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The Great Depression started with the crash in the stock market in 1929 and lasted until 1939. It is considered the worst economic downturn characterized by steep industrial output declines and widespread unemployment. Even though Depression originated in the United States, it triggered major drops in output, as well as critical deflation, touching many countries globally.
The 1929 stock market crash was not the sole cause of the Great Depression although it contributed to the acceleration of the global economic downfall of which it was also a symptom. The crash touched off a series of events which charged the US into an extended and profound economic crisis in its history. The Depression was therefore not caused by just one factor but resulted from a combination of domestic and global conditions (Bribkeley, 2015).
The farmers were stricken by the crisis as the prices for their produce fell. Farm prices dropped significantly that many farmers lost their land and homes as farm income became unsustainable for the farmers particularly if they had debts. The farmers continued with more production in a bid to increase total proceeds resulting in the buildup of stocks which triggered further low prices. However, drought hit the farmers becoming a significant environmental condition that largely affected produce (Bribkeley, 2015).
Women progressively worked outside their homes to help in the provision of economic support for their families. Most of them got employment in low-status, poor-paying jobs mostly in the service as well as light manufacturing sectors. The percentage of women in the workforce continued to rise despite discrimination, widespread condemnation and refusal of government agencies, and schools to employ them. They were also not encouraged to assume leadership roles and were not adequately covered by the retirement pension or unemployment insurance programs (Crafts, 2010).
The radio seemed an integral part of everyday life as it provided the much-needed destruction from the hardships of Depression. Many people gathered to listen to President Roosevelt fireside chat and his reassurance to the public of a better future. Furthermore, people tried to keep up with the depression events, farming news as well as a means of escaping the economic tough times through entertainment and sports programs (Crafts, 2010).
The popular front was a broad coalition that came together following Stalin’s order to reduce critiques of the United States to prepare a war with Hitler. The coalition comprised of the American Communists, socialists as well as liberals who were in support of President Roosevelt. The strategy of the popular front pushed US politics to the left resulting to a win in Roosevelt’s reforms as well as creating socialism as the common sense of substantial minorities (Bribkeley, 2015).
Farmers organized protests in Iowa endorsing holding off their products from the market. The protests were referred to as a farmers strike which failed since some farmers did not join in the protests. Additionally, the “Bonus Army” protests resulted from bonus awarded to World War 1 vets by Congress. The bonus was to be collected in 1945 but by 1932 the vets protested to have their payments which led to a bloody eviction by Hoover killing two vets and others injured (Bribkeley, 2015).
Hoover believed that the economy should be left to heal itself without any government intervention. He took steps that kept his philosophy of limited government but instead called upon business to exhibit the spirit of volunteerism in keeping people in employment. Hoover created programs aimed at putting people back to work and assisting struggling charities with aid rather than what he considered as giving handouts to people (Khan Academy, 2018).
In summary, the Great Depression affected millions of people resulting in declining in production output, loss of jobs, farmers’ hardships and overall economic crisis. It affected all aspects of the society with limited government intervention.
Bribkeley, A. (2015). American History: Connecting with the Past, from 1865.15th Ed.vol.2. New York: McGraw Hill.
Crafts, N. &. (2010). Lessons from the 1930s Great Depression. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 26 (3), 285-317.
Khan Academy. (2018). The Great Depression. Retrieved 2018, from Khan Academy: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/us-history/rise-to-world-power/great-depression/a/the-great-depression
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