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History of New York State/Modern New York

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The Harlem Renaissance[edit | edit source]

Location of Harlem

Harlem is a district located in New York City, it began as an unassuming neighbourhood which transformed into an area that flourished racially and culturally. The Harlem Renaissance, now seen as a time of empowerment for African Americans, was made possible due to the Great Migration. This was a movement which involved an estimated 1.6 million African Americans migrating from the southern regions of America to the northern United States. Prior to the 20th century, Harlem was inhabited mostly by upper and middle-class Caucasians, however it became significantly more multicultural due to blacks pursuing equality and better lives for themselves. A shift in the economy and the willingness of migrating African Americans and Irish to work for lower wages gave them the advantage over Anglo-Americans in the New York City job market, making this pursuit possible. With European migration on the decline, many black workers saw this as an opportunity to shift from working in outdoor environments to a new urban indoor lifestyle primarily in the Harlem area. Although the living conditions were not ideal, the largely black neighbourhoods that emerged from this migration allowed people to have a centralized area in which to create a sense of cultural identity and autonomy. The sense of community that was gained was unique because people were finally able to embrace the culture that they were previously taught to repress by the dominant white society. It was said that “black men of the 1920s…talked of the end of Negro accommodation, of the importance of ethnic identity, of the new day a dawning when black men would have and would wield power” , which was evident through the organizations formed and the new art forms that were produced during this time period.

The literary scene in New York blossomed during the twenties, presenting a large group of fresh and interesting African American writers. Many of these writers grew up in small towns, becoming largely influenced by the literacy and music of New York City. A variety of publishers including Alfred Knophf began endorsing the works of these young African American writers. Their abilities and contributions to literacy became more appreciated and encouraged. Young writers were nurtured by large and influential journals and figures that printed pieces through contests or arranged for contact with patrons or publishers. Alain Locke for example, an assistant professor at Howard University, and supporter of young writers, was invited by Paul U. Kellogg the editor of Survey Graphic magazine to collaborate with him on a special edition issue in 1925 centred on Harlem. Locke then published a book of his own entitled "The New Negro" which contained pictures, poems and essays representing the new image of African Americans. Locke proved influential in promoting the New Negro movement and supporting young aspiring writers. Additionally,there were some organizations and literature that aimed at giving more awareness to the equality of races in the United States. The New Negro Movement, founded by Hubert Harrison, aimed to produce economic prosperity and create equality for all black peoples. Hubert claimed to “protest against lynching in the land of liberty and disenfranchisement in the home of liberty". The connection being publicly made between race and class was a new and radical notion seldom accepted and publicized in the United States’ history. Drawing from his speeches, he created a newspaper named The Voice, which gave additional exposure to what eventually became a societal movement named the New Negro Movement. Another organization that aided in the appeal to some blacks located in the Harlem area was the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. This association began a few years before the Harlem Renaissance took place and was aimed at promoting equal rights for all races. Opposing the lynchings of blacks and fighting for the improvement of the educational system for all members of society were the main goals of this organization. The changing ideals due to the Harlem Renaissance lead to a newly emerging pride and culture of the African American race.

Louis Armstrong

These changing ideals also carried over into other art forms, including music. Jazz music, though popular before, gained worldwide appreciation. An example of an artist that became popular throughout this period is Louis Armstrong, who despite growing up in a poor neighbourhood, became the first great jazz soloist of the time, after moving from King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band to Fletcher Henderson’s band, located in New York City . Not only was Fletcher’s band becoming widely popular, but bands with directors like Duke Ellington and Chick Webb gained more respect among the international community, with a beginning in places such as the Cotton Club. These clubs and bands also allowed for black female vocalists to secure a place in the musical community, such as Billie Holiday. Holiday originally began her career singing in small jazz clubs, but quickly became one of the first black women to work with a white orchestra. She was revolutionary in the way that she sang the selected music by manipulating the phrase and tempo of her songs. The influence of these phenomenons were widespread and became a basis for white and black jazz artists to follow. Unlike anything seen before, the new pride the African Americans took in their music showed the shifting of ideals within society.

