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Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward give a detailed account and analysis of the militant movement of unemployed American workers during the Great Depression, how it developed and how it was recuperated by the government through its own leaders.
The depression movements of the unemployed and of industrial workers followed a period of economic breakdown that produced distress and confusion in the daily lives of millions of people, and produced contradiction and confusion in the posture of elites.
At the time of the Great Depression, formal arrangements for relief of the indigent were sparse and fragmented. But this much could have been achieved without any relief arrangements at all; the threat of starvation was sufficient. The meaning of these relief practices was thus not only in their inhumanity but in the functions they performed in legitimating work in the face of the extreme inequalities generated by American capitalism. The wonder of this relief system, however, was that it generated such shame and fear as to lead the poor to acquiesce in its harsh and restrictive practices.
These experiences suggest that when unemployment is severe and widespread, at least a partial transvaluation may occur among the poor. The depression came suddenly, at a time when the American belief in unprecedented and unbroken prosperity had never been so fervent, earlier depressions notwithstanding.
Then, in 1929, the production index began to slip from its June high, and by October, after a dizzying burst of speculation, the stock market reacted in the panic known as Black Thursday.
Most of the nation’s public figures were stubbornly unwilling to recognize the disaster, at least at first. As the depression worsened in 1930 there were stirrings in Congress for federal action to alleviate unemployment by reviving and expanding the United States Employment Service and by expanding federal public works projects. Without work, and with family life weakened, men and women, especially the young, took to the road. Most of the people who were thrown out of work suffered quietly, especially at the start of the depression, when official denials helped to confuse the unemployed and to make them ashamed of their plight.
One of the earliest expressions of unrest among the unemployed was the rise of mob looting. The crowds did not always stay in their own neighborhoods, and the authorities were not always judicious. The unemployment demonstration staged by the Communist Party in Union Square broke up in the worst riot New York has seen in recent years when 35,000 people attending the demonstration were transformed in a few moments from an orderly, and at times a bored, crowd into a fighting mob.
The demonstration was sufficiently threatening to prod the mayor to agree to form a committee to collect funds to be distributed to the unemployed.7 In October 1930 the unemployed gathered again in a mass rally at City Hall plaza to demand that the Board of Estimate appropriate twenty-five dollars a week for each unemployed person. The demonstrations were branded as riots by the press; it was the Communist and Socialist organizers who misnamed them unemployment demonstrations, said the New York Times (October 17, 1930, 1). For some people at least, distress was turning to indignation, indignation strong enough to withstand official scorn or state force. Communist agitators were helping in that transformation, but the unemployed were ready to respond to any leader who articulated their grievances. Boyer and Morais claim that such tactics succeeded in restoring 77,000 evicted families to their homes in New York City (261).
Chicago was also the scene of frequent “rent riots,” especially in the black neighborhoods where unemployment reached catastrophic proportions and evictions were frequent.
These tactics frequently culminated in beatings, arrests, and even killings,13 but they also forced relief officials to give out money for rent payments (Seymour, December 1937, 14). Karsh and Garman report that in many places the Communists organized gas squads to turn the gas back on in people’s houses and electric squads to string wires around the meter after it was shut off by the local utility (88). There is surely reason to think that it is easier for people to defend their homes against the authorities than to demand relief, simply because Americans are more likely to believe they have a right to their homes than to believe they have a right to handouts, no matter how overwhelming the economic disaster that confronts them.
Nearly two-thirds did not apply for relief until at least a year had elapsed after the chief breadwinner had lost his regular employment, and nearly one-third of these families had managed to get along for two years or longer. Relief officials, who were accustomed to discretionary giving to a meek clientele and were not much governed by any fixed set of regulations, usually acquiesced in the face of aggressive protests.
As the unemployed became more disruptive, even cherished procedures of investigation and surveillance of recipients were relinquished. As indignation mounted, in other words, some people not only defied the prohibition against going on the dole, but some even began to defy the apparatus of ritualized humiliation that had made that prohibition so effective.
In Chicago, “spontaneous outbreaks grew in size and frequency, and through them the accumulated tensions and effects resulting from economic deprivation and from newspaper neglect or criticism and police repression became ‘collectivized.” The number of demonstrations increased, from 408 in 1931 to 566 in 1932 (Lasswell and Blumenstock, 172-173). In Detroit hundreds of people organized by the Unemployed Councils gathered at City Hall in August 1931 to demand better food and better treatment from the police at the municipal lodging houses. In Atlanta in June 1932 city and county authorities decided to drop 23,000 families from the relief rolls, claiming there were no funds. But this amount of relief in cities like New York, Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia barely scratched the surface of the need.
In New York City, where the charter of 1898 prohibited “outdoor” relief as distinct from relief in workhouses or poor houses, disruptions by the unemployed had led to the creation of an arrangement whereby the police precincts distributed direct relief to the most destitute from funds contributed by city employees. In Chicago in October 1931 40 percent of the work force was unemployed, but help was being given only to the completely destitute.
Since Chicago was a railway hub, officials also had to deal with large numbers of transients, some of whom lived in a shanty town at the foot of Randolph Street, scavenging garbage for a living.
