Unit 7: The Early 20th Century (1890-1945)

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Election of 1900

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Progressivism; WWI; Great Depression; WWII

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Election of 1900

  • McKinley/TR (R)f vs William Jennings Bryan (D)

    • Major issue was imperialism vs isolationism

  • Republicans won by a landslide

  • McKinley assassinated → TR became president

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Northern Securities Company

  • TR used the Sherman Antitrust Act against the company, who was faced with a major coal miners’ strike → later did the same with other industries

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Newlands Reclamation Act

  • TR provided money for dams and canals in the West

  • Also used his powers to increase National Forest land

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Hay-Pauncefote Treaty

  • Negotiation between TR and Great Britain that acknowledged Amercan right to both construct and control the Panama Canal

  • Previous high price demanded by the Panama government for the land, but after a civil war, the US governed the region

    • Used troops to maintain control

  • TR: “I took the Canal Zone”

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Great White Fleet

  • Impressive group of American warships around the world

  • Demonstration (especially to Japan) of the US’ naval power

  • TR’s second term

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Root-Takahira Agreement

  • 1908

  • The US gave Japan a free hand in Korea and Manchuria in exchange for their support of the status quo in the Pacific

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Roosevelt Corollary

  • Addition to the Monroe Doctrine → when nations enact “chronic wrongdoing or impotence” in Latin America, the US has the right to exercise their international police power

  • Eg: San Domingo was unable to repay debts to France and Italy → the US controlled the nation until they were paid

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Hepburn Bill

  • 1906

  • Extended the ICC (1887) to a bigger selection of corporations

  • Also forbade railroads from paying rebates to selected customers

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  • Journalists who exposed business practices, corruption, and poverty

  • Eg Lincoln Steffens, Upton Sinclair

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Upton Sinclair

  • The Jungle → exposed the conditions and practices in the Chicago stockyards

  • Led to the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act, giving the government power to oversee the quality of food and drugs in the country

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Employer’s Liability Act

  • Required employers to provide accident insurance for workers

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Panic of 1907

  • Sharp business recession that put pressure on TR to lax his attacks on corporations

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Progressive Movement

  • Era of reform movements to tame the evils of the Gilded Age

  • Didn’t want to overturn capitalism, but instead reform it

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Robert Lafollete

  • Governor of Wisconsin, began a career as a political reformer

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Sixteenth Amendment

  • Graduated income tax

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Seventeenth Amendment

  • Direct election of Senators

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Election of 1908

  • William H. Taft won against William Jennings Bryan

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Payne-Aldrich Tariff

  • Taft pledged to “substantiall revise” the tariff, but the final version of the bill barely lowered the tariff

  • Earned the disapproval of the press and Progressives

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Gifford Pinchot vs. Richard Ballinger

  • Disagreement over wilderness conservation

  • Pinchot supported Roosevelt’s desire to conserve wilderness areas, while Ballinger sold coal-bearing lands in Alaska

  • Pinchot accused Ballinger of favoritism, but Taft stuck by him and fired Pinchot

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Joseph Cannon

  • Progressives wanted to gain more influence for their causes, so they stripped Speaker of the House Joseph Cannon of his powers

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New Nationalism

  • TR’s call for greater involvement of the federal government in overseeing the economy for the welfare of all the people

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Dollar Diplomacy

  • Taft’s foreign policy strategy that emphasized economic investment from banks rather than military intervention

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Election of 1912

  • Republicans → Taft

  • Democrats → Woodrow WILSON

  • Roosevelt split off into his own party → the Bull-Moose Party

  • Wilson won

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Underwood-Simmons Tariff

  • Wilson substantially lowered the rates of the Payne-Aldrich Tariff

  • Added an income tax

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Federal Reserve Act

  • Wilson, 1913

  • Report by the Pujo Committee exposed Wall Street’s corruption

  • Created the Federal Reserve Bank → oversaw 12 regional banks & issued paper money (Federal Reserve Notes) to regulate the amount of money in circulation

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Clayton Antitrust Act

  • Amended the Sherman Antitrust Act

  • Forbade a company from buying a stock in another if it resulted in a monopoly

  • Forbade an individual from holding directorships in interlocking corporations

  • Exempted labor unions from anti-trust prosecution

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Federal Trade Commission Act

  • Wilson, 1914

  • Established a five person board to prevent business practices that restricted trade

