Tag Archives: The Great Depression

THE GREAT DEPRESSION AND PHOTOS OF THE DROUGHT STRICKEN AREA OF THE AMERICAN MIDWEST

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The Great Depression

  • The Great Depression (1929-39) was the deepest and longest-lasting economic downturn in the history of the Western industrialized world. In the United States, the Great Depression began soon after the stock market crash of October 1929, which sent Wall Street into a panic and wiped out millions of investors. Over the next several years, consumer spending and investment dropped, causing steep declines in industrial output and rising levels of unemployment as failing companies laid off workers. By 1933, when the Great Depression reached its nadir, some 13 to 15 million Americans were unemployed and nearly half of the country’s banks had failed. Though the relief and reform measures put into place by President Franklin D. Roosevelt helped lessen the worst effects of the Great Depression in the 1930s, the economy would not fully turn around until after 1939, when World War II kicked American industry into high gear.

The American economy entered an ordinary recession during the summer of 1929, as consumer spending dropped and unsold goods began to pile up, slowing production. At the same time, stock prices continued to rise, and by the fall of that year had reached levels that could not be justified by anticipated future earnings. On October 24, 1929, the stock market bubble finally burst, as investors began dumping shares en masse. A record 12.9 million shares were traded that day, known as “Black Thursday.” Five days later, on “Black Tuesday” some 16 million shares were traded after another wave of panic swept Wall Street. Millions of shares ended up worthless, and those investors who had bought stocks “on margin” (with borrowed money) were wiped out completely.

As consumer confidence vanished in the wake of the stock market crash, the downturn in spending and investment led factories and other businesses to slow down production and construction and begin firing their workers. For those who were lucky enough to remain employed, wages fell and buying power decreased. Many Americans forced to buy on credit fell into debt, and the number of foreclosures and repossessions climbed steadily. The adherence to the gold standard, which joined countries around the world in a fixed currency exchange, helped spread the Depression from the United States throughout the world, especially in Europe.

Despite assurances from President Herbert Hoover and other leaders that the crisis would run its course, matters continued to get worse over the next three years. By 1930, 4 million Americans looking for work could not find it; that number had risen to 6 million in 1931. Meanwhile, the country’s industrial production had dropped by half. Bread lines, soup kitchens and rising numbers of homeless people became more and more common in America’s towns and cities. Farmers (who had been struggling with their own economic depression for much of the 1920s due to drought and falling food prices) couldn’t afford to harvest their crops, and were forced to leave them rotting in the fields while people elsewhere starved.

In the fall of 1930, the first of four waves of banking panics began, as large numbers of investors lost confidence in the solvency of their banks and demanded deposits in cash, forcing banks to liquidate loans in order to supplement their insufficient cash reserves on hand. Bank runs swept the United States again in the spring and fall of 1931 and the fall of 1932, and by early 1933 thousands of banks had closed their doors. In the face of this dire situation, Hoover’s administration tried supporting failing banks and other institutions with government loans; the idea was that the banks in turn would loan to businesses, which would be able to hire back their employees.

Hoover, a Republican who had formerly served as U.S. secretary of commerce, believed that government should not directly intervene in the economy, and that it did not have the responsibility to create jobs or provide economic relief for its citizens. In 1932, however, with the country mired in the depths of the Great Depression and some 13-15 million people (or more than 20 percent of the U.S. population at the time) unemployed, Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt won an overwhelming victory in the presidential election. By Inauguration Day (March 4, 1933), every U.S. state had ordered all remaining banks to close at the end of the fourth wave of banking panics, and the U.S. Treasury didn’t have enough cash to pay all government workers. Nonetheless, FDR (as he was known) projected a calm energy and optimism, famously declaring that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Roosevelt took immediate action to address the country’s economic woes, first announcing a four-day “bank holiday” during which all banks would close so that Congress could pass reform legislation and reopen those banks determined to be sound. He also began addressing the public directly over the radio in a series of talks, and these so-called “fireside chats” went a long way towards restoring public confidence. During Roosevelt’s first 100 days in office, his administration passed legislation that aimed to stabilize industrial and agricultural production, create jobs and stimulate recovery. In addition, Roosevelt sought to reform the financial system, creating the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to protect depositors’ accounts and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to regulate the stock market and prevent abuses of the kind that led to the 1929 crash.

