In the late 1920's, the Great Depression started. In the 1930's president Roosevelt was elected and proposed the New Deal.
In 1929 the Great Depression caused by the stock market crashing. During the 1920's an average of 600 banks failed each year. The value of farmland drops 30 to 40 percent between 1920 and 1929. In 1929 the richest one- percent owned 40 percent of the nation's wealth. More than half of all Americans was living below a minimum subsistence level. Annual per-capita income was $750 and for farm people it was only $273 every year. In 1932 10,000 banks failed since 1929. In 1933 president Roosevelt was inaugurated and it begins the first 100 days of intensive legislative activity.
The Emergency Banking Bill, which strengthened, reorganized and reopened the most solvent banks, was passed overwhelmingly by Congress with little debate. On March 12, Roosevelt announced that the soundest banks would reopen. Hoover had allowed two previous bank panics to run their course, which contributed to over 10,000 bank failures and $2 billion in lost deposits. The bank holiday secured Roosevelt's political reputation, and convinced both Congress and the public that the New Deal was the right road to follow. Roosevelt's strategy consisted of two parts: first, provide relief for those who needed it most, which often involved a redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor. Second, provide long-lasting reform to the nation's economy, through reorganization and the creation of new agencies. Fixated with a balanced budget, and fretful when it was not, Roosevelt made sure that anything given to one sector of the economy was taken from somewhere else. The success of the First 100 Days was important, because it got the New Deal off to a strong and early start. Later, the conservative Supreme Court would declare much of the New Deal unconstitutional, and Roosevelt's political prestige would decline as his policies failed to resolve the Depression. The Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act this bill was passed in response to the Supreme Court's decision that part of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration was unconstitutional. Specifically, the Court ruled against the Domestic Allotment Plan, which paid farmers a subsidy for curtailing their production. The new act allowed the AAA to pay subsidies to farmers who planted soil-enriching rather than staple crops. This addressed the grievances of tenant farmers and sharecroppers, who had been hurt under the previous system. The Fair Labor Standards Act this act established a federal minimum wage and a maximum work week. The first ones were 25 cents an hour and 44 hours, respectively.
The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 was created in response to the Supreme Court's 1936 decision, allowed the AAA to determine acreages for staple export crops and award loans according to stored surplus crops. Roosevelt began relatively modest deficit spending that arrested the slide of the economy and resulted in some astonishing growth numbers. (Roosevelt's average growth of 5.2 percent during the Great Depression is even higher than Reagan's 3.7 percent growth during his so-called "Seven Fat Years!") When 1936 saw a phenomenal record of 14 percent growth, Roosevelt eased back on the deficit spending, overly worried about balancing the budget. But this only caused the economy to slip back into a recession.