In Philadelphia, public relief had been abolished in 1879,20 and so it fell to a committee of leading philanthropists and businessmen to deal with the problem. In Detroit, Frank Murphy had won the mayoralty in 1930 with a campaign that pledged aid to the unemployed, and a public relief program was established with the result that the costs of relief raised from $116,000 in February 1929 to $1,582,000 two years later. However pathetic local relief programs were compared to the scale of the need, the cost of even that puny effort had brought many cities close to bankruptcy, and other municipal services were taking the brunt of the fiscal squeeze. With local disturbances increasing, and local finances on the verge of collapse, other urban states followed New York’s example. By early 1933 nearly one thousand local governments had defaulted on their debts (Chandler, 48-50).
In February 1932, as part of a campaign for his bill to provide federal loans for unemployment relief, Senator La Follette sent out a questionnaire to mayors all over the country asking about current numbers of people on relief, anticipated increases, the amounts of relief aid being given, whether the city was in a position to float bond issues to meet relief needs, and whether the mayors favored federal appropriations to “aid in providing more adequate relief for the needy or in lessening the burden on local taxpayers.” In their replies, the mayors described widespread distress and clamored for federal aid. Unable to resist the political pressures of the unemployed, local elites had brought their cities to the brink of fiscal collapse.
By November 1932 the political unrest that had spurred local leaders to try to respond to the unemployed spread upward to produce a national political disturbance, the electoral upheaval of 1932. The Republican Party had been in power since the toppling of the Wilson Administration in the election of 1920, when Harding carried every major non-southern city. As for the Democratic Party, after the debacle of 1924 during which the agrarian wing had been defeated, it too had come firmly under the control of eastern conservatives, businessmen like Bernard Baruch and John J. In the interim between the election and Roosevelt’s inauguration, the index of industrial production sank to its lowest point ever, and the number of unemployed was increasing at the rate of about 200,000 a month (Lescohier and Brandeis, 163), to reach at least 12 million by March 1933.
In a message to Congress three weeks after the inauguration, Franklin Delano Roosevelt called for a Civilian Conservation Corps, a public works program, and a massive program of federal emergency relief.
It had taken protest and the ensuing fiscal and electoral disturbances to produce federal relief legislation, and it took continued protest to get the legislation implemented.
From the onset of the depression, the potential for unrest among the unemployed attracted organizers and activists from the left. The Communists were first in the field; indeed, they had been in the field as early as 1921, trying to organize the unemployed into “Councils of Action,” but without much success. During this early period, Communist activists concentrated on direct action rather than on organization, and the actions they led in the streets and in the relief offices were generally more militant and disruptive than those of other unemployed groups. At this stage, there were few membership meetings, little formal structure within each group, and very little effort to establish formal linkages among the different groups. Other radicals were also active, many of them affiliated with the Conference for Progressive Labor Action formed in May 1929 by Socialists and trade unionists who were opposed both to the conservative leadership of the AFL and to the dual union approach of the Communist Trade Union Unity League. Many of the Unemployed Leagues, like the Seattle League, did not last long as self-help efforts, if only because self-help programs could not cope with extensive and lasting unemployment.
Other groups appeared in many towns, sometimes under auspices which had nothing to do with radical politics. In some places, particularly in the coal regions where unemployment was endemic, trade unions helped and even joined with the unemployed. Because of the variegated character of the unemployed movement, membership cannot be accurately estimated, and in any case it probably fluctuated widely.
The movement of the unemployed had originated in local communities, in sporadic street demonstrations, in rent riots, and in the disruption of relief centers. However bitterly the Communists, the Socialists, and the Musteites disagreed about issues of international socialism, they shared the view that the victories won by the unemployed in the early depression were mere handouts. In the fall of 1932, prompted by the upcoming election, the Socialists had also taken steps toward the development of a national organization. Sarah Collins has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Penn State-University Park and formal education in fitness and nutrition. Your baby is growing fast, so don’t be surprised if your stomach rumbles more often during the seventh month of pregnancy.
Although calcium is important through the entire pregnancy, the third trimester is when the calcium in your baby’s skeleton is arranged, according to Dr. The finish line is nearly in sight, so there's no need to change the strategies that have been helping you win the race. All future moms enter the pregnancy talk sooner or later and if most of the forums discuss personal experience some online articles or info may walk a first time pregnant woman from joy to dread. So here is the first step in the world of pregnancy explained so the future mothers would understand in plain words what is going on in their body. Once the pregnancy test has shown the reality and the visit to your gynecologist has stated that you are expecting a little one, the first month of pregnancy is on. It is pointless to say that you will have to be very careful because all women know this but the first month is actually most important as nutrition goes. The right way to go is eat rationally and eliminate from your diet all food elements that are normally bad for grownups because they will be even more dangerous for your baby.
As body changes come you will not experience significant changes other that breasts’ sensibility and sometimes cramps.
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Getting back to the food part, during this first month you will have to eat mostly fruit and vegetable and of course food rich in protein.
You should eat Chicken, Meat, Fish, Beans and Soya but also consider a B vitamin intake that will prevent congenital malformations.
