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The Great Depression Essay

910 words - 4 pages

The Great Depression

Many times throughout history, the United States has undergone economic depression.

The most recognized period of economic depression is called the Great Depression. The Great

Depression is well known because of the seriousness of the stock market crash. The results of the

crash were more serious than any other crash throughout American History. The Great

Depression caused a change in the nature of the American family, an increase in poverty, and

President Herbert Hoover's proposal for immediate action by the government, balanced his belief

in "rugged individualism" with the economic necessities. While most Americans are familiar

with the Great Depression as a time of economic disaster, it also had an impact on the American

Family life. There were obvious differences in the classes because of the Great Depression. The

lower and the middle classes changed considerably, but the upper class lifestyle did not vary a

great deal. The father's role as head of the household became more challenging because there

were fewer jobs. The expectation was for fathers to work and support their families. The reality

of the lower class was that few men brought home paychecks. Some fathers suffered anxiety and

a feeling of worthlessness for failing to provide for their families. Many resorted to stealing food

and money just to survive. Women were offered greater opportunities in the work force, however

they tended to take the position of stay-at-home mothers. Men resented employed women for

they felt that they were occupying jobs that could be given to unemployed men. Children in the

lower class were expected to get an education so that they could improve their situation. In

addition, they were needed at home to help with household chores. Unfortunately, many poor
children dropped out of school because of their obligations at home. Children in the middle class

were better than those in the lower class. They had the opportunity to stay in school and were

treated to more luxuries. The children of the upper class families received an excellent education

and were also treated to many luxuries. Along with a change in the American family life, there

was also an increase in poverty.

     The Great Depression was an intense time of poverty. The downfall of American

businesses, the closing of banks, and the lowered employment contributed to this period of

destitute. According to an old study, 26,000 American businesses collapsed; in 1931, 28,000

more met the same fate. In addition, by the beginning of 1932, nearly 3,500 banks, holding

billions of dollars in uninsured deposits, had gone under. Twelve million people were

unemployed (nearly 25 percent of the workforce), and the real earnings for those still lucky

enough to have jobs fell by a third. This statistical evidence effectively illustrates the increase in

poverty caused by...

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