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America's History in the Making

Resource Archive: Search Results

Oral History Interview with Raymond Moley

" … The rescue was done not by Roosevelt--he signed the papers--but by Hoover leftovers in the administration. They knew what to do.

The bank rescue of 1933 was probably the turning point of the Depression. When people were able to survive the shock of having all the banks closed, and then see the banks open, up, with their money protected, there began to be confidence. Good times were coming. Most of the legislation that came after didn't really help the public. The public helped itself, after it got confidence.

The guarantee of bank deposits was put through by Vice President Garner, Jesse Jones [a Texas banker], and Senator Vandenburg--three conservatives. They rammed it down Roosevelt's throat, and he took credit for it ever after. If you can quiet the little fellows, the big fellows pretty much take care of themselves …

The first New Deal was a radical departure from American life. It put more power in the central government. At the time, it was necessary, especially in the farm area of our economy. Left to itself, farming was in a state of anarchy. Beyond that, there was no need to reorganize in industry. We merely needed to get the farms prospering again and create a market for the industrial products in the cities …

Unemployment insurance is a welfare measure. It isn't insurance in any sense of the word. More and more people were living off fewer and fewer people . . . In 1935, I took a firm stand. I said welfare is a narcotic, because it will never end. We'll have to stop this business and put people to work. The best way to put people to work is to encourage the development of industrial science. The government can't put people to work … "

Studs Terkel, interview with Raymond Moley, The Studs Terkel Program, WFMT, Chicago, 1971.

Creator Gardiner C. Means and Raymond Moley
Context 1971 oral history interviews with Roosevelt's advisors during the Great Depression
Audience Readers of Hard Times and listeners to "The Studs Terkel Program"
Purpose To show the views of Roosevelt's advisors in implementing New Deal policies and programs

Historical Significance

Studs Terkel conducted hundreds of oral history interviews for his book on the Depression, and later used some of these interviews for "The Studs Terkel Program" on WFMT radio in Chicago. The first interview is with Gardiner C. Means, who served as the economic adviser on finance to Henry Wallace, the secretary of agriculture. Means explains his perspective on how the New Deal changed the economy of the United States. The second interview is with Raymond Moley. Moley was a founding member and leader of the "Brain Trust," a group of economists and professors who served as Roosevelt's advisers. Although some newspaper editorials and political cartoons portrayed the Brain Trust as idealists, these men helped to formulate the policies of the first New Deal. Moley supported cooperation between business and government, and leaned to the right in his views on New Deal policies.

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