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The Great Depression

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The Great Depression was a time of turmoil, drama, hardships, and trials for most Americans, a time when jobs and homes they thought they could count on suddenly were gone. Getting food, clothing, and a bed became an everyday struggle for many. What caused the Great Depression of the United States and what effects did it have on the lives of the people?

The Great Depression is one of the most misunderstood events in American History. The Great Depression, an awful, tragic event, was a time when so many people were out of work, and those who had jobs made so little money, that people who had never been poor before faced hunger, cold, and fear. The Great Depression was also a period when people sought work-and were put to work-in new and imaginative ways. While the Depression was a difficult time to live it was also a very unique and exciting time.

A depression is a period during which business, employment, and stock-market values decline severely. The Americans depression was known as the "Great Depression." The Great Depression has two reasons for its name. One reason is because of its long duration. The economy began descending in the summer of 1929. The depression ended in mid-1941 due to the start of WWII. Another reason is because of severity. The average rate of unemployment was low and then started growing. Stimulus from an unfortunate cause, preparation for war, began to lower unemployment rates.

There are many reasons for the start of the Great Depression. Some of these are unequal distribution of wealth in the 1920s, high tariffs and war debts, overproduction in industry and agriculture, and the stock market crash. International problems also weakened the economy. The stock market crash is generally thought of as the start of the "Great Depression." The depression itself was responsible for a dramatic change in the structure of American politics.

Unequal distribution of wealth was a big part of the Great Depression. The income in the 1920s was unevenly distributed. Wealthy people made large profits. More and more Americans spent more than they earned and farmers faced low prices and debt.

High tariffs and war debts also caused the start of the Depression. There were lingering debts from WWI that produced lasting effects on the United States. The depression ended only when massive spending for WWII began.

Overproduction in industry and agriculture also led to the Great Depression. During WWI the demand for farm goods was high. After the war, prices fell and farmers were unable to sell their products for much of a profit. In the South, overproduction of cotton caused the price of cotton to fall.

Seventy years ago America's twelve-year Great Depression began with a crash. The stock market crash is thought to be the major reason of the Great Depression. The crash was not the immediate cause of the depression. It alone was not responsible for a decade of worldwide economic disaster. The stock market crash of 1929 was an indication of basic problems in the U.S. economy but not the main cause. The crash merely made the cracks in America's depthless poverty much more obvious. Thursday, October 24, 1929, called "Black Thursday" was the beginning of the massive economic crisis that scarred the lives of millions. The 'Crash', as it was called, began on Tuesday October 29, 1929, called "Black Tuesday, and marked the beginning of the Great Depression. The crash was the single most devastating day in the history of the New York Stock Exchange. The crash affected the economy dramatically. It immediately affected the poor and middle class people who left their money in banks. It reduced the ability of the economy to fight off the underlying sickness of unevenly distributed wealth, agricultural depression, and bank problems. The stock market crash ruined thousands of investors and destroyed confidence in the economy.

International problems were also a cause of the depression. American bankers lent money heavily and unwisely to Europe and Germany. Huge debts made the international economy unstable by the late 1920's.

The American public had its own reasons for the start of the Great Depression. The American public found the "Three B's": bankers, brokers, and businessmen, responsible for the crash and depression. Some held President Hoover responsible. There is good reason to believe that the Fed.'s actions explained a lot of the problems that led up to the stock crash and the following depression. The cause of the depression can not be blamed on one individual or even a group of people.

The history of the Great Depression is a story about work: the kinds of work that people did, how they got paid for their labor, and what happened to them when their work was taken away from them. The Great Depression had a substantial and varied impact on the lives of Americans. The depression brought about many experiences. For many it was dreadful, but for others farms fared because they had food and shelter. Hard times were not universal for those living on farms, but certainly wide spread. The years between 1929 and 1933 were trying years for the American people. American farmers were already in an economic depression during the 1920s. Tenant farmers, sharecroppers, and migrant farmers were most severely affected by the depression. There was nothing to farm and no money for wages. They were not able to pay rent or mortgages, produce crops, or find work. Some farmers had their farms repossessed by the bank. Many farmers went into debt to buy machinery and land. Farmers were hit hard by the depression. There was a three-year drought that created the Dust Bowl, plus the grasshoppers came in 1933. Floods and windstorms took many lives and made the depression more devastating. Dust storms also caused devastation. Families began to migrate westward. Poor farmers evicted from their land or fleeing the Dust Bowl were often despised and abused when they arrived in California and other western states. They were commonly labeled "Okies" whether they came from Oklahoma or other states. Farmers were once proud of feeding the nation, heads of families proud of their ability to care for their families, and had to turn to charity or government aid. Farm wives grew food for their family but had little cash.

Hardships suffered during the Great Depression affected many Americans' attitudes toward life, work, and their community. The depression made people turn their backs on their families. Jobless fathers were ashamed in front of their friends, wife, and family. Family quarrels were more frequent, bitter, and disastrous. Families fell apart and many children left home. As hope faded, birthrates dropped and suicides rose. The divorce rate



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