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The importance of politicians in the 1930 generally hinged on their relation to the Great Depression. In this sense, during the 1930s, the most important politicians were Presidents Herbert Hoover (1929-1933) and Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945). Hoover's contribution to confronting the Great Depression was not a positive one; ultimately, Hoover's measures illustrated just how ineffectual the Republican solution to the crisis would be. He essentially threw money at the problem, giving large sums of money to banks (via the Reconstruction Finance Corporation) to keep them afloat but not determining which banks were actually viable. Rather than implement programs designed to help the people directly, a measure he opposed, his administration spent money on businesses, including the Federal Farm Board, which intended to elevate crop prices through the financing of cooperatives.
Roosevelt, however, took a different approach to the problem. He perceived that blindly throwing money at the problem was not a viable solution. In terms of banks, he had to determine which banks were fiscallly sound; only after doing this would he grant them funds. In addition, he implemented a number of programs under the New Deal designed to address the underlying problems, particularly the rampant unemployment. He began a number of work programs, from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Roosevelt believed that putting Americans to work was the most effective way to combat the effects of the Great Depression.
Some of the most influential political figures of the 1930s were not politicians at all. Father Charles Coughlin was notable for his ideas which ultimately formed a significant part of the Social Security Act of 1936. Frances Perkins, the first woman to serve on the Cabinet, was a strong campaigner for women's rights. Huey P. Long, like Coughlin, proposed a solution to the economic crisis; however, he proposed a redistribution of wealth and a high tax on those with fortunes over one million dollars.
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