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The Great Depression Essay

1759 words - 8 pages

There have been many downturns in America’s economy, but one stands far above the rest. The term for depression refers to long-term severe downturn in economic activity. The Great Depression is, without a doubt, the longest and most severe in American history. When sustained for a long period of time, it’s not surprising that the people affected by an economic depression could begin to feel emotionally depressed. The Great Depression lasted over a decade, with countless people losing their jobs, homes, and property, you could say the Great Depression was, in fact, depressing. Following a period of great economic prosperity, life in America took a turn for the worst. Jobs and homes were lost, life savings vanished, and Americans began to struggle to survive. The Great Depression marks an era plagued by poverty, unemployment, hunger, and despair.
Following the First World War, the United States entered a period of great economic strength. This prosperity lasted throughout the entire decade, known as the “Roaring Twenties” characterized by a massive culture shift. Known for the flappers and alcohol, the 1920’s mark a decade of indulgence. There was a moral decline in America, with women were wearing their hair and skirts shorter. Wild drinking and rampant parties, swing and jazz music was all the rage. The ban of alcohol led to the rise of bootleggers and gangsters, causing the crime rate to soar. Hollywood was booming, with the rise of popular culture, movie stars and celebrities. The automobile was made affordable, quickly replacing the horse and buggy as the main mode of transportation. With the economy booming and the middle class growing, America seemed to have a bright future on her horizon. This all changed on the 24th of October, 1929.
Commonly referred to as “Black Thursday”, the Wall Street stock market crash of 1929 marks the worst market crash in history. The lavish lifestyle of the Roaring Twenties was full of excessive consumer spending. Millions of Americans were investing in stocks, people were investing more money than they had in the stock market, using loans. Eventually, the amount of money being traded on the stock market exceeded the amount of money in circulation. The stocks were overinflated with money that people simply did not have. People began to sell their stocks in a panic to pay back their loans, prices fell to depressing levels, bringing the market to its knees. Businesses went bankrupt, banks failed and were closed, people lost their life savings and instantly became very poor. Jobs and homes were lost, and work was scarce. At the height of the Depression close to 25% of the entire Nation’s work force were unemployed. The workers who were lucky enough to keep their jobs wages plummeted. Factories were closed, mines and mills abandoned, both labor and business industries were in quite some trouble. American families faced with the economic disaster, struggled to find work. This mass unemployment meant hunger,...

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