AP US History
Focus Essay Due 4.11.08
The U.S. Economy Before and After Black Tuesday
During the two years before October 1929, the United States stock market had reached record highs, stimulated by easy credit, manipulation, and the optimism of the American populous. The two months before “Black Tuesday”, the stock market suffered severe checks but they paled in comparison to the crash that occurred October 29, 1929. On this day investors sold their stocks at any price, trying to make any profit, throwing away the previous year’s gains. This day began a slide into a depression that lasted ten years: the Great Depression. The economy leading up to the stock market crash was extremely different than that of the United States after; recovery during FDR’s administration was never fully realized by the nation.
The economy before the stock market crash had several serious challenges set before it; however these challenges were much different than what it faced during the depression. The United States had left the Progressive Era of the nineteen-teens and had entered the Roaring Twenties. These times saw a heightened interest in leisure activities and entertainment. A new generation of America was leading society: women known as “flappers” challenged stereotypes set by earlier generations. But while great leaps were being made, the economy was far from perfect. During World War I, agriculture had boomed, and after it had ended, farmers had expected the boom to last indefinitely; however this was not the case. Prices in agricultural products dropped drastically low and farmers were struggling to make ends meet. As seen in Document G, farmers bought new equipment like tractors, expecting the profit from their produce to pay off the debt. Instead in many cases they lost money because of extremely low prices, and had no way to repay their debts to the banks, adding even more pressure to the farmer’s lives. Clearly a large...