My Father's Diary of The Great Depression



Daniel B. Roth is Chairman of the Youngstown, Ohio, law firm of Roth, Blair, Roberts, Strasfeld & Lodge, LPA; and also chairman of McDonald Steel Corp. He was co-editor of The Great Depression: A Diary, Public Affairs, 2009.

By Daniel B. Roth

“I’m proud to be your grandson.”

These words, expressed by one of my six grandchildren at my recent 80th birthday celebration, really choked me up because I know that it was a direct result of the publication of my father’s diary. My father, Benjamin Roth, was a 35-year-old lawyer in Youngstown, Ohio, when the stock market crashed in October 1929. At first, he paid little attention to the crash because he had never invested in the market. However, by June 1931 he realized that the country was facing a major financial crisis, and he began writing a financial diary of what became known as the Great Depression. This was not a “diary” in the usual sense because he didn’t discuss family and friends. Instead, as he wrote in his initial entry on June 5, 1931:

For the first time in my personal business life, I am witnessing a major financial crisis. I am anxious to learn the lessons of this Depression. To the man past middle life it spells tragedy and disaster. But to those of us in the middle 30s, it may be a school of experience out of which some worthwhile lesson may be salvaged. With this thought in mind, I am going to write down brief accounts of developments as they occur from time to time.

When he wrote that, he had no idea that the Depression would last for a decade. Likewise, he couldn’t have foreseen that he would be analyzing the financial ramifications of the New Deal, nor did he realize the impact that his diary would have on future generations. As I re-read the diary, I clearly recognize the great impact that it has had on my life and how it has helped shape my basic beliefs. I share his faith in this country and his belief in our capitalistic system, as well as his fear of the government creating an unwieldy amount of debt that could result in serious inflation.

When growing up, neither my siblings nor I knew that my father was writing the diary. However, when I joined my father in the practice of law in 1956, my first assignment was to study his diary so that I could gain insight into the Depression mentality of his clientele. Reading it made a tremendous impression on me, and I was amazed by my parents’ strength in raising three children during a time when they were uncertain as to how to keep food on the table. Even more, I remain deeply impressed by my father’s ability to have studiously and objectively analyzed the great financial issues of those years. In re-reading his diary, I see a very bright and honorable man with an intense desire to understand the economic crisis and to learn how to protect oneself during such difficult times. His diary has provided me with a front row seat on the history of the Great Depression.

At times, he became quite emotional. On Oct. 17, 1931, he wrote:

As I bring to a close the first volume of my personal observations on the Depression, I must breathe deeply and pinch myself to be sure I am awake and not dreaming... It is all unreal to me. Each day I move about in a dream. I feel as tho I am experiencing a historic thing which will be long remembered. So far, I have not been badly hurt personally—we are all well—I still have faith in Youngstown and in the United States in spite of the dire prophecies that are heard on every side! Somehow it all reminds me of the war days of 1917-18 when with bated breath we asked "What next?"

On other occasions, he wrote positive sentiments. For example, on June 23, 1932 (the very bottom of the depression), he wrote:

These are stirring days and in spite of our troubles it is good to be alive. I am reminded often of the days of the world war when families and businesses were mercilessly uprooted and broken. It is same today. Fundamentals are being changed and new foundations are being placed for what we all hope will be a new era of prosperity.

He also developed strong opinions concerning efforts by the government to end the Depression. On March 1, 1938, he wrote:

After eight years of "pump priming" and other trick methods of bringing back prosperity, it is my conclusion that none of them are any good. In our capitalistic system, we must let the forces of competition and demand and supply work things out in a natural way. No man or group of men is smart enough to control prices or supply and demand or currency in a nation as large as ours.

Shortly before his death in 1978, my father gave me his diary and asked me to some day edit and publish his work; and although I promised I would, it was not until my son Bill (a money manager in New York) urged me to do so that I began editing the diary with the help of James Ledbetter, the editor of The Big Money, a web magazine on business and economics. The book was published by Public Affairs last October with the title, The Great Depression: A Diary. As a result, people from all over America have sent me correspondence telling me about their families’ experiences during the Depression. In many cases, they expressed fear that we are currently in another Depression with massive federal debt creation that will be followed by serious inflation.

