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: Letter to Pres. and Mrs. Roosevelt

Head Note: This is another letter sent to the White House. This writer voices her thoughts about how Social Security should work. [Please note that we have changed some of the punctuation and spelling in the letter so it will be easier to read.]

Ypsilante Michigan, Jan 24, 1936

Hon Pres. and Mrs Roosevelt—Washington D. C.

Dear friends—A few words from one whom you represent. When Pres. Roosevelt gave his promise to drive "The Money Changers from the Temple," listeners had great hope that at last the common people of the nation would have a hearing but so far he seems zealously to be watching over the interests of financiers and capitalists and the common people are allowed to view a mirage with wonderful promises which disappear on approach.... Pres R. security program is ridiculed and to all of us it is a great disappointment.... We all know streams of money have been steadily flowing into Wall Street from all the corners of this nation and it is by the Federal Gov't alone which has access to all these treasuries that Old Age Pensions should be paid.... There is as much wealth as ever, but where is it?—In the hands of a comparatively few.... Why cannot Pres. R. understand the people know this, and are demanding a re-distribution of wealth instead of a program of debt-debt-debts-for unborn generations to pay. Why is he not taxing the fountain heads of this wealth.... The Townsend Plan while it looked like a fairy tale or the Millennium at first ... as we think of it and examine its details we believe it is workable if really tried....

.... It is the failure to provide ... purchasing power that has wrecked our economic machine. [The] Townsend Plan places this power into the hands of the masses….This U.S. could be a paradise instead of the habitation of misery and want if leaders but let go of selfish interests.


Mrs O. M.
Source: Excerpt from a letter written by a married woman to Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. January 24, 1936. Ypsilante Michigan.

USE THE NOTEBOOK (instructions):


These definitions should help with reading comprehension.

  • zealously: actively, enthusiastically
  • financiers: bankers
  • mirage: an illusion or fantasy, something that doesn't really exist
  • millennium: an imagined future where things are great
  • money changers in the temple: a reference to the New Testament story in which Jesus threw the traders out of the temple because their work was focused on making money rather than on God

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