Like much of the rural south, Georgia faced a struggling agricultural economy even before the market crash of 1929. But as the nation reeled from a downward-spiraling economic shock, the lives of Georgians became increasingly difficult. Jobs were scarce, banks and businesses were wary of investing, and even the daily necessities of life were hard to come by.
Today, 75% of the world’s carpets and rugs are produced in Dalton, Georgia. Historians explain the humble origins of the tufted bedspread in 1893 and the rise of Bedspread Alley on Highway 41.
Dan Carter, a historian at Emory University, explains how the stock market crash triggered the Great Depression and led to a downward economic spiral of factories and banks closing, job losses, and no money for food, clothing, or any of life’s necessities. Wilkes County resident Russell Slayton and his daughter Betty discuss life in Georgia in those days, along with Mabel Johnson, who was a young girl at the time. Carter reports that conditions began to improve with the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932. Many New Deal programs came to Georgia and gave people a boost.
Horace Hampton, a former Depression-era hobo, recounts his experiences of life on the road. W. P. Scott, retired University of Georgia professor, also comments on the challenging history of seeking work in America.
In the wake of the Civil War, Georgia faced the dual challenges of rebuilding a shattered economy and integrating freed slaves into its population. As the state struggled to rise from the ashes of war during Reconstruction and into the first decades of the twentieth century, competing visions for the direction of southern politics and the New South economy dominated the state. Along the way, modern forms of entertainment and emerging cultural influences integrated Georgia’s past with its present.
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