Cause and Effects of the Great Depression

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The Causes and Effects of The Great Depression In America Few Americans in the first months of 1929 saw any reason to question the strength and stability of the nation's economy. Most agreed with their new president that the booming prosperity of the years just past would not only continue but increase, and that dramatic social progress would follow in its wake. "We in America today," Herbert Hoover had proclaimed in August 1928, "are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of any land. The poorhouse is vanishing from among us."1 In mid-October, 1929, the average middle-class American saw ahead of him an illimitable vista of prosperity. The newly inaugurated president, Herbert Hoover, had …show more content…

M. Barker, "cupidity turned into unreasoning, emotional, universal fear”.9 The misery of the Great Depression was, then, without precedent in the nation's history.10 The most searing legacy of the depression was unemployment, which mounted steadily from the relatively low levels experienced between 1922 and 1929. The percentage of the civilian labor force without work rose from 3.2 in 1929 to 8.7 in 1930, and reached a peak of 24.9 in 1933. The estimates of unemployment amongst non-farm employees, which include the self-employed and unpaid family workers are even higher. These are horrifying figures: millions of American families were left without a bread-winner and faced the very real possibility of destitution.11 Within a few months after the stock market collapse of October 1929, unemployment had catapulted from its status of a vague worry into the position of one of the country's foremost preoccupations. Unemployment increased steadily, with only a few temporary setbacks, from the fall of 1929 to the spring of 1933. Even a cursory reference to the several existing estimates of unemployment will amply show the rapidity with which unemployment established itself as an economic factor of the first order of importance.12 By 1932, a quarter of the civilian labor force was unemployed and the number was still rising. State and local relief agencies lacked sufficient funds to meet the demands of families for bare sustenance. Discouraged by continual

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