The Worst Hard Time

The Worst Hard Time

by

Timothy Egan

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The 32nd President of the United States. Roosevelt is responsible for the institution of welfare programs that still persist to date, such as Social Security, and banking protections, such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). These programs were a part of his New Deal, which was intended to rescue the nation from economic ruin. In the High Plains, Roosevelt’s assistance to farmers was met with a mixture of relief and reluctance. Self-sufficient nesters did not want what they perceived as handouts from the government. Dalhart Texan editor, John McCarty, resented Washington’s interference and insulted farmers who sought federal assistance. However, Roosevelt’s willingness to make the government the market—that is, to buy wheat and livestock from farmers and to encourage them to let crops go fallow instead of growing it in abundance and selling it, was a successful effort to keep the crop’s prices high enough for farmers to profit. Roosevelt also created an agency that addressed soil erosion and conservation, led by the scientist Hugh Hammond Bennett. Additionally, Roosevelt pursued his own ambition of forming a barrier of trees in the prairie. Though the idea was met with initial skepticism, he used workers from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to plant trees from North Dakota’s Canadian border to Texas. The trees were to prevent the flow of dust from the west to the east, as well as to contribute to the health of the nation. Though the nation had credited him with ending the Great Depression, Roosevelt’s popularity diminished by the end of his second term. Many people had lost the government jobs that they had under the Works Progress Administration (WPA), and the economy was in decline. However, the United States would soon enter World War II, which Roosevelt also approached with notable leadership. He served three terms, making his administration the longest-running, and died in office, never seeing the end of the Second World War.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Quotes in The Worst Hard Time

The The Worst Hard Time quotes below are all either spoken by Franklin Delano Roosevelt or refer to Franklin Delano Roosevelt . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the First Mariner edition of The Worst Hard Time published in 2006.
Chapter 9 Quotes

Most scientists did not take [Hugh Hammond] Bennett seriously. Some called him a crank. They blamed the withering of the Great Plains on weather, not on farming methods. Basic soil science was one thing but talking about the fragile web of life and slapping the face of nature—this kind of early ecology had yet to find a wide audience. Sure, Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir had made conservation an American value at the dawn of the new century, but it was usually applied to brawny, scenic wonders: mountains, rivers, megaflora. And in 1933, a game biologist in Wisconsin, Aldo Leopold, had published an essay that said man was part of the big organic whole and should treat his place with special care. But that essay, “The Conservation Ethic,” had yet to influence public policy. Raging dirt on a flat, ugly surface was not the focus of a poet’s praise or a politician’s call for restoration.

Page Number: 134
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 25 Quotes

The flatland was not green or fertile, yet it seemed as if the beast had been tamed. The year had been dry, just like the six that preceded it, and exceptionally windy, but the land was not peeling off like it had before, was not darkening the sky. There were dusters, half a dozen or more in each of April and May, but nothing like Black Sunday, nothing so Biblical. Maybe, as some farmers suggested, Bennett’s army had calmed the raging dust seas, or maybe so much soil had ripped away that there was very little left to roll.

Page Number: 304
Explanation and Analysis:

Elsewhere in 1938, the recovery and the energy of the New Deal had run out of steam. More than four million people lost their jobs in the wake of government cutbacks, and the stock market fell sharply again. Some of the gloom that enveloped the country at midterm in President Hoover’s reign was back. In the Dust Bowl, the fuzz of a forced forest and the re-tilling of tousled dirt did not stop the wind or bring more rain, but it was a plan in motion—something—and that was enough to inspire people to keep the faith. As Will Rogers said, “If Roosevelt burned down the Capital we would cheer and say, ‘Well, we at least got a fire started anyhow.’” The High Plains had been culled of thousands of inhabitants […] But as the dirty decade neared its end, the big exodus was winding down. The only way that folks who stayed behind would leave now, they said, was horizontal, in a pine box.

Page Number: 304-305
Explanation and Analysis:
Epilogue Quotes

The High Plains never fully recovered from the Dust Bowl […] After more than sixty-five years, some of the land is still sterile and drifting. But in the heart of the old Dust Bowl now are three national grasslands run by the Forest Service. The land is green in the spring and burns in the summer, as it did in the past, and antelope come through and graze, wandering among replanted buffalo grass and the old footings of farmsteads long abandoned. Some things are missing or fast disappearing: the prairie chicken, a bird that kept many a sodbuster alive in the dark days, is in decline […] The biggest of the restored areas is Comanche National Grassland, named for the Lords of the Plains […] The Indians never returned, despite New Deal attempts to buy rangeland for natives […] The Comanche live on a small reservation near Lawton, Oklahoma. They still consider the old bison hunting grounds between the Arkansas River and Rio Grande […] to be theirs by treaty.

