What is Government’s Role?
HIS II 2112
The Great Depression descended upon the world as the market crash of late 1929 spiraled out of control, from a panic, to a
recession combined with an unthinkable business slump and soaring unemployment. The downward-spiraling economy capped
off a series of panics dating back nearly to Reconstruction. By the time Roosevelt took office in the spring of 1933 the United
States was reeling from the contracting economy. The president’s New Deal was an unprecedented response for American
government in most terms.
Laissez faire approaches of the 19th century gave way to activism and increased centralization. As the United States moved from
a rural and agrarian to urban and industrial nation calls for changes regarding the nature of American government became
louder. Yet at the same time that groups sought protection and stability, others warned of dependence and the invasion of
What’s the Point?
Every election cycle seems to bring the debate of the proper role of government to the forefront. Is government too big, does
government not do enough? Have we lost our original ideals? Because the New Deal changed the way Americans related to their
government, we need to explore what role government plays in our daily lives.
QUESTIONS TO ANSWER: What is the proper role of government in American society? In terms of that role, how radical was a
specific New Deal agency, program, or law of your choosing.
Guidelines + Rubric
In a 5 page, typed paper (not counting a title page), double-spaced, with one inch margins and 12 point font argue your case with
evidence convincingly. Using your text, D2L resources, and documents provided in class, and outside academic sources, develop a
thesis and find evidence to support your assertions. Your paper can use primary, secondary or tertiary sources. When referencing
a work you may choose either or 2 Chicago styles: author-date or footnotes. Both can be found detailed on D2L. Please cite at
least 5 sources. Please make 1 of your sources a primary source. If you choose footnotes, no bibliography is necessary. If you
choose author-date, a bibliography is necessary.
Papers will be assessed on the following criteria: guidelines (did you follow and did you meet them?), evidence (is it provided,
documented, relevant and is it quality?), clarity (can I follow your argument systematically), grammar (are you taking the time
to edit), style (is it interesting and engaging). All criteria will involve a 20 point scale. The five categories added together equal
100 points. Papers are due on D2L at the assigned time. No late papers are accepted.
STEP ONE: Role of
What is the
Have a look at your textbook or chapter 23 of
American Yawp concerning the great
depression and the New Deal. You could also
look at Digital History.
Think deeply about what you believe to be the
proper role of government. Remember that we
looked at 2 very different perspectives from
Herbert Hoover and Huey Long.
After choosing a source, explain what you
believe is the government’s role in society.
More activist and interventionist? More laissez
The New Deal
Role of Government
Choose an entity: a law, agency, or program
from the New Deal. Explain it.
Does that law, agency, or program that you
chose fit your belief in the role of
Hang Your Hat on It
When we make an argument, we need something central to
go back to in order to provide a focusing and consistent
influence. Many times this is a thesis or a perspective. For
our purpose here, seek out historians, politicians, or
thinkers that make a clear argument and go back to it
throughout your writing (what is the role of government).
Historians often times cover very VERY focused topics. When
you choose you law, agency, or program to cover, it may help
to think specifically about one aspect of it rather than the
entire thing. For instance, if I chose the Social Security Act,
that is a pretty big thing to cover. Maybe I should focus on how
it worked in the first year instead of considering everything
What is the role of government?
Choose a part of the New Deal.
Assess the New Deal based on what
you think about government.
STEP THREE: Evaluate
You’ve argued the role of government in America.
You’ve explained the purpose of an agency, law, or
program from the New Deal.
Now, how does that piece of the New Deal fit within
your idea of the role of government? Is it exactly
what government should do? Why? Is it everything
that government should not be doing? Why?
As you assess the pieces of your chosen New Deal
topic, think about why it was created, how it was
carried out, and the results it brought about. Use
evidence from that program, or law ,or agency to
prove your point.
Conceive of what your argument looks like.
What are your major points?
What ties all of your major arguments
As you wrap up your argument, make sure to restate
your thesis and explain why you are right. Try not to
ask new questions that are unanswered. It confuses
the reader and isn’t as philosophical as it seems.
Also, your conclusion needs to have evidence and not
just be an enormous page-long rant. Because it is an
opinion, claims are fine, but including some evidence
in the end helps give weight to your opinions.
As discussed earlier, your paper will
be four pages. That does not include
the cover page and the bibliography
if you are using the author-date
Think of your structure through a
very simple model on the left if you
are having trouble visualizing the
Of course remember to write full
pages, double-spaced, in 12 point
font for consistency.
and the beginnings of
Your explanation of the
New Deal Topic Your assessment of
how your New Deal
topic relates to the
role of government
restatement of thesis,
and its merits
SOURCES + CITATIONS
Your sources should be academic without question.
Also remember that encyclopedias, unless very
specific (Oxford Encyclopedia of Philosophy), should
be avoided. There’s a decent guide here.
We use Chicago style. Footnotes are encouraged. If
you use footnotes, no bibliography is necessary. If
you do not prefer footnotes and want to use the
author-date system (Kuenlen 2017) you MUST
INCLUDE A BIBLIOGRAPHY.
Finally, you must cite a source when you use it. Just
listing sources at the end or in a footer is not
Here are some resources that might help you better
understand the New Deal and get started. Also
remember to look under your “support” tab inside
of the course’s content for more links and tips for
I’ve listed some decent places to start, but D2L also
has lists of great sources that should help you find
solid evidence and investigate your ideas.
Some Historical Sourc
History Assignment on What is Government’s Role