1929-1939 Despair: Taking Care of Our Own: The New Deal

The New Deal probed the limits of government

The dominant figures of the 1930s came to power almost simultaneously: Adolf Hitler on Jan. 30, 1933; Franklin D. Roosevelt 33 days later. It was no coincidence. Each embodied drive and vision--one diabolic, the other democratic--at the very moment their respective countries, and the world, had reached a nadir of economic and social despair.

It had taken more than three years to plumb that bottom. Long after the 1929 stock-market crash filled Wall Street with eerily silent crowds gaping in stunned apprehension, President Herbert Hoover was still clinging to the deeply held--and widely shared--belief that good old rugged individualism, with just...

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