewis, a devoted neutralist, opposed Roosevelt on foreign policy grounds and questioned Roosevelt’s decision to run for a third term in 1940. In the end, all unions strongly supported the war effort after June 1941, when Germany invaded the Soviet Union.
While in the two decades following World War II union membership remained high, never again would it grow and be as popular as during Roosevelt’s presidency.
John L. Lewis: John L. Lewis, president of the United Mine Workers of America and founder of the CIO, photographed at the Capitol in 1922.
Craft Unionism V Industrial Unionism
The American Federation of Labor , the largest union grouping in the contemporary United States, was growing rapidly after 1933, reaching a membership of 3.4 million in 1936. However, hundreds of thousands of workers chose membership in unions that did not belong to the AFL that was at the time facing severe internal tensions and outside criticism. Traditionally, the AFL organized unions by craft rather than industry; for example, electricians or stationary engineers would form their own skill-oriented unions rather than join a large automobile-making union. This model excluded the so-called unskilled workers, employed most commonly in mass production. Most AFL leaders, including President William Green, were reluctant to shift from the organization’s longstanding tradition of craft unionism and started to clash with other leaders within the organization, such as John L. Lewis, the president of the United Mine Workers of America . The issue came up at the annual AFL conventions in 1934 and 1935, but the majority voted against a shift to industrial unionism .
American Federation of Labor: Label of the American Federation of Labor.
More About Elections Of 1940 And 1944
As the 1940 Democratic nominating convention approached, President Franklin Roosevelt did not express a strong desire to run for a third term. Secretary of StateCordell Hull appeared to be the front runner for the nomination. But Roosevelt and other party leaders did not feel Hull was sufficiently supportive of New Deal policies. With world war looming, Roosevelt decided to run for an unprecedented third consecutive term and received the party’s nomination. The public was greatly alarmed by Germany’s defeat of France, and a sense of emergency was rising concerning foreign issues. The Republicans nominated Wendell Willkie, a Wall Street lawyer who represented the unpopular utility industry. Willkie actually supported some New Deal accomplishments and took an internationalist position not too different from Roosevelt’s. Given the lack of a dramatic difference between Willkie and Roosevelt on a number of issues, the nation chose to stay with whom they knew best. In addition Roosevelt had boosted defense spending, creating thousands of jobs and turning the economy around once again. Roosevelt defeated Republican Wendell Willkie handily with a 449 to 82 electoral vote tally. Roosevelt drew almost 55 percent of the popular vote and carried every region of the country except the Midwest. The Democratic Coalition held together with southern Democrats and labor joined by ethnic populations. The 1940 election had further solidified the Democratic Coalition.
Th United States Congress
|January 3, 1935 – January 3, 1937|
|1st: January 3, 1935 – August 26, 19352nd: January 3, 1936 – June 20, 1936|
The 74th United States Congress was a meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, composed of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. It met in Washington, DC from January 3, 1935, to January 3, 1937, during the third and fourth years of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency. The apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives was based on the Fifteenth Census of the United States in 1930.
The increased their majorities in both the House and Senate, resulting in a in both chambers, and along with Franklin D. Roosevelt maintained an overall federal government .
Transition To The Fair Deal
With Roosevelt naming Republicans Henry Stimson secretary of war and Frank Knox secretary of the navy, the Republican Party continued to be stymied in making political gains through the war years. A number of New Deal programs persisted beyond World War II . Much of the general public remained largely satisfied into the 1960s with the benefits they were receiving from social security and other programs. Many southern whites remained loyal Democrats. The lower-and working-class Americans in all regions still supported government welfare programs and maintained a strong support for Democratic Party candidates following World War II.
In addition, a wave of labor strikes in the auto and steel industries increased public sentiment against unions. In response, a conservative Congress passed a series of antilabor bills, including the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947. That act, passed over Truman’s veto, prohibited some forms of union activity and expanded the rights of management.
Truman’s campaign faced another obstacle as well. Henry Wallace, Roosevelt’s former secretary of agriculture in the New Deal and vice-president during the early part of World War II, formed the ultraliberal Progressive Party to run for president. The Progressive Party posed a political threat to Truman by attracting votes of Democratic Coalition members away from the Democratic Party ticket. The Democrats were badly fragmented among Progressives, southerners, and the mainstream party.
More About Black Americans Switch
Even with Roosevelt handily winning the 1932 presidential election, 66 percent of the black vote still went to Hoover. This represented a long-term voting pattern of black Americans since the days of President Abraham Lincoln and the 1870s Reconstruction period. Reconstruction was a federal government program under Republican Party influence formed to create social and economic change in the South. But the increasing interest of President Roosevelt’s wife, Eleanor, and the president’s growing awareness of the importance of the black vote in national politics inspired a major change in blacks’ political allegiance. During this time blacks were becoming more politically organized, and public attitudes toward race were changing outside the South. The 1934 midterm elections had indicated that blacks were beginning to turn away from the Republican Party after 75 years of strong support.
Although Roosevelt did not support civil rights issues because he did not want to lose the southern Democrats’ support, some New Deal programs provided assistance to blacks. Secretary of Interior Harold Ickes directed the hiring of black workers on Public Works Administration projects in proportion to their presence in the local workforce. The PWA also provided some public housing for black tenants, even constructing some racially integrated housing projects. In addition, 31 percent of PWA wages went to black workers in 1936.
Lack Of International Pressure
As the Democratic Coalition first began emerging, the international picture was grim. By the mid-1930s the Great Depression had spread globally. Political turmoil in Europe was increasing as aggressive fascist movements gained strength. In Russia a violent communist government had become wellestablished. Because of the disorder abroad few international pressures were being placed on the United States by other nations that were too preoccupied with their own problems. The time was ripe in the United States for political experimentation. President Roosevelt and the New Dealers knew they had a unique opportunity to try something new while not being distracted by international events.
More About Origins Of The Republican Party
The Republican Party was born in 1853 and 1854, through two organizational meetings held in New Hampshire and Wisconsin, and its first convention in Jackson, Michigan. People forming the party shared a common antislavery viewpoint that other political parties would not embrace. They were especially opposed to the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. The act opened the door to slavery in the two newly established U.S. territories. Success at the polls came quickly for the Republicans as their first presidential nominee, John C. Fremont, carried 11 states in the 1856 presidential elections. The Republicans were almost instantly the key challenger to the Democratic Party in the North. Their next candidate, Abraham Lincoln, won 18 northern states in the 1860 presidential elections, enough to win the election against a Democratic Party that was in turmoil.
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The New Dealers Arrive
Roosevelt and the New Dealers came from the urban progressive wing of the party. Progressivism called for using the powers of government to solve social and economic problems. Progressives believedthe government should take a more aggressive role in relieving people’s hardships and overseeing business activities. Roosevelt’s first one hundred days of office, beginning on March 4, 1933, were filled with an incredible amount of social and economic legislation. The legislation that became collectively known as the New Deal included bank reform, regulation of the stock market, farm bills, public works programs, and low-interest loans for homeowners. These new pathways quickly labeled Roosevelt’s administration as the most daring in U.S. history. In their flurry of activity New Dealers sought to make everyone satisfied, and for the first six months they were fairly successful. Even most businessmen, who had historically supported Republican candidates, refrained from criticizing the Democratic president.