ANTE UP, MISTER PRESIDENT: THE IMPACT OF THE NEW DEAL IN JACKSON COUNTY

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Earl Nathan Frizzell (Creator)
Institution
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site: http://library.wcu.edu/

Abstract: The advent of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal in 1933 found Jackson County suffering in ways similar to those in other rural areas of the nation.Overproduction had lowered farm prices to levels below cost; and the absence of capital in the county prevented local industrial growth. Real per capita income in Jackson County had been low before the Depression, and the county's dependence on agricultural cash crops and natural resources used in industry made avoiding the Depression impossible.Further, runs on the larger banks in Asheville in 1930 ignited fears that all banks were insolvent and teetered on closing. Political conservatives received most of the blame for the crisis, and in Jackson County the sense of helplessness horrified officeholders, both Republican and Democrat. The trade school, the Sylva Collegiate Institute, failed to weather the crisis. Meanwhile, more than one-third of the working population in the county had lost jobs, and most of those with jobs were on reduced pay. Even earnings of state employees and officials were cut by ten to thirty percent depending upon the position, but all suffered some loss. Politically and socially, the Depression bred strife and discontent; and it is against this backdrop that the impact of New Deal policies on Jackson County should be measured. Still, the clear impact of New Deal programs in Jackson County cannot be easily determined. The question of the legacy of the New Deal in Jackson County remains unanswered. Perhaps the isolation of the county in the midst of the Blue Ridge Mountains as well as the independent nature of its people led to resistance to the reforms of the New Deal. Possibly, the people molded the New Deal to their needs as many agricultural and industrial recovery programs vested power in the local people. Finally, local leaders hindered some programs such as public welfare because state and local taxes were required to initiate some of these, and as a result, while outwardly they heralded the program, they secretly fought it.This thesis will consider the New Deal's impact upon the economy, political structure, and social views of Jackson County from the introduction of the program in1933 to the nation's entry into World War II . The span of years from 1933 to 1941 also allows for the equal attention to the governorships of John Christoph Blucher Ehringhaus and Clyde R. Hoey. Though Jackson County represents a relatively small area, the New Deal influenced the county in three distinct ways depending on the location: Cherokee Reservation, the college area at Cullowhee, and the remainder of the county. Limitations and implementation at the local level also pose interesting questions as to how the New Deal was received by the people. Furthermore, the personal popularity of President Roosevelt served to assist in implementing the program, but one must wonder if the New Deal detracted from his popularity. Also, one must examine how party machines employed the program to increase their own power.For Jackson County farmers, the New Deal gradually raised market prices and increased credit. Eventually, businesses received credit assistance; and public works projects brought employment to the area. For the first time, the prospect of security for the disadvantaged and poor was obtained; and young people were provided a way to explore the country through work programs which moved them from their home communities to other states where work projects were located. In summation, the goal of this paper is to determine what if any significant impact the New Deal made upon Jackson County economically, politically, and/or socially.

Additional Information

Publication
Dissertation
Language: English
Date: 1998

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