History--The Great Depression and the 1930s
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-- The Great Depression
The October 1929 stock market crash signaled the beginning of the Great Depression which would continue until the outbreak of World War II. At its depth, the jobless in New Jersey ranged between a quarter to a third of its workforce, with African American unemployed estimated at over half of workers. New Jersey per capita income fell from $839 in 1929 to $433 in 1933 and some 140 banks closed between 1928 and 1933.
-- Roosevelt and The New Deal
In 1932, New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt declared his candidacy for president, winning the nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Jersey City Mayor Frank Hague had been a supporter of one of Roosevelt's principal opponents, Al Smith, the party's 1928 nominee and former New York governor who had backed Hague's election as vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee. After Roosevelt's nomination, however, Hague quickly demonstrated his shift in loyalty to Roosevelt when he hosted the nominee in a campaign kick-off tour on August 27 through New Jersey culminating in a rally at Sea Girt which drew an estimated 100,000 persons, most of whom were brought by train and bus from Hague's strongholds in North Jersey. Hague's exhibition of his political strength later made him the conduit in the state for implementation of Roosevelt's New Deal policies, which included financing for new hospitals, parks and stadiums and many jobs projects under the Works Progress Administration.
In other areas of the state, Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps established nine camps with 1,800 men between the ages of 17 and 25 employed in state forests and parks cutting trees, clearing trails and performing other tasks. Workers also were offered educational programs and vocational training; nationally, over 40,000 illiterate men were taught to read and write through the CCC.
-- Refugees and the Nazis
The 1930's also saw the Roosevelt administration's attempts to restore economic health begin to compete with concerns over the deteriorating overseas situation. Refugees from the Nazis began to come to New Jersey, although federal quotas on immigrants to avoid competition for scarce jobs during the Depression prevented many from entering the country. In 1930, The Institute for Advanced Study was founded in Princeton, with financial support from Newark retailer Louis Bamberger and his sister Caroline Bamberger Fuld, as a center for theoretical research and to provide a haven for Jewish scientists fleeing the Nazis. Three years later, Albert Einstein emigrated to join the Institute's permanent faculty, and in 1939 Einstein wrote a letter to Roosevelt advising him of research which could lead to development of an atomic bomb.
Like other areas of the country, New Jersey also included groups openly sympathetic to the anti-Semitic campaign of the Nazis. The German American Bund, an organization promoted by Hitler, maintained several chapters in the state and built Camp Nordland, a 200-acre retreat in Andover Township where it held rallies drawing crowds up to 10,000 and conducted youth training programs. The radio program of Father Edward Coughlin, a Catholic priest who attacked Jews and the Roosevelt policies, continued to be broadcast by a Newark radio station long after most other stations had cancelled Coughlin's program.
Apart from the economy and the deteriorating situation in Europe, the 1930s also saw a series of diverse events which brought national attention to New Jersey.
-- Lindbergh kidnaping
On March 1, 1932, Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr., the 20-month old son of Anne and the famed aviator Charles Lindbergh Sr., was kidnapped from the second-floor bedroom of the Lindbergh home in East Amwell. After an extensive search in which the senior Lindbergh and Herman Norman Schwarzkopf, the superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, took leading personal roles, the child's body was found in woods in Hopewell Township about 4.5 miles south of the Lindbergh home, with his death attributed to a skull fracture. In 1935, after his conviction in "the trial of the century" held at the Hunterdon County Court House in Hopewell, Bruno Richard Hauptmann, a German immigrant living in the Bronx, was executed for the child's death.
Next-- World War II
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