As the Depression entered its fourth year, the scale of human suffering became staggering.
In some industrial cities like Youngstown, Ohio, unemployment exceeded 60 percent. Millions of farmers faced the loss of their land as crop prices crashed. Hunger and homelessness increased. The suicide rate tripled. Amid growing fear and despair, Americans looked to their political leaders for solutions.
Republican President Herbert Hoover tried to combat the Depression, but he believed in limited government and economic relief through private charity. Hoover had approved some Federal credit assistance for banks and businesses and increased construction spending to stimulate the economy. But he was reluctant to fund massive public works projects and other stimulative measures, and he refused to provide Federal relief money to the unemployed. The crisis demanded much bolder action.