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The Roaring Twenties came to a startling end as America entered the Great Depression. Lifestyles were thoroughly changed overnight. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt claimed to have solutions in the New Deal. All of this new legislation needed something to monitor and enforce it. Introducing the Alphabet Agencies! Each Agency was unique and ran differently from the last. Let's take a closer look.
In the 1930s, the United States of America was in the midst of a Great Depression. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected president in 1933. Roosevelt planned to use government spending to alleviate the burden of the American people.
The Great Depression
The period of economic turmoil following the Wall Street Crash in 1929. This occurred in the United States initially but reverberated around the whole world.
At the same time, he created new policies to prevent another Great Depression from happening. Roosevelt's legislation was called the New Deal.
The New Deal required creating agencies to carry out many of its changes. The agencies' names were often shortened to abbreviations that consisted of three to four letters. They were nicknamed the Alphabet Agencies or, the more tongue-in-cheek Alphabet Soup because of the vast number of organisations.
The New Deal created numerous Alphabet Agencies, and even the Roosevelt administration struggled to remember which ones did what! Some of these agencies provided jobs for Americans in need. Others were created to prevent another Great Depression. To accomplish this task, the agencies monitored different parts of the economy.
The agencies were very different and run by different people. Roosevelt needed the support of all Democrats, including Southern ones. Southern Democrats were notoriously racist and wanted the New Deal only to affect white people. The Civilian Conservation Corps was run by a racist, Robert Fechner, who hired as few African Americans as possible and imposed segregation. In contrast, the Public Works Administration was determined to build schools, housing, and public buildings in African American communities.
Roosevelt's New Deal and Alphabet Agencies didn't end the Great Depression, but government spending did. The government had to invest vast amounts of money into the economy to support the efforts of World War II. By 1939, most of the agencies had ceased to exist, though some still exist today!
There were plenty of different agencies with different responsibilities. Below is a list of some of the agencies, the year they were created, their abbreviation, and a brief description of what they set out to do.
|Year Created||Name||Abbreviation||Brief Description|
|1933||Agricultural Adjustment Administration||AAA||Government regulation of the farm economy.|
|1933||Civilian Conservation Corps||CCC||Provided labour jobs for young men in conservation efforts.|
|1933||Reconstruction Finance Corporation||EBA||Created by the Emergency Banking Act of 1933 and backed banks by giving them money.|
|1933||Farm Credit Administration||FCA||Defined the credit system for farmers.|
|1933||Federal Emergency Relief Administration||FERA||Offered relief through federal and state government.|
|1933||Public Works Administration||PWA||Created various jobs for people outside of the realm of the CCC.|
|1933||Tennessee Valley Authority||TVA||Assisted the Tennessee Valley with various issues and provided electricity to rural Tennessee.|
|1934||Federal Housing Administration||FHA||Redefined mortgages so more Americans could afford homes.|
|1934||National Labor Relations Board||NLRB||Created by the Wagner Act, which allowed employees to create unions or just form representation groups.|
|1934||Securities and Exchange Commission||SEC||Regulated the stock market.|
|1935||Federal Art Project||FAP||An outshoot of the PWA, the FAP employed artists to create art across America. Much of this art is still on display.|
|1935||Farm Security Administration||FSA||Moved farmers to locations better suited for farming.|
|1935||Social Security Board||SSB||Created by the Social Security Act, provided a welfare safety net for the disabled, elderly, unemployed, and more.|
|1935||Works Progress Administration||WPA||Created to provide employment through the construction of public buildings and roads.|
|1936||United States Maritime Commission||USMC||Provided funding for merchant shipbuilding.|
|1937||United States Housing Authority||USHA||Provided loans from the government to the states for housing projects.|
|1939||Federal Works Agency||FWA||Maintained the construction of public buildings and more.|
Now we can dive further into some of the agencies listed!
The 1933 Agricultural Adjustment Act created the Agricultural Adjustment Agency. Farms had to amp up supplies during World War I, but they didn't stop after the war. This led to farm goods losing a lot of value because of overstock. The Agricultural Adjustment Agency paid farmers not to plant specific crops. They could still farm, just not plants that were in overstock.
