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A New Deal Success

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A New Deal Success:

A Brief Overview of the Civilian Conservation Corps

Our history is littered with economic hardship but none have been as devastating as the one that the nation had to endure in the late 1920's and most of the 30's. This era of economic strife is called the Great Depression. Depression politics spawned the introduction of several drastic programs in hopes of righting an otherwise sinking country. The parent program is referred to as the "New Deal" which included the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

In the following pages you will see how the young men of the CCC changed the country and the benefit to our environment that resulted. The CCC was an organization associated with overwhelming success as part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's (FDR) "New Deal" program. Millions of otherwise non-existent jobs were made available to young men from almost every low-income bracket of the middle and lower class social structure and background. President Roosevelt devised a plan and persisted with the plans implementation. This is something that his preceding counterparts were either unwilling or unable to do. The CCC Accomplishments and some of the memories are highlighted here, as well as some of the camps characteristics such as the camp layout and the camp life.

Jazz, dance marathons and Harry Houdini often symbolized the "Roaring Twenties". This was the era that emerged in the United States after World War I and was seemingly one of security and no major troubles, economic prosperity flourished mostly due to free enterprise (Flehinger). Actually great despair and economic turbulence had been simmering for several years before the Great Depression occurred. Some causes of the depression include the unequal distribution of wealth throughout the 1920s, and extensive stock market speculation during the latter part of the decade (Gusmorino). In addition, there was emerging higher interest rates and over production by farms thus driving down prices. (Douglass). The gap between the nations' rich and poor widened. A major reason for this large and growing gap between the rich and the working-class people was the increased manufacturing output throughout this period (Gusmorino). The national unemployment rate soared to 20% (Flehinger). Through such a period of imbalance, the U.S. relied on two things in order for the economy to remain on an even keel, credit sales resulting in luxury spending and investment from the rich (Gusmorino).

Many political leaders were denying the need for reform and still had optimistic predictions for the nation's economy (Great Depression). In October 1929, the stock market crashed, wiping out the values of common stock by 40 percent. By 1933 the value of stock on the New York Stock Exchange was less than a fifth of what it had been at its peak in 1929 (Sternsher). Businesses closed their doors, production at factories shut down and banks failed. Farm income fell approximately 50 percent (Jackson). President Herbert Hoover assured the people that the economy would fix itself and prosperity would return if left alone, but it did not. He offered some relief, but the people cried for more.

Farmers in America were also hurt by the droughts (often known as the dust bowl), and were forced out of their farms. The effects of the Great Depression were snowballing. People were in absolute despair and many were scavenging just to make ends meet. At the height of the Great Depression, more than 250,000 teenagers were living on the road in America (Jackson). Teens were traveling the roads and railways to find sustenance. Good men were transformed into little more than animals that would steal and cheat to survive. Many people who were forced off the farm and sought hundreds of miles or even half a continent away and finding food was a constant problem. Transients often referred to as Hoboes begged for food at local farmhouses along their wanderings. If the farmers were generous, the hobo would mark the entrance so that other hoboes would know this was a good place to beg. Stanley Watson, a young man from the northeast writes how he "hoboed" his way across the country, combating hunger because he was "too proud to beg" but out of necessity the "ways" of the drifter soon took over (Watson). With the availability of the automobile, hitching a ride was often a common mode of transportation by locals in need of a ride to the doctor, the market, even to work, but only sometimes did hoboes use hitching as an alternate form of transportation (they preferred the rails). When the Depression hit, the numbers of hitchhikers exploded (Wessels). A young "hobo" would begin his year working the hay harvest in the Rocky Mountain States, then the corn and wheat harvests in the Mid-West, and in the early fall, the fruit harvest in the Pacific North-West (Uys). To describe the circumstances of this time period as bleak would be a gross understatement; families were rationing everything and surviving in unbelievable circumstances. In one instance, children were forced to survive on one egg for two meals, the white was eaten in the morning and the yolk was eaten on a biscuit in the evening.

Finally after several administrations and definite need for economic reform, a new president was elected, Franklin D. Roosevelt. When President Roosevelt took office he said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." But too many Americans were far too fixated on the failing economy to find optimism or to regard the challenge. In 1933, President Roosevelt wrote,

"Our greatest task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the Government itself, treating the task as we would threat the emergency of war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our national resources" (Roosevelt).

The New Deal ushered in an array of new programs, some very beneficial while others were just a frantic swipe in hopes of helping the economy. On May 6, 1935, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) was established. The WPA philosophy was to put the unemployed back to work in jobs that would serve the public good and conserve the skills and self esteem of the workers (Adams & Goldbarg). President Roosevelt decided to saturate the country with government money to create jobs and better the country as a whole. In March 1933, before the close of his first month in office, President Roosevelt signed an act creating the CCC, which continues to have an impact on American lives after more than 60 years. The brief history of the CCC is captured

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