Toward a New Deal in Baltimore: People and Government in the Great Depression

By Jo Ann E. Argersinger | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5 Organizing the Unemployed
The Jobless and the New Deal

In January 1933 President Hoover's Research Committee on Social Trends presented its findings from a detailed study of American life in the twentieth century. The committee found that "life has become disjointed and upset because the flow of credit was not synchronized with the flow of production; that machines were everywhere displacing workers; that we devote far more attention to making money than to spending it; and that the church and family have declined in social significance." Given these conditions, the report predicted "increased friction and strife between workers and employers" and warned that "violent revolution" could not be averted unless there was a "change in the distribution of income." 1 That same month a New York rabbi urged a U.S. Senate committee to provide unemployment assistance, explaining that "the unemployed are organizing in many parts of the United States" and that their effort "could easily translate itself into action you and I would regret." 2

Fears of "violent revolution" haunted national and local leaders throughout the decade. In Baltimore, National Emergency Council director Arthur Hungerford often admonished Mayor Howard Jackson to help the jobless, warning that "hungry men become warlike." 3 As late as 1938, when the state's attorney general, Herbert O'Conor, entered the Democratic gubernatorial primary, he spoke less of the New Deal or his own record than of the "social unrest, discontent and dissatisfaction . . . in every community,"

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