Logo Click BACK to return to Basecamp
Lost Teachers
Search Info
White beveled edge

Nick Dispatch

Meet Nick

Nick Archive



Recovering from the Great Depression: A New Deal in the Making


The Depression was a horrible chapter in American History. The stock market crashed, people lost their jobs, their homes and their normal life styles. Unemployment lines were longer than ever. Bread lines filled the streets, where people fought over small rations. Families suffered without food to eat and shelter over their heads. The entire nation was in a bad period, now known as the Great Depression.

It seemed it was going to take a miracle and many years for the United States to recover. So how did it happen? How did the Great Depression end? Did it happen overnight? Why aren't we still in a depression? Does the Depression still affect us today? Those are all very important questions that must be answered to completely understand the Great Depression.

Many things occurred to lead us out of the depression. One of the major ways we ended the depression was through the New Deal. President Franklin Roosevelt created the New Deal to build social change throughout the country. It created jobs, instead of using welfare. It was driven by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The WPA built roads, buildings, airports and schools.

Many of these jobs were for laborers -- what about the actors, writers, musicians and painters? Well, three more projects were launched to give jobs to artists. Then came the National Youth Administration, which made part-time jobs for youth. It also created training programs and provided aid to unemployed youth.

A major part of the New Deal was the Social Security act of 1935. This act created an insurance system for the aged, unemployed, and disabled. People would pay taxes that went to a national social security account, and then this money would go to people over the age of 65. It also went to disabled people and the unemployed.

Nick at a group home where mentally ill people are taken care of
With the Social Security Act, many changes came. For example, homes for the elderly were built so that elderly could have caregivers to take care of them. Huge hospitals were built for the mentally disabled of all ages. Instead of viewing people who couldn't work as a problem, the government now saw a situation that could be dealt with in a positive way, and also create jobs.

Still, the Social Security Act was blind to race and class levels. It was a lot harder for an African American to receive aid than a white man. There were also fights as to whether Native Americans should receive social security, because they received Health Care and social services through treaties that had been signed. In reality, most of these treaties were broken, or Native Americans were moved about and didn't get aid. Even when they were on their original treaty lands, they rarely received social services if any at all.


Home is where the heart is

Some people would call social security a failure because it is not going to work forever. Some say that by the years 2010 and 2019 social security will be bankrupt and be in a crisis. Regardless, the New Deal played a roll in getting the country out of its slump. It didn't solve the overall problem but it did play a roll in ending it. It created more trust in the government, and provided jobs for the average American and help for the people who needed it.

As for the lasting presence of the New Deal and Social Security, they still affect us all today. For example, when you are born in this country you are given a social security number. These numbers are how the government of the United States knows who you are. This is how they keep track of how much money you have made and how much assistance you deserve when it's your turn to receive social security. So today when you go home, ask your mom, dad, grandma or guardian for your social security card. Then ask them if you're going to need that in your life, and how much they use it.


Please email me at: nick@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

Daphne - Eleanor Roosevelt: An incomparable pioneer
Rebecca - Together we can make a difference!
Just get a job? The reality behind homelessness