How did the nation's perceptions of the role of government—its powers and responsibilities—change in the 1930s?
In the 1930s, following the Great Depression, president Franklin D. Roosevelt created federal programs to aid in economic relief and the wide-scale creation of jobs in order to recover the economy. Additionally, through FDR's programs, the state gained the ability to regulate banks and the stock market to prevent another crash. Prior to the Great Depression, aid was considered to be the realm of private charities and churches and the state was not seen as a means for the public to gain economic or material aid. President Hoover, who was in office during the onset of the crash, shared this belief in nonintervention and sat by and watched as millions of people lost their jobs and suffered.
This expectation of the state changed dramatically once the economy crashed, and in order for the oppressive institution of capitalism and the state to continue, the federal government would have to step in and revitalize the economy. Of course, this reviving of the economy was framed as helping poor Americans who had suffered immensely under the Great Depression and were in need of material and economic aid. For the state, these programs allowed for more workers to enter the economy and for capitalism to continue to survive. After the Great Depression, an expectation of the state to maintain federally instituted aid and welfare programs became much more widespread.
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