The Midwestern Crime Wave

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Terry Gilbert

ENGL-102
November 6, 2008
The Midwestern Crime Wave
All across the nation during the Great Depression people were jobless, homeless, and starving; nowhere was this truer than in the American Midwest. Not only did the farms and cities of the Midwest have to deal with the poor economic conditions but the Midwest's main source of income, agriculture, was being ravaged by the natural phenomenon now called the Dust Bowl. On top of low crop prices and a lack of employment farmland was ruined, went unplanted, and was often foreclosed on. These extra difficulties left the inhabitants of the Midwest with added resentments and frustration with businesses and government that seemed unable or unwilling to help. Out of this extreme hardship came a group of people who for many different reasons chose to make their own rules and live outside the law. These gangsters' exploits seemed to have been focused in Middle America from as far as Minnesota and Wisconsin to Texas and Louisiana. The Midwestern crime wave, which captivated a disenchanted public, involved brazen but personable gangsters who shot and robbed their way across country.

Crime has been no stranger to American history, from the very beginning there has been thieves, smugglers, and murderers, but rarely had they captivated the attention and sentiment of the public the way they did during the 1930s. Anyone living during the Great Depression had heard of gangsters like Bonnie and Clyde, Baby Face Nelson, John Dillinger, and many more, but even though they were known criminals the public was able to sympathize and identify with them. During the Great Depression much resentment was felt towards the financial establishment and government. The popular opinion at the time was that the Federal Government and the banks were to blame for America's financial woes, because of this there was a bitterness and distrust for them. This in turn made the public feel that those robbing banks and kidnapping the...
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