R. Lyn Rainard


When the Great Depression spread to southwest Florida, it caught an unprepared population by surprise. In response, the people of Lee County united in an effort to use local public and private resources to alleviate want. Although moderately successful at first, community efforts alone could not surmount the hardship brought by the Depression. Only massive federal aid would accomplish that goal, bringing in its wake, however, other unforeseen results. New Deal programs did reduce economic trauma, but they also fundamentally altered attitudes about the causes of proverty and about the purpose of federal assistance. Ultimately, New Deal grants were used for unnecessary and extravagant, though prestigious, community improvements. Assisting the poor became a purely incidental goal.