Civil Work Administration DBQ

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Detail of a WPA poster, c. 1936. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress, LC-USZC2-5193) The WPA: Antidote to the Great Depression? by Nick Taylor When President Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in March 1933, estimates of the number of jobless workers in the United States ranged from thirteen million to as high as fifteen million—a quarter of the working population. Every class of worker was affected: laborers, factory workers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, secretaries, clerks, salesmen and women, teachers, architects, engineers. No one was immune. The new president spelled out the problem in his inaugural address. “Our greatest primary task,” he said, “is to put people to work.” His first steps toward job creation, however, were limited…show more content…
The Public Works Administration, created under Title II of the National Industrial Recovery Act, would build magnificent dams, bridges, and other major projects that took a lot of planning. Its administrator, interior secretary Harold Ickes, deliberated at length before approving project plans, and these factors assured that the PWA had a far greater impact on the national infrastructure than on unemployment. The Civil Works Administration put 4.3 million of the unemployed to work during the winter of 1933–34 but closed, as designed, after just five months; it prevented hardship during a harsh winter but failed to deliver long-term benefits. Roosevelt’s presidency was therefore two years old before he launched his primary attack on unemployment—the Works Progress Administration. Under administrator Harry L. Hopkins, a former social worker who had headed relief efforts in New York when Roosevelt was governor and started the first federal relief agency once Roosevelt was in the White House, the WPA put over three million Americans to work in its first year of operation. Hopkins
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