In Tennessee Valley; to provide for the agricultural
In 1933, Congress created the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) as a federal corporation.
TVA was perhaps the most original and broad reaching program to come from FDR’s ‘New Deal’ to put America back on its feet. The TVA was created to improve and develop the Tennessee River Basin which reached across 7 states in the South ‘…an act to improve the navigability and to provide for the flood control of the Tennessee River; to provide for reforestation and the proper use of marginal lands in the Tennessee Valley; to provide for the agricultural and industrial development of said valley; to provide for the National Defense.
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..’One of the main concerns of the TVA was to bring electricity to the rural areas in the Valley where few people had access to electricity.
Power companies argued that it was too expensive to string the necessary lines to bring power to rural areas. FDR believed that if private enterprise could not supply electric power to those people, then it was the Government’s responsibility to do so. In 1935, the Rural Electric Administration (REA) was created in order to bring power to the people.
In a 1935 article, Morris Cooke, the head of REA, stated that…’In addition to paying the energy he used, the farmer was expected to advance to the power company most or all of the costs of construction.
..such costs were prohibitive for most farmers.In addition to electric power, the TVA built dams to provide other benefits. The dams serve to increase the water supply in the region, provide flood control and also lakes for recreation. There are nine major dams in the area, which created a navigation channel from Knoxville, TN to Paducah, KY.
The channel connects the Ohio River and serves to lower flooding on the Tennessee, Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Reforestation from flood damage, agricultural assistant and many other programs came from the development of the TVA. FDR’s program brought jobs to many people. Construction of the dams and development of the surrounding areas was a major project.
Labor and materials were both needed to see the project through. Industries moved to the area due to the low cost of power and access to waterways. Towns and communities were built throughout the region for the workers to live in. The Writers Work Project wrote brochures and informational essays on the area to promote it. TVA became a great success and seemed to be just the push the country needed out of the Great Depression.Opposition to TVA came mostly from private enterprise.
Wendall Wilkie, president of a large power utility, Commonwealth and Southern Company led the fight against TVA. Many court cases in the 1930’s involved the TVA and the main thrust of the suits claimed that the government was exceeding its Constitutional powers by entering into the electric business. John Battle, the Executive Secretary of the National Coal Association, testified before Congress and speaking for many others in the utility business stated:”…we are willing to be put out of business if it can be done in a plain straightforward business like manner, but we do object to our Government putting us our of business.”The Alabama Power Company brought a case against TVA that was decided by the Supreme Court.
The Court ruled that TVA had the authority to generate power, sell electricity and distribute that electricity. Once again, in 1939, the Court upheld the TVA Act and it’s Constitutional validity. All in all, the TVA was innovative and successful in turning around the decline of that region in the South. With the cooperation of other State and Federal agencies, Land Grant Colleges and other Works programs, the Tennessee Valley became and remains today a prosperous region in industry and agriculture. Education in the regions has improved and Oak Ridge, Tennessee maintains one of the largest areas of Defense manufacturing and abilities to this day.
The environmental impact is questionable and many incidents of pollution by the factories that line the river have been an issue for many years. Cleanup efforts are under way and environmental impact laws are now in place to protect the valuable resources in the Tennessee Valley. Bibliography:Works Cited”TVA.” Microsoft Encarta. 1998.
CD-ROM”TVA” Online Posting. http://new deal.feri.
org. 2 Dec. 1999.