preview

The Great Depression of the 1930's

Satisfactory Essays
The Great Depression of the 1930's

On October 24th, 1929 the complete collapse of the stock market began, about 13

million shares of stock were sold. Tuesday, October 29th (known every since as Black

Tuesday) made the damage worse, more than 16 million shares were sold. The value of

most shares fell sharply, leaving financial ruin and panic in its place.

There had been panics like this before and there has been many afterward, but

never did a market crash have such a long-term effect on our country. Banks fell by the

hundreds. Pay for the people still lucky enough to have a job fell badly. The value of

money fell as the demand for products fell. Most of the farmers of the south were in

enough trouble as it, but with the arrival of the depression they were ruined. The drought

that created the Dust Bowl just made their problems worse. The structure of world trade

fell, and each nation decided to protect its trade by putting high taxes on imported

products. This made matters worse. In the fall of 1931 the international gold standard

had fell, making any hope for recovery out of reach,

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE

State governments were in no position to do much to aid depression victims, so

hard-pressed were they for revenues. The response of the federal government was, at

least in the early years, too little and too late. President Herbert Hoover and his aides

were convinced that “prosperity is just around the corner.” Although the government had

been heavily involved in helping large corporations for decades, the idea of direct aid to

citizens in distress was regarded with disfavor by many in the Hoover administration.

Realistic measures to deal with the depression were undertaken with the

installation of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the White House. But even the energy spent on

devising new programs was insufficient to undo the depression damage. The economic

crisis was not solved until World War II began and triggered huge needs for industrial

and agricultural productivity. The Roosevelt New Deal, however, succeeded in putting in

place new agencies and policies to try assure that such a disaster would never happen

again. In his first inaugural address, President Roosevelt made some attempt to assess the

enormous damage: “The withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers

find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are

gone. More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence,
Get Access