The Great Depression
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Herbert Clark Hoover 31st President of the United States 1929-1933Since Herbert Hoover was president at the time of the crash, many Americans put blame on this man and by the time his term was over the country was very hostile towards him. He believed people affected by the depression shouldn't rely on the government for help. Shanty towns built by homeless people during the depression were commonly called "Hoovervilles" named after this president because he let the nation slide into the depression.
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Franklin Delano Roosevelt32nd President of the United States 1933-1945All but six states elected FDR the 32nd president of the United States. Also, unlike engineer Hoover, Roosevelt was a politician. FDR eventually pulled the United States out of the depression with his "New Deal." This was his plan to alleviate the problems of the Great Depression with his team of advisors. He created a new set of policies containing his three main goals of relief for the needy, economic recovery, and financial reform. The New Deal helped restore GNP levels of 1929 and introduce basic banking and welfare reforms. This man recruited 6 millino defense workers, 6 million soldiers, and ran massive deficits to fight World War II to help end the depression. FDR's famous "fireside chats" reassured voters by informing them about government efforts to improve the economy. These radio talks drew larger audiences than entertainment shows and helped him shape public debate.

The Dust Bowl
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The Dust Bowl was just one other thing during the 1930's that added to the severity of the depression. 8 years of dust blew onto the Southern plains, creating a yellowish brown haze in the South and roling walls of black from the North. Children wore dust masks to school, wet sheets were put over windows to stop dirt, and farmers crops blew away. This event mainly impacted the South but drought, windblown dust, agricultural decline impacted the North as well and helped lengthen the depression. The cause of this "Dust Bowl" was due to poor agricultural practices and years of sustained drought.To learn more about the Great Depression and its impacts on our society.... click here
Causes of the Great DepressionThe beginning of the depression grew undetected long before the year 1929, although on October 29, 1929, the most severe stock market crash, The Wall Street Crash, marked the historical start of The Great Depression. "Black Tuesday", the crash, was a day when stock market prices peaked and plummeted sending bankers and speculators in panic. The purpose of the stock market was to buy bonds and stocks hoping to make money off of them in the end. If prices rose, the person would obtain a large profit but if the stock value dropped, the bank could demand partial or full payment immediately leaving the investor in a nasty situation. Millions of regular people invested their life savings in stocks then lost it all in the speculation frenzy. People bought large stocks for little down which was an abuse of credit. This, then, was halted by securities laws passed by Congress. Another risky way to make money was "buying on margin", which allowed investors to acquire a portion of stock on credit from a broker who then borrowed money from a bank using the "margined" stock as an even. By the end of 1929, more than $10 billion was lost by investors and brokers who risked buying on margin. In short, too much buying on margin created a destabilzed stock market system of the 1920's which was one primary cause of the Depression. Also, before the depression, many people found it very easy to "live on credit", to buy now and pay later, which made many wants easily available but on the negative side people couldn't pay off these debts. As well as the crash, availability of easy credit, and unequal distribution of income, meaning too little money in the hands of working people, there were many other reasons for this massive depression. An old and decaying industrial base (outmoded equiptment) and a crisis in the farm sector (production of more than they were able to sell) are just a few.
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This diagram displays the peak and plummet of the stock market crash in 1929.Effects of the Great DepressionThe downfall of the depression lasted for many years and the lives of many people would be forever changed. A million and a half workers became unemployed instantly nationwide in 1929. 1 in 5 workers, 12 million people, were jobless by 1932. Only 1/4 of unemployed families received relief. 1.5% of government funds spent on relief, which equates out to only $1.67 per person. Breadlines and soup kitchens ran by charitable organizations became very familiar to many people because they could not even afford to feed their families. The depression became so severe it was worldwide, although Germany had the highest unemployment. Budget shrinking schools shortened school days and years. Suicide rates rose from 14 to 17 people per 100,000. If people were to protest, they were often local not national such as hunger marches. Agricultural income dropped 50% due to farms being lost to banks or became abandoned. Many people turned to share cropping and tenant farming. Usually the only common jobs available were clerical and domestic ones. Men in the work force declined and surprisingly women increased. Divorce rates rose, child neglection problems were seen more and more from lack of supervision, and likewise numerous diseases appeared including malnutrition due to lack of food. Inequities worsened between blacks and whites, the wages fell faster for black people rather than whites. Relief payments from the NRA (National Recovery Association) were based on past money earned. The NRA and WPA (Works Progress Administration) provided jobs for unemployed on variety of public projects. For example, pouring concrete or building highways. 20% of the work force were provided because of these two organizations. Throughout these hard times, parents and children tried their hardest to bond by listening to the radio. Books, newspaper, magazines, and movies were extremley popular since a lot of people had unbelieveable amounts of time on their hands. Movies were especially famous, 60-75 million people went the the movies a week.
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This photograph represents the hard times of families during the depression including this single mother of 7 children.

*All images on this page were taken from Google Images*