Franklin D. Roosevelt

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Choose one significant event from 1920 to 1945 that caused fear among Americans. Analyze its historical significance and its effects on the American people.

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The crash of the stock market and the rise of fascism in Europe definitely caused people to be fearful.  Many people's lives were torn apart during the stock market crash, and some never really recovered.  They often lost their house, and their business, and everything.

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The bank crisis of 1932-1933 was probably the most immediate fear at the time of FDR's inaugural. Dozens of financial institutions had collapsed amid a series of bank runs, with the effect that, when FDR took office, the nation was experiencing a major credit crisis. FDR sought to reassure the nation by declaring, in his first days in office, a bank holiday, during which nobody could withdraw funds from banks. While they were closed, they would be subjected to a "stress test," to use a term from the most recent financial crisis, in which they had to demonstrate that they were not undercapitalized. Later, the New Deal sought to address this fear through the FDIC (an initiative actually not favored by FDR) which insured bank investments. This institutional approach to dealing with economic issues would characterized the New Deal and FDR's vision for the world after World War II. A wonderful secondary source for this period is historian David Kennedy's book Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945: 

http://books.google.com/books?id=cL85ggyT9oYC&printsec=frontcover&dq=freedom+from+fear&source=bl&ots=k6xduxrEDw&sig=p-uIlOdkriehdgNQReSqWIMnfFQ&hl=en&sa=X&ei=CcknUMbCMIjp0gGhm4AI&ved=0CDQQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=freedom%20from%20fear&f=false

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