A New Deal for Texas Parks - HTML Exhibit

Chapter 1 - Depression and Relief.

Introduction

During the Great Depression, Americans and people across the world suffered along with the economy. One in four Americans lost their jobs and those who had jobs often had to work for less money. Farmers, already affected by the Depression, faced a terrible drought. Many people were angry, afraid or hopeless. The election of 1932 was a referendum on how to fight the Great Depression. Americans elected Franklin Roosevelt to the Presidency. On his inauguration day, Roosevelt pledged himself to a "new deal for the American people," and began to set up many relief and make-work programs. While some were worried about the costs of so much government aid, New Deal programs such as the CCC were popular with most Americans at the time.


FDR and Farmer en route to Warm Springs, GA (Oct. 23, 1932)
Photo courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library Digital Archives
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Many Americans hoped that FDR could
help them to begin to recover from the Depression.


Depression in Texas

In the early years following the stock market crash of 1929, Texans remained optimistic about their economic situation. Some state industries did well, and Texans felt shielded from the far-away effects of the Depression. Eventually, Texas suffered the effects of the economic downturn along with the rest of the nation. Texas' oil industry provided some jobs, but most people worked in the struggling ranching and agriculture industries. Compounding the economic crisis the country was facing, a severe drought known as the Dust Bowl devastated the Great Plains and parts of Texas. Many Texas families migrated west to Arizona, New Mexico and California in search of work picking peas or cotton. As the Great Depression and Dust Bowl worsened, Texas - both its land and its people - needed help. Could the coming presidential election of 1932 be the hope that Texas and the rest of the United States were looking for?

Girl Ironing by Russell Lee, Feb. 1939 Harlingen, Texas
Photo courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA-OWI Collection, LC-USF33-011999-M3 DLC
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Children helped out where they could by
doing chores like ironing while their
parents searched for work.
Migrant Tent by Russell Lee, Feb. 1939 Harlingen, Texas
Photo courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA-OWI Collection, LC-USF34-032160-D DLC
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Many tenant farmers and ranch workers found themselves without jobs
or homes and had to leave Texas in search of work. Many migrant
families lived in tents with a few prized possessions.
Dust storm approaching Stratford, TX, April 18, 1935. Part of Dust Bowl surveying in Texas.
Photo courtesy of NOAA George E. Marsh Album, theb1365, NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS) Collection
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The drought, wind erosion and severe
dust storms of the Dust Bowl forced many
Texans to leave their homes in search of work.
"Edison, Kern County, California. Children of young migratory parents. They originally lived in Texas," 04/11/1940 by Dorothea Lange.
Photo courtesy of National Archives, 521786
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Many children of the Great Depression
lacked basic necessities like proper
shoes, clothing and food.
"On Arizona Highway 87, south of Chandler, Arizona. Grandmother and sick baby of migratory family camped in a trailer in an open field. They came from Amarillo, Texas, to pick cotton in Arizona" by Dorothea Lange.
Photo courtesy of National Archives, 521786
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As the Dust Bowl destroyed crops
in Texas, entire families left their lives
behind in search of survival.


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Election of 1932

In the midst of the Great Depression, many Americans hoped that the presidential election of 1932 would be the catalyst for great change. Republican president Herbert Hoover ran against Democrat and New York governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1932 race. Both candidates campaigned across the country and, on November 8, 1932, Franklin Roosevelt and running mate Texan John Nance Garner won in a landslide victory. In fact, the Roosevelt/Garner ticket received 88.6 percent of the Texas vote.

