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I’m working on a history question and need an explanation and answer to help me learn.

What were the accomplishments and criticisms of the First New Deal?

Most people understand that during the Great Depression there was a lot of unemployment and a lot of suffering in America. They also know that a stock market crash was somehow involved. But long before the infamous stock market crash of 1929, the American farmer was struggling. Technology made it possible to sow and harvest more with fewer man-hours, and this had two very important consequences. One is that farm laborers lost their jobs while smaller operations had the opportunity to maximize their profits–until so many individual farmers had the same idea that the market became over-saturated. In a cruel irony, the fact that so many Americans could not afford to feed their families during the Great Depression was caused by the fact that farmers grew too much food! This Primary Source Exercise is designed to provide some understanding of how that situation came about and how President Roosevelt and his administration sought to solve the problem of farmers not being able to make a living, due to extremely low commodity prices.


Document 1 is an oral history from Mr. LeRoy Hankel of Nebraska, as he tells of his experience of being a farmer during the Great Depression.

Document 2 is a collection of photographs of farmers slaughtering commodity livestock during the Great Depression.


1. Read Chapter 25 of the textbook, with special attention to the discussion of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s early presidency, pages 1020-1022; and Agricultural Assistance, page 1027.

2. Read Document 1 and observe the photographs in Document 2.

3. Answer the Focus Question.


LeRoy Hankel,”Falling Prices after the Crash,”interviewed for Living History Farm by Bill Ganzel, 2003.

I was quite young at that time, but I still remember the crash. The Depression actually started in ’29. That’s when that stock market and everything went. Then everything dropped. Corn, I seen on the board in Hampton–that’s where we lived at that time when it started–nine-cents a bushel. But very little of it was sold at nine, most of it was sold at 10- and 11[-cents]. And everything just went all to pieces. Eggs was 10-cents a dozen. And your wheat, I really don’t know just what the wheat did, dropped to. My memory tells me somewhere around 70-cents. It went down to about 70-cents a bushel… It just dropped to nothing. We had, I believe Dad had over 100 acres of corn and it all went for around 10-cents a bushel. Land prices dropped down from 200-250 dollars an acre. It was getting down to $40. And nobody, nobody sold and nobody bought. There was nothing going on at all. And, everything just went all to pieces.”

Find the complete interview with video at this website, Wessels Living History Farm in York, Nebraska


Credit: Written by Bill Ganzel of the Ganzel Group. First written and published in 2003.”Wessels Living History Farm” Web site designed to provide learners an in-depth look at farming in the 1920s and beyond. The site can be found at


. Bill Ganzel served as executive producer, writer, designer and editor of the site, particularly the 1930s and 1940s sections of it.


Burial of Government Purchased and Condemned Livestock (photograph), 1934, and A Slaughtered Pig (photograph), ca. 1933

Click to view larger image.

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