Prohibition in the State of New York[edit | edit source]

Prohibition came into full effect under the Eighteenth Amendment, otherwise known as the Volstead Act. In January 1920 the bill was passed by both Houses of Congress winning with two thirds of the majority vote. The Volstead Act declared that an intoxicating beverage can be defined as any beverage containing more than 0.5% alcohol. In New York State, officers had difficulty enforcing the Prohibition law due to the state’s proximity to the Canadian border, as well as having its state coast bordering the ocean making it easier for bootleggers and rum runners to import illegal alcohol. Bootleggers began to mass incredible amounts of wealth as they increased prices of alcohol smuggled into the state due to the unavailability of the product. Buffalo, New York was a favourite amongst smugglers for harbouring illegal alcoholic goods due to its proximity to Lake Erie, and the Ontario border. Prohibition bureaus were largely unsuccessful in Boston as local authorities aided the bootleggers in smuggling alcohol across the border as well as engaging in the bootlegger’s sales. In 1921, five enforcement agents were sent to jail in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary for assisting bootleggers in Buffalo. The government also assumed that citizens would aid bureaus in capturing bootleggers however a majority of the population in Buffalo enjoyed drinking alcoholic beverages thus deterring citizens from exposing smugglers to the authorities. The lack of support for Prohibition bureaus in Buffalo was exemplified in 1921, when Francis X. Schwab ran for mayor and won by several thousand votes. Thereafter, the local government became more sympathetic towards sellers and buyers of alcohol than those who supported Prohibition.

Disposal of alcohol during the Prohibition Era

New York City was also a particularly difficult city in the state of New York to enforce Prohibition due to the city being located next to an ocean, this meant easy transportation of alcoholic goods from sellers. Rum running, which can be described as smuggling alcohol illegally over a body of water, was exceptionally bad in New York City making it one of the worst examples of the nation during the dry years as it seemed to carry on alcohol business as usual. Maurice Chevalier, a singer in New York, described in an interview with New York’s night life in the 1920’s as: “It was supposed to be Prohibition, but everybody was drinking.” Speak easy clubs, which were clubs which served alcohol illegally, were popular during Prohibition with 30,000 to 100,000 speak easy clubs in New York alone in 1925.

The enforcement of Prohibition across the New York state was a failure for several reasons. One major reason for this failure was that Prohibition bureaus that were used to prevent alcoholic beverages legally, suffered immediately after the Eighteenth Amendment was passed due to its lack of economic backing and resources. Finally on May 4th, 1923, New York state`s legislature repealed the Mullan-Gage Act, which incorporated provisions of prohibition into state law. Repealing the law provincially, did essentially nothing legally for the use of alcohol as the federal constitution still dictated that the sale and use of alcohol was illegal. However, because it was only considered a federal law and not a state law, only federal officers could charge those who broke the prohibition law. Only a small number of officers were available to the state to enforce the law therefore the Prohibition law was effectively dead. New York was not the first state to repeal the Mullan-Gage Act however it was significant due to the large population in New York compared to other states. Following the repeal, the dry sentiment generally continued in upstate New York although New York City continued to challenge Prohibition right up until it was repealed federally in 1933.

The Wall Street Crash[edit | edit source]

The Wall Street Crash occurred in October 1929, and is known as the most devastating stock market crash in American history. It is considered to be one of the key factors which lead to the world wide Great Depression of the 1930s, the crash of Wall Street in New York City, New York being the place that sent a ripple effect through out America and the world.