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La Follette Seaman’s Act

  • Wilson, 1915

  • Improve working conditions in the merchant marines

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Spanish Flu

  • 1918

  • Global outbreak of a deadly flu that was spead more by WWI soldiers

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Federal Farm Loan Act

  • Wilson, 1916

  • Provided farmers with long-term loans at low interest rates

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Keating-Owen Act

  • Wilson, 1916

  • Outlawed child labor, 8 hour workdayy

  • Child labor law was quickly declared unconstitutional (10th amendment)

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ABC Powers

  • Argentina, Brazil, Chile

  • Victoriano Huerta became Mexico’s leader after a coup → Wilson disapproved of the government and sent troops to seize Vera Cruz

    • Unsuccessful, arbitrated by the ABC powers

  • Huerta was overthrown by Venustiano Carranza

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Francisco “Pancho” Villa

  • Villa sought to overthrow Carranza → Wilson ordered troops to pursue Villa into Mexico

  • Withdrew troops after threats of war in Europe

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Neutrality in WWI

  • Broke out August 1914

  • Initially, economic considerations favored neutrality → trade on both sides

  • Britain’s naval blockade on Germany + their war needs influenced US attitudes, and trade with the Allies (GF, FR, Russi) increased

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  • Non-involvement in European issues

  • Favored by most Americans

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The Lusitania

  • German submarine warfare restricted British trade

  • Wilson claimed neutrals should be allowed to freely navigate the seas; Germany claimed they had the right to restrict any ship carrying war supplies

  • German submarines sank the Lusitania, killing 100+ Americans

    • Wilson protested, but not to the point of war

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Sussex Pledge

  • Affter Germans sank the English Sussex, they abandoned their policy of submarine warfare to prevent American intervention

  • However, Germans resumed after Wilson was re-elected

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Zimmerman Telegram

  • The German foreign minister sent a message to Mexico, claiming that Mexico’s support would be rewarded with the return of their possessions lost in the Mexican-American war

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Armed Ship Bill

  • Would allow the president to arm merchant ships in defense against German submarines

  • Initial reluctance from Congress → passed in the House, but blocked in the Senate

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Fourteenth Points

  • Wilson’s list of principles that he hoped nations would follow after WWI

  • End to secrecy, freedom of seas, redrawing of borders to promote self-determination, disarmament, the League of Nations

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  • Government regulation of daily life → rations, regulation of industry

  • Employment increased for women and black Americans b/c men were being drafted

  • Expansion of labor unions

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War Industry Board (WIB)

  • Created to coordinate all facets of industrial and agricultural production during WWI

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National War Labor Board

  • Established an 8 hour workday with extra pay for overtime

  • Had no-strike policy in exchange for union bargaining power

  • Disbanded at the end of the war during the twenties bc of small gov't power

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Council of Defense

  • Headed by Herbert Hoover

  • Controlled domestic agricultural production, alleviating starvation in Europe

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Selective Service Act

  • 1917

  • Required all men between 21-31 to register for the draft

  • No exemptions

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Creel Committee

  • Published the Official Bulletin of the war, which only published informatioin the government wanted publicized to “protect” Americans

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Espionage Act

  • 1917

  • Gave the president wide powers of censorship w/ penalties for anyone who blocked war efforts

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Schenck v. US

  • Schenck was convicted for violating the Espionage Act when he printed flyers urging men to resist the draft → Court ruled that his conviction did not violate his First Amendment rights

    • Civil liberties were not absolute if actions posed a “clear and present” danger

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Trading with the Enemy Act

  • 1917

  • Any foreign language newspaper published had to provide the government with an English translation

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Russian Revolution

  • Placed Russia under the control of Bolsheviks and Lenin

  • Americans feared a communist takeover

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Federal Bureau of Investigation

  • Created during the Red Scare to prevent radicals from taking over

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Sedition Act

  • 1918

  • Profvided penalties for anyone who criticized the government

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Versailles Peace Conference

  • Wilson’s idealism contrasted with the pragmatism of other negotiators, especially Clemenceau (FR) and Lloyd George (GB)

    • Secret negotiations, dividing of land among powers

  • Demanded severe reparations from Germany to repay GB and FR war debts

  • Established the Leage of Nations

  • The US refused to ratify the Treaty of Versaille or join the League of Nations

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Election of 1920

  • Warren G Harding (R) was the “dark horse candidate” → won by a landslide after his “return to normalcy”

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Calvin Coolidge

  • Put down a 1919 strike of the police force in Boston, prohibiting the rehiring of the strikers

  • Became Harding’s running mate in the election os 1920

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A. Mitchell Palmer

  • Blamed unrest in the nation on the “prairie fire” of communism

  • Began a series of arrests and deportations of supposed communists → Palmer Raids

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Red Scare

  • Period of fear and persecution in the US from 1917-1920 following the rise of communism

  • Sources:

    • The Bolshevik Revolution (1917) and Comintern (1920), which called for a global overthrow of capitalism

    • Communist uprisings in Bavaria and Hungary

    • Labor unrest (eg the Boston police strike)

    • Bombings of Rockefeller’s and Palmer’s houses and on Wall Street

  • Responses:

    • Palmer Raids

    • Criminal syndicalism laws → outlawed advocation of violence for social change

    • Ludlow Comittee → 5 socialists in New York were expelled

    • The American Plan → prevented mandatory union membership, required an open shop plan

    • May Day → Palmer believed that there would be a communist overthrow on May 1, but it never came

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Committee on Public Information

  • The US wartime propaganda arm during WWI, portraying Germans as cold-blooded and power hungry

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Trial of Sacco and Vanzetti

  • April 1920

  • Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, alleged anarchists, were accused of murder and sentenced to death, despite having little evidence

  • Waves of protest erupted, questioning the morality of the punishment

  • Later ruled that the judge unjustly sentenced them to death

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Scopes (Monkey) Trial

  • Three southern states outlawed the teaching of evolution in public schools due to religious fundamentalism

  • John Scopes was indicted for teaching evolution

    • Caused immense national divide

    • Clarence Darrow (represented Scopes) vs. William Jennings Bryan

    • Scopes was found guilty, but Darrow immensely embarrassed Bryan and damaged his reputation + the Fundamentalist movement

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  • Stemmed from nativism and xenophobic b/c many immigrants drank

  • 18th amendment, Volstead Act (1919) → outlawed any alcohol w/ over 0.5% abv

  • Consequences: speakeasies, organized crime

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Nativism and Immigration Restriction (20s)

  • 800k S/E Europeans flooded in due to war

  • Fear of hyphenated Americans → too many were anarchists and socialists

  • Emergency Quota Act (1921) + National Origins Act (1924) → nationality quotas that favored N/W Europeans

    • Severely limited Asian immigrants

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Ninteenth Amendment

  • Right of women to vote

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Washington Arms Conference

  • 1921-1922 to discuss the national balance of power

  • Five Power Treaty → US, GB, FR, ITA, JPN agreed to control their navies

  • Nine Power Treaty → 5 Powers + others reaffirmed the open door policy in China and guaranteed China’s sovereignty and independence

  • Four Power Treaty → 5 Powers minus Italy agreed to respect each other’s possessions in the Pacific

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Harding’s Domestic Policies

  • Avoid a postwar recession

  • Lower taxes, higher tariff, reduced gov spending, aid for farmers and vets

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Fordney-McCumber Tariff

  • Raised tariffs, discriminating against European trade → Europe raised its own tariffs against the US, resulting in decline in world trade

  • GB and FR requested that the US cancel the debt they owed, but the US refused → forced to depend on reparation payments from Germany, who was borrowing money from the US

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Budget and Accounting Act

  • Harding

  • Made the federal government accountable to budget limits established by Congress

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Adjusted Compensation Act

  • Vetoed by both Harding and Coolidge, but passed over the veto

  • Provided bonus benefits for veterans

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Harding’s Scandals

  1. $250 million missing from the Veterans Bureau → head Charles Forbes fled the country and resigned; legal advisor committed suicide

    1. Forbes was brought back and jailed

  2. Justice Department received bribes for various services

  3. Teapot Dome and Elk Hill → Alber B. Fall agreed to lease the federal oil reserves to private oil companies in exchange for loans and cattle

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Election of 1924

  • Coolidge (R) won

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Coolidge’s Presidency

  • “Silent Cal”

  • Laissez-faire, small government, low taxes, isolationism

    • 1926 Revenue Act / Mellon Tax Cut → majorly reduced the progressive tax code

    • Persecuted labor unions under the Sherman Antitrust Act

  • Help from SC to assault social legislations

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Election of 1928

  • Herbert Hoover (R) vs. Al Smith (D)

    • Hoover was popular rurally, Smith was popular in the cities

  • Maind issues were prohibition (Hoover for and Smith against) and Smith’s Catholicism

  • Hoover won

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Henry Ford

  • Ford Motor’s Model T → simple, light vehicle that was accessible to all Americans

  • Assembly line manufacture, mass production, improved working conditions and wages

