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S: The Great Depression

FC: THE GREAT DEPRESSION By: Johnelle Ross

1: After nearly a decade of optimism and prosperity, the United States was thrown into despair on Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, the day the stock market crashed and the official beginning of the Great Depression. As stock prices plummeted with no hope of recovery, panic struck. Masses and masses of people tried to sell their stock, but no one was buying. The stock market, which had appeared to be the surest way to become rich, quickly became the path to bankruptcy.

2: And yet, the Stock Market Crash was just the beginning. Since many banks had also invested large portions of their clients' savings in the stock market, these banks were forced to close when the stock market crashed. Seeing a few banks close caused another panic across the country. Afraid they would lose their own savings, people rushed to banks that were still open to withdraw their money. This massive withdrawal of cash caused additional banks to close. Since there was no way for a bank's clients to recover any of their savings once the bank had closed, those who didn't reach the bank in time also became bankrupt. | Businesses and industry were also affected. Having lost much of their own capital in either the Stock Market Crash or the bank closures, many businesses started cutting back their workers' hours or wages.

3: In previous depressions, farmers were usually safe from the severe effects of a depression because they could at least feed themselves. Unfortunately, during the Great Depression, the Great Plains were hit hard with both a drought and horrendous dust storms. | Years and years of overgrazing combined with the effects of a drought caused the grass to disappear. With just topsoil exposed, high winds picked up the loose dirt and whirled it for miles. The dust storms destroyed everything in their paths, leaving farmers without their crops. | 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 small farms and the farmer's family would be both homeless and unemployed.

4: World War I veterans block the steps of the Capital during the Bonus March, July 5, 1932 (Underwood and Underwood). In the summer of 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression, World War I veterans seeking early payment of a bonus scheduled for 1945 assembled in Washington to pressure Congress and the White House. Hoover resisted the demand for an early bonus. Veterans benefits took up 25% of the 1932 federal budget. Even so, as the Bonus Expeditionary Force swelled to 60,000 men, the president secretly ordered that its members be given tents, cots, army rations and medical care. | This is a "Vote Communist" poster. During the 1920s the American Communist Party was often a victim at once of government oppression and of its own sectarian struggles, but in the mid-1930s it adopted a "popular front" policy of alliances with liberal organizations. Its membership tripled, but more important still were the thousands of sympathizers who endorsed party-supported causes.

5: Part of an impoverished family of nine on a New Mexico highway. Depression refugees from Iowa. Left Iowa in 1932 because of father's ill health. Father an auto mechanic laborer, painter by trade, tubercular. Family has been on relief in Arizona but refused entry on relief roles in Iowa to which state they wish to return. Nine children including a sick four-month-old baby. No money at all. About to sell their belongings and trailer for money to buy food. "We don't want to go where we'll be a nuisance to anybody." Children of migrant workers typically had no way to attend school. By the end of 1930 some 3 million children had abandoned school. Thousands of schools had closed or were operating on reduced hours. At least 200,000 children took to the roads on their own.

6: During the Great Depression, unemployment was high. Many employers tried to get as much work as possible from their employees for the lowest possible wage. Workers were upset with the speedup of assembly lines, working conditions and the lack of job security. Seeking strength in unity, they formed unions. Automobile workers organized the U.A.W. (United Automobile Workers of America) in 1935. General Motors would not recognize the U.A.W. as the workers' bargaining representative. | Hearing rumors that G.M. was moving work to factories where the union was not as strong, workers in Flint began a sit-down strike on December 30, 1936. The sit-down was an effective way to strike. When workers walked off the job and picketed a plant, management could bring in new workers to break the strike. If the workers stayed in the plant, management could not replace them with other workers. This photograph shows the broken windows at General Motors' Flint Fisher Body Plant during the Flint sit-down strike of 1936-37.

7: What caused the Great Depression? - The Great Depression occurred when the economy failed. Banks were closing, and people were losing their savings, their jobs, and even their homes. Factors that contributed to the Great Depression include the stock market crash, the over-investment in stocks by the public, the weakness of the agricultural sector, the lack of farmers' and workers' purchasing power, and the ineffective policies of the Hoover administration. With the stock market crash, the bank failures, and the loss of savings and homes, the entire economic cycle was depressed. How long did the Great Depression last? - The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s. It was the longest, most widespread, and deepest depression of the 20th century. What was life like during the Great Depression? - Life during the Depression was hard. Because prices for crops were very low, farmers received little for their efforts. They could not repay the loans that they had taken out on their farms in more prosperous times, and many lost their houses and farms.

8: Who was affected by the Great Depression? - During the Great Depression people were barely surviving. People were losing their jobs, their homes. There was barely enough food or water. In that result people were dying off! The Great Depression affected their daily lives in many ways; people were losing their jobs, losing their houses, they had no clothes, no food, no water and no life. Most of the banks shut down and peoples accounts were cleaned out. Everyone was affected by the Depression, women, children, and men. How did the Great Depression end? - The common view among economic historians is that the Great Depression ended with the advent of World War II. Many economists believe that government spending on the war caused or at least accelerated recovery from the Great Depression. However, some consider that it did not play a very large role in the recovery, although it did help in reducing unemployment

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  • By: Johnelle R.
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  • The ins and outs of the details on the Great Depression
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