Garner and FDR on campaign trail in Peekskill, NY 08/14/1932
Photo courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library Digital Archives
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Hopeful voters came out to support
Franklin Roosevelt and Texan John Nance Garner
as they campaigned across the country.
Political cartoon featured in the White Plains Republic in May 1932
Photo courtesy of the Basil O'Connor Collection
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With a nation in peril, many candidates vied for the nomination for the Democratic party.
Political heavy-weights like Texas Congressman John Nance Garner, former New York
governor Al Smith, and New York governor Franklin Roosevelt fought for the nomination.
Political Cartoon featured in the Utica Dispatch by Clubb
Photo courtesy of the Basil O'Connor Collection
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Some people were unsure that FDR's "tinkering"
with the country's economic situation could
solve the nation's problems.
Photo courtesy of the America Votes online exhibit. Rare Book,
Manuscript, & Special Collections Library, Duke University Library.
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FDR
campaign
button
1932 Campaign memorabilia for FDR. Photo courtesy of the Susan H. Douglas Collection of Political Americana, #2214.
Courtesy of the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
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With his official song "Happy Days are
Here Again" FDR sent a message of hope
to Americans along the campaign trail.
1932 Campaign memorabilia for Hoover. Photo courtesy of the Susan H. Douglas Collection of Political Americana, #2214.
Courtesy of the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
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Traveling throughout the United States, President Herbert Hoover
promised voters that "We are turning the corner"
in campaign speeches.


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New Deal or No Deal

Franklin Roosevelt pledged a New Deal to America to fight and recover from the Great Depression. However, he faced a daunting task - one fourth of the workforce was unemployed; industrial and agricultural businesses were in jeopardy; and two million Americans were homeless. Americans were ready for immediate change, and after his inauguration on March 4, 1933 President Roosevelt vowed that Americans would see change within the first one hundred days of his presidency. A number of programs began during this time that provided relief to bankers, businesses and farmers. While the New Deal was popular with many Americans, it represented big change in the role of the government and was not universally accepted. Many believed that that New Deal spending was reckless and its "socialist" experiments were taking the country down a dangerous road.

FDR at desk, 1933
Photo courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Digital Archives
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FDR vowed that America would
see change within the first one
hundred days of his presidency.
FDR at desk, 1933
Photo courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Digital Archives
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FDR vowed that America would
see change within the first one
hundred days of his presidency.
Political Cartoon "Let's Leave Out the Joker" by Cowan in the Boston Transcript, 1933
Photo courtesy of the Basil O'Connor Collection
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FDR's New Deal was not widely accepted. Many
felt that they were being dealt a bad hand and that
the government was experimenting in Socialism.
Political Cartoon - "Hope" March 1933
Photo courtesy of the Basil O'Connor Collection
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There was no guarantee that New Deal programs would solve the country's
economic problems, but many took a chance on FDR and hoped that programs
like the CCC, WPA and NRA would help.


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Alphabet Soup

President Roosevelt quickly established many government programs in the New Deal to combat the Depression. Known to many as "alphabet agencies," FDR's programs addressed many of the country's industrial, agricultural and employment issues. Many of the New Deal programs came in the form of federal work relief. One of the most popular and successful New Deal work programs was the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC provided work for young men through building parks and conserving natural resources. For enrollees, programs like the CCC offered work to support themselves and their families. For communities, like many in Texas, the CCC provided much-needed infrastructure, boosted economies and built public parks for recreation.

"Work Pays America! Prosperity" by Vera Bock, c. 1936-1941, WPA Federal Art Project
Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, WPA Poster Collection, POS-WPA-NY.B635, no. 12
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Programs like the Works Progress Administration (WPA) provided a variety of opportunities
for laborers and professionals alike. Architects designed post offices and schools, artists
painted murals in public buildings, and labors built bridges and roads.
"A young man's opportunity for work, play, study & health" by Albert Bender, 1941 - WPA Federal Art Project
Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, WPA Poster Collection, POS-WPA-ILL.B46, no. 1
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The CCC was a young man's opportunity for work, play, study and health.
Enlistees had to be between the ages of 18 and 25. They worked 40 hours a week and
were paid $30 a month with $25 going back home to support their families.
Political Cartoon
Photo courtesy of the Basil O'Connor Collection
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FDR's New Deal did not provide a cure-all
for the country's ailments. Instead, over 30
agencies were established to address specific needs.
Political cartoon of FDR and Albert Einstein.
Photo courtesy of the Basil O'Connor Collection
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With over 30 new agencies, many had
trouble keeping track of all of the
New Deal's "Alphabet Agencies."


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Download "My Keepsake" guide for Chapter 1media download(PDF 132.2 KB).


Go to Chapter 2 - Nature Lovers, Texas Parks and Public Lands.


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