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Jazz Age

  • Roaring 20s

  • Refers to both the music and the lifestyle → speakeasies, cocktails

  • Widespread prosperity

  • Buying on credit

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  • Image of women in the Roaring 20s who defied previous societal expectations of women

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Kellogg-Briand Pact

  • 1928

  • Pact between 66 nations, promising that none would use was to settle international disputes

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Bull Market

  • Period of increased stock trading and rising stock prices in the 1920s

  • Increased buying on credit

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Stock Market Crash

  • Septermber 1929, Black Tuesday

  • Thousands of paper profits vanished in a few hours → market greatly spiraled downward without control

  • People rushed to banks to withdraw money; banks closed b/c they did not have enough money in their deposits

  • Not the main cause of the Great Depression

    • Instead, lack of foreign markets and a dependency on credit

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  • Shantytowns that Americans moved into due to the Great Depression

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Dust Bowl

  • Prolonged drought in the Great Plains, resulting in agrarian unrest

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Hawley-Smoot Tariff

  • Raised tariffs to unprecedented amounts to protect domestic industry

  • Further reduced international trade and worsened conditions

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Great Depression Protests

  • WWI veterans marched to Washington to demand payment of a bonus, but were driven away by troops → Bonus Expeditionary Force (BEF)

  • National Farmers’ Holiday Association & Milo Reno → blocked roads in the Midwest to prevent goods from getting to market to protest low prices

  • Communist Party → political focus; marches, councils

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Hoover’s Response to the GD

  • Associational action → private corporations combat the depression, not the federal government

  • Agricultural Marketing Act → stimulated the growth of farms w/ the government purchase of surpluses

  • Reconstruction Finance Corporation → provided federal loans to failing businesses

  • Federal Home Loan Bank Act → loans to people with mortgages

  • No direct aid to individuals; threatened individuality

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London Arms Conference

  • 1930

  • 5 Powers met to hold down the rise of the world’s armaments

  • Italy’s Mussolini and his fascist supporters refused to agree with the terms of the Washington Conference of 1921; France refused to sign the new agreement

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Hoover’s Foreign Affairs

  • War between the Soviet Union and China over Northern Manchuria

  • Japan seized Manchuria

  • Latin America → dollar diplomacy

    • Sent troops to protect American investments in several industries

    • Guerilla resistance followed

    • Roosevelt eventually renounced the Roosevelt Corollary, promising not to intervene in Latin America’s affairs

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Brains Trust

  • Roosevelt’s group of advisors

  • Frances Perkins → the first woman to hold cabinet rank

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Economy Bill

  • FDR proposed to cut government employee salaries and veterans’ pensions to reduce the budget deficit

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Twenty-First Amendment

  • Repealed the Volstead Act and prohibition, increasing federal tax revenue

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John Maynard Keynes

  • Keynesian economies → the government should stimulate the economy by spending to create employment

  • Used by Roosevelt during the New Deal

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First Hundred Days

  • FDR’s plan of intense action in the first 100 days of the New Deal

  • Passed laws w/ Congress affecting economic life and established the basis for the New Deal

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Bank Holiday

  • Stopped all transactions in banks in gold and silver

  • Prevented public panic and district in banks → people had begun to withdrawn all of their money from banks due to the stock market crash, but the bank’s didn’t have enough in their depository


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Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)

  • Created by the Unemployment Relief Act

  • Employed 2 million young people to work in national parks and recreational facilities


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Gold Standard / Gold Reserve Act

  • April → FDR pulled the nation off the gold standard

  • Allowed the government to print money and get loans, which helped unfreeze the banking system


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Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA)

  • Created under Harry Hopkins to provide outright grants to states and cities


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Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA)

  • The gov subsidized farmers ($$) in return for reduced acreage → they thought less crops would raise prices

    • Subsidized in the form of a processing tax on middlemen

    • Also the refinancing of farm mortgages through federal land banks

  • Declared unconstitutional by the SC (US v. Butler) under the 10th amendment (abuse of federal power) in 1936 → replaced with the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act, which got rid of the processing tax

  • Largely unsuccessful → didn’t increase employment or make food more affordable


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Home Owner’s Loan Corporation

  • Provided funds at below-market rates to refinance mortgages

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Federal Housing Administration

  • Issued mortgage loans from private banks

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Resettlement Administration

  • Resettled farmers on better soil

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Farm Credit Act

  • Provided federal loans for farm mortgages

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Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)

  • Construction of dams and power plants in the Tennessee Valley region (general South)

  • Raised the standard of living in the power through electricity, flood control, and controlling malaria


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