You will have to be extra careful about how the food is cooked because you must avoid raw meat, raw eggs, milk that is not pasteurized, random medications, drugs, tobacco and drugs. You have to be realistic about the matter and understand that predicting the exact date is pretty difficult. Of course here comes the problem because most couple can’t say for sure when the conception took place. A hint would be that at the women with a cycle of 28 days the ovulation takes place in the 14th while at those with a cycle of 22-24 days the conception probably took place in the 8th or 9th day. Considering the conception date will help you see the approximate development of your pregnancy.
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For those still working, the discontent released by economic collapse during the 1930s were expressed in struggles within the factory system, which we will turn to in the next chapter. In many places, including New York City and Philadelphia, there simply was no “outdoor” relief (the term used to describe aid given to people who were not institutionalized). The more important function of the relief system was accomplished, not by refusing relief, but by degrading and making outcasts of those few who did get aid. For many people work was hard and the rewards few, and the constraints of tradition weak in the face of the transformations wrought by industrial capitalism.
In part the poor acquiesced simply because they shared American beliefs in the virtue of work and self sufficiency and in the possibility of work and self-sufficiency for those who were ambitious and deserving. At the depths of each of the recurrent depressions of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, people joined together and demanded some form of aid to ease their distress. The prohibition against the dole may weaken, if only because the extent of distress belies the customary conviction that one’s economic fortunes and misfortunes are a matter of personal responsibility, of individual failure. People were taken by surprise, the rulers as much as the ruled and it took time for the political forces set in motion by the calamity to emerge. National income rose from about $60 billion in 1922 to $87 billion in 1929, and by June of 1929 the index of industrial production reached its highest point ever (Bernstein, 1970, 54, 251).
Rising productivity and profits in the twenties were largely the result of increasing mechanization rather than the expansion of the labor force. Bernstein reports, for example, that by January 1930, 30 to 40 percent of the male labor force was out of work in Toledo, where Willys-Overland had cut its payroll from 20,000 to 4,000. The White House issued messages of reassurance that “the fundamental strength of the Nation’s economic life is unimpaired,” that recovery is “just around the corner,” and that in any case the temporary downturn was being stemmed by modest public works expenditures. City leaders in Buffalo, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Milwaukee, and Louisville initiated “make a job” or “man a block” campaigns, assigning the jobless to do snow removal or street cleaning while at the same time allowing them to canvass households for small donations. The measures proposed were modest and the Congress elected in the fall of 1930 passed both bills. As unemployment continued to grow, and the wages of those still employed shriveled, that way of life crumbled. Men and women haunted the employment offices, walked the streets, lined up for every job opening, and doubted themselves for not finding work.
As had happened so often before in history during periods of economic crisis, people banded together to demand food. By early 1930, unemployed men and women in New York, Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Boston, and Milwaukee were marching under such Communist banners as “Work or Wages” and “Fight-Don’t Starve” (Karsh and Garman, 87; Leab, 800). On February 11, 1930, for example, some 2,000 unemployed workers stormed the Cleveland City Hall, dispersing only when the police threatened to turn fire hoses on them. The Communists declared March 6, 1930, International Unemployment Day, and rallies and marches took place in most major cities. The outbreak came after communist leaders, defying warnings and orders of the police, exhorted their followers to march on City Hall and demand a hearing from Mayor Walker. The police again attacked the demonstrators, and two of the organizers were injured, but the Board of Estimate appropriated one million dollars for relief (Naison, 72-73). But the unemployed came, whatever the labels of the leaders, and despite the castigation of the press.

They had come only to plead with the Congress for early payment of pensions due them by law in 1945.
Jobless men and women began to defy the local authorities and the rules upheld by these authorities associated with specific hardships. In the brief period from August 11 to October 31, 1931 there were 2,185 cases before Renter’s Court, 38 percent of which involved blacks (Gosnell, 1967, 321-329).
One day in 1931 Cayton was sitting in a restaurant on the South Side and saw through the window a long file of black people, marching in deadly earnest. A rent riot in August 1931 left three people dead and three policemen injured: “News of the riot screamed in the headlines of the evening press. In Detroit, it took one hundred police men to evict a resisting family, and later two Detroit families who protected their premises by shooting the landlord were acquitted by sympathetic juries (Bernstein, 1970, 428). Most of the unemployed resisted the final degradation of asking for relief for as long as they could. With each abrasive encounter, officials in local and private charities gradually forfeited the discretion to give or withhold aid. Just a few months later, the Young Communist League led a march of several thousand on one of the Briggs auto plants to demand jobs and unemployment insurance (Keeran, 77). To maintain a degree of order in the face of this decision, local authorities proceeded to arrest hundreds of farm workers (who had come to Atlanta in search of work) on charges of vagrancy, in order to send them back to the countryside.
In the big industrial cities, where unemployment was especially severe, the unemployed some times comprised voting majorities. In 1931, on Governor Roosevelt’s initiative, New York State established an emergency program which supplemented local relief funds with an initial outlay of $20 million. They inaugurated a diversified program of work relief, shelters, and loans, but their efforts were dwarfed by the need.
In most places, people got only a little food: Baltimore, for example, provided an average weekly relief allotment of eighty cents in commodities (Greenstein).
A Detroit official reported that essential public services had been reduced “beyond the minimum point absolutely essential to the health and safety of the city,” and this despite the fact that municipal salaries had been sharply cut.