The 1920’s were a time of great prosperity and wealth for the United States, especially in New York. During this time there was a booming economy as well as expanding banks and markets. The decade that lead up to the Wall Street crash was known as the Roaring Twenties characterized by its wealth, prosperity and excess. However, by 1929 all of the prosperity and wealth in the country came to a screeching halt. The excitement of the soldiers coming home from the war, the mass production of goods by factories and the overall wealth of the country all came to an end with the fall of the stock market. With the growth of bank credit and loans, people began to establish a relationship of trust with the banks. Unfortunately with this rapid growth came the inevitable Wall Street Crash. In October of 1929 the markets began to fall. Major investors tried to halt this collapse by investing large amounts of money into the market. Investing the money into the markets worked temporarily, until people began to trade their shares. When taking into account the full extent and duration of its fallout, the Wall Street Crash is one of the most devastating stock market crashes to have ever occurred.

October 29, or ‘Black Tuesday’, is known as the official day of the stock market crash on Wall Street, however days before in October had shown signs that a collapse was impending. Throughout the era of the ‘roaring twenties’, Americans had been spending large amounts of money and production of goods had been high, however by the end of the decade, consumers had built up excessive amounts of debt and production rates had slowed down. Earlier in March 1929, the buying of bonds in the stock market had led to a sudden rise. The rapid rise caused fear of a resulting sudden collapse . The fear caused investors to quickly sell shares, which revealed the stock market’s unstable foundation, as its’ success in the twenties had been built mainly with investors’ borrowed money . The National City Bank who invested money to level the small decline saved this but it foreshadowed what could potentially happen within the stock market. By September 1929, the stock market had reached its’ peak. It was short lived; by October 3, stock values had begun to slightly decline. By October 28, or ‘Black Monday’, the stock market had fallen 22.6%, the highest one day decline in United States history. The following day, investors were panicked about the drastic decline from the day before. Everyone attempted to sell their shares at once, resulting in over 16 million shares of socks sold on October 29, 1929. The stock tickers could not keep up with the heavy volume of sellers. By the end of the day, the market was down 33 points, ultimately falling 89% - 12% on October 29 alone.

1929 wall street crash graph

The Wall Street Crash can also be linked to the beginning of the Great Depression and arguably World War II. In March of 1929 the first blow to the shaky foundation of the market was seen when investors began selling stocks at a rapid pace. The slide was halted by the credit from the National City Bank buying some of the stocks, which brought a temporary halt to the crisis. However in June 1929 the indexes of industrial and factory production reached a peak and turned down. Steel production began its decline, so did car sales, and construction. Many Americans were falling into debt due to the easy access to credit. By autumn of 1929 the American economy was well into a depression. Through September and into October the general trend in New York stocks was on the decline. Thursday October 24th, 1929 termed “Black Thursday”. On this day the market lost 11% of its value at the opening bell, which forced the market to surrender to blind fear. Using a tactic similar to the one that ended the Panic of 1907, several leading Wall Street bankers bought several of the stocks at a higher price then their current value. This only stopped the collapse momentarily. On the Monday following (Black Monday) more investors began to fear what would happen if they did not pull themselves out of stocks soon which allowed the collapse to continue. On Tuesday October 29, (Black Tuesday) about sixteen million shares were traded, and dropped 12%. The New York Stock market would continue to slide in a downwards trade, with a few minor influxes over the next three years.

The public reaction in New York was immediate; crowds gathered out side the Exchange on Broad Street as stocks were now selling for nothing. The early Newspaper fascination with the stock market crisis was based on the psychological effects. Stories of suicides, and brokers jumping from the Wall Street skyscrapers were reported. Reassurance from Government officials or financial experts that the market was fundamentally sound was ignored through out the panic. Stockbrokers went out of their way to reassure their clients through out the crisis, but failed. The Wall Street crash is an illustration of several features associated with crashes; stock market crashes are often unforeseen for most people, especially economists, and a financial collapse has never happened when things are looking bad- before every collapse, economists say the economy is at its best. Although the crash is by no means seen as the sole reason for the Great Depression that followed, it is seen as signaling the downward economic slide that initiated it.

The causes of the Wall Street Crash can come down to two different explanations; willful mismanagement and violation of every principle of sound finance and the vulgar grasping for gain at the cost of the community.

Crowd outside the New York Stock Exchange

President Hoover stated that the causes were found only in financial characteristics and had nothing to do with sectors of business or industry of the country. Hoover refused to believe the fact that the crash had something to do with the way he was running the industry. He had decided that the only explanation for the collapse of the stocks was the characteristics of the financial sector during this period. The Federal Reserve System can also be looked at as a large cause of the Wall Street Crash. The Federal Reserve permitted the use of baking funds in an unnecessary large degree and without proper protection. Despite this the Federal Reserve System continuously reassured the public and Senate that everything would be fine and that the stocks were well protected. The media was unwilling to attempt to fix the situation; instead they only reported on negative aspects that came out of the collapse. This was bad news, as well as tight credit, rising interest rates and doubts that production would continue to grow and dampened societies enthusiasm. During the First World War large stocks of goods were hoarded and during the time after the First World War these stocks were being eliminated. While the stocks were being eliminated, much of the American population was acquiring some sort of loan domestically but at the same time international loans were being given out to foreign countries. These loans put extra stress on the American stock market. The Crash also resulted from the weakness on Wall Street and in Washington and the creation of an unhealthy nexus between businesses and speculation, especially in brokers’ loans. Many of the financial and political leaders could not come to grips with the nations problems and possibilities after the First World War.

The effects of the Wall Street Crash lasted throughout the 1930s. The stock market lost over $30 billion in two days , ultimately affecting the economy, and leading the worst depression the world has ever seen. The crash was not seen as the sole reason for the depression, but it was a very significant factor in what led up to the Great Depression. Giant businesses and corporations had invested in the stock market, and had lost tons of money in the crash on Wall Street. This caused a mass amount of unemployment, as companies couldn’t afford to pay employees anymore. Newly unemployed families couldn’t afford to pay their bills or pay the debt they had acquired from the twenties. Neither could they pay for things such as food or clothing, causing smaller businesses to suffer also. The banks were not receiving the money they needed from citizens, and had also lost money from loans to investors in the stock market. Therefore, nobody had any income leading to mass poverty in America. It has been reported that the suicide rate on October 29 spiked and there was a continued high suicide rate throughout the depression. The actual number of suicides that occurred on October 29 however has been largely overstated. At the time of the Wall Street crash, the United States had been one of the leading and wealthiest powers of the world, the crash ignited the Great Depression in America, ultimately affecting trades with other countries and causing the depression to spread overseas. This era lasted until 1939, and is considered to have truly started on October 29,1929 on Wall Street, New York City, New York.

The Wall Street Crash marks a point in the domestic banking system as well as the relations between foreign countries. After the Wall Street Crash the prestige of the American banking system had crumbled. The United States was no longer seen as such a large and important banking power, they were no longer viewed as world bankers. The Wall Street Crash also worried the domestic bankers. Many people then decided to be more careful as to where they placed their money and how they spent their money. The Wall Street Crash can be seen as the result of unsatisfactory conditions in banking and in financial management. Many events that occurred after the Wall Street Crash can be directly linked back to the decline of the American stock markets. The only solution that Americans saw that would put an end to the ever declining stock market and the suffering of the countries people would be a change in government. The Wall Street Crash is now known in all parts of American finance, and caused major national trauma.

The Empire State Building[edit | edit source]

Empire State Building

In order to comprehend why the Empire State Building is considered a significant cultural icon not only for New Yorkers but also for Americans as a whole, it is important to understand the history behind its design and construction. Governor of New York, Al Smith, was the driving force behind the conception of the Empire State Building. He wanted to create a monument for a culture that he hoped would weather the hard times of the Great Depression. In the 1920s, architects in New York City were faced with the challenge of providing buildings for the influx of people into a relatively small city. Luckily, because of technological advances such as steel framing and the elevator, architects could begin to look upward. Skyscrapers became a reality and buildings such as the Woolworth Building, which was completed in 1913, began to rise over the city. The site of the Empire State Building would be at the corner of 5th Avenue and 34th Street, the former site of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

Construction on the building began in 1930, only one year after the Wall Street Crash of 1929. The devastation of the economy meant that the Empire State Company had to find men willing to work for pennies an hour and millionaires willing to gamble their money at a time when few were inclined to. When construction concluded in 1931 the building had reached a total height of 1250 feet, officially making it the tallest building in the world, a title it would hold for almost 50 years. The fact that a building of its size had been planned and built in less than two years was not only an architectural feat, but it had given hope to New Yorkers suffering in a time of economic depression. John Raskob, the executive of General Motors and a driving force behind the project, famously said that the Empire State building would “do more to galvanize the American people and incidentally save the financial markets, than any number of make-work projects or free lunches”. The Empire State Building itself is not a symbol of capitalism; it is a cultural icon in New York City. It would define the skyline of New York City and become a pop culture icon for filmmakers, photographers, writers and advertising campaigns. However, the Empire State building is not simply a cultural icon but a symbol of American aspiration in a time of economic despair not only for the city, but for the entire nation. In fact, building the skyscraper in the Great Depression may have actually helped the men behind the construction because what was to originally cost $41 million actually ended up totalling $24.7 million as a result of slashed wages and the low cost of construction materials. The Empire State Building seems significantly more impressive when it is juxtaposed against a city in economic depression.

World War II[edit | edit source]

Service on the Home Front

World War II erupted in 1939 and would become an armed conflict that affected much of the globe. At the outbreak of World War II American foreign policy asserted that the country would not take a side in the conflict because it did not directly affect the United States of America’s domestic interests. This non-interventionism kept the United States of America away from the front lines of the war until 1941. Although the United States of America was not involved in the battles and military conflicts before 1941 it was actively exporting goods to Europe and making a tremendous profit. New York City was the centre of this mass exodus of exports. New York City went through a dramatic change during this time. Before the onset of World War II the state of New York and New York City experienced an extremely high unemployment rate and many people relied on government support in order to survive. However, with the onset of war New York City no longer had problems with unemployment and millions of people were being employed in the war effort. The United States of America saw the Second World War as a time to take advantage of European countries economically. Millions of new jobs were created in labour, creating munitions and weapons which were exported to the European countries that were actively involved in the Second World War. The economy was mostly comprised of industrial output, petroleum and technological innovation. Within the state of New York personal income reached the highest in state history. The price of goods did not increase along with the wages, which gave many New Yorkers extra money to help with the war effort and invest into war bonds. New York City was thriving and this lead to an increase in populace.

The United States of America was still employing its policy of neutrality until the Japanese launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941. This raid on American soil caused the United States of America to end its policy of neutrality and entered the war effort with the Allies. New York State was once again a key state in the war effort. Although New York City already had millions employed in factories to produce weapons and munitions, millions more volunteered to join the war effort as soldiers. In 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt founded the United Service Organizations, which are non-profit organizations which were created to increase moral and recreation services to the military, thousands of New Yorkers quickly joined these organizations and tried to help with the war effort. Some of these organizations are still present and predominant in today’s society and these include the Salvation Army, Young Men’s Christian Association and many others. However, this caused a rift in family life because many parents were involved with the First World War and did not want their children to join the front lines. None the less millions of people from the state of New York quickly joined the war effort either through labour, fighting or volunteering. This act of patriotism throughout the state lasted throughout the war until it ends in 1945. Soldiers from the state of New York distinguished themselves as elite warriors in both theatres of battle during the Second World War. In 1945 the state of New York contributed significantly to the baby boom. Millions of soldiers coming back from years of fighting returned home, got married and had children. The overall contributions to the war made by the populace of New York greatly increased the country’s GDP and would help to make the United States of America the global power that it is today.

