Great Depression

worldwide economic depression (1929–1939)

The Great Depression was the global economic crisis that started after the U.S. stock market crash in 1929.[2] The prices on the Wall Street stock market fell a lot from October 24 to October 29, 1929. Many people lost their jobs. By 1932, 25–30% of people lost their jobs.[3] They became homeless and poor. This ended the wealth of the Roaring Twenties. Many people think that the Great Depression started on Tuesday, October 29, but economists think Black Tuesday was just one of the causes.

Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother shows poor children in California with their 32-year-old mother, Florence Owens Thompson. She said "that they had been living on frozen vegetables from ... fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that ... tent with her children ... around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me.[1]

From 1929 to 1932, the depression worsened. Many suspect that increased taxes on American citizens and the increased tariffs (taxes on countries which trade with the United States) worsened it. Economist Milton Friedman said that the Great Depression was worsened because the Federal Reserve printed out less money than usual.

When the Great Depression started, Herbert Hoover was the president of the United States, and as a result, he was blamed for it. People voted for a new president in 1932. His name was Franklin D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt convinced Congress to pass many new laws and programs to help people who were hurt by the Great Depression. These programs were called the New Deal.

One of these programs was the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC. The CCC put many young men to work in the outdoors. The men were paid thirty dollars a month, of which twenty five dollars was sent home to support their families, to work, and they got free food and shelter. Another program was called Social Security, which continues to this day. Social Security gives retired seniors a small income so they have money for things they need. The Great Depression was a difficult time, but with everyone's help, it would get better. Between 1939 and 1944, more people had jobs again because of World War II, and the Great Depression came to an end.

Background change

The Great Depression followed a decade of rapid economic growth and urbanization. After the Wall Street Crash of 1929, business declined as it had after previous stock market crashes. However, people still had hope. John D. Rockefeller said that "These are days when many are discouraged. In the 93 years of my life, depressions have come and gone. Prosperity (wealth) has always returned (come back) and will again."[4] But soon the bad effects of the depression grew worse and worse. More people lost jobs, money, and homes. There were reports that in Germany and the United States, there were great hunger, disease, and even starvation. Nations used protectionism more than in recent decades. This diminished international trade.

The Dust Bowl change

Farmers were usually safe from the severe effects of previous depressions because they could at least feed themselves. During the Great Depression, the Great Plains were also hit hard with a drought and dust storms. This was called the Dust Bowl.

Years of overgrazing combined with drought caused the grass to disappear. With topsoil exposed, high winds picked up the loose dirt and carried it over long distances. The dust storms destroyed crops, leaving farmers without food or crops to sell.

Small farmers were hit especially hard. Even before the dust storms hit, the invention of the tractor drastically cut the need for manpower on farms. These small farmers were usually already in debt, borrowing money for seed and paying it back when their crops came in. When the dust storms damaged the crops, not only could the small farmer not feed himself and his family, he could not pay back his debt. Banks would then foreclose on the mortgage and the farmer's family would be homeless, unemployed and poor.

Related pages change

References change

  1. "Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother" Photographs in the Farm Security Administration Collection: An Overview - Guides, Reference Aids, and Finding Aids (Prints andPhotographs ReadingRoom, Library of Congress)". Retrieved 13 May 2010.
  2. "Great Depression—". Retrieved 13 May 2010.
  3. "Great Depression (economy) -- Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Retrieved 13 May 2010.
  4. Schultz, Stanley K. (1999). "Crashing Hopes: The Great Depression". American History 102: Civil War to the Present. University of Wisconsin–Madison. Archived from the original on 2008-03-23. Retrieved 2008-03-13..