Franklin Roosevelt came into office at one of the most desperate times of our nation's history: The Depression was raging, the banks were closed, and more than half of Americans were out of work. His actions, however, during his first hundred days brought hope into the hearts of people everywhere. Especially miraculous was what he did for the poor, for at that time, welfare help was so passive as to be called non-existent. Other than programs formed by the people themselves to help the poor, (or, more specifically, those who could afford to form such programs), there were few government efforts to reach out to those who needed help.
This was a fact that Roosevelt was painfully aware of: He knew how much the less-than-average American suffered, and he wanted to help. So he set up a new welfare plan as part of the New Deal. This plan was designed to target the homeless, the elderly, and especially those who had gone overboard in reproducing, namely, those with a lot of children. The welfare plan took effect at some point during his first term, and, though modified, lasted remarkably well. The way it worked was similar to the welfare of today: The poor were issued slips of paper which ensured them a ration in the increasing bread lines, as well as entitled them to a small amount of money from once a month to three times a year, depending on their condition. True, most of Americans were poor, but this program focused toward the poorer of the lot: the physically challenged, Negroes, children, and the elderly.
Bread lines were not a new thing, for they had been organized before. But never before had so much money been spent by the government to ensure that the people eat, nor to finance new bread-distribution centers. The latter was especially hard, for dear Mother Nature picked this time to heave the Great Dust Storms upon the Mid-West, causing a grain shortage in the U.S. Thus, most of the bread had to be imported using government money.
Though many disagree, the general opinion is that Roosevelt single-handedly saved the nation from ruin by moving from the bottom up, that is, helping those at the base of society's pyramid first, then moving to the few who could scrape by better. The rich never got a single penny, nor did they particularly need it, for those were the people who had most profited from the Depression. This way, Roosevelt had managed to guide the country in its first steps toward recovery.
But how does this connect with today? Franklin Roosevelt's creation of the concept that the government had an economic responsibility to its citizens had an enormous impact on the world of today. Millions upon millions of people have been helped by the welfare programs which have risen from Roosevelt's programs' humble beginnings. His programs can be directly tied to the eventual rise of the nation's blacks and other impoverished minorities, such as the Asians of the West Coast and the Irish immigrants and others flowing in at a daily rate through the gates of Ellis Island. His programs helped uncountable thousands rise from the brink of economic oblivion and become successful and happy members of society.