History

MIDTERM EXAM

(Due: November 22, 2020 at 11:59 PM)

“Crowd at New York’s American Union Bank during a bank run early in the Great Depression.” Ca. 1929. Source: SSA.

During the Great Depression, bankers, Wall street investors, and businesses were often the
subjects of public scorn. In the interview excerpt from American Life Histories:
Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940, Charles Fusco, an Italian-born
munitions worker, provides a critique of the depression, the New Deal programs, and
politics in general.
First of all, what characteristics do you find in this document? What kind of historical
value do you think a document like this should have for historians? Who does Charles
Fusco blame for the depression, and who does he credit for helping people out? Which
problems of the Great Depression (1929-1939) does he mention, and which New Deal (1933-
1939) programs does he refer to? Use this source in order to discuss the Great Depression
and the New Deal (3 pages minimum.)
“I was born in the old country — Italy — 41 years ago and came over here when I was 3 months old.
Things have certainly changed a lot in forty years. . . . . . . I can get a job today even if we got a
depression. I don’t mean that I wasn’t on relief when things got tough because there was a time when
everything was shut down and I had to get on relief for a job. It isn’t so long ago I was working on WPA.
Believe me it was a big help. But it wasn’t the kind of a job I should have had because this town is
Republican and I am a Republican and I was a good worker for the party — making voters and helping a

lot of people out — getting their taxes rebated (abated). Getting jobs for them. When it came my turn that I
needed help the politicians told me that I had to go on relief — well, when I did I was handed a shovel and
pick. . . .Roosevelt is a damn good man — you take all these young fellows and you can’t talk to them like
in the old days to swing them over. Today all these kids are satisfied on WPA and the NYA . My son
works there and gets 44 cents an hour. . . . . . .
When I was a young fellow, not that I am very old now, I used to have a lot fun going around singing and
to friends but you don’t see that nowadays. I guess everybody just don’t care anymore. Of course the
depression is the fault. When the pocket book is sick the whole body is sick also. You know they call this
a depression. Well I think it is a sickness that won’t go way. Ten years is a long time to suffer it seems to
me that if the government wanted to stop it they could. Not that Roosevelt isn’t a good man because
whoever get in there things will be the same old story. The money men control everything and the unions
most of them are crooked. . . . . . .
I believe in education and I always wish that I had one — but today the man who knows a trade, especially
a machinist trade is the baby that can get along. There are no depression for him and furthermore how
many of these college students after they graduate get on the top? Let me tell you that when I was on the
WPA I met some of these college men working in the ditches and damn glad to do it. Well this brings us
right back to where we started. It’s just like a circle. Somebody is got the key and we’re all trying to get
out. Suppose we get out then what? We get right in again. Because the capitalist almost controls
everything. To-day if a person is getting along fine – along comes something like the depression or some
screwy laws and down in the ditch you go. . . . . . .
In the nine years of this depression even though I didn’t feel it much because I always gave myself a push
but think of the others who are weak — what about them? You know there shouldn’t be a depression in
this country. You know we have everything — even the most money but all you hear today is the same old
baloney — the Democrats are in power and the Republicans won’t let loose with the money. Well I say
that the money men started this thing and I believe the government should make laws to force these
capitalist to bring back prosperity. They can do it if they wanted to. But all you hear nowadays is lets
balance the budget. I don’t believe this budget has been balanced since the indians were here so why the
hell do it now. I don’t mean that we should go overboard on everything and start spending money left and
right because I am against chislers and flukey jobs but lets get down to business and start manufacturing
things and sell them to everybody who got the cash — and to those who haven’t the cash give them enough
credit and a job so that they can pay.

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