B3: The Depression and the New Deal: the USA, 1929-41 (a) Study Source A. What can you learn from Source A about attitudes towards President Roosevelt in 1936? Source A suggests that that Roosevelt was not popular with all Americans and that there was strong opposition especially from the wealthier members of US society. Furthermore, some, such as the person who was imprisoned, must have felt great hostility to his New Deal policies if they were prepared to use violence against the president. (b) Does Source C support the evidence of Sources A and B about the popularity of President Roosevelt? Explain your answer. Source C, for the most part, strongly disagrees with Source A. Source C suggests that Roosevelt was a very popular and trusted president because of his New Deal policies. On the other hand, Source A suggests that he was extremely unpopular, even hated by the wealthier citizens one of whom was prepared to use violence against him. However there is slight support from Source C which admits that he did have opponents. There is strong support between Sources C and B. Source C ‘s view that he was a popular president with millions of voters seems confirmed by Source B which highlights Roosevelt’s presidential election success of 1936, polling over 27 million voters compared to the 16 million of Landon. Source C’s view that he had opponents is confirmed by the millions who voted for Roosevelt’s rival. Overall Source C strongly supports the evidence of Source B but does not agree with the views shown in Source A. (c) How useful are Sources D and E as evidence of Roosevelt’s attempt to change the Supreme Court? Source D is useful as evidence of those who opposed Roosevelt’s attempts to change the Supreme Court. The cartoonist reflects the views of many Americans who believed that Roosevelt was wrong to bully the Supreme Court into accepting his New Deal policies. The cartoon also provides evidence of some of the measures rejected by the Supreme Court, including the NRA and AAA. However, the cartoon is of limited use because it only reflects the views of the opposition and the cartoonist exaggerates the ‘bullying’ figure of Roosevelt, making little reference to Roosevelt’s own views. Source E is useful because it provides evidence of Roosevelt’s attempts to win support for his attempts to change the Supreme Court through one of his ‘fireside’ radio chats. His motives for change seem clearly explained including the need for younger judges with more direct experience of the impact of the Depression and the New Deal. However, because Roosevelt is attempting to win support for these changes, he may well be hiding his true intentions. Sources D and E are useful because they provide contrasting views of the struggle between the Supreme Court and Roosevelt. Source D is critical of the president whilst Source E, not surprisingly, is supportive. (d) ‘The greatest opposition to Roosevelt’s New Deal policies came from big business’. There was strong opposition to Roosevelt’s policies not only from big business but also the Supreme Court, the Republicans and some individuals who believed that Roosevelt was not doing enough to ease the effects of the Depression. Big business certainly provided formidable opposition to Roosevelt’s New Deal. The ‘hatred’ expressed in Source A could well have been from wealthy businessmen who felt he was interfering too much with business. Wealthy business organisations, such as the American Liberty League, mentioned in Source F, felt he was giving too much power and support to the workers and were especially alarmed by the National Labour Relations or Wagner Act of 1935 which allowed workers to form unions and strike and set up a Labour Relations Board to act against employers who sacked workers who joined unions. Big business much preferred the ‘rugged ‘individualism’, or non interference policies of Hoover. However there was other, possibly more powerful opposition, more especially the Supreme Court which had the power, which it used, to reject some of Roosevelt’s measures and handicap his policies. Out of sixteen cases concerning the ‘alphabet agencies’ which were tried by the Supreme Court in 1935 and 1936, the judges declared that in eleven, including those shown in the cartoon, Source D, Roosevelt had acted unconstitutionally because he was using federal powers which the Constitution had not given him. In desperation, with his motives explained in Source E, Roosevelt tried, in 1937, to change the judges but, this in turn, led to further opposition from members of his own Democrat Party, and his attempts failed. There was also powerful opposition from the Republican Party which represented the interests of large business corporations and believed in ‘rugged individualism’. They felt, as mentioned in Source F, that the Federal Government was taking too much power and spending taxpayers’ money too freely. There was much support for their views as shown in Source B by the sixteen million or more who voted for their candidate in 1936. The Republican opposition was made more powerful because they dominated the Supreme Court. Finally, there was opposition those who felt that Roosevelt was not doing enough to end the Depression, as mentioned in Source F. Perhaps the most popular of these was Huey Long who claimed that Roosevelt was not sharing out the nation’s wealth and set up his own ‘Share the Wealth’ clubs with membership reaching 7.5 million in 1936. Big business certainly was against Roosevelt’s policies but the greatest and most effective opposition came from the Supreme Court which successfully stopped some of his policies.