Fighting crime became part of FDR’s administration in the same spirit as fighting soil erosion and unemployment. And of all the alphabet agencies of the New Deal, none captured the public’s imagination and loyalty like J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI. (Teddy Roosevelt had established the Bureau of Investigation in 1908, but it didn’t become the modern crime fighting bureau until the 30’s.)
In the depression, the success or failure of the government in fighting crime took on mythical proportions. Every major crime and successful gangster seemed to test whether the nation would survive. The crime problem was frightening and real, however exaggerated by the FBI. “The criminal in America is on the march,” Hoover announced. Dillinger, Capone, Bonnie and Clyde and Baby Face Nelson were among the public enemies; Hoover and the Government Men were the public heroes. Hoover was a master of manipulating the myth and reality about himself and the Bureau. His celebrity and the public support became the basis for almost unprecedented power. G-Men is set in the years 1930-39.
Television game shows became an instant national phenomenon in 1955, but four years later contestant Charles van Doren admitted they were a scam.
The Pennsylvania Railroad Company accomplished an enormous engineering feat, but destroyed a great architectural monument.
In 1978 over 900 people led by Rev. Jim Jones died in the largest mass murder-suicide in history, at Jonestown, Guyana.
America's first great songwriter, Stephen Foster, wrote 200 songs but died a penniless alcoholic at 37.
Politics, culture, race relations, and technology in a year of change.
The influential musical pioneers from Appalachia whose recordings lifted spirits during the Great Depression.
America's Robin Hood who robbed not only the rich but the poor and defenseless as well, always saving the treasure for himself. Part of the Wild West collection.
Roman Catholic priest Father Charles Coughlin used the power of radio to rail against the nation's economic system in the Depression.