Before, During, and After the Great Depression

10AS 1st


There were many signs of the Great depression, but with the relief of World War I ending , the new prosperity of the country, new personal freedoms for working class and women, and many creative inventions with a rise in consumer goods, the warning signals were clearly ignorded. ( McElvaine, Robert S. 1997, 4)

Throughout the 1920\'s advertising tactics used to support the war were pressed upon consumers to buy automobiles, radios, and new appliances . The idea of "credit" was established in order for consumer to keep buying, but would soon be replaced by "debt". Farmers, then a quarter of the economy, became unable to sell their products as the international scene changed. High tariffs made it hard for other countries to sell products to the U.S. and therefore not able to repay American loads from the war. A dash "to get rich quick" had mant investors buying stock "on margin"- buying into the market with no real funds and hoping to sell for more money.(Nardo, Don. 1993, 6)

These events eventually lead to the high point in 1929 followed by the stock market crash. The worst finiancal disaster in American hisory had begun.

This first nose dive of the economy was only the start of a huge economic decline. Stock prices dropped. Unemployment sored as demand for goods increased and factories and mills closed. Wages were cut. Banks had made many loans and when they weren\'t repaid they were forced to close. This caused people to lose any savings they had in the bank, and then their homes and farms we foreclosed on.( "Great depression" March 15, 2004, 1) Farmers further suffered due to severe drought, called the dust bowl, and once again falling prices for their goods. Many were left homeless and hungry, and conditions continued to get worsen.

Herbert Hoover, the replublican president at the time, belived the economy was stable and prosperity would soon return. This thinking was treated with such bitterness by the Americans that homeless people living in boxes were soon known as "Hoovervilles". Hoover thought that balancing the budget by cutting goverment spending and raiseing taxes would help, but this acctually reduced demans for goods. Private charities were relied apon to help the poor and emergince loans provided at the end of his term prooved to be to little, to late. Tensions were high in June 1932 when twenty-thousand World War I veterans marched on Washington demanding bonuses due and were fired upon with tear gas and bayonets to make them leave. Tariffs were kept high and this was a blow to Europe, and this cut off international trade. Between 1929 and 1932 world trade was cut into half.

In 1932 a democrate, Franklin Delenore Roosevelt was easily elected. His tern would be known as the New Deal, and he lifted the spirts of Americans partly due to a series of fireside chats. He initiated a wide variety of programs to reduce unemployment, assest bussinesses, regulate banking (starting big closing banks and reopening them when safe), and stock market. He provided security for the needy, elderly, and disabled which would become the start of the social security program. to reduce surplus farmers were paid not to grow crops. Public works to build schools, roads, and dams were started the most notable being the Tennesse Valley Athority. All these efforts helped to stimulate the economy and create new jobs, and with the begining of World War II the goverment was forced into an unbalanced budget through increased spending and the depression ended.

Living conditions during the depression were awful for many. Some people ate garbage or weeds and the rate of illnesses was sixty-six percent greater in families that were unemployed. Men especially were depressed, had much self-blame, and were humiliated about asking for assistance. The New Deal changed some of this thinking as poverty was seen as a social problem not a personal failing. Jobs for women actually rose during the depression; especially in teaching, social services, and clerical jobs. However, some men thought women were stealing jobs, especially married women. Blacks were fired first and hired last, and fifty percent of working blacks were fired, laid off, or could not find jobs. Eleanor Roosevelt believed in