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Today in history: President Roosevelt battles the Dust Bowl
FDR asked Congress for $53 million in 1934 to battle severe dust storms
 
Three girls wear masks to protect themselves from huge amounts of dust, circa 1935.
Three girls wear masks to protect themselves from huge amounts of dust, circa 1935. Bert Garai/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

June 4, 1934: President Franklin Roosevelt asked Congress for $53 million to battle the Dust Bowl. The Dust Bowl was a period of severe dust storms and drought that caused significant ecological and agricultural damage to U.S. and Canadian prairie lands in the 1930s. During the drought, soil dried, turned to dust, and blew away with the prevailing winds; spreading immense dust clouds as far away as New York City. Millions of acres of farmland were damaged, and hundreds of thousands of people were forced to abandon their homes; many of these families (often known as "Okies", since so many came from Oklahoma) migrated to California and elsewhere. Author John Steinbeck later wrote The Grapes of Wrath, which won the Pulitzer Prize, and Of Mice and Men, about the Okies.

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"Frequently the more trifling the subject, the more animated and protracted the discussion." -Franklin Pierce


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