Sunday, September 23, 2012
THE MAKING OF A NATION – a program in Special English by the Voice of America.
President Herbert Hoover worked hard to rescue the American economy following the crash of the stock market in October 1929. Within one month, he called the nation's business leaders to the White House. "Don't lower wages," the president told them.
Hoover called on the Federal Reserve Bank to make it easier for businesses to borrow money. He tried to provide funds to help farmers get fair prices for their crops. He pushed Congress to lower personal taxes. And above all, the president urged Americans not to lose hope in their economy or in themselves.
Bread Line in New York City
Hoover's efforts were not enough to stop the growing crisis. In ever greater numbers, people called on the president to increase federal spending and provide jobs for citizens out of work.
But the president was a conservative Republican. He did not think it was the responsibility of the federal government to provide relief for poor Americans. And he thought it was wrong to increase spending above the amount of money that the government received in taxes.
The situation seemed out of control. The nation's government and business leaders appeared to have no idea how to save the dollar and put people back to work. Although Hoover did more than most presidents before him, he was not willing to take the severe actions that many Americans felt were needed.
Hoover would spend government money to help farmers buy seeds and fertilizers. But he refused to give wheat to unemployed workers who were hungry.
He created an emergency committee to study the unemployment problem. But he would not launch government programs to create jobs. Hoover called on Americans to help their friends in need. But he resisted calls to spend federal funds for major relief programs to help the millions of Americans facing disaster.
Leaders of the Democratic Party made the most of the situation. They accused the president of not caring about the common man. They said Hoover was willing to spend money to feed starving cattle for businessmen, but not to feed poor children.
Hoover fishing after a rough week
Late in 1931, Hoover appointed a new committee on unemployment. He named Walter Gifford, the chief of the large American Telephone and Telegraph company, to be its head. Gifford did Hoover more harm than good.
When he appeared before Congress, Gifford was unable to defend Hoover's position that relief was the responsibility of local governments and private giving. He admitted that he did not know how many people were out of work. He did not know how many of them needed help. How much help they needed. Or how much money local governments could raise.
The situation grew worse. And some Americans began to lose faith in their government completely. They looked to groups with extreme political ideas to provide answers. Some Americans joined the Communist Party. Others helped elect state leaders with extreme political ideas. And in growing numbers, people began to turn to hatred and violence.
However, most Americans remained loyal to traditional values even as conditions grew steadily worse. They looked ahead to 1932, when they would have a chance to vote for a new president.
Leaders of the Democratic Party felt they had an excellent chance to capture the White House in the election. And their hopes increased when the Republicans re-nominated President Hoover and Vice President Charles Curtis in the summer of 1932.
For this reason, competition was fierce for the democratic presidential nomination. The top candidate was Franklin Roosevelt, the governor of New York state.
Roosevelt had been re-elected to that office just two years before by a large vote. He came from a rich and famous family, but was seen as a friend of the common man. Roosevelt was conservative in his economic thinking. But he was a progressive in his opinion that government should be active in helping citizens. He had suffered polio and could not walk. But he seemed to enjoy his life and his work.
World War I veterans demonstrate
Together, they hoped to block Roosevelt's nomination. And they succeeded the first three times the delegates voted at the Democratic Convention in Chicago.
Roosevelt's chief political adviser, James Farley, worked hard to find Roosevelt the votes he needed at the convention. Finally, Farley found a solution.
He made a deal with supporters of John Garner. Roosevelt would make Garner the vice presidential nominee if Garner's forces voted to make Roosevelt the presidential nominee. Garner agreed. And on the next vote, the Democratic delegates nominated Franklin Roosevelt to be their presidential candidate. Al Smith was so angry about the deal that he left Chicago without congratulating Roosevelt.
The main issue in the campaign of 1932 was the economy. President Hoover defended his policies. Roosevelt and the Democrats attacked the administration for not taking enough action.
