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The Real Story Behind the ‘Migrant Mother’ in the Great Depression-Era Photo

May 8, 2020 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

Uncovering the woman behind Dorothea Lange’s famous Depression-era photograph.

It’s one of the most iconic photos in American history. A woman in ragged clothing holds a baby as two more children huddle close, hiding their faces behind her shoulders. The mother squints into the distance, one hand lifted to her mouth and anxiety etched deep in the lines on her face.

From the moment it first appeared in the pages of a San Francisco newspaper in March 1936, the image known as “Migrant Mother” came to symbolize the hunger, poverty and hopelessness endured by so many Americans during the

In the mid-1930s, the Farm Security Administration’s Resettlement Administration hired photographers to document the work done by the agency. Some of the most powerful images were captured by photographer Dorothea Lange. Lange took this photo in New Mexico in 1935, noting, “It was conditions of this sort which forced many farmers to abandon the area.”

View the 10 images of this gallery on the original article

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Source: HISTORY

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How Willie Nelson Helped Build Farm Aid

May 8, 2020 in History

By Colin Bertram

In the mid-1980s American farmers faced a dire future. Willie Nelson and other artists decided to help using what they knew best—music.

By the mid-1980s American farmers were facing economic hardships not seen since the Great Depression. Droughts in 1980 and 1983 had wrought devastation in the Corn Belt, Midwest States and Northeast. Land values and farm product prices plummeted as loan interest rates soared, unfair lending practices flourished, and millions of people were forced from their land facing bankruptcy and foreclosure. According to a study by the National Farm Medicine Center at the time, suicides among male farmers in the Upper Midwest was double the national average.

Willie Nelson, a country artist who grew up in rural Texas during the Great Depression, felt something needed to be done. Building on an idea from fellow music artist, Bob Dylan, Nelson began working on a plan that would feature something he knew better than anything else—music.

Live Aid Inspires Farm Aid

It was the 1985 Live Aid benefit that originally sparked the idea to hold the first Farm Aid concert event. Dylan suggested doing something similar to help American farmers while performing at Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium during Live Aid. The off-the-cuff remark settled in Nelsons brain and grew into what would become Farm Aid.

Unlike the one-shot gathering in response to famine in Africa, the Farm Aid gathering, which aimed to “raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise funds to keep families on their land,” began what would become a yearly occurrence stretching across four decades and raising $57 million.

Enlisting the help of music artists Neil Young and John Mellencamp, along with Illinois governor Jim Thompson, Nelson set about organizing what would the first Farm Aid benefit concert held September 22, 1985 in Champaign, Illinois. Then the largest combined rock and country event in America’s history, it drew a crowd of almost 80,000 people and featured performances by Dylan, Young, Mellencamp, Bonnie Raitt, Billy Joel, B.B. King, Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lynn, Merle Haggard, Roy Orbison, Charley Pride, June Carter and Johnny Cash, among others. The first event raised $7 million.

Willie Nelson, performing in 1975.

The plight of American Farmers was now center stage, with Young going so far as to place a full-page ad in USA Today on October 4 with an open letter to President Ronald Reagan asking, “Will the family farm in America die as a result …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Bankrupt and Dying from Cancer, Ulysses S. Grant Waged His Greatest Battle

May 8, 2020 in History

By Christopher Klein

Aided by Mark Twain, the former president and Civil War hero raced to complete a literary masterpiece that saved his wife from destitution.

Shortly before noon on May 6, 1884, .

For years Twain had suggested that Grant pen his memoirs. Now destitute, the former president finally agreed to cash in on his celebrity. In need of financial rescue himself after a series of failed investments, the debt-ridden Twain inked Grant to a contract with his newly launched publishing house and gave him a $1,000 check to cover living expenses.

Engaged in a furious race against time as the cancer attacked his body, Grant dug into his writing with military efficiency, churning out as many as 10,000 words in a single day. “Grant approached his memoirs with the same grit and determination as he tackled his Civil War battles,” says Chernow, who also serves as executive producer of HISTORY’s documentary series “Grant.” “As in those encounters, he was thorough and systematic, a real stickler for precision and the truth. In his home, he amassed tall stacks of orders and maps that helped him to recreate his most famous battles with minute fidelity. In war and in writing, Grant had the most amazing ability to marshal all his energy in the pursuit of a single goal.”

Grant astounded Twain with not just the quantity, but the quality of his prose. “Grant prided himself on his writing skills,” Chernow says. “His wartime orders were renowned for their economy and exactness, and he made a point of writing all his own speeches as president—something unthinkable today.”

READ MORE: President Ulysses S. Grant: Known for Scandals, Overlooked for Achievements

With just weeks to live, Grant made one final push

Ulysses S. Grant reading on a house porch, thought to be the last photograph taken before his death, 1890.

Grant penned his manuscript until his hand grew too feeble in the spring of 1885, forcing him to employ a stenographer. Even speaking, however, became laborious as his condition deteriorated. Following the advice of doctors who vouched for the salubrious power of pure mountain air, Grant decamped at the onset of summer from his Manhattan brownstone to an Adirondack resort north of Saratoga Springs. In a cottage on the slopes of Mount McGregor, Grant launched his final campaign to complete his tome.

With excruciating pain accompanying every swallow, Grant was unable to eat solid food. His body withered …read more

Source: HISTORY