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The Great Depression

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Assess the impacts the Great Depression had on aspects of New York society (1929-1939)

The Great Depression had a divesting impact in New York, the city where it began. It reshaped the nation as such unemployment, poverty and homelessness had never been known in the United States before. The abruptness of the Great Depression affected many aspects of New York society severely; these included the government, upper class, working class, businessmen, farmers and immigrants. Although the Depression did not affect these classes equally, the economical crisis socially impacted many families. The Depression disrupted the lives of millions and acknowledged itself as the greatest economic downfall in American history.

The government was affected by the depression as its popularity decreased resulting in a change of power. President Herbert Hoover's popularity plummeted as his "Laissez-faie policies" allowed the crash to occur. The people thought he had abandoned them in their greatest time of need, especially when he stated that assisting people with welfare would put the government in debt Realistically, welfare programs would have relieved suffering and increased consumer demand. He was defeated on the 4th March 1933 by Franklin D. Roosevelt. As apart of the New Deal , during his first term Roosevelt aimed to introduce measures to help people spend money again to increase consumer growth. He also set up a committee in 1932 to investigate stock exchange practices exposing controversial behaviors such as 'market rigging' . Another behavior he investigated was bribing journalists to write favorable reports and spreading rumors about rises in stock value. The New Deal sought to save the fundamental institutions of American society and Roosevelt's unfailing optimism contributed to a renewal of the national spirit and lifted the US out of the Depression.

The Great Depression affected the upper class the least out of all the social classes. As a whole they retained much of their fortune, some were so comfortable as to boast about their wealth. After Roosevelt became president he catered to the mass of Americans most needy, ignoring the interests of the upper class. They were already tense over their financial futures, which heightened class tensions as the upper class began to resent their social inferiors. The New Deal programs forced the upper class to pay higher taxes, which benefited the people on welfare. They felt it was not their responsibility to provide for those who couldn't support themselves. Although in the end the upper class children still received excellent educations and were treated to many luxuries. The 1933 consumer boom in radios, cars and house hold appliances were enjoyed by the minority, although there were not enough of them to sustain big increases in manufacturing. Many high profile upper class men were affected by the Depression, one being William Crapo Durant who was the founder of general motors and lost $40 million and declared himself bankrupt in 1936 . Suicide was also present during this time as ruined speculators took their lives; the head of Rochester gas and electrical company gassed himself. The many wealthy men that were ruined by the Depression had a detrimental affect on the economies sustainability.

The working class also suffered severely from the Depression, although they did receive the most assistance from the government. Between 1929-35 only 60% of Americans remained on incomes at or below the level necessary for basic living many forces to live in 'Hoovervills.' For the working class much humiliation and indignity was upon the men, for many felt personal shame in asking for handouts. Soup kitchens were set up and those lining up named themselves as 'a generation of wonderers.' After Roosevelt took control of the government in 1933 many were accepting of a president who was more willing to experiment in economic recoveries. Two of the welfare programs benefiting the working class were the Workers Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Consecration Corps (CCC). The WPA provided millions with jobs for 8 years and paid them a max of 30 hours a week. They improved roads, water conservation, sanitation, flood control and extended electricity. Almost every community had a new park, bridge, or school constructed by the agency. The CCC offered jobs for young men between the ages of 18-25 and they focused on the development of natural resources in lands owned by federal, state and local governments. The CCC improved the physical condition, heightened morale and increased employability for many men. While these two programs helped lift the USA out of the Depression many men were still suffering the affects of homelessness, starvation,



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