Originally published 05/09/2013
WPA Poster, 1935.When Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president in 1932, the United States faced uncertainty and imminent peril at home and abroad. The unemployment rate was 25 percent. Systems of credit and banking were broken and the stock market had lost 80 percent of its value since the 1929 crash. Factories were abandoned. Thousands of families lost their homes. There was no social safety net for millions of impoverished men, women and children. At the same time, liberal democracies struggled as brutal dictatorships in Germany, Russia and Italy flourished, and some Americans feared complete disintegration of the social order and revolution.