Saturday, March 24, 2007

What Will Be Next?

On May 11, 2007 the AP U.S. history test will take place. This is one of the most difficult exams ever created! To add to the difficulty, the student doesn't know what topics will be given to write an essay about or the multiple choice questions. Several AP students are worried about how well they'll do, but these worries do not include me because I will be prepared. The four essay topics may consist of Manifest Destiny, World War 2, foreign affairs, and domestic affairs in the U.S. The DBQ (Document Based Question) will probably be based on Jacksonian Democracy. From examining previous questions, the DBQ's tend to ask about events further back in history. It seems as though the more years go past, the creators of the test ask questions about less recent historical events. From reviewing the four essay questions from prior years, it appears that the same topics will not be discussed every year. New subjects are being placed on the exam. Therefore, fresh new events should be expected.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

WW2: FDR Circumvents the U.S.'s Policy of Neutrality

Prior to World War 2 in the year of 1939, President Roosevelt faced a great amount of opposition from his own people. A conflict between Britain and Germany had arose. As citizens strived to maintain an isolationist policy within the U.S., Roosevelt searched for ways to circumvent the established policy that restricted the U.S.'s interaction with other countries. Although Great Britain was a major world power, it was in dire need of help in the war. Despite President Roosevelt's desire to create a policy in which allowed him to aid Britain in the war, several factors were obstacles that limited certain actions he was permitted to take when it came to foreign affairs. The Neutrality Acts prohibited the U.S. from intervening in any foreign conflicts that did not involve them. The America First Committee sought to maintain a policy in which America was isolated, or separated, from other nations and opposed Roosevelt's decision to be an aid to Great Britain. However, over time, President Roosevelt discovered methods that allowed him to assist Britain in the war.

The Neutrality Acts were bills passed in order to refrain America from becoming involved with disputes between nations that didn't require their presence. Therefore, U.S. Congress passed neutrality acts in 1935, 1936, 1937 that kept its country out of foreign conflicts. These laws included the requirement of the president to deny the ships of belligerent countries in American ports to the prevention of exports to nations that were at war. In 1934 Senator Hiram Johnson passed a bill, known as the Johnson Act. This act forbade further loans from the U.S. to foreign nations that didn't pay off prior debts. Because certain actions of the president were prohibited by these laws, Roosevelt possessed a dilemma. He could either abide by his country's rules or follow his own desires of helping Great Britain and violating his country's policy of neutrality.

In addition to individual opposition to Roosevelt's desire to assist Britain in WW2, movements were created that also were against his actions. The America First Committee was an isolationist movement that believed isolationism was best for the U.S. However, America's neutrality and isolationist policy has been questioned by many over time. The objective of this organization was to keep America separated from other foreign nations so that it could maintain its neutral position. Because so many people felt as though Roosevelt would be violating this established policy by helping a country that was at war, he faced a great amount of opposition.

Although several citizens of America were against Roosevelt's proposed actions, he still was determined to discover ways to circumvent the established policy and assist Britain in their conflict with the Axis Powers. "Cash and Carry" stated that belligerents were allowed to buy weapons from the U.S. if they used their known vessels to transport them and paid in cash. Roosevelt felt this policy was not in violation of the Neutrality Acts because it gave any nation at war access to U.S. products. Still, Britain would be the country that benefited. After eliminating cash and carry, Roosevelt gave the British credit so they could purchase more military supplies. The Lend-Lease Act became a law in 1941 despite isolationist and neutrality advocates opposition. Britain permitted the U.S. to construct military bases on their Caribbean islands in return for 50 U.S. Navy destroyers. These policies were all a part of President Roosevelt's creative method to discretely go around America's isolationist and neutrality policy.

To conclude, FDR found a creative way to make a policy that didn't seem to violate the U.S.'s impartial policy. In spite of the many acts and organizations established that expressed their opposition to his actions, Roosevelt still made his country an aid to a nation involved in a war that did not include them. However, America was not aware that it would soon become an addition to this conflict.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

World of Depression: FDR is U.S. Savior

In the year of 1929, the Great Depression struck the U.S. and had a major effect on the nation's functions, such as the economy. Unemployment rates increased, farmers' incomes decreased, and the social sector was dramatically hit. New investments decreased while homelessness increased. America was headed in a downward spiral to destruction. However, in 1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president. He had officially become the country's "savior." FDR's responses to the Great Depression succeeded in upholding the U.S. as a capitalist nation and allowed the federal government to become more involved in domestic affairs. He established a reform program known as the New Deal to possibly assist America out of its condition. Several agencies, organizations, and acts were created for unemployment relief and stimulation of the economy. The African American population and women benefited from many New Deal establishments. Laws were also passed in order to meet the needs of the people.

