Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Effects of the Great Depression (5)

On January 4, 1935 President Roosevelt, in his message to Congress, outlined his plans for expanding the New Deal into areas of social reform. One of his chief proposals was a system of social security. The Social Security Act became Law on August 14, 1935, instituting a national system of social insurance, including old age pensions. It was designed to safeguard Americans against the financial difficulties of old age and unemployment. It provided for equal contributions from worker and employer toward a fund under the control of the Federal Government, from which a retirement pension would be available to every worker at age 65.

It also provided for employer-contributed funds to be distributed by the several state governments whenever workers should find themselves temporarily unemployed. Other provisions in the act were to assist the blind, the disabled, and dependent children. To offset the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling against the Federal Farm Bankruptcy Act of 1934, Congress passes on August 29, 1935 the Farm Mortgage Moratorium Act. This act allows farmers to continue to live on foreclosed property by paying the mortgagee a rental fixed by the courts.(1)

By 1936, although many people were still employed, five million were able to return to work. On November 3, 1936 President Roosevelt is re-elected. He had 523 electoral votes to 8 for Alfred M. Landon.

In September of 1937 business activity started to decline and stock prices began dropping. The term "recession" was used to distinguish this relatively mild decline from the full-scale depression the country has been battling for several years.

The recession that began in mid 1937 continued to worsen. The number of unemployed began to rise by about 2,000,000 in 1938. By March the stock market had reached its lowest point in four years. On January 14, 1938 a group of top business and labor leaders, including John L. Lewis, met with President Roosevelt to ask what he planned to do to restore a healthy economy. In response to the continuing recession begun in 1937, President Roosevelt asked Congress on April 14, 1938 for $3,000,000,000 to spend on relief and other public works over the next few months.

On May 16, 1939 the first food stamp plan went into effect at Rochester, New York and soon spread to other cities.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected to a third term, on November 4, 1940 with 449 electoral votes to 82 for Wendell Willkie. On December 7, 1941, Japanese war planes attacked Pearl Harbor killing more than 2,300 soldiers, sailors and civilians. The United States declared war on Japan, December 8, 1941. On December 11, 1941 Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.

To be continued: The Effects of the Great Depression (6)


1) _________The Bicentennial Almanac; edited by Calvin D. Linton Ph.D; Thomas Nelson Inc. (1975)

To contact:

No comments: