Although ‘cotton was king’ in South Carolina prior to the Civil War, the cotton industry rose and fell in South Carolina in the late 19th and 20th centuries


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The Great Depression had a profound effect on South Carolina as it did in other parts of the country and around the world. Many South Carolinians were already living in poverty prior to the Great Depression.

The Crash of 1929 did not cause the Depression; it was a symptom of many problems that undetermined

the health of the economy in the 1920s. As a result of the Depression, many South Carolinians lost their jobs because textile mills closed, their life savings because banks failed, and their homes or farms because they could not pay their mortgage. Up to one in four South Carolinians were unemployed because of the Depression. Between 1929 and 1933, the United States government did little to directly help the many people who were out of work and hungry.

In 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected and inaugurated president of the United States in 1933. Roosevelt and the Congress created many New Deal programs to relieve the suffering of the American people, to help the economy to recover from the Depression and to reform the system so that such a depression would not happen again.

One of the New Deal programs, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), provided employment by hiring young men to work on outdoor projects. CCC projects included soil conservation, reforestation, fire prevention, and the development of recreational areas across the state. The CCC planted crops that helped the South Carolina soil to recover from years of planting cotton. The work of the CCC in South Carolina provided the foundation of South Carolina's state park system and enhanced the geography of the state. However, the CCC was racially segregated. Other New Deal programs also discriminated against African Americans. Sharecroppers, many of whom were African Americans, lost their land because a New Deal program took farm land out of production in order to lower supply and boost the price that land owners could get for their crops. Whites were given preference on the public works projects designed to put the unemployed back to work.

New Deal programs were designed mostly to relieve suffering by putting people back to work and therefore earning a paycheck. They were also designed to help bring the economy out of the Depression. Once workers spent their paycheck they would help others such as grocers and store keepers. These grocers and store keepers would then order more goods from farms and factories. People would be hired to produce these goods and more people would get a paycheck to spend. The New Deal relieved some suffering and gave many people hope. However, it did not end the Depression. The Depression ended only with government spending and the job creation that resulted from the start of World War II.




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