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin provided emergency out lays of relief funds, and other states began to underwrite municipal borrowing for relief. But even so, city budgets could not handle the demand for relief, and so the pressure was not abated, but worsened as unemployment rose. In the avalanche of new legislation that followed, concessions were made to each group in a volatile constituency.
With eastern businessmen at the helm, the Republicans ruled securely thereafter, receiving substantial majorities in each election until 1930, their strength concentrated particularly in the urban North. Roosevelt won with a plurality of almost seven million votes, capturing the largest electoral majority since 1864, and sweeping in an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress.
By 1934 many people had been without work a long time-an estimated 6 million for more than a year (Karsh and Garman, 86). A survey conducted in New York City revealed that almost all of the forty-two district relief administrators in New York City reported frequent dealings with Unemployed groups, most of them led by Communists. In 1929 they began a new campaign to form “Unemployed Councils.”25 During the winter of 1929-1930, Communist organizers worked vigorously, on the breadlines, in the flop houses, among the men waiting at factory gates, and in the relief offices. Communists, many of whom were unemployed workers,26 seized upon every grievance as an opportunity for inciting mass actions, and channeled their formidable self-discipline and energy into the extensive pamphleteering and agitation that helped bring the unemployed together, and helped raise the pitch of anger to defiance. The Councils sprang alive at mass meetings and demonstrations; in between, only a cadre group constituted the organization.
Instead, the National Executive Committee of the Socialist Party had, in May 1929, urged the creation of Emergency Conferences on Unemployment that would lobby for the Socialist program of old age benefits, unemployment insurance, and the abolition of child labor. The CPLA began as a propaganda and education organization but by 1931 it began to move to the left and A. By 1933 the leagues became more political and abrasive in outlook and tactics, joining in the general demand for public relief. Local politicians, for example, set up clubs in their wards to handle relief grievances on behalf of individual constituents, particularly before elections,28 and in many rural or partially rural areas, groups organized around self-help and barter programs.29 In Dayton, Ralph Borsodi, a utopian thinker who believed in a return to the land, was engaged by the Council of Social Agencies to organize groups that undertook to produce their own goods (Bernstein, 1970, 420). Locals of the United Mine Workers led two hunger marches in Charleston, West Virginia, for example, and joined with the Unemployed Council in Gallup, New Mexico, in leading mass resistance against evictions of unemployed miners from homes built on land owned by mining companies. People were attracted by the chances of getting relief, and many dropped out once the needed aid was received.
Many of the local organizations were loosely structured, held together more by the periodic demonstrations than by regular and formal affiliations; they gathered momentum from direct action victories which yielded money or food or a halt to evictions. A significant political movement capable of winning major victories depended, they thought, on firmly structured local and state organizations knit together in a national body and with a national program.33 Instead of disparate local groups disrupting relief offices or leading marches on mayors for handouts, a nationwide poor people’s organization should be formed, an organization representing such massive voting numbers as to compel the Congress to enact more fundamental economic reforms.
Stimulated by the successful demonstrations of March 6, 1930, the Communists held a meeting in New York City at the end of March, reportedly drawing together 215 delegates from thirteen states, and calling for the formation of an autonomous national unemployment organization.36 In July a larger meeting attracting 1,320 delegates was held in Chicago to declare the formation of the Unemployed Councils of the USA.
Collins is an experienced blogger, editor and designer, who specializes in nutrition, fitness, weddings, food and parenting topics.
At seven months of pregnancy, or between 28 and 31 weeks, you've reached the third trimester and are eagerly anticipating your bundle of joy.
Failure to consume enough could lead to anemia, premature delivery or hemorrhage during delivery. You’ll want to get about 200 milligrams a day through sources such as fortified foods like eggs, milk and juice. As you have through your entire pregnancy, focus on eating fresh, whole foods -- rather than processed or junk foods -- that provide a wide variety of nutrients. So provided you know the type of cycle you have you can start calculating using one of the above methods. But the men and women for whom life had changed most drastically and immediately were no longer in the factories. Even where public relief agencies existed, what little was actually given was usually provided by private charities. At the time of the Great Depression the main legal arrangement for the care of the destitute was incarceration in almshouses or workhouses. The discontent these poor might have felt was muffled, in part, by the relief system and the image of the terrible humiliation inflicted on those who became paupers.
But any doubts they might otherwise have felt about this judicious sorting out of the worthy by the American marketplace were dispelled by the spectacle of the degraded pauper displayed by the relief system. In the slump of 1837 some 20,000 unemployed in Philadelphia assembled to demand, among other things, that the national government relieve distress among the unemployed by a public works program (Foner, 162), and in New York City, a crowd of thousands in City Hall Park protested against the “monopolies” and the high cost of food and rent. At such times large numbers of the poor demand relief, the relief of work or the relief of food and money.
Then, as the depression continued and worsened, the harshening and disordering of a way of life began to take form in rising popular discontent. Meanwhile depressed farm prices (the result of overproduction stimulated by heavy immigration earlier in the century, followed by the demand for food during World War I when the United States was feeding its allies) were forcing millions of people off the land and to the cities. One government official judged that the numbers out of work rose by 2.5 million within two weeks of the crash, and President Roosevelt’s Committee on Economic Security later estimated that the number of unemployed jumped from 429,000 in October 1929 to 4,065,000 in January 1930 (Bern.
In Detroit a personal loan company discovered in March that half its outstanding commitments were from people who bad lost their jobs. Official refusal to recognize the disaster early in the depression also took form in White House denials that there was very much unemployment at all.
Philadelphia’s mayor appointed a committee to organize the peddling of fruit (Colcord, 166), clubs and restaurants in some places began to participate in schemes for saving food leftovers for the unemployed, and some communities set aside plots of land so that the jobless could grow vegetables to ease their plight. Hoover, ever staunch, vetoed the first and emasculated the second by appoint-administrators hostile to federal public works.
Despite denials by the public figures of the nation, the evidence was there in the daily lives of the people.
But soon farm income fell precipitously as well, and then there was no place to go except to move on, shunted from town to town.
Families exhausted their savings, borrowed from relatives, sold their belongings, blaming themselves and each other for losing the struggle to remain self-reliant. By and large, the press refrained from reporting these events for fear of creating a contagion effect.
A few days later the unemployed demonstrated at City Hall in Philadelphia, and had to be driven off by the police. Many of the demonstrations were orderly, as in San Francisco where the chief of police joined the 2,000 marchers and the mayor addressed them, or in Chicago where some 4,000 people marched down Halsted and Lake Streets, and then dispatched a committee to petition the mayor (Lasswell and Blumenstock, 196). Hundreds of policemen and detectives, swinging night sticks, blackjacks and bare fists, rushed into the crowd, hitting out at all with whom they came into contact, chasing many across the street and into adjacent thoroughfares and rushing hundreds off their feet. The Congress turned them down, Hoover refused to meet with their leaders, and when they still did not leave, he sent the Army to rout them.
The realization of the extent of unrest in the Negro district threw Chicago into panic” (Lasswell and Blumenstock, 197).
Some people came to believe that if there were no jobs if the factories and offices and workshops turned them away, then they had a right to the income they needed to survive anyway.
Mark Naison reports some of the incidents: “I stood in the rain for three days and the Home Relief Bureau paid no attention to me,” a woman declared at a neighborhood meeting in New York City.
On January 11, 1932, simultaneous demonstrations were held at all the relief stations of Chicago.18 Later that year, some 5,000 men who had been forced to take refuge in municipal lodging houses marched on relief headquarters to demand three meals a day, free medical attention, tobacco twice a week, the right to hold Council meetings in the lodging houses, and the assurance of no discrimination against Unemployed Council members. Then in March 1932, after the severe winter, unemployed workers in Detroit who had been assembled by Communist organizers to march on the Ford River Rouge plant were fired on by Dearborn police.
But when a thousand of the unemployed rallied at the courthouse, the order to cut the families was rescinded, and additional money was appropriated for relief (Herndon, 188-192).19 In St. Even so, by 1932, the lucky among the unemployed in New York City were receiving an average grant of $2.39 per week, and only one-quarter were getting that (Schlesinger, 1957, 253). Bernstein reports that the Oak Forest poor house, having filled its corridors, turned away 19,000 people in 1931 (1970, 297-298). Not surprisingly, Mayor Murphy reversed his belief in local responsibility, and told the Senate Manufactures Subcommittee that there ought to be federal help. In Atlanta, white recipients received sixty cents a week, while blacks got less, when they got anything at all (Herndon, 188). Chicago (whose finances had been in a shambles even before the depression) owed its school teachers $20 million dollars in back pay (Hopkins, 92-93). As a result of state and local efforts, total expenditures for relief rose by another $71 million between 1931 and 1932, to reach a total of $317 million. Driven by the protests of the masses of unemployed and the threat of financial ruin, mayors of the biggest cities of the United States, joined by business and banking leaders, had become lobbyists for the poor.
And much of Roosevelt’s majority was concentrated in the big cities of the country, where unemployment and hardship were also concentrated. The Public Works Administration was slow in getting started, and in any case it was designed not so much to provide jobs for the unemployed as to stimulate the economy, so that most of the jobs went to skilled workers. And during 1933, 1934, and 1935, groups of the unemployed continued to agitate, and were at least partly responsible for the fact that many states and localities participated in federal emergency relief programs at all.
These groups were disruptive; shouting, picketing, refusing to leave the relief offices and the groups frequently won their demands. But they all deplored the loose and chaotic character of the movement, and they all strove to build organization.
Little came of the Emergency Conferences, but groups of Socialists in some localities, many of them associated with the League for Industrial Democracy, began to organize committees or unions of the unemployed despite the absence of a national mandate.
Some fell under the leadership of the Communists, and later some of the leaders of the leagues, Louis Budenz among them, joined the Communist Party.
Arthur Moyer, the president of Antioch College, established the Midwest Exchange, Inc., which encouraged self-help and barter among independent groups (Glick, 13-14). In Pennsylvania, some locals of the UMW affiliated with and gave financial support to the unemployed groups (Seymour, December 1937, 6). Until February 1934 the Unemployed Councils did not have either dues or members; adherents were simply called supporters (Seymour, August 1937, 11-13).
