Herbert H. Lehman and New York's Little New Deal

By Robert P. Ingalls | Go to book overview

IV
THE SEARCH FOR SECURITY

The Depression exposed the insecurity of life in modern America. As people watched the scourge of unemployment strike indiscriminately at every segment of society, they suddenly felt vulnerable and helpless. Remembering those days, a former white-collar employee of a publishing house recalled:

Everyone was emotionally affected. We developed a fear of the future which was very difficult to overcome. Even though I eventually went into some fairly good jobs, there was still this constant dread: everything would be cut out from under you and you wouldn't know what to do. It would be even harder, because you were older. 1

Facing an uncertain future, Americans finally recognized that not only unemployment but also old age, sickness, and fatherless families produced widespread poverty. In search of security against want, the country sought ways to cushion individuals against hazards beyond their control.

Advocates of government-sponsored social security won a series of victories during the 1930s. Although a small band of reformers had long campaigned for protection against the various causes of economic dependency, they had little success until the Depression brought massive destitution. 2 After the collapse of the economy focused public attention on the need for enhanced security, New York adopted a number of measures designed to guarantee a minimum standard of living for specific groups such as the unemployed and the aged. Often acting in concert with Washington, the Empire State extended both public assistance to relieve want and social insurance to keep people from becoming public charges. The enactment of this legislation marked another step in New York's acceptance of the Welfare State.

-71-

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Herbert H. Lehman and New York's Little New Deal
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword vii
  • Preface ix
  • Notes xi
  • Contents xiii
  • Illustrations xv
  • Introduction xvii
  • Notes xix
  • I- from Wall Street to State Street 1
  • Notes 24
  • II- Emergency Unemployment Relief 31
  • Notes 42
  • III- From Emergency Relief to the Welfare State 48
  • Notes 66
  • IV- The Search for Security 71
  • Notes 94
  • V- Defending the Defenseless 102
  • Notes 123
  • VI- Lending Labor a Hand 131
  • VII- The Promise of Parity 148
  • Notes 172
  • VIII- The Advent of Public Housing 182
  • IX- Battling the Utilities 210
  • Notes 226
  • X- The End of an Era 231
  • Notes 244
  • Notes 255
  • Bibliography 257
  • Index 275
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