The nation's land mass, which includes the two major islands of Sicily and Sardinia and numerous smaller ones, measuressquare milessquare kilometers —almost exactly double the size of the state of Florida. Italy's population in stood at
Each respectively distilled the experience and defined the historical legacy of a century. Each embraced a pair of episodes with lastingly transformative impacts.
From to the Revolutionary War and the adoption of the Constitution brought national independence and established the basic political framework within which the nation would be governed ever after. To understand the logic and the consequences of those three moments is to understand much about the essence and the trajectory of all of American history.
To a much greater degree than in the earlier cases, the changes set in motion by the Great Depression and World War II had their origins outside the United States—a reminder of the increasing interdependency among nations that was such a salient feature of the twentieth century.
The Great Depression was a worldwide catastrophe whose causes and consequences alike were global in character. Economists and historians continue to this day to debate the proximate causes of the Great Depression.
The war exacted a cruel economic and human toll from the core societies of the advanced industrialized world, including conspicuously Britain, France, and Germany. The lingering distortions in trade, capital flows, and exchange rates occasioned by the punitive Treaty of Versailles, as the economist John Maynard Keynes observed at the time, managed to perpetuate in peacetime the economic disruptions that had wrought so much hardship in wartime.
To those abundant physical and institutional ills might be added a rigidly doctrinaire faith in laissez-faire, balanced national budgets, and the gold standard. The United States had participated only marginally in the First World War, but the experience was sufficiently costly that Americans turned their country decidedly inward in the s.
Congress in effectively closed the American market to foreign vendors with the Fordney-McCumber Tariff, among the highest in United States history, and the Smoot-Hawley Tariff eight years later. Washington also insisted that the Europeans repay the entirety of the loans extended to them by the US Treasury during the war.
And in the republic for the first time in its history imposed a strict limit on the number of immigrants who could annually enter the country.
Among those eventually excluded though none could yet know it were thousands of Jewish would-be fugitives from Nazi persecution. Militarily, diplomatically, commercially, financially, even morally, Americans thus turned their backs on the outside world. American prosperity in the s was real enough, but it was not nearly as pervasive as legend has portrayed.
And well before the Great Depression, almost as soon as the Great War concluded ina severe economic crisis had beset the farm-belt.
It did not entirely lift until the next world war, more than twenty years later. Virtually none enjoyed such common urban amenities as electricity and indoor plumbing. Other maladies began to appear, faintly at first, but with mounting urgency as the Depression began to unfold.
Some twenty-five thousand banks, most of them highly fragile "unitary" institutions with tiny service areas, little or no diversification of clients or assets, and microscopic capitalization, constituted the astonishingly vulnerable foundation of the national credit. As for government—public spending at all levels, including towns, cities, counties, states, and the federal government itself, amounted only to about 15 percent of the gross domestic product in the s, one-fifth of which was federal expenditures.
Ideology aside, its very size made the federal government in the s a kind of ninety-pound weakling in the fight against the looming depression. Then in the autumn ofthe bubble burst. The Great Crash in October sent stock prices plummeting and all but froze the international flow of credit.
Banks failed by the thousands. Businesses collapsed by the tens of thousands.
Herbert Hoover, elected just months earlier amid lavish testimonials to his peerless competence, saw his presidency shattered and his reputation forever shredded because of his inability to tame the depression monster—though, again contrary to legend, he toiled valiantly, using what tools he had and even inventing some new ones, as he struggled to get the upper hand.
Bysome thirteen million Americans were out of work, one out of every four able and willing workers in the country. Even those horrendous numbers could not begin to take the full measure of the human misery that unemployment entailed.
Given the demography of the labor force and prevailing cultural norms that kept most women—and virtually all married women—out of the wage-paying economy, a 25 percent unemployment rate meant that, for all practical purposes, every fourth household in America had no breadwinner.
Many Americans came to believe that they were witnessing not just another downswing of the business cycle, but the collapse of a historic economic, political, and social order, perhaps even the end of the American way of life.
Yet curiously, as many observers noted, most Americans remained inexplicably docile, even passive, in the face of this unprecedented calamity.
Among those who were perplexed by the apparent submissiveness of the American people as the Depression descended was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Repeatedly he spoke of this, saying that it was enormously puzzling to him that the ordeal of the past three years had been endured so peaceably.
Those elusive but deep-seated and powerful American cultural characteristics go a long way toward explaining the challenge that faced any leader seeking to broaden the powers of government to combat the Depression.The Art of the New Deal Thus was born the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), which in roughly the first four months of hired 3, artists and produced 15, paintings, murals.
Art for the millions;: Essays from the s by artists and administrators of the WPA Federal Art Project, Hardcover – by Francis V O'Connor (Author) out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews. See all 4 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions.
Price Reviews: 2. Figurative art, and the sorts of anecdotal subjects that were common of American painting in the s, were, for Greenberg, typical of the kind of extraneous, 'literary' material which needed to . The Great Depression—the worst economic crisis in the country’s history—left an indelible scar on American society and culture, causing millions of people to languish in joblessness, homelessness, and starvation for nearly a decade.
The rhetoric of war and struggle echoed across s Europe like a trumpet blast. In Germany, the USSR and Italy, increasingly intense battles for the control of art and culture were an integral part of the establishment of power and pre- figured the real war which started in Spain in and then spread throughout Europe.
Note: In the late 's, Paris was the world's center of art where some of the most important painters, collectors, art dealers, and experts of this century resided. We learn how the Nazis stripped French museums, churches, gallery owners, and art collectors of rare art works between the years and , shipping paintings, drawings, and sculpture for the museum of European art planned for Austria .