The Story: Historical Overview

The Great Depression and the New Deal

What followed the Great Stock Market Crash was an economic depression, or a time of severely decreased economic activity. The depression that began in October of 1929 was so severe, and affected so many people, that it is called the Great Depression. In the wake of the Stock Market Crash, banks closed, businesses went bankrupt, and record numbers of Americans were without work. The Great Depression affected the entire country, but the agricultural South took a particularly hard hit in the early years. Between 1930 and 1933, nearly 200 banks closed, along with more than 400 savings and loan associations. Without financial support from these associations, many lost their homes and businesses. Things were especially hard for rural farming families, many of which were forced to abandon their farms during hard times to seek jobs in mill towns. Three of North Carolina's most important industries - tobacco, furniture, and textiles - suffered significantly during the Great Depression.

Things began to look up in 1932, when a confident, progressive candidate named Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) was elected president. Roosevelt vowed that his presidency would bring change, and immediately upon taking office, he instituted the first program of his overall plan to pull the United States out of the Great Depression - a plan known as the New Deal. He sent fifteen bills to Congress during his first one hundred days as president, all of which were voted into law and many of which involved the creation of new programs to revitalize the economy. These programs and others are outlined in the New Deal Timeline. The New Deal was responsible for a number of programs and laws that are still in place today, including the Fair Labor Standards Act, an Act that affected countless numbers of at-home workers, including tobacco bag stringers.

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