In 1932, Americans realized that they had an increasingly
great financial problem on their hands, and tried to correct it by
centralizing power. The President acquired so much power that the
nation almost became a communism, especially with Roosevelt’s
introduction of the New Deal.

When Franklin Roosevelt became President of the United States
in 1933, the nation was in the depths of the worst depression it had
ever experienced. President Roosevelt, a very energetic and
enthusiastic person, inspired the people with his own confidence and
faith in the future. He gathered a group of people sharing his views
to help him, and provided food, clothing, and shelter for millions of
unemployed and poverty-stricken Americans. This was part of what he
called the New Deal, of which his three objectives were relief,
recovery, and reform for American citizens. In another attempt at
recovery, Congress attempted to revive the nation’s agriculture and
industry and place the economy on a solid foundation. They printed
extra money to loan to industries that quickly paid it back. By 1933
nearly 14 million Americans were jobless. In response, the Roosevelt
administration immediately launched what seemed at the time to be a
wonderful program of direct relief. In 2 years, federal agencies
distributed 3 billion dollars to the states. However, the people
unemployed wanted jobs, not welfare, thus the Works Progress
Administration (WPA) came into existence. This helped restore some of
the lost jobs.
By 1936, the New Deal program faced a large and growing body
of opposition, some from within the Democratic Party itself. Many
critics felt that the government was interfering too much with the
free enterprise system, and in doing so, was threatening individualism
and democracy. This absorption of power by the president is what is
known as the Imperial Presidency. By the end of 1938, the opposition
had become so strong that President Roosevelt decided to postpone
other large reforms he had been considering.

Innumerable committees were created to deal with the problems
of the time, and the President was in control of all of them. All
this power that the President acquired caused the executive branch to
become bloated. World War II also prompted the government to recruit
many, many Americans into the army. Since the President has complete
control over the army, a greater army gave him more power. The
president also had control over the federal police. However, with all
the manufacturing that had to take place to accommodate for all the
necessities of war, many new ideas came into action. In order to boost
the economy, power was readily and radically centralized, and the
government introduced the policies of cost plus, resource allocation,
wage & price controls, and prohibition of strikes. Cost plus and
resource allocation gave the government much power to control
industries. The government would withhold certain raw materials from
companies unless they were using them to make war utilities. However,
if they did choose to agree with the government, they could set the
prices for their products and make extra money. Wage and price
controls were another method of the government to boost industry.

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The government would increase the price for which a manufacturer must
sell his goods and the minimum wages allowable for different types of
workers. This made everyone happy because the only person suffering
this way was the consumer – or in this case, the government.

After the Second World War, a cold war with the Soviet Union
began. President Roosevelt anticipated that this cold war would
bankrupt the Soviet union in their trying to outdo America’s weapon
production. Thus the United States had to allocate much of its
production into yet more weapon manufacturing and research. With the
government controlling all of America’s output, economy, and industry,
the nation had moved from a capitalistic economy to nearly a communism
Americans’ social rights had also been tampered with in the
pandemonium caused by the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold
War with Russia. The social revolution in the 1960s made many people
happy, but also gave unnecessary power to the government, especially
the president. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 revoked the right of
states to choose who gets to vote, and let the federal government
decide. The Roe versus Wade case put control over abortion into
federal hands, and Brown versus the Board of Education let the federal
government control segregation in schools and other situations. The
nation has started moving back in the direction from which it came
before World War II, but until now has not readjusted completely. Time
and effort, however, may shift some of the governments – and
president’s – power acquired during the 20’s back into citizen hands.

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