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Essay/Term paper: Franklin delano roosevelt

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Humanities

Free essays available online are good but they will not follow the guidelines of your particular writing assignment. If you need a custom term paper on Humanities: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, you can hire a professional writer here to write you a high quality authentic essay. While free essays can be traced by Turnitin (plagiarism detection program), our custom written essays will pass any plagiarism test. Our writing service will save you time and grade.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt is one of our countries best known and most

beloved presidents. He is commonly remembered for taking a tired, beaten,

nation and instilling hope in it. This positive view of Roosevelt is held

by Burns, who paints the picture of a man whose goal was to alleviate our

nation's economic pains. But, is this view too myopic? Is Roosevelt

deserving of such a godly reputation? These questions are posed by Conkin

as he points out the discrimination that underlies many New Deal programs,

and even suggests that many of Roosevelt's actions were for purely political


During the weeks preceding Roosevelt's inauguration the country was engaged

in an economic crisis that was quickly spiraling downward. Banks failed,

people panicked, and the nation looked to someone, anyone, for help.

Hoover, sensing the country's desperation, but realizing his lack of power,

and the feelings of resentment harbored towards him looked to Roosevelt. He

asked the president-elect to join in economic planning, support policies,

and most importantly to reassure the nation. While both authors note

Roosevelt's unwillingness to cooperate with Hoover they site different

reasons for it. Burns talks of Roosevelt's belief that the nation was not

yet his domain, and that Hoover had the authority to handle the situation.

In addition, Burns excuses Roosevelt by maintaining "Roosevelt did not

foresee that the banking situation would reach a dramatic climax on

Inauguration day. No man could have." (P. 148) This position is an

exceedingly benevolent one when contrasted with Conkin's who writes

Roosevelt "did nothing, and helplessly watched the economy collapse, letting

it appear as one last result of Republican incompetence." This measure

allowed Roosevelt to emerge as the "nation's savior," and ally the

Democratic party with this image.

Furthermore, the two authors differ in their assessment of the effect

of public opinion on Roosevelt's actions. Burns gives the impression of a

president who looked to engage all in his coalition. He states,

politically, his cabinet "catered to almost every major group." Burns also

adds, "Roosevelt did not slavishly follow the wishes of group leaders." (P.

150). Roosevelt is portrayed as the paragon of a humanitarian, "he wanted

to help the underdog, though not necessarily at the expense of the top dog.

He believed that private, special interests must be subordinated to the

general interest." (P. 155)

Conkin attempts to poke holes in this idealistic portrayal of Roosevelt.

Conversely, Conkin implies that many of Roosevelt's programs helped the top

dog, at the expense of the underdog. He argues, many New Deal programs

such as the AAA and NRA, ignoreed the plight of the common American, while

helping the politically more influencial sectors of the population.

Similarly, many programs such as the Wagner Act, Social Security, and the

AAA did not apply to migrant labors: those with the least political clout,

and a comparatively low rate of voter turnout.

I have come to be a believer in many of the arguments made by Conkin.

While Burns spends much time praising Roosevelt and focusing on his

successes, he ignores to talk about the non-existent benefits that the New

Deal brought to a significant percentage of the population. He does not

focus on Roosevelt's policy towards blacks. Why? Because Roosevelt's

programs typically did not aid this sector of the population. As noted by

Conkin Roosevelt's AAA led to an increase in unemployment among blacks, and

Roosevelt refused to support an anti-lynching bill, fearing that his support

would alienate the white Southern Democratic vote. My support for Burns'

opinion is strengthened by my additional outside knowledge. Roosevelt's

programs such as the CCC and PWA were not designed, to and mainly did not

include women. Moreover, under the Roosevelt administration a law enacted

which legally allowed only one family member to hold any type of job, this

measure essentially kicked married women out of the workforce.

I think Conkin's argument is much more concrete than Burns'. While Burns

focuses on high figurative language to praise Roosevelt, Conkin gives the

reader concrete examples that serve to cast doubt on this demi-god image of

the former president. What must be understood is that Conkin does not go as

far as to denounce Roosevelt as a leader, he merely makes us look at some of

the short comings of "the New Deal President." To quote Conkin, the man who

in my opinion said it best, "To call Roosevelt a dictator is as

meaningless as calling him a demigod."


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