Sample Topic: American History

 

 

Sample Title: American History


 

 

Outline

The Greatest Generation Grows Up


 

 

The Greatest Generation Grows Up

America went through so much during the Great Depression. This was a period that tough decisions and choices had to be made since America, as a nation, was undergoing great challenges in social, political and even economic spheres. Many suffered. The plight of a child growing up is greatly highlighted during this turbulent time. There was need to protect this segment of society.


 

The Greatest Generation Grows Up

America went through an enduring period. It had so many challenges from the challenging times that had to be solved. One such period was experienced through the Great Depression. People, through many political problems and economical deprivations had to look up to the leadership to give solutions[1]. All these challenges and many others presented peculiar conditions for the children during this time.


 

It is indeed true to say that the childhood was faced by dramatic political and economic challenges. The trouble had started after World War 1. The Great Depression, the worst economic crisis to ever face America, set off in 1929 when there was an unprecedented market crash[2]. After this crash virtually every sector of the economy crumbled too[3]. The stock market got the biggest blow. There was dwindling confidence in the stock market and this meant that the investors started getting jittery and hence most started to distrust President Herbat Hoover’s policies.


 

Though there is debate over the cause of the Great Depression that faced the whole world, many researchers point a finger at the erratic government policies of many countries at that time. Now one can easily see here that with the economic downturn many lost their jobs thus their purchasing power got diminished. It was now very difficult for the people to afford the basic necessities such as food, shelter and clothing. The situation was so grim that many students went without food and malnutrition cases filled the hospitals in large numbers. Children, we are told, suffered from rickets, a disease that is caused due to lack of vitamin D. Many banks closed shop as millions who were unable to pay rent were rendered homeless.


 

 

On the other hand farmers were not left out in this mess. They faced both economic and environmental disaster. According to a survey carried out it was found that farmer’s income dropped by two thirds. We are told that between 1930 and 1936 the rains had but stopped. This was partly caused by poor farming practices that made the earth dry up and blown away by windstorms.


 

Most social safety charities were overwhelmed. These charities included the Bohemian Charitable Association and the Jewish charity in Chicago[4]. The state was equally in deep trouble as it was unable to fund the overwhelming numbers of the needy. Banks and other organizations left their responsibilities to the government. This greatly caused a political anxiety as President Herbat Hoover came to symbolize failure. He dismissed any legislative measures to tackle the economic troubles that the nation faced. The Democratic Party therefore nominated Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932[5]. After this nomination, Roosevelt promised the ‘first New Deal’ for the people of America. Under this were programs known as the ‘first’ and ‘second’ New Deals. Roosevelt came up quite passionate about one relief program known as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). In this one he had a firm belief that it would impact positively to the young men in cities and even the countryside. Many were engaged in road construction and trails in the national parks. Some children even worked in factories after they had dropped out school.


One mother wanted money to save her cow so that her young children could have milk. Here we can see clearly the children of starvation that was lurking in the faces of children[6]. During the farming crisis many faced such related challenges. However, the New Deal did not do much to help the rural poor. We are told for instance that the price supports and price controls only benefited the landowning farmers but not the peasants. The landless subsistence poor were left out. The migrant Mexican workers, black and white sharecroppers and even the far most tenants were left out. One can only guess the impact of this state to their families and children in particular.


 

During the Great Depression children suffered a great deal since thousands of schools were forced to close down[7]. This was because there was not enough money to keep them running. Many children thus left schools[8]. In fact many were going hungry and their parents could not afford clothes for even winter. This means that hard choices had to be made. There were therefore modern policies that would govern the changing attitudes towards the children. For instance the responsibilities of the children were to be separated from those of the adults. This meant that children were to be taken as children and shielded from the vagaries of adult responsibilities. Child welfare advocates majorly championed these. The changing attitude towards the children played a major role towards making sure that the children grew up under a conducive environment. For instance Aid to Dependent Children Program took care of the children who were under sixteen years of age and by this children would still benefit whether they had parents or not. Thus, the caregivers were given some relief to take care of the children under their custody. However, this amount was so little hence many still wallowed in abject poverty[9]. Minorities and many blacks were segregated. In most cases, they were branded ‘immoral’ and therefore denied the needed aid. Some segments of the society did not enjoy the freedom as enshrined in the new spirit of the nation. The definition of those who deserved aid remained obscure and controversial.


 

The biggest question at the moment thus would be how this generation would have defined freedom. We know that during this period there were many challenges as the crisis played a big role in influencing the children and the youth. For example, children who grew up during this period can be said t be the first ones to experience the fact that it was also the responsibility of the government to protect its vulnerable members[10]. During this period, the state, as earlier seen, enacted legislation that protected and recognized the children and youth as being a distinct segment from adults.