Roosevelt knew that most Americans were unhappy with the Hoover administration. So his plan during the campaign was to let Hoover defeat himself. He avoided saying anything that might make groups of voters think he was too extreme. But Roosevelt did make clear that he would move the federal government into action to help people suffering from the economic crisis.
He said he was for a balanced federal budget. But he said the government must be willing to spend extra money to prevent people from starving.
Americans liked what they heard from Franklin Roosevelt. He seemed strong. He enjoyed life. And Roosevelt seemed willing to try new ideas, to experiment with government.
"I would like your vote"
On election day, Americans voted in huge numbers for Franklin Roosevelt and the Democrats. Roosevelt won forty-two of the forty-eight states. The Democrats also gained a large majority in both houses of Congress.
The election ended twelve years of Republican rule in the White House. It also marked the passing of a long conservative period in American political life.
Franklin Roosevelt would become one of the strongest and most progressive presidents in the nation's history. He would serve longer than any other president, changing the face of America's political and economic systems.
We will take a look at the beginning of his administration in our next program.
You have been listening to THE MAKING OF A NATION, a program in Special English by the Voice of America. Your narrators have been Harry Monroe and Warren Scheer. Our program was written by David Jarmul.
1. Because Hoover was a conservative Republican, he didn't think he should ____________________ .
2. As the depression got worse, some Americans _____________________ .
3. Roosevelt came close to losing the nomination at the Democratic Convention. He lost the first three votes. But ________________________________ .
4. The Federal Reserve Bank makes it easier for businesses to borrow money by ______________________ .
5. Which political poll judging Hoover's approval rating from 1932 do you think is more accurate?
6. One month after the 1929 crash, Hoover told business leaders not _________.
7. If you will look at the map on the top of this page, you will see that _________________ .
8. Most Americans felt that Hoover was too friendly to the wealthy ______________ the common man.
9. ___________________________ said of Hoover, "He will spend government funds to feed cattle, but not one cent for starving children."
10. Providing relief for poor Americans during the great depression ____________________________ .
FDR's 1932 Campaign from Youtube:
Sunday, September 2, 2012
THE MAKING OF A NATION -- a program in Special English by the Voice of America.
Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal policies during the 1930s changed the face of American government. The new president and the Congress passed legislation that helped farmers, strengthened the banking system, and supplied jobs for millions of workers.
One of the most important results of Roosevelt's policies was a stronger American labor movement.
Labor leaders had little success in organizing workers in the United States during the 1920s. Three Republican presidents and a national wave of conservatism prevented them from gaining many members or increasing their negotiating power. In 1929, organized labor fell even further with the beginning of the great economic depression.
New laws proposed by the Roosevelt administration made the labor growth possible. The National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 gave labor leaders the right to organize and represent workers. The Supreme Court ruled that the law was illegal. But another law, the Wagner Labor Relations Act of Nineteen Thirty-five, helped labor unions to increase their power.
Most of the leaders of America's traditional labor unions were slow to understand their new power. They were conservative men. They represented workers with certain skills, such as wood workers or metal workers. They did little to organize workers with other kinds of skills.
But a new group of labor leaders used the new laws to organize unions by industries, not by skills. They believed that workers would have much more power if they joined forces with other workers in the same factory to make common demands. These new leaders began to organize unions for the automobile industry, the steel industry, and other major industries.
The leader of the new movement was the head of the mine workers, John L. Lewis. Lewis was a powerful leader with a strong body and strong opinions. He had begun to work in the coal mines at the age of twelve.
John L. Lewis
For this reason, Lewis and the heads of several other unions formed their own group to organize unions by industry, not by skills. They called their group the Congress of Industrial Organizations, the C.I.O. And they tried immediately to gain members.
The C.I.O. successfully organized the workers in several major industries. But it succeeded only by hard work and struggle. The C.I.O.'s first big battle was against the giant automobile company, General Motors. Late in 1935, workers at several General Motors factories began a "sit-down" strike at their machines to demand better pay and working conditions.
