The Great Depression Was The Single Worst Economic Crisis

1783 WordsMay 23, 20178 Pages
The Great Depression was the single worst economic crisis ever experienced by the United States. In President Franklin Delano Roosevelt 's own words, by 1933 fully one-third of the nation 's citizens were ill-housed, ill-clad, and ill-nourished. Roosevelt 's was a presidency sired in crisis and sustained in war, and the very fabric of American society could not but be fundamentally altered as these extraordinary years progressed (Heale 2001, 16). One such fundamental change pertained to the American family. The Great Depression would forever reform the ways in which women in America were perceived, utilized, and ultimately, needed. Eliciting deep wellsprings of resourcefulness and ingenuity, the Great Depression demanded that women assume…show more content…
Many unwed couples during the Great Depression delayed marriage and many unhappily married couples delayed divorce; in all cases, a profound lack of money prevented men and women from procuring for themselves what were perceived to be better lives. The effects were noticeable. Birth rates dropped sharply, and for the first time it appeared as though the American population was actually in decline. Additionally, many men found themselves relying on their wivesùand even their childrenùto make ends meet. This collective loss of power, control, and self-esteem was often emasculating and generally shame-inducing; as a result, family abandonment by men became more common. In 1940, it was reported that one and a half million married women had been abandoned by their husbands, and many of now were left to provide for their children alone (Eyewitness to History 2000). Because women were relied upon so heavily to sustain the family throughout the Great Depression, the loss of a job did not mean that job-related activity would cease. Operating from within a patriarchal society that was heavily biased towards coming to the aid of white men at the expense of all others, women of all races were forced to take whatever work was available to them. For this it may be argued that the New Deal, though oft lauded for its equanimity and effectiveness, nonetheless created opportunities that disproportionately
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