The Great Depression 1929-1933
Stock Market Crash of 1929
Throughout the 1920's people began buying stock from many of the thriving businesses. Because the economy was doing so well, people made a lot of money. However, many people foolishly began to borrow money so they could invest more and make even more money. When the stock market lost its value many investors could no longer afford to pay back the money they had borrowed. As a result the banks ran out of money, because they had loaned out so much money. This resulted in a rush on the banks. People desperately tried to get their money out of the bank before the bank ran out of money. Many people lost all of their money. This included many people who had not invested anything! You can find out more about the Crash of '29 here. You can also watch a BrainPop movie about the stock market here.
Hoover is remembered for being the unfortunate president when the stock market crashed in 1929. Everything seemed to go wrong for the next several years, as the farmer's crops failed, the banks went out of business and 25% percent of Americans couldn't find a job. Homeless people lived in shanty towns and called them "Hoovervilles." Even though it is debated if Hoover could actually have done anything to make the Depression end, he had no hope of being reelected, because people blamed all their problems on him.
The New Deal
President Roosevelt was elected in 1932 while America was suffering from the effects of the Great Depression. He promised the American People a New Deal. His New Deal plan was for the government to help meet peoples' needs by creating jobs and government programs to assist the American people. Some of the key programs he created were the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Works Progress Administration. To get a full understanding of the various programs you will want to visit the links provided, but here is a quick explanation of each program.
- CCC-Civilian Conservation Corps- This program hired young men ages 18-26 who were unemployed and paid them to work mostly on outdoor projects such as national parks and planting trees (helped to prevent erosion which was prevalent because of over farming).
- TVA--Tennesee Valley Authority- This program is still in existence. The TVA built dams which provided hydroelectric power to Tennessee, North Georgia, North Alabama and the whole river valley. Thousands of men were also employed to build the dams.
- WPA--Works Progress Administration-This program provided jobs for millions of Americans, who were given the task of building roads, bridges, parks, airports and a plethora of other public facilities.
The Dust Bowl
The Dust Bowl happened as a result of drought and poor farming techniques. When tractors were first introduced in the 1920's, farmers began to till up miles of land instead of the few acres that they could do with their horses. When drought hit, the dirt dried up and wind erosion took over. In many cases farmers tilled long straight rows and they worked like wind tunnels. The wind would come and blow down the rows picking up dirt with nothing to stop it. Farmers later learned that they should changed the directions of their crops or leave wind barriers in between their fields.
Soup kitchens and bread lines were filled with people during the 1930's, because 1 out of 4 Americans did not have a job. The soup kitchen pictured here was compliments of Al Capone the famous Chicago mobster. To view a slide show of soup kitchen pictures, click here
Visit History.com to see many more videos about the Great Depression
The Culture of the 1930's in America
Life Outside the Depression
Almost everybody knows about the Great Depression of the 1930's, but they often overlook some of the cultural elements that were still going on. Writers were writing, musicians were jazzing along, movies continued to rise in popularity and professional sports were still advancing. In addition, African Americans continued to make notable achievements despite the fact that they were still not accepted as equals
Owens became a hero after winning 4 gold medals at the 1936 Olympics. In addition to winning he embarrassed Adolf Hitler at the games which were held in Berlin, Germany. Hitler believed that the Aryan (German) race was superior to everybody else. Owens severely disproved this theory by winning gold four times. Despite his incredible success, African Americans still were segregated in American and were not treated as equals.
Mitchell became famous for her Pulitzer Prize winning book, "Gone with the Wind." The book about life in the South during and after the Civil War was also made into one of top selling movies of all time, in 1939. Mitchell was born in Atlanta, Georgia and her book is a piece of literature with which every Georgian should be familiar.
Duke Ellington continued the jazz tradition of Louis Armstrong. He becam one of the most popular musicians and composers in America despite continually facing the issue of racism in America. For more about Duke Ellington you can visit his website.