Down And Out In The Great Depression

1333 words - 5 pages

During the 1920’s, America was a prosperous nation going through the “Big Boom” and loving every second of it. However, this fortune didn’t last long, because with the 1930’s came a period of serious economic recession, a period called the Great Depression. By 1933, a quarter of the nation’s workers (about 40 million) were without jobs. The weekly income rate dropped from $24.76 per week in 1929 to $16.65 per week in 1933 (McElvaine, 8). After President Hoover failed to rectify the recession situation, Franklin D. Roosevelt began his term with the hopeful New Deal. In two installments, Roosevelt hoped to relieve short term suffering with the first, and redistribution of money amongst the poor with the second. Throughout these years of the depression, many Americans spoke their minds through pen and paper. Many criticized Hoover’s policies of the early Depression and praised the Roosevelts’ efforts. Each opinion about the causes and solutions of the Great Depression are based upon economic, racial and social standing in America.
At the start of the Depression, many letters (mostly discouraging) were sent to President Hoover. These letters came primarily from well-to-do citizens, however some leftist workers’ letters found their way in as well. The well-to-do citizens agreed that the ultimate cause of the lower classes’ depression was their laziness and incompetence. On top of that, these well-to-do citizens thanked Hoover, probably because their money had gone unscathed (McElvaine, 38). Some opinions weren’t as favorable for the Hoover administration, however. Some people believed that “engineers may be intelligent but poor presidents” (pp. 43). Finally, the leftist parties did not appreciate the endeavors of the Hoover presidency. “As I have a lot of ‘Hoover time’ on my hands, would like to improve it. Please let me know where I can get some Socialist literature” (pp. 46).
After the Hoover years, however, a man portrayed as a father figure became some of the nation’s citizens’ only hope, Franklin D. Roosevelt. The middle-class, sometimes seen as hit the hardest by the Depression, pleaded with the Roosevelt administration for any help, but remained very proud in doing so. Many begged to remain anonymous. Also, like many other classes, the members of the middle-class didn’t want charity or handouts; they just wanted employment, or possibly a loan (pp. 53-4). No one took pride in having to write these letters. Many had to swallow their pride just to get pen to paper. “It is very humiliating for me to have to write to you” one Depression victim wrote (pp. 62). Middle-class citizens, like the rural citizens, wanted nothing less than the blacks to take their employment (pp. 94). The rural citizens also turned to the Roosevelt administration as a beacon of hope. The cherished the values of independence and hard work, so they asked only for employment or a loan (pp. 69). Their ideal solution to this economic terror was employment, as a result. They...

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