1930's Reasearch Project
By: Mark Pfohl
The 1930's were a time of turmoil and frustration for the American people. The Great Depression was felt all throughout the country and could be seen in all aspects of the American culture. The Great Depression's effects were prevalent throughout the entire 1930's and are exhibited in the art, music, and photographs from the era. Beginning in 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt began a series of economic relief programs to jump start the economy. Without this stimulus, American may not of survived the depression.
As the Great Depression peaked in 1933, unemployment rates neared 25% of the U.S. working age population. This massive unemployment was due to nearly $4.00 out of every $10.00 being spent in stocks, which became worthless during the crash of 1929. The First New Deal bailed out the banks, but people in America were still starving every day.
The New Deals
The First New Deal concentrated on immediate relief of the American people. FDR's inauguration was during the bank panic or "Bank Run." Due to this loss of confidence in banks, the Emergency Banking Act was passed. This stabilized the banking system for the time being but the economic crisis was far from being over.
The First New Deal
The First New Deal included a record number of bills being passed through congress. This included the creation of the Public Works Administration. This greatly increased government funded job opportunities throughout the country. The repeal of Prohibition was also involved with the New Deal. This repeal re-opened the alcohol market in America which created thousands of new jobs. With a strong foundation laid, the Second New Deal would build off the first to continue the reconstruction of the American economy.
The Second New Deal
The Second New Deal was enacted in 1935 and many of the programs created still remain today. The Second New Deal included the installment of Social Security, the "Wagner Act", and the electrification of rural America. Along with these reforms, many utility-owning companies were broken up by the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935. These reforms set America up for the rebuilding of the economy. However, the stock market would not return to it's pre-depression numbers until 1954.
Results of the New Deals
The New Deals had greatly improved the status of the average American. With the relief of hunger, creation of new jobs, and bank stabilization, the supply and demand balance of the economy was on the track to return to healthy levels. The New Deals also added a safety net for future economic issues such as social security and other unemployment programs. With these building blocks, the U.S. economy would be able to recover through the catalyst of demand that was created by WWII.
Culture of the Great Depression
The Great Depression was reflected greatly in the art, poetry, and music of the time. Many songs had a depressing undertone to them, along with lyrics of economic woes and worries due to the current state of the economy. Art and poetry also reflected the overall sadness caused by the Great Depression.
Harry Lilles "Bing" Crosby was a multimedia star whose fame began in the 1930's. Crosby was the first popular singer to harness the technology and techniques many musicians continue to use today. Crosby was the first to use editing, rehearsal, and multiple takes, that were all used to produce recordings to use for his radio performances. This innovation in music ushered in the Golden Age of Radio and launched Bing Crosby into stardom.
Brother Can You Spare a Dime?
One of the most well known songs of the Great Depression was "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?" written by E.Y. Harburg and Jay Gorney. Although not written by Bing Crosby, the song was most well known by the recording of Crosby's rendition.This recording would become the best selling record of it's time and is still popular in modern times.
Poetry of the 1930s
Poetry in the 1930s greatly reflected the living conditions of the average American. The Great Depression led to the laments of many poets of the era. African American's trials and tribulations were also greatly mentioned as the first African American poets began to compose publicly for the first time in America. Langston Hughes was a pioneer of African American Poets.
James Mercer Langston Hughes was one of the first innovators of "jazzy poetry" and a leader of the Harlem Renaissance. Hughes had a rough upbringing yet was able to attend Columbia University for a year until he dropped out due to racial prejudice. After traveling abroad, Hughes attended Lincoln University and received his bachelors degree while also writing poetry. Hughes pursued poetry for his entire life and greatly benefited the African American community and culture of his time.
Let American be America Again
"Let America be America Again" was one of Langston Hughes's most popular poems. The poem speaks of the American dream that never could occur for the lower class citizens in America. The poem also references equality and freedom that every immigrant wished for but could never attain in America.
Impact of the 1930s
The cultural, economic, and government changes that occurred in the 1930s would continue to form the modern day America. The 1930s included many new genres of music, poetry, and literature. The economic downfalls and poor government decisions made would be used as references of experience for years to come in order to progress as a nation. The 1930s were an extraordinary decade of American history that will be learned from for decades to come .
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