 

I think the generation learnt that sometimes that freedom could be enshrined through regulations. But there could be some interesting exception. For instance if you give people freedom to do what they want before they reach age for decision-making. That is why Lindenmeyer stressed on the importance of education that time. Going to school is therefore important for the child and nation at large. She gives the example of Cesar Chavez who worked alongside other children in the nation’s urban factories[11]. The certain rights and requirements that were passed made sure that people could not infringe on others’ freedom to decent life like fair labor.


 

This generation might have developed expectations. For instance, government has the responsibility of shielding its citizens from any vagaries arising out of the economic situation that may be unfavorable[12]. We saw how policies were developed to improve the livelihoods of the majority who were already suffering from the pangs of economic downturn. Economic security should be what the bureaucrats should care for most as it has a lasting impact on many.


 

The expectations on work can be seen from what was happening in the labor market. For instance, there were challenges such as long hours of work, meager pay, employment of under-age workforce etc. This generation, as it grew up, may have expected that there be proper labor laws protecting mainly the worker. Presently we have seen proper labor laws being enacted that cushion the employee from exploitation and general poor working conditions[13].

 

 

 

We were earlier told the type of segregation that touched on race, gender, ethnicity and even class. Lindermeyer, through various anecdotes, has illustrated how different groups faired on during the Great Depression. She for instance shows a white boy playing with an erector. This was in sharp contrast with what other minorities groups’ children were going through. We are equally told of how women were required to stay at home and sometimes-denied gainful employment in the pretext that theirs was to take care of the children[14]. This generation that would vouch for equality. This could be done through legislation.


 

Unlike the older generation, the ideal childhood could be seen as an effort worth striving for. Since children are vulnerable to so many things, it is important that the state considers such a segment seriously through strict legislative measures.


 

Concisely, 1930s is a period of seriously looked at protected childhood. If such measures, as discussed were not taken, then the future generation could be doomed. The major step was recognizing childhood as a segment different from adulthood.


 

 

 

Bibliography

Boydston, Jeanne and others . Of the People: A Concise History of the United States, Volume II: Since 1865.Oxford: Oxford Univ Pr, 2010

McGerr, Michael and others. Of the People, Volume I: A History of the United States: To 1877 By James Oakes, - Oxford University Press, Incorporated,2009

Norton, Mary Beth and others. A People and A Nation: A History of the United States. Since 1865, Volume 2.Connecticut :Cengage Learning, 2009

 

 

[1] Beth Norton Mary and others. A people and a nation: a history of the United States. Since 1865, Volume 2.Connecticut :Cengage Learning, 2009,P.812

 

[2] Jeanne Boydston and others. Of the People: A Concise History of the United States, Volume II: Since 1865.Oxford: Oxford Univ Pr, 2010.P.838

[3] Jeanne Boydston and others. Of the People: A Concise History of the United States, Volume II: Since 1865.Oxford: Oxford Univ Pr, 2010,P. 690

 

[4] Beth Norton Mary and others. A people and a nation: a history of the United States. Since 1865, Volume 2.Connecticut :Cengage Learning, 2009,P.477

[5] Jeanne Boydston and others . Of the People: A Concise History of the United States, Volume II: Since 1865.Oxford: Oxford Univ Pr, 2010,P.726

 

[6] Beth Norton Mary and others. A people and a nation: a history of the United States. Since 1865, Volume 2.Connecticut :Cengage Learning, 2009,P.665

[7] Beth Norton Mary and others. A people and a Nation: a history of the United States. Since 1865, Volume 2.Connecticut :Cengage Learning, 2009,P.688

 

[8]Jeanne Boydston and others. Of the People: A Concise History of the United States, Volume II: Since 1865.Oxford: Oxford Univ Pr, 2010,P.558

[9] Beth Norton Mary and others. A people and a nation: a history of the United States. Since 1865, Volume 2.Connecticut :Cengage Learning, 2009,P.787

[10]Jeanne Boydston and others . Of the People: A Concise History of the United States, Volume II: Since 1865.Oxford: Oxford Univ Pr, 2010,P.568

[11]Jeanne Boydston and others . Of the People: A Concise History of the United States, Volume II: Since 1865.Oxford: Oxford Univ Pr, 2010,P.635

[12]Michael McGerr and others. Of the People, Volume I: A History of the United States: To 1877 By James Oakes, - Oxford University Press, Incorporated,2009.P.200

[13] Beth Norton Mary and others. A people and a nation: a history of the United States. Since 1865, Volume 2.Connecticut :Cengage Learning, 2009,P.475

 

[14] Michael McGerr and others. Of the People, Volume I: A History of the United States: To 1877 By James Oakes, - Oxford University Press, Incorporated,2009.P.321

 

 
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