Life in America During the Great Depression

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Life in America during the Great Depression

Jordan Hora

HI 202
Dr. Barske
MWF 1-1:50

The Great Depression began in 1929 and lasted until 1939. This was the deepest and longest-lasting economic downturn so far in history. In the United States, the Great Depression began soon after the stock market crash of October 1929, which sent Wall Street into a panic and wiped out millions of investors. Throughout the next several years, consumer spending and investment dropped, this caused steep declines in industrial output and unemployment levels began to rise as failing companies laid off workers. By 1933, the Great Depression had reached its lowest point, around 13 to 15 million Americans had lost their jobs and nearly half of the banks had failed as well. During the 1932 presidential election, Hoover did not stand a chance at reelection and Franklin D. Roosevelt won in a landslide. The Great Depression was caused by the stock market crash of 1929, which left Americans without jobs and wondering how President Roosevelt was going to fix this economic crisis.

The stock market crashes on October 29, 1929 and the Great Depression begins. Much of the Stock Market crash can be blamed on over enthused and false expectations. Within the years leading up to 1929, the stock marker allowed the potential for making huge gains in wealth. People began to purchase shares with the expectations of making more money. As share prices began to rise, people then began to borrow money to invest in the stock market. The market got caught up in a speculative bubble. The shares kept rising and people expected them to keep doing so. Prices were not being driven by economic fundamentals but by the optimism of over enthused investors. Therefore, in October 1929, the shares were grossly overvalued. When companies began to post disappointing results, some of the investors thought this would be a good time to cash in on their profits. This initial selling caused a fall in prices and the change in market sentiment soon spread as other investors started to panic and follow suit. It didn’t take long for the market to begin to fall rapidly.

After the stock market crashed life became very rough for an American especially for farmers since there was also a major drought taking place as well. The most visible evidence of how dry the 1930s became was the dust storms. Tons of topsoil was dried up and blown off barren fields and carried in storm clouds for hundreds of miles. The driest regions consisted of southeastern Colorado, southwest Kansas, and the panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas. The regions became known as the Dust Bowl, and many of the dust storms originated there. Eventually the entire region and country would be affected. The cornfields of Oklahoma began to shrivel and fade away during this long summer drought. Thick clouds of dust fill the skies, and the farmers had to tie handkerchiefs over their noses and mouths to keep from breathing in the dust. At night, the dust would block out the stars and creep through crevasses in the farmhouses. The farmers had nothing to do during the days but stare at the dying crops and wonder how they would take care of their families. The farmer’s wives and children would watch in fear that the disaster will break the men and leave the families deprived. The human misery caused by the Great Depression is hard to understand or imagine. Unemployment became a reality and the homelessness forced millions of citizens to the edge of survival. Women would sit in the city free employment bureau daily. They would sit there for hours every day waiting for a job but there were no jobs. Most of them had not eaten in days and had barely enough food to survive on for over a year. People were struggling during this time and many were desperate just to be warm. A lot of families were so poor that they didn’t even have blankets or coats. It was also considered a luxury if one had boots to...
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