Famous New Yorkers in Federal Politics[edit | edit source]

Theodore "T.R" Roosevelt Jr.[edit | edit source]

The state of New York also produced one of the most prominent political figures in American history; Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt Jr. (21 October 1858 - 6 January 1919) known for his determination, innovation and willingness to contradict traditional political protocol. Roosevelt held multiple positions in the state's politics prior to his presidency, including being a member of the New York State Assembly, the NYC Police Commissioner and the Governor of New York. As police commissioner, he radically reformed the conduct and protocol of the most corrupt police force in America; he established harsher disciplinary rules, created the first mounted unit of officers, standardized the use of firearms and reformed the necessary credentials for entering the force. After rapidly gaining popularity with the American people for his promise to eliminate crime and corruption, he served a brief stint as the Governor of New York before becoming vice-president to President McKinley in 1901.

Theodore Roosevelt's Nobel Peace Prize Photograph

Upon the death of President William McKinley on September 14th 1909, Teddy Roosevelt inherited the presidency at the age of 42 making him the youngest president to date. Roosevelt was never timid about publicizing his willingness to contradict his party's traditional views, mainly in regards to industrialism and wealth. Roosevelt made it clear that corporate greed could cause social problems and emphasized the need for big business to be controlled by a central government. Roosevelt realized the importance of capitalism, he just would not tolerate it coming at the expense of the individual worker's rights, leading to the unprecedented republican presidential support of unions. He displayed this belief when dealing with the Alabama Miner's Strike of 1920, which was called the greatest stoppage in industrial development up until then. Unlike previous presidents who used federal authority to break widespread strikes, Roosevelt tried to resolve the strike considering the demands of the workers in equal consideration with the coal mine operators. Despite it ending in defeat for the unions, Roosevelt's position made it clear that large corporations would not be given free reign during his term.

Theodore Roosevelt also displayed brilliance in dealing with foreign affairs, going down in history as the first American president to fully integrate the United States globally. Roosevelt was the first president to truly appreciate America's potential to become a world super power, as he sought to achieve world peace through balancing the powers of the great nations. The best example of this is his mediating of the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905). Roosevelt made clear that he would not tolerate Russian attempts to expand their influence in Asia and supported Japan in their military resistance both on land and at sea against Russia. However, in order to preserve America's international influence and ensure Japan didn't win a victory too great that would essentially jeopardize American interests in China and the Philippines, Roosevelt decided to mediate the war. This was seen globally as a daunting and even impossible task with both countries' interests so polarized, but Roosevelt stayed persistent getting both countries to continue to attend meetings in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and eventually achieved the peace Treaty of Portsmouth in 1905. For these efforts he received the Nobel Peace Prize, the first president in US history to do so. He also played an important role in the development of the Panama Canal as a "highway of the future" and spreading American dominance throughout the world with the creation of the Great White Fleet and development of the American navy.

The legacy that Roosevelt left can be seen decades after his presidency concluded, transforming the economic, social and industrial contours of the nation. He also established a new tolerance for Presidents to exercise freedom and independence from their respective party. Theodore Roosevelt's impact on future presidents is undeniable, especially in the longest serving president in US history, fellow New Yorker and distant cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt[edit | edit source]

Portrait of Franklin Roosevelt as Governor of New York

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (30 January 1882 - 12 April 1945) also known as FDR, served as the 32nd President of the United States. Roosevelt had to lead the country in what was arguably the most difficult period of its recent history, through both one of the greatest economic depressions in history and the First World War. His early life was made up of experiences that would later assist him in running a country that was riddled with turmoil. In 1913 Roosevelt joined Woodrow Wilson’s administration as Assistant Secretary of the Navy where he helped mobilized the United States military in 1917 as the US joined the First World War. During this time, Roosevelt gained valuable experience in managing a country and government during a period of war, knowledge that would benefit him during his later years in office. In 1920 Roosevelt was chosen to serve as the Democrats’ candidate for Vice President. Shortly after he was given this title, Roosevelt fell victim to polio, which left him paralyzed from the waist down. Despite the physical and emotional devastation Roosevelt admitted to have endured from the disease, he remained upbeat and hopeful in the public eye. In fact, his disability remained mostly unknown to the public until after his presidency, both due to the weaker media coverage and medical devices designed to assist him in appearing able-bodied.

