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Episode Info:

The Great Depression wasn’t the only crisis facing the country when Franklin Roosevelt took office in 1933. Following a decade-long drought that had shriveled crops, massive dust storms were pummeling huge swaths of the Midwest, the Great Plains, and the Northwest. Years of poor harvest practices had worsened the crisis, pushing farmers already strained by the financial hit of the Great Depression off their land. Only when a lifelong soil scientist made a dramatic testimony before Congress did the government finally begin to develop a solution.

Many of those unmoored by environmental calamity searched for opportunity elsewhere — particularly in California. But when a controversial Los Angeles police chief sent armed officers to block access to the Golden State, he would launch a constitutional crisis and a showdown with a rural sheriff.

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