The Great Depression
|1928||Herbert Hoover elected president|
|1929||Stock market crashes|
|1930-1932||Bank failures across the nation|
|1932||Franklin D. Roosevelt elected president;|
Fifteen million Americans unemployed
New Deal programs put into effect
|1934||“Second New Deal” programs created|
Roosevelt reelected president
Margaret Mitchell publishes Gone With the Wind
Marian Anderson sings at Lincoln Memorial
John Steinbeck publishes The Grapes of Wrath
The Great Depression
In late October 1929, the United States entered the worst economic crisis in its history. The stock market crashed, and the Great Depression began.
The Great Depression was worse than any of the many financial panics the United States had weathered since the 1790s. It was much more widespread, and it lasted much longer. Across the nation, banks failed, businesses closed down, and workers were laid off. Landlords evicted tenants who could not pay their rent. Lenders foreclosed on borrowers who could not meet their payment obligations. To the average American, it appeared that suddenly, no matter where you looked, no one had any money.
Most people blamed the crisis on President Herbert Hoover, for two reasons: first, he had failed to predict it, and second, he seemed both unwilling and unable to do anything about it. In 1932, Hoover lost his bid for reelection to an individual who struck most voters as being both willing and able to help them: Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Roosevelt established the New Deal, a group of programs that offered immediate relief. Its goals were threefold: to provide jobs for the unemployed, to repair the economy, and to install safeguards to prevent any recurrence of the crisis.
The New Deal did not end the Depression, but it did many positive things. It created millions of jobs. It paid workers to build bridges, highways, and public buildings. It kept hundreds of artists employed entertaining those who badly needed an occasional escape from their daily worries. It restored the nation’s banks to a sound financial footing. During Roosevelt’s first term, unemployment dropped by about 8 percent. Unsurprisingly, he was reelected in 1936 in the greatest landslide in 100 years.
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