Works Progress Administration Free Essay Samples & Outline

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Sample Essay On Works Progress Administration


When Franklin Roosevelt entered office in March 4, 1933, United States was in its worst recession, in its history. Twenty five percent of the work force was unemployed. Almost two million people citizens of the United States were homeless. In 1929, the industrial production had fallen by more than half. The prices of farm products had fallen by 60% putting farmers in deep trouble. Roosevelt blamed the economic crisis on financiers and bankers, due to their quest for profit and the personal attention of capitalism. Isolationism from world organizations in, American, foreign policy, had dominated widely in the United States in the 1919 (Jenkins & Neustadt 41).

Gerald Nye, who was a senator in early to mid 1930s, bolstered the isolationist movement, with others they succeeded to prevent United States from selling arms abroad. Wall Street crash In October 1929 was the first indicator of the massive depression which then spread worldwide. When the market crashed it marked the beginning of unemployment, poverty, low farm incomes, low profits, deflation and lack of personal development and economic development. The net effect was a sudden loss of trust and confidence in the future economy. This was blamed on high consumer debt, lack of high-growth of different industries, lowered productivity and weak regulated markets that allowed overoptimistic loans by investors and banks (Polenburg 59).

During this period, construction and agriculture industries suffered the most. Franklin provided the New Deal passed in1935. The projects provided jobs to writers’ musicians’ authors and the laborers. Neutrality act was evident before the leadership of Franklin, where the president was denied the discretion to allow the sale of arms to victims of aggression. The failure of banks had begun in 1930, after the market crash, after the farmers defaulted on loans. During this time, no federal deposit insurance existed due to bank failures. People started to withdraw money, changing it into circulation due to fear of losing their savings (Polenburg 18).

The first 100 days can be defined as a special meeting of congress from 1933, March 9th to June 16th the same year that President Roosevelt called for and, in which, a significant legislation became enacted. Simply put, the “First 100 days” refer to the initial assessment that new American presidents undergo as they come up with policies to address serious public concerns. All new American Presidents, in the eve of their first hundred days, try to use the energy from their successful campaign to at least begin implementing the principal promises and programs that come from their debates and primaries (McElvaine 27).

In I933, President Roosevelt had an easy time in coming up with the priorities as the principal goal was to deal with the economic depression. This he successfully managed during the "first hundred days”, as president. In 1933, March 4th, on his first day at work he called for a special meeting. In this meeting, he drove a number of serious through congress that reformed the American agriculture, U.S banking industry and allowed for a recovery of industries (Fraser & Gary 48).

At that same time, President Roosevelt exercised his executive order and created the Tennessee Valley Authority, the administration of Public works and Civilian Conservation Corps. As a result, of these enactments, thousands of Americans went back to work and started building highways, bridges and dams, bridge and the needed systems of public utility. At the time, the Congress was adjourning the special meeting in 1933, on June 16th the Agenda of Roosevelt; the “New Deal” was already in place. Although the economy of America was still staggering, America was back in the fight. Although all the New Deal agenda did not work, Americans still assess the initial performance of all their new presidents using the "First Hundred Days." Of Franklin Roosevelt as the standard (Fraser & Gary 73).

In 1935, the second new deal program referred to as the WPA (Works Progress Administration) was introduced. This program provided relief for almost one third of the jobless Americans by employing these people. The Appropriation of Emergency Relief distributed approximately $5million to aid the troubled population. The Act of Public Utilities Holding Company that disintegrated the 13 companies that employed monopoly of controlling a lot of the utilities of the nation cut down the prices of electricity. The Act of Rural Electrification provided funds from the government to provide electricity to farmstead and hamlets. Additionally, the act of Wealth Tax raised taxes for the rich and corporations. All these laws together made use of corporate wealth, while at the same time improved the incomes of the Americans in dire poverty (McElvaine, 34).

It was responsible for the building major infrastructure projects in the United States. One of the most notable infrastructures that were built during this era was the LaGuardia airport. It is critical to understand that indeed there are other governmental organization that existed that also provided work to the people after the depression, and they include the Civilian Conservation Corps and the public works Administration. However, none of these programs were as huge and extensive as the Work progress administration. This is because it ultimately employed millions of Americans that could otherwise not have been able to work.

In 1939, the WPA was renamed as the Administration of Work Projects, and it became extremely devoted to defense work. In the late 1941, forty percent of the workers of WPA had received employment in the projects of defense. However, after the U.S took part in the Second World War, military service and war work reduced unemployment drastically and, in 1943 June 30th, the WPA was disbanded (Fraser & Gary 22).

The WPA together with the other programs of New Deal met significant opposition in congress from conservatives. In 1939, the Committee of Dies headed by Martin Dies, the Congressman from Texas, investigated supposed influence from communist on the agency. The prime focus was on the project of Federal Theater, which received termination that year. Additionally, a large but loosely allied group of opponents of New Deal, referred to as Old Right included newspaper editors, writers, intellectuals, politicians, and conservatives, both Republicans and Democrats (McElvaine 44).

The Works Progress Administration was instrumental as it employed over 8.5 million people for an average salary of about $41.57 per month. The WPA employees were instrumental in the building of public buildings, airports, roads, bridges and public parks. It is critical to understand that under the direction of one Harry Hopkins who was an ex-social worker, the WPA was able to spend more than $11 million in employment relief before it was eventually cancelled in the year 1943 (McElvaine 93). It is critical to recognize that indeed the work relief program was more expensive as compared to than the direct relief payments. However, it was able to create a great deal of infrastructure in the United States. There was also a saying that went round that argued that ‘give a man a dollar, and you save his body and destroy his spirit. However, give him a job and you save both his body and spirit.’

The Work Progress Administration was able to employ more men as compared to women. It is of the essence to understand that only 13.5% of the Work Progress Administration employees were women its peak in 1938. Initially in the program, there was a decision that had been made to pay women the same wages as those that were being paid to men, however, in practice, they were consigned to lower paying activities such as caring for the elderly, bookbinding, recreation work and nursery school. However, women that were in the professional division were treated equally with men. This was especially in the fields of federal art, writer’s projects, theatre and music.

The WPA was able to support tens of thousands of artists and this fund was able to create over 2,566 murals as well as 17,744 pieces of sculpture which was used to decorate public buildings. I believe the concept of public art was important especially in terms of ensuring the spirits of Americans were raised during this time of great anguish (Polenberg 47). Art has been known to uplift the soul and the art, theatre, music and recreational work was critical in ensuring that Americans had something to cling on. Public art increased dramatically and more art was available to Americans as compared to ever before. It is further of the essence to understand that the WPA programs were instrumental in the creation of the National Foundation for the Arts.


Works Cited

Fraser, S. & Gary G. The Rise and Fall of the New Deal Order. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Press. 2009. Print
Jenkins, R., & Neustadt, R. E. Franklin Delano Roosevelt. New York: Times Books. 2009. Print
McElvaine, R. S. The Depression and New Deal: A History in Documents. New York: Oxford University Press. 2010. Print.
Polenberg, R. The Era of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933-1945: A Brief History with Documents. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's. 2010. Print.