How did the American people feel about the government during the Great Depression? What did they think the federal government should do to help?

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The Great Depression, which lasted from 1929 to 1939, was the worst economic crisis in world history. During the worst point of the Great Depression, about 1933, more than half of all Americans were unemployed. Herbert Hoover, who became U.S. president in 1929, presided over the stock market crash that...

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The Great Depression, which lasted from 1929 to 1939, was the worst economic crisis in world history. During the worst point of the Great Depression, about 1933, more than half of all Americans were unemployed. Herbert Hoover, who became U.S. president in 1929, presided over the stock market crash that began the crisis and its worst years. During his presidency, many people felt fear, desperation, and hopelessness, as they lost their jobs and homes and saw their savings disappear. It's important to remember that at this time in American history, safety net programs such as unemployment insurance, government-sponsored health insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid, food stamps, and social security did not exist. Hoover did not initially grasp the seriousness of the situation, and, as a conservative, he believed in limited government and that it was not the government's role to, in effect, directly rescue people experiencing the economic crisis. In fact, in a 1930 speech, he declared, "Prosperity cannot be restored by raids upon the public Treasury." As a result of this seeming indifference, people found him to be cold and uncaring about the despair that was gripping much of the country, and, in 1932, he was soundly defeated by Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt, who promised a series of progressive reforms and direct relief programs he called the "New Deal." Roosevelt, a highly effective communicator, also took to the new medium of radio to speak directly to the American people about the problems facing the nation and his proposed responses, which went a long way toward easing fear and restoring hope to the nation.

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