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Great Depression and New Deal Impact on Minorities


The period of the Great Depression had a significant impact on the United States and largely changed not only the economy but also the social situation in the country. Specific categories of the population found themselves in difficult conditions, and the New Deal as a program for the development of the state proposed by Roosevelt was one of the change drivers. This work aims to assess the impacts of Roosevelt’s course and the general situation in the country during the Great Depression on women, African Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanics. This era of the country’s development may be characterized from the standpoints of social tension concerning vulnerable classes and pressure on them, which exacerbated the existing civil contradictions.

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Impacts on Women

One of the main impacts of the Great Depression and the New Deal on women was the increase in jobs for this category of the population. According to the available data, “from 1930 to 1940, the number of employed women in the United States rose 24 percent from 10.5 million to 13 million” (Rotondi, 2019, para. 2). This outcome was a consequence of a complicated economic situation and the need to provide the market with necessary goods and services. At the same time, discrimination against women was a common phenomenon. Statistics show that more than a quarter of state-owned companies paid less to women than men (Rotondi, 2019, para. 9). As a result, many vulnerable employees were forced to emigrate to protect their civil rights, and this situation had lasted until more social programs supporting women were promoted.

Impacts on African Americans

For African Americans, the Great Depression was a period of hard work and discrimination. In the early 1930s, more than half of this population was unemployed, and, based on the statistics of the Library of Congress, “no group was harder hit than African Americans” (“Race relations,” n.d., para. 1). Regarding housing issues for the poor, discrimination was acute under new conditions. The appeals of associations dealing with the problems of the black population were ignored by the government. Only in the military sphere and only after the intervention of President Roosevelt, measures were taken to involve the black population in the armed forces (“Race relations,” n.d.). Nonetheless, employment issues were relevant until the end of the Great Depression, and mostly low-paying jobs were offered to African Americans, which was changed only when anti-racism policies began to advance.

Impacts on Native Americans

Native Americans also experienced problems during the Great Depression, although historical references confirm this population’s efforts to establish tribal power. For instance, credible sources provide evidence that the act signed in 1934 and guaranteeing the Indians the right to self-government and possession of certain territories had no legal precedents before (“John Collier,” 2012). This document provided this population with more freedom and independence. The New Deal promoted in the country touched Native Americans more positively than other vulnerable communities. Privileges allowed them to protect their rights and follow individual developmental rules, which was a significant step in the context of a long history of discrimination and became an important legacy of the New Deal.

Impacts on Hispanics

One of the main effects that the Great Depression had on Hispanics was their deportation to the historical homeland. Official references confirm that as early as 1931, when the economic crisis was beginning, government welfare organizations promoted campaigns to forcibly evict Hispanics from the United States since they occupied jobs (“Mexican Americans,” 2009). Immigration bureaus persecuted Latino Americans, and in the southern states, these measures were the most stringent. As a result, a substantial percentage of Hispanics was forced to leave the country, although, as Rotondi (2019) argues, in 1940, almost all the domestic work was conducted by Latino and African American women. Further, Hispanics began to return, and the issue of their mass migration to the USA was a topical issue of foreign policy.

Major Historical Assessments and Personal Views

The historical assessments of Roosevelt’s New Deal are distinctive since different researchers are inclined to two interpretations of this program. Kennedy et al. (2016) note that there are two opinions: the development course introduced in the USA in the early 1930s entailed either disasters or new opportunities. The problems associated with the restructuring of the state economy were significant and affected the social sphere, thereby creating significant civil disagreements for several decades to come. At the same time, the authors argue that the possibilities provided by the New Deal allowed the country to reexamine its existing financial trends (Kennedy et al., 2016). This, in turn, was the key to the subsequent success of the United States in many areas of development. These assumptions are objective, although the statement about great opportunities seems more believable. During the Great Depression, the country needed to reorganize its common way of life, which inevitably affected various aspects of life. As a result, the country managed to overcome challenges and moved to a new stage of development, even despite crucial problems in various industries.


The period of the Great Depression was a challenging era for the US economy and the country in general due to social pressure on the vulnerable categories of the population. Women, African Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanics experienced the dire effects of the crisis, although, for black people, these outcomes were the most severe. The New Deal promoted by President Roosevelt was judged from the perspectives of both a negative impact and the creation of new opportunities. The second assumption is more likely since a change in the regime in the country was necessary for the view of the current situation that entailed problems not only in the financial but also in other sectors.

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John Collier (Native Americans). (2012). Web.

Kennedy, D. M., Cohen, L., & Piehl, M. (2016). The brief American pageant: A history of the republic (8th ed.). Cengage Learning.

Mexican Americans during the Great Depression. (2009). Web.

Race relations in the 1930s and 1940s. (n.d.). Web.

Rotondi, J. P. (2019). Underpaid, but employed: How the Great Depression affected working women. History. Web.

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