Freedom: A History of US.
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Webisode 12: Depression and War
Introduction Segment 1 Segment 2 Segment 3 Segment 4 Segment 5 Segment 6 Segment 7 Segment 8

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President Herbert Hoover
Segment 2
Down and Out in the Depression Down and Out

America has had depressions before. Always, it was the poorest workers who went hungry. This Great Depression is different. It hurts rich and poor and the middle class, too. And it goes on, and on, and on Check The Source - "Brother Can You Spare a Dime". President Herbert Hoover See It Now - Herbert Hoover just doesn't seem to know what to do. He says, Hear It Now - Herbert Hoover "I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering."

In 1932 Hoover states publicly that "no one in America is actually starving." But he is wrong. Things have gotten so bad that some people are getting themselves arrested, on purpose, just so they can eat. The president is out of touch. At the White House, he and Mrs. Hoover dress formally for dinner each night and sit down to seven-course meals See It Now - President Herbert Hoover.

Many head for the cities, where they hope to find jobs. But there are no jobs in the cities See It Now - "Free Soup, Coffee and Doughnuts". The only thing you can do is build a shack with anything you can find—old boards and boxes will have to do. Lots of Americans are living like that, usually on land near a garbage dump or places nobody would ever want to consider home. Shanty towns spring up all over the nation. Eventually a million people will live in them. People call them Hoovervilles, blaming the president, who still doesn't seem to grasp the severity of the crisis See It Now - A "Hooverville". He keeps saying words like he said in the spring of 1930—that things are getting better in America: Hear It Now - Herbert Hoover "I am convinced we have passed the worst and with continued effort we shall rapidly recover."

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Did You Know?
The Dust Bowl is the name given to the region that was devastated by drought during the Depression years. It went from western Arkansas to the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles to New Mexico, Kansas, Colorado, and into Missouri.

Did you know that Freedom is adapted from the award-winning Oxford University Press multi-volume book series, A History of US by Joy Hakim?

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