Classroom activity: The Great Depression and New Deal


The Great Depression of the 1930’s was characterized by bank and business failures and high unemployment. Even the agricultural sector was not shielded as a severe drought, known as the Dust Bowl, hit the Mid-West. The New Deal was President Franklin Roosevelt’s program to address the problems of the Depression. He focused on relief to the unemployed by providing jobs through work relief projects. His focus on recovery was to create programs that would provide jobs for individuals that would help rebuild the ability of people to purchase items thus stimulating the economy. Finally, the president sought to reform the parts of the economy that led to the Depression.

Directions: Use the content from the Citizen Bee website to help answer the following questions.


Franklin D. Roosevelt

  1. What were the economic conditions President Roosevelt faced when he took office?
  2. What is an example of a program President Roosevelt instituted to provide relief to those impacted by the Depression? An example of a program designed for recovery of the economy? An example of a program designed to reform or regulate the economy?
  3. How did President Roosevelt react when the Supreme Court struck down some of the New Deal legislation thought to be an unconstitutional expansion of Congressional power?



Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address

  1. What was President Roosevelt addressing when he said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” in his First Inaugural Address?
  2. How did President Roosevelt feel the “normal balance of power” was going to have to be altered to face the economic crisis?

Social Security Act

  1. What aspects of life in the U.S. were impacted by the Social Security Act of 1935?
  2. What role did the Secretary of Labor play in the development of the Social Security program?


Near v. Minnesota

  1. What impact did the use of the “incorporation doctrine” have in the case of Near v. Minnesota?
  2. Since the decision in the case prohibits censoring of newspapers before publication, what recourse do people have if they feel they have been wronged by false accusations by the press?
  3. Why is this case considered an important victory for First Amendment’s protection of freedom of the press?


Schechter Poultry Corporation v. United States

  1. Why is the case sometimes called the “sick chicken” case?
  2. How did the decision in the case deal a blow to President Roosevelt’s New Deal plans for recovery?

Connection Question

  1. The period of the New Deal is considered by historians as a time when the role of the federal government in American life significantly changed. Do you agree or disagree with this assessment. Defend your position.

Click here for a PDF copy of the questions.