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President FDR enacted the New Deal during the Great Depression. It was a series of sweeping social and economic reforms designed to get people back to work. It included farm subsidies, the WPA (Works Progress Administration) and the Social Security Act.
George and Lennie were migrant farm workers, as many men were in those days. Many families could not survive on their own land and could not find work in factories, so they traveled around areas like California. California was a heavily agricultural state then (and still is). While in modern times most migrant farm workers are immigrants from South America and other areas, in the 1930’s they often came from Oaklahoma and the rest of the “Dust Bowl” states where their farms were worthless.
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