Library of Congress


The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Presentations and Activities > Timeline
Timeline Home Page
Great Depression and World War II, 1929-1945
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal
The New Deal Was a Failure

Not all Americans supported President Roosevelt or embraced New Deal programs and policies. In the excerpt that follows, from American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 , Dr. Santos, a Cuban-born optometrist, talks about the New Deal and his feelings about President Roosevelt. Why does Dr. Santos believe that the New Deal has been a failure? What plans does he have for making the United States a better place to live? How does he feel about President Roosevelt? Why does he feel the way he does?

View the entire interview with Dr. Santos. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.

As to the New Deal, I believe that it has been a failure as it has protected the trusts more than the American people. Today, the poor are poorer, and the trusts are richer. Another reason: this is a county that is controlled by the trusts. When one stands on the street, and closes his eyes for a moment, and then opens them and looks; everything, absolutely all that one sees is made by the trusts. The automobile that passes by, the street car, the trucks, everything that one wears: shoes, clothes, ets. When one enters a restaurant, he sees the plates, the tables, the spoons, all is made by the trusts. 95% of what one eats is controlled by the trusts. The trusts for more than 200 years have been controlling all the industries, and killing the small business men. We have reached a state in which the trusts dominate all, as they are the owners of the money, or nearly all the money that there is in the United States.

The war can already be seen between one trust and others; the strongest will dominate the weaker trusts, and the capital will be reduced to a few men who will control everything.

In my particular opinion, all is not lost. A few men are necessary, who would have sufficient energy and intelligence to make social laws: as for example, all machines which displace ten men, should give the salary to those ten men. For example, one machine can, manipulated by the number of individuals which it displaces, taking turns by hour. The Capitalist will have the right to a certain equitable percentage, and there cannot be a capitalist who can have as capital more than one million dollars. All that passes this amount the Federal government will confiscate it for the betterment of the community.

The utility companies should be the property of the communities. All poor men who passes 50 years should be pensioned of he government, with a modest pension, but at the same time sufficient for the necessities of each one.

The system of voting in this county should be reformed, as the system that exists nowadays is very antiquated as it is frustrated in nearly all the country. One of the principal things that should be done is the [carnet?] (identification card) with the picture and finger prints to avoid fraud. . . .

We must take into consideration that the American people have more progress and civilization than the rest of the world, who know their rights; who are accustomed to eat and dress, and that today they do not eat nor dress. The American people know that in the United States there is a surplus of food; there is a surplus of clothing; and there is a surplus of everything, while he {?} all.

Days before the NRA, lard was at .07 per pound, today May 1935, lard is at 21. and thus successively all the article, an enormity; but nevertheless, the workers earn less today than before the NRA -- those who work -- and those who do not work, have multiplied to such an extent that if I should say that 25,000,000 workers are without work at the present moment, I would not be mistaken. . . .

I do not believe that Roosevelt will solve this crisis, for if he had wanted to, as he promised to the American people, he would have solved it, as the Legislature and the Senate have given Roosevelt more power than any other president of the United States. . . .

I must state in making these declarations that I was one of so many fools that believing in the so much "cackled" ([casarado?]) New Deal, and that I went to deposit my vote for the one who is today President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who has "[desepcionado?]" (deceived) my most pure illusions with the respect to the solution of this great crisis which effects "en le mas profundo," (4) (in the most profound) the people of the United States. . . .

I wish to state also that I will not vote again for any candidate for President of the United States, who belongs to the Democratic or Republican party, as I believe that anyone of these presidents has not an ideology really democratic and just, for those of us who work, and produce, and are respectful of the law.
top of page

View the entire interview with Dr. Santos from American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.