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Making America: A History of the United States, Brief Second Edition
Carol Berkin, Christopher L. Miller, Robert W. Cherny, James L. Gormly, W. Thomas Mainwaring
Primary Sources

Introduction | Questions to Consider | Source | Related Links

Depression and the New Deal

One man wrote to a newspaper in 1932, I am forty-eight; married twenty-one years; four children, three in school. For the last eight years I was employed as a Pullman conductor. Since September, 1930, they have given me seven months part-time work. Today I am an object of charity. . . . My small, weak, and frail wife and two small children are suffering and I have come to that terrible place where I could easily resort to violence in my desperation.

The figures in this chart can only begin to suggest the widespread human misery caused by mass unemployment.

Questions to Consider
  1. How is this chart measuring unemployment?

  2. The chart starts with the 1929 Stock Market Crash and ends right after the United States entered World War II. According to the chart, when was unemployment at its highest?

  3. Why were they being moved?

  4. According to the chart, when was unemployment at its lowest?

  5. One of the goals of the New Deal was to lower unemployment. From the information presented on this chart, does it appear to have been successful?

  6. What event listed on the chart did more than the New Deal to end the nation's unemployment problem? Why was it more successful?


unemployment chart

Source: Thomas A. Bailey, David M. Kennedy, and Lizabeth Cohen.
The American Pageant, 11th ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1998), 818.


Related Links

  • New Deal Network
    A database of photographs, political cartoons, and texts from the period.