"Along with the host of other forgotten items in this historic age of trouble, to be classed with Sumner's forgotten man and Uncle Sam's forgotten Constitution, is the forgotten dollar."
- so saith Edwin Myers of NEW OUTLOOK MAGAZINE. His gripe was typical of most Americans who struggled to get by during the Great Depression - but FDR was not neglectful of the dollar; one of his first acts was to make American exports more attractive abroad - and he devalued the dollar to this end. Much to his credit, exports did indeed increase - but the decreased purchasing power of the dollar domestically contributed to the misery of the American consumer.
All the editorial writers quoted in this 1933 article agreed that FDR was the first U.S. President to ever have faced a genuine economic calamity as that which was created by the Great Depression:
"Look at the picture flung into the face of Franklin Roosevelt:"
"Ships are tied up in harbors and their hulls are rotting; freight trains are idle; passenger trains are empty; 11,000,000 people are without work; business is at a standstill; the treasury building is bursting with gold, yet Congress wrestles with a deficit mounting into the billions, the result of wild and extravagant spending; granaries are overflowing with wheat and corn; cotton is a drag on the market, food crops are gigantic and unsalable, yet millions beg for food; mines are shut down; oil industries are engaged in cutthroat competition; farmers are desperate, taking the law into their own hands to prevent foreclosures; factories are idle; industry is paralyzed..."
"The other half of California's 200,000 migratory workers are farmers who trekked from the dust bowl area; they found work on farms, but not farming; it's seasonal piecework, like in a mill. Each Oklahoma nomad dreams of a cottage and a cow, but he's just sitting on a barbed wire fence. With the publicity over, the government has forgotten the dust bowl refugees. At Depression depth, a man might make $8 a week; now, $5 is lucky. They are the bitterest folk in America; blood may flow..."
Click here if you would like to read a 1940 article about the the finest movie to ever document the flight of the Okies: "The Grapes of Wrath".
"Washington Society, long shackled, kicked the lid off last week, swung into the most dazzling season it has had since the Depression spawned bread lines, and knocked the wealthy back on their heels."
"Money is spinning again; hostesses are plotting major campaigns; diamonds and pearls are coming out for renewed display; caviar and terrapin reign supreme once more..."
Click here to read about American high society during the Depression years.
This article reported on a phenomenon that is common in our own day as well as the era of the Great Depression. It exists in any locale that fosters a lousy environment for business - for when the entrepreneurial classes loose their daring for investing in commercial ventures and when bankers refuse to loan money for fear that they will never be paid back, it leads to the creation of what is called "dormant capital" - money that should be working, but isn't.
"There is now piled up in banks some $46,000,000,000. As opposed to $39,000,000,000 at the low point of 1933, and the idle capital is on the increase. World trade has virtually broken down."
As one editorial makes clear, FDR had a tough time freeing up private capital for investments, click here to read it.
An article about Governor Floyd B. Olson (1891 - 1936) of Minnesota who allowed his emotions to get the better of him one day in the early Spring of 1933 when he threatened to impose martial law throughout the state in order to confiscate private wealth should his proposed relief legislation fail to pass the Minnesota Senate:
Was former Democratic vice-President Henry Wallace a dirty Red?