But most of the radical leaders of the different groups felt that the looseness of these local groups was a drawback. The coming of the New Deal, with a more sympathetic president and Congress, of course, encouraged this approach, for the time seemed propitious to achieve far-reaching change through the electoral system. A platform calling for federal unemployment insurance and federal appropriations for relief was adopted, and a formal structure describing the relation ship between local, city, county, state, and national groups was elaborated. At the same time, you're gaining more weight than you have previously, and it's tempting to try to temper your weight gain. Add magnesium, which not only helps your body absorb the calcium but also might help relax your muscles, relieve leg cramps and prevent preterm labor. Folic acid is also vital during your entire pregnancy because it reduces the risk of neural tube defects. It might be uncomfortable to exercise in the third trimester in the same way that you did prepregnancy, but don't stop moving entirely. They were among the masses of the unemployed, and their struggle had to take another form, in another institutional context. But niggardly aid and fragmented administration did not signify an underdeveloped institution.
So long as that was so, the dole could not be dispensed permissively for fear some would choose it over work.
In some places the care of paupers was still contracted to the lowest bidder, and destitute orphans were indentured to those who would feed them in exchange for whatever labor they could perform. The practices called charity were shaped, in short, by economic imperatives, by the need for cheap and docile labor on the farms and in the factories of a burgeoning capitalist society. Even when unemployment was endemic, most people endured in silence, blaming themselves for their misfortunes. The crowd then paraded to the wholesale flour depot, and dumped flour and wheat in the streets (Gutman, 1976, 60-61).
This transvaluation occurred again in the Great Depression, and just as the scale of the calamity in the 1930s was unparalleled, so too was the protest movement that arose among the unemployed. The actions of elites added momentum to this process, for they too were shaken and divided, and their cacophonic accusations and proposals heightened the sense of indignation that was spreading. The resulting labor surplus meant that for the first time in the American experience, prosperity was accompanied by continuing high unemployment throughout the decade (Lescohier and Brandeis, 137-151).
By the end of that year almost half of New England’s textile workers were unemployed, and the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company reported that 24 percent of its industrial policy holders in forty-six larger cities were jobless.
If the 1930 census of unemployment did not support such contentions, Hoover argued that it was because the enumerators “had to list the shiftless citizen, who had no intention of living by work, as unemployed” (cited in Edelman, 184).2 If there was not very much unemployment, it followed that there was not very much need for unusual measures to aid the unemployed.
The problem was defined as minor, and temporary, and so were the gestures made to deal with it.

Nothing had been one to deal with the disaster except, perhaps, to begin to acknowledge it. Just how many transients there were, is not known, but the Southern Pacific Railroad reported that it had ejected 683,457 people from its trains in 1932 (Bernstein, 1970, 325). But as the depression worsened, as the work forces of entire factories were laid off, as whole neighborhoods in industrial towns were devastated, and as at least some political leaders began to acknowledge that a disaster had occurred, attitudes toward what had happened and why, and who was to blame, began to change among some of the unemployed. In New York bands of thirty or forty men regularly descended upon markets, but the chain stores refused to call the police, in order to keep the events out of the papers. A week later mounted police with nightsticks dispersed a crowd of 1,200 jobless men and women in Chicago. As unemployment rose, large numbers of families in many places could not pay their rents, and the number of evictions increased daily.9 In 1930 and 1931 small bands of people, often led by Communists, began to use strong-arm tactics to prevent marshals from putting furniture on the street. Louis 3,000 of the jobless marched and forced the passage at City Hall of two relief bills (Boyer and Morais, 263).
Clearly the private agencies which had in many places handled whatever relief was given could not meet the surging demand, and various ad hoc arrangements were quickly invented, often with the cooperation of local businessmen and philanthropists. Testimony before the Senate Committee on Manufactures in the summer of 1932 reported that 20,000 children in New York had been placed in institutions because parents could not provide for them. By June 1932, Mayor Cermak told a House committee that if the federal government didn’t send $150 million for relief immediately, they should be prepared to send troops later. This amount of relief provided less than $27 that year for each of the 12 million unemployed. But the depression created the shifting currents that would bring new leaders to the forefront of the Democratic Party, and would then force the massive realignment of voters that brought these leaders to national power. In August 1933, when state appropriations were needed in Ohio, 7,000 jobless marched on the state capitol (Rosenzweig, 1975, 58). Five of the relief offices were observed continuously over a thirty-day period during which 196 demands by unemployed groups were recorded, of Which 107 were granted (Brophy and Hallowitz, 63-65).
The party’s theoretical journal, The Communist, asserted that those out of work were “the tactical key to the present state of the class struggle” (cited in Rosenzweig, 1 976a).
They used grievance procedures and mass pressure tactics not very different from the Communist unemployed groups.27 The most successful of these was the Chicago Workers’ Committee on Unemployment which was credited with raising Cook County relief payments to one of the highest in the nation (Rosenzweig, 1974, 12).
Muste, who had run the Brookwood Labor College in the 1920s, emerged as the leading figure, with a program to build local organizations of the unemployed. Still, if any gauge is provided by the groups’ own claims, the numbers were impressive for a grassroots organization.
Rather than trying to diet during pregnancy, however, structure your diet around the needs of your growing, soon-to-arrive baby.
