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Here's What the New Deal-Era Civilian Conservation Corps Accomplished

May 28, 2020 in History

By Dave Roos

On the heels of the Great Depression, the federal government under FDR hired young people to work as an army of tree planters, firefighters and even ski trail blazers.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn in as president in 1933, he took the helm of a United States brought to its knees by the Great Depression. With unemployment as high as 25 percent, millions were out of work and an entire generation of young people had lost hope in their futures, many living in makeshift shanty towns and riding the rails as hobos and drifters.

In his inaugural address, FDR latched on to an idea that was already being tested in states like California and Pennsylvania—to employ young people as an environmental army of tree planters, forest firefighters and soil conservationists.

“Our greatest primary task is to put people to work,” said FDR. “This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our natural resources.”

President Franklin D. Roosevelt visiting a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp in Virginia on August 12, 1933.

On March 31, 1933, FDR signed the Federal Unemployment Relief Act, which recruited healthy unmarried young men to join what would become known as the Civilian Conservation Corps or CCC. The men, mostly uneducated and untrained, were paid $30 a month, $25 of which was sent directly to their families. They lived in racially segregated camps that operated under military-style rules, but they had money in their pockets and food in their bellies.

At its peak in 1935, the CCC enrolled 500,000 men at 2,600 camps across the country. The popular New Deal program was phased out by 1942 as the same young enrollees enlisted for World War II.

Over its nine-year run, the CCC accomplished its dual goals of rescuing a lost generation and restoring the nation’s squandered natural wealth. The following are just some of the CCC’s accomplishments.

WATCH: ‘Bust’ from ‘America the Story of Us’ on HISTORY Vault

The CCC Planted 3.5 Billion Trees

When FDR was just 19 years old, he was put in charge of the Roosevelt family’s aging estate …read more


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What Was the Beast of Gévaudan?

May 28, 2020 in History

By Joseph A. Williams

Between 1765 and 1767, an unknown creature killed over 100 people in a rural region of France—and captivated a horrified world.

Between 1764 and 1767 a mysterious creature called the Beast ravaged the rural region of Gévaudan, France. About 100 men, women and children reportedly fell victim to La Bête du Gévaudan. While many French at the time presumed the Beast to be a wolf and many modern scholars agree, some have suggested that the Beast may not have been a wolf at all.

So what was it?

‘Like a Wolf, Yet Not a Wolf’

Illustration of the Beast of Gévaudan, circa 1765.

The first , “Gévaudan had a serious wolf infestation.” He believes that large lone wolves were attacking individual communities across the region or that it was a wolf pack.

Smith asserts that many of the fantastical qualities attributed to the Beast were induced by clergy who stirred up fear in the populace that God was punishing the French for its defeat in the Seven Years’ War. For hunters, killing the beast was a way of reclaiming France’s lost honor.

Wolves are native to the region and had attacked humans before—some statistics show that wolves attacked humans 9,000 times in France between the 17th and 19th centuries. In most cases these types of attacks were by rabid wolves.

There are some potential flaws to the wolf theory, including the frequency of the Beast’s deadly attacks, suggesting it was not a single rabid wolf. Also none of its victims seem to have contracted rabies, suggesting that their attacker also did not carry rabies.

Although there are strong voices arguing multiple theories about the identity of the Beast of Gévaudan, all admit that the truth will never be fully known. Without any genetic or forensic evidence, the Beast of Gévaudan is bound to forever remain a mystery.

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