Again offered anonymously. My comments are in Hypothes.is:
The role of government in America changed considerably from the Progressive Era (1895-1917) through the end of World War II. Prior to this era the government displayed a much more hands off type approach towards society also know as, “Laissez faire”. This hands off approach of the government allowed for a lot of political corruption on the state and local levels as well as corporate abuses such as unsafe working conditions and low pay. As the Progressive Era era took shape and evolved, legislative changes and the creation of government agencies impacted Americans in many different ways. Legislation was created not only to benefit individuals but also to benefit our country as a whole. While some of the U.S population experienced some negativity with these changes, there was a larger percentage of the population that experienced benefits from these implementations making the changes helpful and beneficial toward American lives.
As World War I, also known as the “Great War”, took place, one legislative benefit and helpful initiative was brought to then President Woodrow Wilson. This initiative was to allow government to raise the numbers in our nations military forces by requiring men from the ages of 18-30 to register for military service. As President Wilson pushed congress on the initiative the legislative proposal was reviewed, the specific age specifications were adjusted which increased the age 45 years old and the Selective Service Act was implemented. Quickly the number of men registering and who were drafted grew our nations military presence. This was a benefit for our country because it helped the United Stated as it entered World War I. Without this, the number of men fighting for our country would have been minimal against our larger enemies. The Selective Service Act is still in effect today requiring men register for the Selective Service at the age of 18. This law is clearly positive that was created in the Progressive Era for our country as it enables us to implement a “draft” if we were to ever experience a drop in our military forces. We have a pre-established law that would allow us to once again fulfill the proper numbers needed to defend our country.
As World War I came to an end Americans moved into the 1920’s with the feeling of a “great quality of life”. Employment had become stable with many more jobs being available. More professions such as doctors, lawyers, and engineers had been established and there was a sense of happiness amongst society. As Americans enjoyed the growth of income from the stock market in the 1920’s no one could predict the events of October 24th 1929 also know as, “Black Thursday”. As stock prices dropped investors feared what would happen and began to sell causing the stock market to crash. This devastation was the beginning of a four-year “downward spiral” in the economic structure of our country. Unemployment rates skyrocketed and production slowed causing our country to fall in what we know to as the, Great Depression. The Great Depression impacted families causing them to become homeless, struggle to have food on their tables, and lose jobs. In 1933 with the country in its worst financial position ever the country elected President Franklin Roosevelt.
The first Democratic President in 12 years, President Roosevelt was elected on the promised of a “New Deal” for the country. The New Deal Law ideas expanded the role of the government like never before. The government responsibility based on Roosevelt’s promises was to create jobs and well as social support of the citizens of the country. Relief programs were implemented and established to benefit citizens of the country and to quickly put and end to the economic challenges facing the people in the U.S. Relief programs such as the Federal Emergency Relief Act (FERA), the Civil Works Administration (CWA), and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) gave people in need assistance money as well as temporary employment. Each one of these programs had the ultimate goal of helping the citizens who had fallen on hard times but the also had their own uniqueness. FERA, which was run by Harry Hopkins, a professional who had over 20 years in social and welfare issues, focused on providing grants from the federal government to state governments. These grants were provided for projects in fields such as agriculture, arts, construction and education with the goal of providing different types of professions and pay that would have been similar to the jobs these people once held. The CWA was more of a short-term fix for the less skilled unemployed individuals. Many people took this assistance and because of the CWA the country saw improvements in such things as airports, bridges, and road. And finally the CCC employed upwards of 3 million men who worked in parks, forests, and even at times fought fires. This was a way to get people back to work and help them survive which is exactly what these programs were able to accomplish benefiting American lives once again.
One of the most impactful programs created was the Social Security Act. The purpose of the Social Security Act was to ensure the elderly, individuals and families were taken care of if they “fell on tough times” such as illness or unemployment. This program help many families and individuals as a way to live some what of a life they were used to prior to failing on hard times. As the New Deal came to an end an assistance program for those who served our country known as the G.I Bill. This bill was created to help veterans of World War II by assisting with low cost interest loans for homes as well as assistance with educational cost. These types of programs were a clear indication of how the government both in the past eras as well as today works to protect and help their citizens and those who serve and protect our country.
Americans faced many challenges from the Progressive Era to the end of World War II. Throughout these times the government was able to adjust from was considered the norm and look for ways to help it’s citizens. The efforts put forth by our government during this period where essential to its recovery and put Americans back on the path to prosperity. Without the efforts of the government our country may not be as strong and powerful as what it is today.
Milestone Documents – Social Security Act 1935
Milestone Documents – G.I. Bill
Milestone Documents – Franklin Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address.
Brands American Stories Volume 2 Chapter 22 – The Progressive Era 1895-1917
Brands American Stories Volume 2 Chapter 26 – Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1929–1939
Digital public library of America – America’s Great Depression and Roosevelt’s New Dealhttp://dp.la/exhibitions/exhibits/show/new-deal