Historians agree that Social Security is at the heart of New Deal reform. Given that, what does Social Security tell us about the set of policies and programs called the New Deal? (Read each source below, then answer the questions in the notebook. Ask your teacher for an inquiry organizer worksheet to help you think about the ways that the sources support and contradict each other.)


READ: Share Our Wealth

Head Note: Senator Huey Long, Governor of Louisiana from 1928-1932, was well known for his powerful speeches and radical politics. In his “Share the Wealth” speech, he outlined his plan for restoring economic strength through new laws. This plan became the foundation for more than 25,000 Share Our Wealth societies across America with more than 4.5 million members by 1935.

People of America: In every community get together at once and organize a share-our-wealth society--Motto: Every man a king

Principles and platform:

1. To limit poverty by providing that every deserving family shall share in the wealth of America for not less than one third of the average wealth, thereby to possess not less than $5,000 free of debt.

2. To limit fortunes to such a few million dollars as will allow the balance of the American people to share in the wealth and profits of the land.

3. Old-age pensions of $30 per month to persons over 60 years of age who do not earn as much as $1,000 per year or who possess less than $10,000 in cash or property, thereby to remove from the field of labor in times of unemployment those who have contributed their share to the public service.1

4. To limit the hours of work to such an extent as to prevent overproduction and to give the workers of America some share in the recreations, conveniences, and luxuries of life.

5. To balance agricultural production with what can be sold and consumed according to the laws of God....

6. To care for the veterans of our wars.

7. Taxation to run the Government to be supported, first, by reducing big fortunes from the top....

We propose to help our people into the place where the Lord said was their rightful own and no more....

There is nothing wrong with the United States. We have more food than we can eat. We have more clothes and things out of which to make clothes than we can wear. We have more houses and lands than the whole 120 million can use if they all had good homes. So what is the trouble? Nothing except that a handful of men have everything and the balance of the people have nothing if their debts were paid. There should be every man a king in this land flowing with milk and honey instead of the lords of finance at the top and slaves and peasants at the bottom.

1Listen to historian Mike O'Malley talk about salaries in the resource section on the Townsend document for help figuring out what these numbers mean.

Source: Excerpt from Senator Huey Long’s “Share the Wealth” speech, The Congressional Record, February 5, 1934.

USE THE NOTEBOOK (instructions):

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Close Reading: Read carefully to consider what a source says and the language used to say it.

What is the central trouble in America according to Long?

Close Reading: Read carefully to consider what a source says and the language used to say it.

What program does Long recommend for old-age pensions? How does he think old-age pensions help the problem of unemployment?

Corroborating: Check important details across multiple sources to determine points of agreement and disagreement.

What were different views about how to help the poor during the Great Depression? Use specific examples and quotes from the 1931 advertisements and Long document in your answer.

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