I the Great Depression because it was a

I chose to do my report on the Great Depression because it was a historical event that impacted generations and generations of people in our country. And I think it deserves more recognition than it gets.

The ‘Great Depression’ had, and still impacts the generations of people who lived through this time.      On October 24th, 1929 the stock market of Wall Street New York crashed.  Before this, a period of time christened “the Roaring Twenties”, was doubling people’s wealth through shares in stock, daily.  Everyone seemed to hold stock from small families to millionaires; people were flooding the stock market with their savings.The richest percent of Americans owned over a third of all American assets.

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 The stock market reached its peak in August of 1929 when the stock market was stretched to its max.  There was no room for growth, so an impeder was inevitable. Unemployment was of great concern at this time, making stock shares ornately priced. Wages were low and prices were skyrocketing.  Loans were not being paid and really couldn’t be paid.  Wealth in the hands of only a few is dangerous for the economy, because once people have money,  they tend to save it, while it could be spread among other classes. Middle class people who took out loans most of the time, could not pay the money they owed.  Because of this banks transacted without giving their customers assurance, this made many anxious.

No one could afford to buy anything so all classes simply stopped purchasing everyday goods.  With no one buying anything there was no need for factory workers.  Society was a wreck!  It seemed no one had jobs.

 Plenty of people couldn’t afford to pay for installment plans, and their valuables were repossessed.  Unemployment continued to rise, which of course meant less spending – only worsening the current economic situation. With most people surviving on what they could make on their own and not buying anything, trading with other countries slowed way down.  Government created the Smoot-Hawley Tariff in 1930, to help protect American companies.

During this time also, though not a direct cause of the Great Depression, a major drought arose in the Mississippi Valley.  Many farmers lost enough money to have to sell their farms for no profit because they could not afford to pay taxes. When the drought began in early 1930 it further damaged the economic setting.  In the 20’s farmers started concentrating their money on newly developed farm equipment because these new tools required less man labor, plus they could plant and harvest more with less work.  These machines of course cost a pretty penny and farmers took out huge loans to pay for them.  This put the farmers in and around the Mississippi Valley in a bad place when the stock market crashed.  The value of the dollar seemed to drop faster than a crash-landing-plane.  According to drought.

unl.edu,  “A record wheat crop in 1931 sent crop prices even lower. These lower prices meant that farmers needed to cultivate more acreage, including poorer farmlands, or change crop varieties to produce enough grain to meet their required equipment and farm payments.

” Drought hit farmers on the great plains the hardest.  Most farming families had to seek government help.  Despite the assistance,  some farms still had to give up their land due to foreclosures.

   How did people suffer during the Great Depression? What made it so bad?   Thousands upon thousands of unemployed men encrusted the streets.  It was normal for hundreds of applicants to show up for one job interview in a day.  People were desperate for work.  Some felt as though they were worthless and couldn’t stand to be idle.  Benjamin Roth, a young man who lived in the time of the Great Depression, kept a diary with detailed entries on his thoughts about the remunerative latitude in 1920.  Here is an excerpt from his book.

 “By summer of 1929 stocks were selling at twenty, thirty and forty times their earnings.  After the war pressure, people wanted to have a good time and spend money.  Mortality and religion were pushed to the background and in its place came jazz bands and nightclubs and all its attendant evils.  To an older man it must have seemed inevitable for a crash but to most of us it seemed we were headed to a ‘New Era’ which would never end.”  In times before the crash there was a lot of celebration going on from the war just ending.

 Roth says in his diary that when he returned from the war, things were highly priced and common people wore nice clothing everyday.  He thought it strange that no one else thought the behavior of plebeians to be idiosyncratic.  People were spending money on ornate things left and right.

 It’s no wonder that so many people suffered greatly, they were used to lavish parties and being reckless with their money.  Residents of this time had little idea on how to manage without having sad amounts of money.  When the dollar value started to plummet, it raised panic among everyone.  No one was prepared for what lie ahead. More than a million families lost their homes and were starving.

 Free food handouts from the government called Bread Lines were started to keep people from dying of hunger.  People had to move to shantytowns and live in grotesque conditions.  These places were called ‘Hoovervilles’ in mocking of the current president because many thought he was to blame for the current industrial condition of our country.  Many farmers moved out west hoping for better conditions.

 Instead the horror that met them was a mass amount of beggarly. People famished, malnourished and working for slave wages packing fruit boxes to earn what they could. Some veterans from the war marched to Washington D.C. to claim a $1000 dollar bonus they had been promised. When they arrived the government refused to pay them so they set up camp and stood their ground.

 Eventually president Hoover ordered smoke bombs and bayonets to be used to clear out the unwanted rioters.  No one was hurt, but the actions against the civilians made many very upset.         As we have already covered, the people were not happy with the choices of the government and blamed president Hoover for their current economic dilemma.  So what did government do to try and put an end to the Depression?  President Hoover tried to get everyone on board with associationalism and encouraged people to work together to solve their common economic issues.  Hoover expected everyone to work in unison to help heal our problem, and he hoped it would lead to a renewed sense of national pride.  For this plan to work, Farmers and laborers had to lower production in order to prevent the market from being flooded with goods, and bankers were encouraged to manage funds wisely and limit loan distribution. On paper, this was a noble concept, especially if the policy could usher in a positive zeitgeist. However, in reality, the mixture of personalities, backgrounds and general distrust proved to be unstable.

According to History.com  “Hoover failed to recognize the severity of the situation or leverage the power of the federal government to squarely address it.”From Hoover’s perspective he thought that the government should have a small amount of control and that the situation should be handled in a local and voluntary environment.

 In fact, Hoover vetoed several bills that would have helped relieve struggling American people. “Prosperity cannot be restored by raids upon the public Treasury,” he explained in his 1930 State of the Union address. When re-election time came, Hoover was so unpopular that he only gained the vote of six states and was easily defeated by his opponent Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Roosevelt promised the people a plan to make things better.

 He called this plan the ‘New Deal’ On March 4, 1933, at the height of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt delivered his first inaugural address before 100,000 people on Washington’s Capitol Plaza. “First of all,” he said, “let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, I will act swiftly to face the dark realities of the moment and I will wage a war against the emergency just as though we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.This astonishing and encouraging speech gave hope to many people reassuring them that they had made a wise decision in the election. Through many sacrifices, debate over what would be done to end this time of trouble, and government spending cuts, the United States of America slowly pulled itself back together.


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