FDR's New Deal program created several agencies, organizations, and acts to decrease unemployment and stimulate the economy.The Emergency Banking Relief Act was passed in 1933. FDR closed down all banks for 4 days and reopened only those that were solvent. The gold standard was dissolved and paper currency was brought into the nation. The government felt paper money was a more efficient way to count the amount of money in the system. In 1933, the Glass-Steagall Act was also passed. $1 billion was added to the economy, commercial banks were prohibited from excess speculation, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was created which gave bank deposits up to $5,000. Many young men were hired to do conservation work by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Employment was provided and additional money was placed into the economy. The Securities and Exchange Commission was made to reduce wild speculation and regulate the stock market. Senator Robert Wagner wrote a letter in 1934 stating how he believed business would lead to employment. The Wagner- Connery Act also known as the National Labor Relations Act gave workers the right to join and form unions and collective bargaining. John Lewis expressed his support of workers' new rights on a radio broadcast in 1936. Unemployment rates appeared to decrease between the 1930 and 1940 which were the years of FDR's presidency.

The New Deal had a beneficial effect on the conditions of the black population and women. Women suffered from unemployment which caused them to struggle in order to provide for their families. Like African Americans, they were one of the first to get fired. Females were often denied employment for certain jobs that required competition with men and seldom received promotions. Blacks also possessed a low position in society. Black farmers lost their property and were forced to move away. However, both groups gained employment by the Works Progress Administration and the National Recovery Act. Frances Perkins became the first woman to hold a cabinet position as secretary of labor. The first black federal judge was appointed and blacks were delegates to the Democratic National Convention for the first time in history. Meridel Lesueur expressed her support for women who were forced to undergo hunger, homelessness, and hunger in 1932. An editorial entitled "The Roosevelt Record" in 1940 told how the government had given African Americans meaning and substance for the first time.

The federal government became more involved with the U.S.'s domestic problems by establishing laws that met the needs of the people.The Social Security Act created a trust fund that employers and employees contributed to. Once an individual became 65 years of age, they were allowed to retire and receive payments every month. People with disabilities, those unemployed, and dependent mothers were also included in this act. Taxes were restructured by placing a higher income tax on the wealthy and on capital gains. The Rural Electrification Administration was made to give electricity to rural communities. The Resettlement Administration gave assistance to farmers and sharecroppers which were a part of the agrarian sector of the economy.

To conclude, the programs established by the New Deal required the federal government to use a great amount of money in order to accumulate capital for the expansion of the economy. By doing so, FDR's administration was maintaining a capitalist system which was one of its main objectives. Because the government gave more assistance to the people, the entire nation benefited from its actions.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

What About the Social Aspect!

In the year of 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) was America's first Democratic president in twelve years. During his presidency, he took steps in order to restore the U.S. nation from a massive depression that struck in 1929. He established a reform program called the New Deal. The New Deal did not go far in confronting the social problems within the U.S. about women and minorities, but its central focus was to maintain a capitalist economy. Although African Americans, classified as minorities, began to place their faith in FDR, he did not possess much concern for their condition and position in society. Women were also placed in lower positions within society and FDR's response was similar to that of the black population. However, the New Deal established several programs and acts which benefited the nation's economy a great deal.

The African American population had begun to support and revere FDR' s position as president. However, they did not receive the same support from him. Blacks were usually the last people hired or the first fired from several jobs. New Deal agencies would discriminate against blacks by entirely excluding them. Many black sharecroppers lost their land due to the AAA (Agricultural Adjustment Act) which required them to reduce crop yields and increase prices. Although African Americans were exploited, FDR attempted to address these problems by appointing the first black federal judge in U.S. history and making a Civil Rights Division within the Department of Justice. It appeared as though he took these few actions in order to make it appear to people that he possessed some concern for the minority population.

Women were placed in lower positions in society by being classified as inferior to men. Several females were paid wages that were lower than those of a male. They seldom received promotions and were often denied jobs that required a competition with men. As with the black population, women reaped very little benefits from the New Deal. They received employment from New Deal agencies and the first woman was appointed by FDR to hold a cabinet position as secretary of labor. Even though changes by the New Deal were observed, these actions did not seem to be taken out of concern, but to prevent controversies.

Unlike its response to the problems with minorities and women, the New Deal established several programs and acts that benefited the nation's economy. Its main objective was to preserve capitalism in the U.S. The New Deal restructured taxes by placing a higher income tax on the wealthy and capital gains. The Glass-Steagall Act was created to prohibit commercial banks from speculating excessively. It also added $1 billion to the economy in gold and made the FDIC which gave bank deposits up to $5,000. The Securities and Exchange Commission was created to regulate the stock market and reduce wild speculation. All of these actions, and others in addition, contributed to the New Deal's goal to maintain capitalism in America.

To conclude, it was evident that the New Deal was more focused on the economic status of the U.S. than the social aspect. FDR took certain actions that seemed to be done out of obligation and not concern for specific groups of people, such as minorities and women. Accumulating money had been the main objective of this reform program.