After forty-four days, General Motors surrendered. It recognized that the automobile workers' union had the right to represent GM workers. And it agreed to negotiate a new work agreement.
The struggle at the Ford Motor Company was more bitter. Ford company guards beat union organizers and workers. But the Ford company finally agreed to negotiate with the new union.
The same story was true in the steel industry. But the new labor leaders succeeded in becoming the official representatives of steel workers throughout the country.
By 1938, the C.I.O. had won its battle to organize major industries. In later years, it would join with the more traditional American Federation of Labor to form the organization that remains the most important labor group in America today, the A.F.L-C.I.O.
President Roosevelt was not always an active supporter of organized labor. But neither was he a constant supporter of big business, like the three Republican presidents before him. In fact, Roosevelt spoke out often against the dangers of big business in a democracy.
These speeches caused great concern among many of the traditional business and conservative leaders of the nation. And Roosevelt's increasingly progressive policies in 1935 made many richer Americans fear that the president was a socialist, a dictator or a madman.
This conservative opposition to Roosevelt grew steadily throughout 1935 and thirty-six. Many Americans were honestly worried that Roosevelt's expansion of government was the first step to dictatorship.
They feared that Roosevelt and the Democrats were trying to gain power as the Nazis did in Germany, the Fascists in Italy or the Communists in Russia.
The Republican Party held its presidential convention in the summer of 1936. The party delegates chose Alfred Landon to oppose Roosevelt for president.
Mr. Landon was the governor of the farm state of Kansas. He was a successful oil producer with conservative business views. But he was open to some of the social reforms of Roosevelt's New Deal. Republicans hoped he would appeal to average Americans who supported mild reforms, but feared Roosevelt's social policies.
The Democrats nominated Roosevelt and Vice President John Garner to serve a second term.
The main issue in the presidential campaign of 1936 was Franklin Roosevelt himself. Roosevelt campaigned across the country like a man sure that he would win. He laughed with the cheering crowds and told them that the New Deal had helped improve their lives.
In New York, Roosevelt made a major speech promising to continue the work of his administration if he was re-elected.
"Of course we will continue to seek to improve working conditions for the workers of America," Roosevelt told the crowd that day.
"Of course we will continue to work for cheaper electricity in the homes and on the farms of America. Of course we will continue our efforts for the farmers of America. Of course we will continue our efforts for young men and women. For those unable to walk. For the blind. For the mothers, the unemployed and the aged. We have only just begun to fight."
One of the most important results of Roosevelt's New Deal policies was a stronger American labor movement early in the twentieth century.
The campaign became increasingly bitter. Roosevelt said his opponents cared only about their money, not about other Americans. "I welcome their hatred," he said. Landon's supporters accused Roosevelt of destroying the nation's economic traditions and threatening democracy.
The nation had not seen such a fierce campaign in forty years. But when it was over, the nation also saw a victory greater than any in its history.
Franklin Roosevelt defeated Alfred Landon in the election of 1936 by one of the largest votes in the nation's history. Roosevelt won every state except Maine and Vermont.
The huge election victory marked the high point of Roosevelt's popularity. In our next program, we will look at the many problems he faced in his second administration.
You have been listening to THE MAKING OF A NATION, a program in Special English. Your narrators were Doug Johnson and Sarah Long. THE MAKING OF A NATION was written by David Jarmul.
1. The name of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s economic plan was called
2. President Roosevelt was very popular with ______________________________ .
3. The American labor movement during Roosevelt’s first term in office ___________________ .
4. The government under President Roosevelt ____________________________ .
5. John Lewis was ________________________________ .
6. The Congress of Industrial Organizations formed _________________________ .
7. The Republican candidate in the 1936 presidential election was ____________ .
8. In the mid 1930’s, European governments were controlled by ________________ .
9. In the 1936 presidential election, ____________________________ .
10. Another appropriate name for this story might be _____________________ .
FDR in this campaign speech makes fun of the Republicans. It's a must see video.
1933 - The nation pins its hopes on an unknown, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.