By , Harlem had an unemployment rate of 50 percent and property owned or managed by blacks fell from 30 percent to 5 percent in Farmers in the Midwest were doubly hit by economic downturns and the Dust Bowl. Schools, with budgets shrinking, shortened both the school day and the school year.
No one knew how best to respond to the crisis. President Hoover believed the dole would do more harm than good and that local governments and private charities should provide relief to the unemployed and homeless. By , some states began to offer aid to local communities.
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This helped only a very few. In , only 1. Cities, which had to bear the brunt of the relief efforts, teetered on the edge of bankruptcy. By , Cook County Chicago was firing firemen, police, and teachers who had not been paid in 8 months.
Breadlines and Hoovervilles homeless encampments appeared across the nation. Those hurt the most were more stunned than angry. Many sank into despair and shame after they could not find jobs.
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The suicide rates increased from 14 to 17 per , Protest that did occur was local, not national: "farm holidays," neighbors of foreclosed farmers refusing to bid on farms at auction, neighbors moving evicted tenants' furniture back in, and local hunger marches. Resistance to protest often turned violent.
In , four members of the Dearborn hunger march were shot and killed when 1, soldiers accompanied by tanks and machine guns evicted veterans living in the Bonus Army camp in Washington, D. FDR, after assuming the presidency, promoted a wide variety of federally funded programs aimed at restoring the American economy, helping relieve the suffering of the unemployed, and reforming the system so that such a severe crisis could never happen again.
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However, while the New Deal did help restore the GNP to its level and did introduce basic banking and welfare reforms, FDR refused to run up the deficits that ending the depression required. Only when the federal government imposed rationing, recruited 6 million defense workers including women and African Americans , drafted 6 million soldiers, and ran massive deficits to fight World War II did the Great Depression finally end.
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