Roosevelt was dubbed a reformer after stripping Tammany Hall, a prominent New York City political organization, of their official federal patronage in 1932. His election into the state-senate is what propelled Roosevelt on his climb to the top of the political ladder. Following his time as a state senator, Roosevelt was elected to be the Governor of New York in the 1928 election. During his term as Governor of New York (1929-1932), Roosevelt set up the New York State Temporary Relief Administration on September 23, 1931. Roosevelt appointed Harry Hopkins, one of his advisers, as director along with Douglas Falconer as associate director. Roosevelt stated that, “where there had been prosperity and growth in the cities, its measure had not been extended to the rural communities.” He understood that it was the farming populace that had been neglected the most by former governments. In order to save the state of New York, Roosevelt had understood that the farmers had to be taken care of. He formed the notion, “equality for agriculture” which became a popular slogan in the farming towns that signified what Roosevelt would do for the farmers throughout his campaign of 1928. Roosevelt took pride in seeing himself as a reflection of all facets of American society, representing the farmers, the labourers, the lawyers, all ages and all classes. New York was the first state to undertake assistance to municipalities in meeting the relief needs precipitated by long periods of unemployment. Roosevelt set aside twenty million dollars for the relief of the unemployed. Able-bodied workers without jobs would get funding from the state, first direct relief and then work relief. With the collapse of the stock market on October 24, 1929, it was now not only a case of assisting the farmers but an entire nation of people. Living standards were rapidly declining and families began to feel the effects of this disastrous event.

By 1930 industrial production dropped below 17% and by 1932 it had fell to below half of what it was prior to the collapse. Looking at the economy in 1932, people were able to see that the government in power at the time was not helping the country recover from its economic depression. Hoover's government was in fact plunging the country into an even worse state. Financial stability was steadily declining under Hoover and the American populace knew that a change in power was crucial if there was any hope of returning to normal.

Franklin Roosevelt signing declaration of war against Germany

Roosevelt defeated Herbert Hoover in the 1932 presidential election winning 57% of the votes. Roosevelt maintained influence over many American citizens due to his strategical use of radio as an instrument to convey his platform focused on relief, recovery, and security. In his 1933 inaugural speech Roosevelt stated the following, “our greatest primary task is to put people to work.” The citizens of the United States had put their faith into Roosevelt as being the person who could pull them out of this depression. Over one in five able citizens were unemployed and starvation was becoming more and more common. People resorted to selling their possessions just to buy any sort of food. The president understood that drastic measures needed to be taken.

In Roosevelt's first one hundred days of presidency he launched into his first objective of providing immediate relief to American citizens in financial need. Roosevelt had come up with an plan he believed would bring the necessary change to the county; a legislation called “The New Deal”. This new legislation would have the ability to create thousands of government jobs for the people who were struggling to stay afloat during the economic crisis. During the winter of 1932-1933 banks across the nation had been falling from debt and closing their doors. By March of 1933 about three-quarters of the banks in America had become inactive and the State of New York had stopped banking all together. Roosevelt realized with the entire nation in economic turmoil and all citizens terrified of worsening their financial situation, there was no circulation or fluidity of currency. Roosevelt famously proclaimed "the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself" and immediately announced the need for a “bank holiday”. Instead of investing in big businesses like his predecessor Hoover did, the government needed to invest in infrastructure. Along with the building of infrastructure to stimulate the country, Roosevelt introduced many organizations and agencies, for example, Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which gave work to approximately 270,000 unemployed men in rural and suburban communities. This gave these men payment to work on local projects within their communities, this included the building of schools in small towns and the building of roads into rural areas. Along with the CCC, the Securities and Exchange Commission was created. This changed the laws in the area of buying stock; no longer could a stock be bought on credit. With the implementation of this new legislation, Roosevelt was able to bring stimulus to a country that had been broken during the Hoover administration. It would be the beginning of World War II which would allow the United States to end the Great Depression.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin at the Livadia Palace in Yalta