I cannot adequately express my gratitude to my father for providing me and future generations with his detailed history of the Great Depression. His diary has become a window to the past and a link among four generations in my family.

---------

Daniel B. Roth is Chairman of the Youngstown, Ohio, law firm of Roth, Blair, Roberts, Strasfeld & Lodge, LPA; and also chairman of McDonald Steel Corp. He was co-editor of The Great Depression: A Diary, Public Affairs, 2009.


<< Return to the June 2010 Index of Fusion

Countless leaders on the left are now arguing that removing President Donald Trump from office won't be enough — they're now calling for the president's "cult-like" supporters to be "deprogrammed." And it's not just fringe politicians.

During an appearance on "Real Time with Bill Maher" last week, former NBC anchor Katie Couric said, "The question is, how are we going to really almost deprogram these people who have signed up for the cult of Trump."

Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi questioned whether the nation needs "a 9/11-type commission" to determine whether President Trump was colluding with Russian President Vladimir Putin "the day that the insurgents invaded our Capitol." Clinton also made sure to include her favorite "deplorables" in her unsubstantiated conspiracy theory:

"But we now know that not just [Trump] but his enablers, his accomplices, his cult members, have the same disregard for democracy," Clinton said to Pelosi.

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson and New York Times Magazine's Nikole Hannah-Jones agreed that there is a need for "millions of Americans, almost all white, almost all Republicans" to be deprogrammed and punished, during an MSNBC interview last week.

Now, a story from the Washington Post is also preaching that narrative and even added that we need more restrictions for conservatives on social media and in the broadcast industry.

"So now we have to be deprogrammed? We've heard this over and over and over and over again, for months," said Glenn Beck on the radio program Tuesday. He read through the shocking details of the Washington Post op-ed and discussed the extraordinary dangers of the latest anti-conservative movement in America.

Watch the video below:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

As calls for censorship and restrictions against conservative voices get louder, Glenn Beck said he feels an "awesome responsibility" to speak, not the words he'd personally like to say, but those he believes the Lord would want him to share.

"It's an awesome responsibility, and one that I am not worthy of," Glenn said. "I want to say ... what He wants me to say. And I have to listen very carefully, because I feel the same way you do. But that will get us nowhere."

Glenn said it's time for Americans who are awake — not woke — to come together, no matter which side of the political aisle you're on, and stand with the truth.

"We are the Alamo, we will stand. But we desperately, desperately need you," Glenn said. "We need the people who are awake — not woke — awake. You may disagree with us. We are your allies, not your enemies. And if you will not stand with us in our hour of need, there will be no one left to stand with you in your hour of need. We must all come together, anyone who is awake."

Watch the video below to hear more from Glenn:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

The incoming Biden administration plans to waste no time in overturning much of the progress achieved by President Donald Trump.

On his radio program Monday, Glenn Beck ran through 10 executive orders President Joe Biden plans to announce on "day one" of his time in office — including rejoining the Paris climate accord, canceling the Keystone pipeline, mask mandates on federal land and during interstate travel, and a proposed federal minimum wage of $15 an hour.

Watch the video below:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Eric Weinstein, managing director of investment firm Thiel Capital and host of "The Portal" podcast, is not a conservative, but he says conservative and center-right-affiliated media are the only ones who will still allow oppositional voices.

On "The Glenn Beck Podcast" this week, Eric told Glenn that the center-left media, which "controls the official version of events for the country," once welcomed him, but that all changed about eight years ago when they started avoiding any kind of criticism by branding those who disagree with them as "alt-right, far-right, neo-Nazi, etc.," even if they are coming from the left side of the aisle. But their efforts to discredit critical opinions don't stop there. According to Eric, there is a strategy being employed to destroy our national culture and make sure Americans with opposing views do not come together.

"We're trifling with the disillusionment of our national culture. And our national culture is what animates the country. If we lose the culture, the documents will not save us," Eric said. "I have a very strongly strategic perspective, which is that you save things up for an emergency. Well, we're there now."

In the clip below, Eric explains why, after many requests over the last few years, he finally agreed to this podcast.

Don't miss the full interview with Eric Weinstein here.

Want to listen to more Glenn Beck podcasts?

Subscribe to Glenn Beck's channel on YouTube for FREE access to more of his masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, or subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.