Among the programs and institutions of the New Deal that aided in recovery from the Great Depression were the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which built dams and hydroelectric projects to control flooding and provide electric power to the impoverished Tennessee Valley region of the South, and the Works Project Administration (WPA), a permanent jobs program that employed 8.5 million people from 1935 to 1943. After showing early signs of recovery beginning in the spring of 1933, the economy continued to improve throughout the next three years, during which real GDP (adjusted for inflation) grew at an average rate of 9 percent per year. A sharp recession hit in 1937, caused in part by the Federal Reserve’s decision to increase its requirements for money in reserve. Though the economy began improving again in 1938, this second severe contraction reversed many of the gains in production and employment and prolonged the effects of the Great Depression through the end of the decade.

Depression-era hardships had fueled the rise of extremist political movements in various European countries, most notably that of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime in Germany. German aggression led war to break out in Europe in 1939, and the WPA turned its attention to strengthening the military infrastructure of the United States, even as the country maintained its neutrality. With Roosevelt’s decision to support Britain and France in the struggle against Germany and the other Axis Powers, defense manufacturing geared up, producing more and more private sector jobs. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 led to an American declaration of war, and the nation’s factories went back in full production mode. This expanding industrial production, as well as widespread conscription beginning in 1942, reduced the unemployment rate to below its pre-Depression level.

When the Great Depression began, the United States was the only industrialized country in the world without some form of unemployment insurance or social security. In 1935, Congress passed the Social Security Act, which for the first time provided Americans with unemployment, disability and pensions for old age.

Drought-stricken areas of the American Midwest from which thousands of farm families migrated during the Great Depression. Click any thumbnail for a slideshow. This gallery has 32 images. Sort by most recently added.

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COOL PEOPLE- WOODIE GUTHRIE- BIO, MUSIC AND SUCH

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COOL PEOPLE- WOODIE GUTHRIE- BIO, MUSIC AND SUCH

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 THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND was written at a small boarding house on 43rd Street. His autobiography BOUND FOR GLORY and many of his most popular songs were written in various locations around town; JESUS CHRIST, TOM JOAD, VIGILANTE MAN, and RIDING IN MY CAR are among the 600 songs he composed here.

http://youtu.be/XaI5IRuS2aE

My Name Is New York – Deluxe Audio Book

http://youtu.be/HFYpdbrKEOA

Now, for the first time, you’ll actually be able to hear these stories told by those who knew him best, in many different ways and through various encounters and circumstances; music partners Pete Seeger, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Sonny Terry, and Bess Lomax Hawes, Woody’s first wife Mary Guthrie, Woody’s merchant marine buddy Jimmy Longhi, Bob Dylan, Woody’s second wife Marjorie Guthrie, Arlo Guthrie, Nora Guthrie and many others share their memories with you first-hand.

With this new audio tour, we invite you to walk the streets, ride the buses and subways, or sit down and relax on some of the stoops, park benches, or beaches where Woody Guthrie did — always strumming away on his guitar, always working on a new song.

