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Under Hoover, the Shame and Misery Deepened

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Bryce Behr

Period 4


 Mr. Hanlon

“Under Hoover, the Shame and Misery Deepened”: Summary

In the year 1929, there was a stock market collapse in the United States of America. This

moment in history is remembered by many Americans. Even though there was only a small percentage of people that were directly affected by the stock market crash in 1929, it was only the beginning of a long and dreadful depression that will end up affecting the whole entire American population.

Though President Herbert Clark Hoover remained very optimistic about the situation saying that “indicate that the worst effects of the crash upon unemployment will have passed during the next sixty days.” Even though Hoover remained optimistic, he remained oblivious to the shadow that would soon consume America. Unemployment went from 1.5 million to 3.2 million within five months of the crash. Hoover was wrong, and the American public started to question his words. Soon unemployment increased to 7.5 million. By the end of 1929, with unemployment on the rise, factories and shops having ‘closed’ or ‘Out of Business’ signs, and scores of banks failing and taking with then millions of dollars in uninsured deposits, the public did not have much confidence in the financial health of the country especially when 256 banks failed in the single month of November as well as the United States bank which produces over $200 million dollars a year, went under on December 11, 1930. The continuous closure of banks that continued over the course of the next couple were the worst statistics ever produced in the history of the United States.In 1931, there was a loss of nearly $1.7 billion. As this depression continued, the increase in unemployment increased as well approaching 12 million in the first few months of 1932. Many people struggled just to survive, it was seen everywhere. This deprivation spread like the plague, increasing day by day, week by week, never seeming to go away. The deprivation became so large that there very few families that did not experience or witness the pain. The depression hit people all across the country, whether it be those of the wealthy like Daniel Willard: president of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, or in the city of Chicago, New Orleans, the Appalachian mountains. This depression struck throughout the country. Many people went homeless and went in search of work. To travel to find work they railroad hopped on train cars. The Southern Pacific Railroad estimated that its “railroad bulls” had thrown as many as 683,00 transients off of its boxcars in a single year. This transient army, male and female drifted into a dark caravan of desperation from hobo jungle to hobo jungle. Many of these transients went to houses, begging for leftovers, panhandled for pennies on the city sidewalks, stole chickens and cooked up “mulligans” stews out of whatever they found to be edible. If these transients were not participating in this, they were living in rat-infested flophouses when they could afford ten to fifteen cents for a ruin-stained mattress on the floor. President Hoover did not do much in order to help these transients as they struggled to survive. His ideas came from a white, Protestant culture which held up the ideal of Americanism. However whenever the dimensions of the situation reached proportions that could simply not be ignored. Hoover did act. He authorized around $700 million on public works and projects. He set up the Reconstruction Finance Corporation which in early 1932 began doling out the $2 billion that Congress had appropriated to stimulate and prop up industry and agriculture in their time of need. Also, Hoover authorized the creation of the RFC as it became one of the most powerful agencies in New Deal Washington. Hoover believed that the Red Cross would have to help provide local and state support while the government worked many committees out. The Red Cross chapters would depend on money and volunteers in order to complete their effort.



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