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Great Depression

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S: The Great Depression: What, Why, and How

BC: The Great Depression is a black stain on the country's history and in the memories of the modern world.

FC: The Great Depression: What, Why, and How

1: As the most devastating economic collapse in our nation's history, it is important that we first grasp what the Great Depression was.

2: To do that, we must explore the causes of the Depression. There are many factors, but the main causes are the stock market crash and the bank failures that followed.

3: The stock market crashed because of tragic miscommunication; the stock market was doing so well and so much money was being made that in one day, almost thirteen million shares were traded on the market. This led investors to suspect panic selling, and they did the same. Seeing investors sell all of their stocks, consumers dumped their shares as well, losing record-breaking amounts of money. To make matters worse, people withdrew their savings from banks to due to the cataclysmic loss during Black Thursday. Banks did not have enough money to give to people for the same reason, and they then shut down. The stock market crashed and the banks had failed; the Great Depression was on it's way.

4: Now that we know the why, lets examine factors of the depression itself. The Depression lasted roughly fourteen years, actually beginning in 1929 and ending near the time the United States entered World War II in 1943.

5: During the depression, life was rough for a large percentage of the world. People lived in tents, had little money, and had nothing to spend it on. Work was scarce, and the government was uninvolved in the affairs of the people. President Hoover thought that with minimal input from the government, the markets would balance themselves.

6: Life during the Depression could be described as desperate. Many people did not have enough to eat or the basic necessities we take for granted. Immigrants were affected more than native-born Americans because of status, though everyone felt the effects.

7: People like Florence Owens Thompson, native American Indians who lived in camps and on reservations, were usually left with the least. Dorothy Lange's famous "Migrant Mother" series illustrates this point.

8: Immigrants as well as natives took up work as farmers, though many had not even this opportunity. Harvesting crops like peas and carrots became popular among immigrants.

9: On top of the economic differences among racial groups, few as they may have been, segregation was still practiced at the time, making life only harder for Mexican immigrants and African Americans.

10: So how did it end? The Great Depression ended itself in a way, as President Hoover hoped it would. The return to stability centered around WWII.

11: The Depression was in full swing in Europe when a young man named Adolf Hitler promised to end the suffering brought about by the economic ruins in Germany.

12: As a brilliant leader, Hitler did just that. His radical economic reform ideas led eventually led to prosperity in Germany. It was at this point that Hitler replaced the government and became chancellor, as well as dictator.

13: Shortly thereafter, World War II was underway. The United States joined the fray, and the mobilization that followed put millions of Americans to work and increased government spending. The Great Depression had come to an end.

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  • By: Nathan K.
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  • Title: Great Depression
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  • Published: about 8 years ago