 http://youtu.be/HFYpdbrKEOA

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Woody Guthrie Biography

Singer, Guitarist, Songwriter (1912–1967)
Woody Guthrie was a singer-songwriter, and one of the legendary figures of American folk music.
Woody Guthrie – Centennial Birthday Festival at City Winery (TV-14; 03:04) American folk musician Woody Guthrie’s songs and legacy continue to influence music and politics. To celebrate his 100th birthday, City Winery in New York City held a three day festival of concerts celebrating his life and work.Synopsis
Woody Guthrie wrote more than 1,000 songs, including “So Long (It’s Been Good to Know Yuh)” and “Union Maid.” After serving in WWII, he continued to perform for farmer and worker groups. “This Land Is Your Land” was his most famous song, and it became an unofficial national anthem. His autobiography,Bound for Glory (1943), was filmed in 1976. His son Arlo also achieved success as a musician.Woody Guthrie Photo Gallery: Woody was warmly embraced by leftist artists, union organizers and folk musicians.
Born on July 14, 1912 in Okemah, Oklahoma, Woody Guthrie was the second son of Charles and Nora Belle Guthrie. The future folk hero was born just weeks after Woodrow Wilson was nominated as the Democratic candidate for president in 1912; as his namesake later told a crowd of concertgoers, “My father was a hard, fist-fighting Woodrow Wilson Democrat, so Woodrow Wilson was my name.”Both parents were musically inclined and taught young Woody a wide array of folk tunes, songs that he soon learned to play on his guitar and harmonica. Tragedy and personal loss visited the budding musician early and often throughout his childhood, providing a bleak context for his future songs and supplying him with a wry perspective on life.In short order, Guthrie experienced the accidental death of his older sister Clara, a fire that destroyed the family home, his father’s financial ruin, and the institutionalization of his mother, who was suffering from Huntington’s disease. At the age of just 14, Guthrie and his siblings were left to fend for themselves while their father worked in Texas to repay his debts. As a teenager, Guthrie turned to busking in the streets for food or money, honing his skills as a musician while developing the keen social conscience that would later be so integral to his legendary music.When Guthrie was 19, he married his first wife, Mary Jennings, in Texas, where he had gone to be with his father. Eventually, Woody and Mary would have three children, Gwen, Sue and Bill. The Great Depression hit the Guthrie family hard, and when the drought-stricken Great Plains transformed into the infamous Dust Bowl, Guthrie left his family in 1935 to join the thousands of “Okies” who were migrating West in search of work. Like many other “Dust Bowl refugees,” Guthrie spent his time hitchhiking, riding freight trains, and when he could, quite literally singing for his supper.With his guitar and harmonica, Guthrie sang in the hobo and migrant camps, developing into a musical spokesman for labor and other left-wing causes. These hardscrabble experiences would provide the bedrock for Guthrie’s songs and stories, as well as fodder for his future autobiography, “Bound for Glory.” It was also during these years that Guthrie developed a taste for the road that would never quite leave him.Folk Revolutionary
In 1937, Guthrie arrived in California, where he landed a job with partner Maxine “Lefty Lou” Crissman as a radio performer of traditional folk music on KFVD in Los Angeles. The duo soon garnered a loyal following from the disenfranchised “Okies” living in migrant camps across California and it wasn’t long before Guthrie’s populist sentiments found their way into his songs.In 1940, Guthrie’s wanderlust led him to New York City, where he was warmly embraced by leftist artists, union organizers and folk musicians. Through fruitful collaboration with the likes of Alan Lomax, Leadbelly, Pete Seeger and Will Geer, Guthrie’s career blossomed. He took up social causes and helped establish folk music not only as a force for change, but also as a viable new commercial genre within the music business. Guthrie’s success as a songwriter with the Almanac Singers helped launch him into the popular consciousness, garnering him even greater critical acclaim. The ensuing fame and hardships of the road led to the end of Guthrie’s marriage in 1943. A year later, he would go on to record his most famous song, “This Land is Your Land,” an iconic populist anthem which remains popular today and is regarded by many as a kind of alternative national anthem.During World War II, the singer/songwriter joined the Merchant Marine and began composing music with a more strident antifascist message. (Guthrie was famous for performing with the slogan, “This Machine Kills Fascists,” scrawled across his acoustic guitar.) While he was out of the Merchant Marine on furlough, he married Marjorie Greenblatt Mazia, and after the war the couple made their home in Coney Island, New York, eventually filling the house with four children: Cathy, Arlo, Joady and Nora. This period in Guthrie’s life would prove to be his most musically prolific, as he continued to produce political anthems while also writing children’s classics like, “Don’t You Push Me Down,” “Ship In The Sky” and “Howdi Doo.”

Highway 66 Blues

BEEN ON THIS ROAD FOR A MIGHTY LONG TIME

TEN MILLION MEN LIKE ME

YOU DRIVE US FROM YO’ TOWN, WE RAMBLE AROUND

I GOT THEM 66 HIGHWAY BLUES

Hard Travelin’ by Woody Guthrie. With Depression Era photos by the great Farm Security Administration photographer John Vachon. Created in honor of Woody’s 100th birthday.

http://youtu.be/yI9OJ6PIbso

Play MIDI

Highway 66 Blues
(Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger)

There is a Highway from coast to the coast,
New York to Los Angeles,
I'm a goin' down that road with troubles on my mind
I got them 66 Highway Blues.

Every old town that I ramble' round,
Down that Lonesome Road,
The police in yo' town they shove me around,
I got them 66 Highway Blues.

Makes me no difference wherever I ramble
Lord, wherever I go,
I don't wanna be pushed around by th' police in yo' town,
I got them 66 Highway Blues.

Been on this road for a mighty long time,
Ten million men like me,
You drive us from yo' town, we ramble around,
And got them 66 Highway Blues.

Sometimes I think I'll blow down a cop,
Lord, you treat me so mean,
I done lost my gal, I aint got a dime,
I got them 66 Highway Blues.

Sometimes I think I'll get me a gun,
Thirty eight or big forty fo',
But a number for a name and a big 99,
Is worse than 66 Highway Blues.

I'm gonna start me a hungry man's union,
Ainta gonna charge no dues,
Gonna march down that road to the Wall Street Walls
A singin' those 66 Highway blues.

Copyright Stormking Music, Inc.