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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: July 2014

6 - Legacies of the New Deal


A great number of factors produced the New Deal. In a proximate sense, of course, Franklin Roosevelt and his many advisors – the New Dealers – were the people who most directly shaped the specific nature of the federal government’s response to the Great Depression. These men and women were not “anticapitalist.” Rather, they aimed to repair the capitalist system and restore American confidence in the nation’s market economy. While at times unsure of the best tools to use for this job, the New Dealers – especially Roosevelt – nevertheless embraced their task with enormous energy. The legacies of what this energy achieved have continued to resonate in the years since the 1930s. During the 1940s, New Dealers led the United States into World War II, economically, socially, and militarily mobilizing the nation for war. In the process, FDR claimed an unprecedented third and fourth term in office as the nation’s president. While the war would reshape the New Deal, the New Deal also in turn shaped important aspects of how the war effort was prosecuted, both institutionally and ideologically. After the war, the international settlement crafted in the wake of global depression and war also owed much to the New Deal, as American reformers worked with representatives from other nations to construct international institutions that might better manage the global economy. Finally, in the longer run, the political economy built by the New Dealers proved to be a vital factor in stimulating the growth and prosperity experienced not only in the United States, but also in much of the world between 1940 and 1973.

While the New Deal was a multifaceted set of public policies that tried to address the longest and deepest economic upheaval of the twentieth century, it was also a political movement. Roosevelt and his allies in the Democratic Party strove to pull the nation out of the Great Depression, but in so doing they also wanted to remake the American political system.

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A Concise History of the New Deal
  • Online ISBN: 9781139021258
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