The Great Depression
The Great Depression began with the stock market crash in October 1929. Because Kansas' wealth lay in farm products and minerals, the crash did not immediately affect the majority of people in the state. However, when America's depression came to Kansas, it was accompanied by a devastating drought.
The 1930s also saw a renewal of labor strife. Governor Alf Landon sent National Guardsmen to preserve order in Cherokee County when labor troubles threatened the coal mines. A controversial law was passed at the time making it illegal for a man to be out of work if a job was available in the near vicinity.
Kansans were involved in national politics during the 1930s. Two of the men to lose to Franklin Roosevelt in the Presidential election of 1936 were Kansans. Alf Landon was nominated by the Republican Party to run against Roosevelt. The Communist Party candidate was Earl Browder from Wichita.
President Franklin Roosevelt initiated several federal programs to cure the worst effects of the Depression. These programs became known as the New Deal. The bi-partisan Kansas Emergency Relief Committee administered these programs. Evidence of these federal programs can be seen around the state in Works Progress Administration (WPA) construction projects. A number of these programs were directed towards helping farmers cope with their problems. These included the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, the Federal Surplus Relief Corporation, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the Drought Relief Service, which purchased cattle from poor farmers.
Other Kansans also gained fame on the national scene during this time. In 1932, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly the Atlantic alone. In sports, Kansans Jess Barnes, Smoky Joe Wood, and Walter "Big Train" Johnson gained prominence in major league baseball after the war. Glenn Cunningham also set a world record for the mile run.
As the end of the 1930s approached, fascism, the political movement whose principles would eventually lead to the Second World War, was growing throughout Europe. Gerald Winrod, a radio preacher from Kansas, ran as an independent candidate for the Senate on a political platform that closely followed Fascist thinking. The Great Depression would soon be brought to an end by an even greater tragedy. In April of 1940, the Germans invaded Norway and Denmark. For the next decade, Kansans would deal with the Second World War and its aftermath.
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