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Gentle exercise such as swimming, walking or prenatal yoga can help slow down rapid weight gain and keep you in tip-top shape for delivery. The depression saw the rise and fall of the largest movement of the unemployed this country has known, and the institution against which the movement was inevitably pitted was the relief system. Thus, most of the poor were simply excluded from aid, ensuring that they had no alternative but to search for whatever work they could find at whatever wage was offered. The constitutions of fourteen states denied the franchise to paupers (Brown, 9-10; Woodroofe, 154). For the practices of relief to change, this subordination of the institution of charity to the institution of profit had to be ruptured.
They did not demand relief, for to do so was to give up the struggle to remain above the despised pauper class. In the period of general political uncertainty that ensued, protest movements emerged among different groups, focusing on different institutional grievances. The labor surplus also accounts for the fact that wages remained relatively fixed, while profits soared. The number rose steadily to 8 million in January 1931, and to 9 million in October (Bernstein, 1970, 254-257).
The Ford Motor Company employed 130,000 workers in the spring of 1929; by the summer of 1931 there were only 37,000 left on the payroll (Bern stein, 1970, 255-256). Hoover limited himself mainly to offering rhetorical encouragement of local charity efforts. Surveys of school children showed that one quarter suffered from malnutrition, new patients in tuberculosis clinics almost doubled, and a study by the U. They began to define their personal hardship not just as their own individual misfortune but as misfortune they shared with many of their own kind.
In March 1,100 men waiting on a Salvation Army bread line in New York City mobbed two trucks delivering baked goods to a nearby hotel.
On February 26 a crowd of 3,000 was broken up by tear gas before the Los Angeles City Hall (Bernstein, 1970, 426-427). Later in 1932, when relief funds were cut 50 percent by a financially strangled city administration, some 25,000 of the unemployed marched again, this time through the Chicago Loop in a cold, driving rain. Each such protest that succeeded in getting people money added morale and momentum to the movement, and further undermined the doctrine that being “on the county” was a confession of personal failure, a badge of shame.
Committees were set up, local citizens were exhorted to contribute to charity drives, and in some places city employees found their wages reduced for contributions to the relief fund. And Chicago’s leading industrialists and bankers joined in an appeal to Hoover for federal relief funds (Bernstein, 1970, 467). Even so, the effort was taking a heavy toll from local governments; to meet relief debts in the face of sharply declining tax revenues, spending on other programs fell by $966 million between 1931 and 1932.
In Colorado, when the federal relief funds were discontinued in the winter of 1934 because the state had repeatedly failed to appropriate its share of costs, mobs of the unemployed rioted in relief centers, looted food stores, and stormed the state legislature, driving the frightened senators from the chamber.
By February 1932, prodded by the Success of the Communist Unemployed Councils, and by the local Socialist-led organizations that had already emerged, the National Executive Committee of the Socialist Party finally endorsed direct organizing of the unemployed (Rosenzweig, 1974, 14), with the result that Socialists in other places, most importantly in New York and Baltimore, began organizing on the model of the Chicago Workers’ Committee. The Muste groups, usually called Unemployed Leagues, flourished particularly in the rural areas and small towns of Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, where the approach taken by the Muste radicals, at least at the beginning, was non-doctrinaire and oriented toward the immediate needs of the unemployed.
In the Toledo Auto-Lite strike and the Milwaukee Streetcar strike in 1934, it was the support of thousands of the unemployed that finally broke employer resistance. Finally the shift in Comintern policy in 1935 set the stage not only for the development of an organization, but for the development of an organization that would embrace all of the unemployed groups.
Despite the diversity of administrative auspices, the norms that guided the giving of relief were everywhere quite similar.
By such practices the relief system created a clearly demarcated and degraded class, a class of pariahs whose numbers were small but whose fate loomed large in the lives of those who lived close to indigence, warning them always of a life even worse than hard work and severe poverty. Most of the time, the unemployed poor obeyed the prohibition against going on the dole, and by doing so collaborated in their own misery and in the punitive practices of local relief officials. Ten thousand Philadelphians rallied “to stimulate their representatives in the State House to an appreciation of their troubles,” and a system of ward associations was set up to issue food to the needy (Feder, 32). Moreover, some industries, particularly mining and textiles were in a slump throughout the decade, and these workers suffered sharp wage cuts. Sidney Hillman reported that at the height of the season in January 1932 only 10 percent of his New York garment workers were employed (Bernstein, 1970, 317). In October 1930 he established an Emergency Committee for Employment, but ignored the recommendation of Colonel Arthur woods, head of the committee, that the White House seek substantial appropriations from Congress for public works. Middletown newspapers made their first mention in April 1930 under the caption “Factories are Recovering from Bad Slump” (Lynd and Lynd, 17).
In Henryetta, Oklahoma, 300 jobless marched on storekeepers to demand food, insisting they were not begging and threatening to use force if necessary (Bernstein, 1970, 422; Brecher, 144). Even when they were not, physical resistance was the only resort for people forced from their homes.
The authorities quickly managed to borrow funds from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, and the cut was rescinded. Two days later, some sixty thousand Detroit workers marched behind the coffins to the tune of the Internationale. By these methods, expenditures for relief rose from $71 million in 1929 to $171 million in 1931 (Chandler, 192). Increasingly, local governments turned to borrowing, but they found fewer purchasers for their bonds, partly because many municipalities were no longer credit-worthy. But it was the presidential election of 1932 that produced one of the most sweeping political realignments in American history, and it was the election of 1936 that confirmed it. Two weeks later, the General Assembly sent a relief bill to the governor, and federal funding was resumed (Cross).
