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The 1930s Essay

2326 words - 9 pages

The 1930s was a decade dominated by the gravest economic crisis the country had ever faced. In fact, for most Americans the Great Depression and the 1930s became synonymous. Americans would learn to view themselves and their government in a brand new way. During the 1930s Americans who enjoyed an unprecedented era of personal freedom, independence, and wealth came to realize that only by working together under the strong leadership of the government could they combat the Great Depression and other struggles brought on during this period of time. Technological developments such as the radio, television, comic books, and motion pictures brought many Americans together like never before. This created a national identity and the beginnings of an American consumer culture.When Herbert Carver Hoover, a Republican, was sworn in on March 4, 1929, the country?s gross national product (GNP) was at an all-time high of $204 billion and on Wall Street, the stock market was soaring (Through the Decades 7). Hoover predicted an era of expanding social and economic systems. He pledged increased support for education, health, and law enforcement in the nation?s growing cities. Unfortunately on October 24, 1929, also known as Black Thursday, the bottom of the stock market fell out and people fled to banks to save their life savings. Many major corporations, as well as small businesses failed, and people were forced to live in harsh conditions in order to survive. Shantytowns, also known as Hoovervilles, sprang up across the nation?s major cities. Most people associated the Great Depression of the 30s with Hoover, and wanted him to provide direct relief to the poor through the government. Instead of advocating government intervention, Hoover believed bolstering industry would benefit everyone because it would create jobs and the increased profits would ?trickle down? and stimulate the economy on every level. When Hoover?s plans began to fail and unemployment rates skyrocketed, there was little doubt that he would be re-elected in the election of 1932. In fact he did lose, and the promise of ?New Deal? initiatives from democratic nominee Franklin Roosevelt appealed to many (The 1930s 111).Roosevelt repeatedly stressed the need for immediate action, for treating the depression as if it had the emergency of a war. He stated that ?the only thing we have to fear is fear itself? (Through the Decades 12). Fear indeed became prevalent as the depression worsened. One out of every three wage and salary earners?12.5 million men and women?were out of a job. Once Congress started approving FDR?s New Deal relief programs, unemployment figures started to go down. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) alone put over 3.5 million of the nation?s jobless to work building more than 650,000 miles of roads, 800 airports, 150,000 schools and other buildings, and countless parks, dams, and other public projects (The 1930s 117). After finding jobs, the number one priority of the poor in...

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