Outlining Exams: The New Deal: Revolution, Reform, or Retrenchment?

All three. Check it:

Thesis: The New Deal was an immediately experience revolution that grew into retrenchment and left a legacy of reform.
I. Study of New Deal should begin with appreciation of accomplishments.
— Leuchtenberg gets it, see essay “The Achievement of the New Deal”.  Alternately, go look at any number of airports, bridges, social security offices, libraries with WPA histories, on-line collections of slave narratives, etc. and so forth.
— Not just in retrospect, either: during FDR’s first one hundred days and again after re-election, things could seem quite radical
— Scholars need to appreciate the lived experience of Americans during the New Deal.  And it was radical.  Man.

II. But: Conservative response and retrenchment
— See Brinkley on fears of radicalism (Coughlin, Long, Townsend, Sinclair)
— See Katznelson re: policies that reinforced racial categories and hierarchy
— See Worster for the Great Plains rejecting government planning (although not government dollars–of course, they always wanted that)

III. Legacy of Reform
— Capitalism saved in 100 days (see David Kennedy)
— Executive office transformed (see Leuchtenberg)
— Conservationism as enriching farmers and favoring industrial approach (Sarah Phillips) and environmentalism becoming part of American experience (Maher)
— Moderate, careful, cautious spending–see Ickes as developed by Smith in his analysis of public works projects

IV. Which is best interpretation?  Depends on purpose of analysis.
— Historical experience: Revolution
— Measuring change over time: Retrenchment
— Evaluating historical contribution: Reform

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