The Agency purchased an oversupply of farm goods and resold them to low-income families at a discounted rate. The AAA purchased six million healthy hogs plus even more cows and sheep, then slaughtered them. While this assisted the meat market, it angered many Americans. The way that they saw it was that they were starving, and the government wasted food.
The agency ended in 1942. The AAA had mixed results. Sure, they wasted meat, but farmers' income had risen by 50%! They also supplied many low-income families with food.
The Public Works Administration (PWA) aimed to provide jobs for Americans. The program initially strived to employ people to build public buildings, schools, and homes but later expanded to so much more. Through offshoots of the PWA, artists were hired to paint beautiful murals of the American experience. Furthermore, historians and writers interviewed African Americans who were enslaved.
PWA and African Americans
Harold Ickes, the head of the PWA, spent over forty-five million dollars on work projects for African Americans. Ickes made sure that African Americans were hired to work for the PWA. Compared to the Civilian Conservation Corps, the PWA made a better effort to assist the African American community. After all, the Great Depression hit them the hardest.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, was a preventative administration. One of the causes of the Great Depression was the Wall Street Crash. The SEC was created to monitor the market to prevent another collapse. They watched for insider trading and secret trading designed to increase stock value. This administration has grown weaker over the decades and no longer has the control it originally possessed.
The 1935 Social Security Act created the Social Security Board. This act created a safety net for the American people. Before 1935, it was on the community or the state to provide assistance to people who needed it.
Financial assistance from the government for people on little or no income, or the retired.
A regular fixed payment to help vulnerable members of society or public servants.
The SSB made it the federal government's responsibility to care for its citizens. The SSB managed Social Security. The elderly received a stipend, as did the blind. The unemployed, dependent children, and single mothers received assistance. This program was met with much resistance; Dr Francis Townsend believed it didn't do enough to support the elderly, and many agreed.
Roosevelt's Alphabet Agencies didn't end the Great Depression, but they did assist the American people in a time of need. Many of the Alphabet Soup organisations still exist today, with the Social Security Administration being one of the most important. The New Deal legislation wouldn't have achieved what it did without the countless people who worked to keep it afloat.
Before Roosevelt created the Alphabet Agencies the Great Depression was in full force. In 1933 almost 25% of the population, around 13 million United States citizens were out of employment. One agency alone, the Federal Emergency Relief Administration had employed 20 million in total by 1935. Even in 1939, after years of the New Deal, there was still 15% unemployment, suggesting that the agencies could not completely lift the economy out of the trenches.
Only with the spending that World War II provided could the United States truly be lifted out of the Great Depression, with around 2% unemployment by 1945. The legacies of the agencies live on particularly in terms of social security, employment security and subsidies for agriculture. Perhaps the greatest impact of the New Deal was the expansion of the Federal government through these agencies and a blueprint for how to handle future economic crises.
Some of the main alphabet agencies are the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, the Public Works Administration, the Security and Exchange Commission and the Social Security Board.
Due to the sheer amount of agencies and their acronyms, they are referred to as alphabet agencies.
The Public Works Administration sought to provide jobs for Americans within the public sector.
At least 69 different agencies were created as a result of the New Deal.
Alphabet agencies expanded the executive branch and each had a specific focus that had hitherto not existed in American politics.
What are the Alphabet Agencies?
The agencies created by New Deal Programs.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt did not make concessions to Southern Democrats.
Which of the following was not provided by an alphabet agency?
Hunting and gathering resources for low income families.
The Civilian Conservation Corps hired a multitude of African Americans.
Which agency regulated the farming market?
The Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA).
Why were Americans upset with
the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA)?
The AAA slaughter hogs, cows, and sheep then waste the meat.
The provided jobs to artists, writers, and academics.
The Public Works Administration (PWA).
Which agency monitored the stock market?
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Which agency provided a stipend for the elderly, disabled, and single mothers?
Social Security Board (SSB).
Why did Doctor Townsend oppose the Social Security Board?
He felt that it didn't do enough for the elderly.
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