Roosevelt was President from the beginning of World War II until one month before the surrender of German forces. During this time, Roosevelt’s focus switched from the New Deal to emerging victorious in the war, aware that incorporating the entire population into the war effort would not only help the economy but, if successful, solidify America's position as a global superpower, “‘Dr. New Deal’... was being replaced by ‘Dr. win-the-war.” Although Roosevelt’s New Deal policy did not achieve economic success, World War II was the event that would stimulate the economy in a way it hadn't been in a long time. The boom created by the production and purchase of war time goods would eventually transform the structure of industry in the United States and allow the country to pull out of its financial crisis. During the period of World War II unemployment decreased to a mere 1.2%, by 1944. In terms of his contributions to the war effort Roosevelt was essential in solidifying and mediating the relations and alliance between himself, Churchill and Stalin. On the 1st of January 1942 Roosevelt and Churchill officially enacted the "Declaration by United Nations" forming an international alliance of over 25 countries to oppose the tri-alliance of Germany, Japan and Italy. Roosevelt also promised the United States would act as a reserve both financially and for artillery shipping fifty-three billion dollars in war-goods to Britain and Russia as well as appointing Eisenhower to lead the majority of the American attack strategies. Roosevelt realized the benefits of the United States playing a big part in World War II, and he also recognized that America would have to act as economic guarantor of the new world order.

John Lindsay[edit | edit source]

File:John Lindsay Central Park.jpg
John Lindsay in Central Park on his way to see the New York population

John Lindsay followed Wagner into office in 1966 as the 103rd Mayor of New York City. Robert Wagner Jr. served three terms as the Democratic Mayor of New York City with his final term concluding in 1965. Wagner focused on building public school and housing systems as well as eliminating housing discrimination based on race. He was the first Mayor to hire and incorporate large amounts of African Americans into the political system. Lindsay was welcomed as the Republican Mayor of New York City with the Transport Workers Union (TWU) going on strike. This meant all the subway and bus services were no longing running so Lindsay was expected to act fast and come to an agreement with the TWU. He turned a quite serious situation humorous as he famously claimed that New York is a “Fun City”. The public did not act in favor of Lindsay’s lax attitude, as it appeared he had no political skill. The strike resulted in the TWU being granted everything they wanted and an additional 15 percent raise, which they were not initially requesting. Lindsay failed the public from his first day in office.

The Transportation strike was only the first conflict during Lindsay’s time in office. In 1968 there were several wrongful terminations of teachers in Ocean Hill-Brownsville based on things such as race and religion. This lead to a massive teachers union strike lasting from May to November, essentially shutting down the public school system for a total of 36 days . Lindsay did not play a significant decision making role throughout the entire strike, basically leaving the problem solving to The New York Board of Education. This only decreased his support from the public, as this was the second major issue he was unable to solve causing much displeasure to the citizens of New York City. The final major strike throughout Lindsay’s time in office was the Sanitation Strike of 1968. With garbage everywhere, the air quality of New York declining and the streets ridden with filth, Lindsay remained incapable of fixing the problem. The strike ended when Governor Rockefeller had the state government temporarily take over the city’s Sanitation Department. Lindsay publicly announced that the year of 1968 was the worst and most humiliating political year of his life and career.

Lindsay remained in office for another term, finally retiring in 1973. It is said that he regretted the lack of change he instilled upon New York. Upon leaving office he became a guest host of Good Morning America and attempted a career in acting. He was not overly successful in this, making him realize that politics was his primary talent. Lindsay made a bid for nomination to be United States Senator, but finished third. Abraham Beame followed Lindsay as the 104th Mayor of New York.