Related Characters: Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Page Number: 309
Explanation and Analysis:
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Franklin Delano Roosevelt Character Timeline in The Worst Hard Time

The timeline below shows where the character Franklin Delano Roosevelt appears in The Worst Hard Time. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 9: New Leader, New Deal
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
...Reds,” or Socialists. From New York came a governor from the moneyed class, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. (full context)
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
Initially, people believed that Roosevelt lacked substance. He seemed to be running on his great name. Then, he took up... (full context)
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
...Depression was to help factory owners and business owners “get up and running again.” Yet, Roosevelt said it made no sense to spur production if no one could afford to buy... (full context)
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
At the Democratic convention in Chicago, Alfalfa Murray tried to stop Roosevelt, but the New York governor won the nomination on the third ballot. Murray was crushed.... (full context)
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
Roosevelt was sworn in as president in March 1933. Shortly thereafter, he went on a hundred-day... (full context)
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
Roosevelt summoned Bennett to the White House, and asked him what could be done to undo... (full context)
Chapter 12: The Long Darkness
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
...began to offer contracts to farmers not to plant next year, as part of President Roosevelt’s plan to drive prices back up by reducing supply. This was how the farm subsidy... (full context)
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
Roosevelt did not like the idea of “reverse homesteading.” Instead, he suggested planting a great wall... (full context)
Chapter 13: The Struggle for Air
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...Baca County gave up their property to the government in return for money to move. Roosevelt had not yet created a relocation plan, but there was money and there were some... (full context)
Chapter 17: A Call to Arms
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...permanent reform to address “an environmental disaster bigger than anything in American history.” Within the Roosevelt administration, there were conflicting views. A Harvard geologist warned the president that the climate itself... (full context)
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
Roosevelt called for “young, uniformed CCC workers” to save America’s heartland by planting the vast row... (full context)
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
The City vs. the Country Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...and cities, signs read, “No jobs for niggers until every white man has a job.” Roosevelt created an executive order in May 1935, opening public works up to all races. Per... (full context)
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
Roosevelt had two ideas about what to do. First, he created the Resettlement Administration, which could... (full context)
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
John McCarty was furious with Roosevelt’s offer. In response, he formed the Last Man Club, designating himself as president. No matter... (full context)
Chapter 18: Goings
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
In the summer of 1935, Roosevelt initiated the Second Hundred Days. He instituted the Social Security Act, and started the Works... (full context)
Chapter 19: Witnesses
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...the land for the files of the Farm Security Administration. The purpose was to help Roosevelt get elected to a second term. Documentary records of conditions would help people understand why... (full context)
Chapter 21: Verdict
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...in 1933 for remedial land projects, grants, loans, and relief. Before spending any more money, Roosevelt wanted to know if the plains could be saved, and how. Also, had homesteading been... (full context)
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
Roosevelt was worried, but during one of his radio broadcast “fireside chats,” he tried to encourage... (full context)
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...It might take fifty years before a large swath of turf was rooted in place. Roosevelt still wanted to build his trees from North Dakota’s Canadian border to an area just... (full context)
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...The owner would then care for the trees, and farming would continue between the strips. Roosevelt ignored Bennett and others who said that one could not alter “the basic nature of... (full context)
Chapter 23: The Last Men
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...healthy corn. On Andy James’ ranch, there was “ankle-high carpet.” People gave God and Franklin Roosevelt equal credit for performing a miracle. Still, Hugh Bennett warned people not to read too... (full context)
Chapter 25: Rain
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
President Roosevelt was set to visit Amarillo, Texas on July 11, 1938. He chose Amarillo because it... (full context)
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
In Amarillo, the land still showed signs of disorder and disrepair. Then the rain started. Roosevelt had ridden in an open car and had no hat. The rain pooled in the... (full context)
Epilogue
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
The trees from Franklin Roosevelt’s arbor dream have mostly disappeared. Around two hundred and twenty trees were planted and cut... (full context)