The Impact of the Great Depression Essay

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The Impact of the Great Depression

The stock market crash of 1929 sent the nation spiraling into a state of economic paralysis that became known as the Great Depression. As industries shrank and businesses collapsed or cut back, up to 25% of Americans were left unemployed. At the same time, the financial crisis destroyed the life savings of countless Americans (Modern American Poetry). Food, housing and other consumable goods were in short supply for most people (Zinn 282). This widespread state of poverty had serious social repercussions for the country.

America’s agricultural economy had already been suffering for a decade when nature conspired against the country to exacerbate the Great Depression. From 1931 through 1939,
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Everyone scrounged about for small, labor intensive jobs at low wages. Even women and children had to work to subsidize the family income. The recently homeless lived in shantytowns nicknamed “Hoovervilles” after President Hoover who was moving slowly and ineffectually to deal with the Depression (Wikipedia). Little food was available and many had to search garbage heaps and other such locations for any kind of sustenance. The economic crisis had ushered in a decade of unprecedented mass poverty and poor living conditions.

Herbert Hoover, the president in office when the Great Depression hit the country, did very little to ameliorate the devastating situation. Hoover underestimated the seriousness of the crisis, misdiagnosed the causes of the problems, and clung to his beliefs in individual achievement and self-help. His corrective measures, aimed at inflation and the federal budget, were thus damaging themselves. Furthermore, he hesitated to mobilize government resources to aid Americans and instead appealed to private groups to lend a hand (Encarta). Thus Hoover’s administration did little to mitigate the impact of the Depression.

With no relief in sight from the government or anyone else, people’s anger and resentment grew. The Communist party and other socialist groups saw a swell in their numbers. Labor strikes and protests against the government began to erupt. The most notable of these was the Bonus Army March on Washington. More than
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