THE NATION CONFRONTS THE GREAT DEPRESSION.
In the roaring twenties, the United States enjoyed unheard of prosperity. Industry and agriculture alike profited from the thriving economy. But, as we know, on October 24,1929, dubbed "Black Thursday, the stock market crashed. As a result, the national economy fell into an unprecedented period of depression. The stark statistics added to the distress of the millions of people who lost jobs, savings, and a way of life accustomed to.
The onset of the depression in both rural and urban areas demonstrated the inability of the US economy to cope with the impact of the crash. By the 1030's, thirteen million workers lost their jobs. The blacks and unskilled workers were always the first to be fired. To the citizen living in America in the 1030"s, it seemed that everything that could go wrong did for business and agriculture alike. Many farmers lost their land and became temporary workers or sharecroppers. Property owners lost their rental income and some, their homes. They moved with their families to locations less desirable. There, they resorted to performing odd jobs in order to pay for groceries and support themselves and their family. People survived by standing in bread lines or going to soup kitchens. The inequality in wealth meant that the middle and lower classes would be more deeply affected by the depression that they would have had there been greater equality.
Voluntary charity simply could not cope with the situations. Only public agencies could deal with the collapse of the economy, mass unemployment, and the widespread destitution. President Hoover opposed federal aid for a variety of reasons. In his opinion, it would delay the natural forces at work to restore prosperity, impair the credit and solvency of the government, and it would stop voluntary giving to name a few. The belief and fear that public assistance would demoralize and enslave its recipients while private charity would not was, an old idea that long since had been outmoded.