These groups later initiated the Workers’ Alliance of America, the culmination of the organizational efforts among the unemployed. The Seattle Un employment League, a kind of model for many of these efforts (although it was not actually affiliated with the CPLA), was a particular success, at least briefly.
And in Minneapolis, unemployed workers were included in the militant local 574 of the Teamsters (Glick, 13). In Chicago the Unemployed Councils alone claimed a membership of 22,000 in forty-five local branches (Karsh and Garman, 90) while the Socialist-led groups had organized 25,000 jobless by mid-1932 (Rosenzweig, 1976a).
In New York a meeting of 15,000 in Tompkins Square to demand work culminated in the destruction of fences and benches and the seizure of food wagons, although in this instance the workers got neither jobs nor relief, and federal troops were called in (Feder, 35). But the hardships of particular groups remained submerged, because the people who bore them were subdued by the aura of prosperity that symbolized the era. A second committee, appointed in August 1931, was called the Organization on Employment Relief.
Public Health Service revealed that the families of unemployed workers suffered 66 percent more illness than the families of employed workers.
Indeed, Bernstein concludes that in the early years of the depression “organized looting of food was a nation-wide phenomenon” (1970, 421-423).
From all parts of the scene of battle came the screams of women and cries of men, with bloody heads and faces. The rent riots began on the Lower East Side and in Harlem,10 but quickly spread to other parts of the city. La Follette, Jr., allocated $500 million for immediate grants to the states for relief of the unemployed, half of which was to be spent on a matching basis.
An attempt in Chicago to cut food allowances by 10 percent in November 1934 led to a large demonstration by the unemployed, and the city council restored that cut. It claimed 12,000 members in Seattle itself by the end of 1931 and a statewide membership of 80,000 by the end of 1932.
By and large, however, the trade unions avoided the unemployed, who were dropped from the union membership rolls as their dues lapsed.31 Subsequently William Green and John L. Therefore, it should be dispensed to as few as possible and made as harsh as possible to discourage reliance upon it.
These were self-evidently good times in America; anyone who really wanted to work could ostensibly earn a livelihood. But while its name revealed some dim acknowledgment of the problem, its activities, consisting of “coordinating” local efforts and exhorting American citizens to contribute to local charities, did not. In 1931 New York City hospitals reported about one hundred cases of actual starvation (Bernstein, 1970, 331). If the Army must be called out to make war on unarmed citizens, this is no longer America” (Schlesinger, 1957, 265).
The act was signed on May 12, Harry Hopkins was sworn in as administrator on May 22 and by the evening of that day, and he made the first grants to the states. In the spring of 1935 the federal government withheld relief after Illinois failed to provide its share of funding. Lewis sent messages of greetings to meetings of the unemployed (Seymour, December 1937, 10), but the CIO refused to permit the request of the organization of the unemployed to affiliate. 2012:In California, SNAP, EBT, Food Stamps, and similar are now called CalFresh, operated by Cal Social Services and Cal Dept. Accordingly, very little was given, and then only to a handful of the aged and crippled, widowed and orphaned to “deserving” people who clearly were not able to work. In New York City, rallies drew 10,000 to 15,000 people who were dispersed by mounted police, and in Chicago, mass meetings of the unemployed, organized by anarchists under the slogan “Bread or Blood,” culminated in a march of 20,000 on the City Council (Feder, 52; Boyer and Morais, 86). Another sign was the weakening of family life as ties wore thin under the strains and humiliations of poverty.
By early June, forty-five states had received federal grants for relief, and total expenditures on relief rose to $794 million in 1933, to $1,489 million in 1934, and to $1,834 million in 1935 (Brown, 204).
When relief offices closed down, the unemployed marched and demonstrated in Chicago and Springfield until the state legislature appropriated funds.
But when the harvest season of 1931 was over, and self-help came to an end, the league turned to the city for help.
Subsequently, unemployed workers stormed the offices of the Chicago Relief and Aid Society, swamping the Society with applications for aid. Desertions became common and divorce rates rose, while marriage rates and the birthrate dropped.3 And as poverty deepened and morale weakened, the crime rate rose, as did drunkenness and sexual promiscuity, and the suicide rate (Bernstein, 1970, 332). Relief was cut in Kansas City, Kansas, later that year and 2,000 of the unemployed assembled in front of the courthouse where they remained and prayed and sang hymns until a new relief appropriation was voted (Gilpin). The city council, uneasy about the growing numbers of league supporters, voted an appropriation of half a million dollars for relief, and turned the fund over to the league to ad minister. During the spring elections of 1932, when an estimated one-third of Seattle’s voters were league members, the league sup ported a slate headed by John F. Dore, who campaigned with talk of taking huge fortunes away “from those who stole them from the American workers,” and won with the largest plurality in Seattle history.
Once in office, however, Dore took the administration of relief away from the league and threatened to use machine guns on the unemployed demonstrations, earning himself the name “Revolving Dore” (Bernstein, 1970, 416-418).

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