Date of Award

Spring 1995

Document Type

Thesis

Department

History

First Advisor

Rev. William Greytak

Second Advisor

Kay Satre

Third Advisor

Rev. Jeremiah Sullivan

Abstract

Certain periods of history have a lasting effect on society. The Great Depression of the 1930s proved no exception. The United States suffered a massive economic disaster during that time. Across the nation, Americans felt the crunch of the depression, unemployment skyrocketed and a sense of despair swept the country. Montana also suffered during the depression and greatly needed relief. Drought already had devastated the state during the 1920s, and the depression nation wide only added to the problem. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, elected because he appeared to the voters to be someone they could trust and respect, stepped into office of the presidency in 1933 to face the challenges of the depression. The people of the united States elected him for an unprecedented four terms. His New Deal programs, although popular, did not end the depression. FDR and his advisors realized that people needed direct relief as quickly as possible. Americans worked for their wages and received money right away. People did not want handouts, and the New Deal programs allowed them to earn money and regain their dignity. These programs helped people reclaim a sense of purpose and gave respect back to the entire nation. Roosevelt's popularity also stemmed from his personality. People knew him as a president who cared about them and
someone with whom they could empathize. His battle with polio showed Americans that he had suffered and could understand their pain. He tried to reach every household with his "fireside chats," giving him the opportunity to talk directly and honestly with the American people. Sidney, a small town in northeastern Montana, proved to be one town that somehow weathered the depression. The close-knit community banded together to survive. Sidney's economy was and still is based on agriculture. Drought and extremely low farm prices hurt the area, but they did not destroy it. The uniqueness of Sidney has kept the town going since its founding. No matter what the situation in the world or nation, life continues in Sidney. That special quality allowed the community to convert retreat into advance during the hardships of the Great Depression.

Share

COinS