The Effects Of The Great Depression Essay

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The Effects Of The Great Depression Essay, Research Paper The Twenties have often been known as one of the most prosperous decades in our history. It was the decade of high times following the Great War’s additions to our economy. But it was these additions that eventually led to the largest stock market crash in America. Millions were affected by the resulting depression, which eventually became so massive that the leaders of the time started referring to it as the Great Depression. The summation of these effects is a job best left to historians, but a quick overview of some of them is more easily obtained. Before going into the effects of an event, it is best to see some of the causes of the said event. Few expected the Twenties to end with any sort of economic crisis,

let alone the largest in American history. Herbert Hoover, speaking at the Republican National Convention in 1928, stated that: One of the oldest and perhaps the noblest of human aspirations has been abolition of poverty. By poverty I mean the grinding by undernourishment, cold and ignorance, and fear of old age of those who have the will to work. We in America today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of any land. The poorhouse is vanishing from among us. We have not yet reached the goal, but, given a chance to go forward with the policies of the last eight years, we shall soon with the help of God be in sight of the day when poverty will be banished from this nation (qtd. in Wilbur 2). And, during the first months of the Hoover

administration, it looked as if this goal was near-by. The popular heroes of the day were business leaders, as opposed to sports stars or actors. Time’s Man of the Year in 1929 was William P. Chrysler, one of the leading automobile manufacturers (Boardman 4). On the low end of the social spectrum were the masses of proletarians. The estimate of how many were unemployed in 1929 ranges from four million to 5.8 million (Meltzer 13). During the entire decade, something to the order of 8.2% of the population earned $5,000 or more during the span of a year. The majority of the populace, 59.5%, had an income of less than $2,000 a year (Boardman 7) and nearly six million families earned less than $1,000 in a year (Meltzer 10). Beyond a doubt, those who were most affected by the Great

Depression were those who had the least. “You fellows, better organized, got yours,” Alexander Logge said in 1930, “while the farmer, unorganized, failed to get anything” (qtd. in Romasco 97). Among the industries worst hit by the Crash in 1929 was the automotive industry. A Willys plant in Toledo had started the year with 28,000 employees. By the end, only 4,000 were still working. Ford’s plant in Detroit lost a similar amount of workers, starting the year with 128,000 and ending it with 100,000 (Meltzer 24). Despite this, many thought that thedepression was just like any other fluctuation in the market, and that the economy would eventually curve upwards. Fault was placed on the jobless by the wealthy, such as John Edgarton, President of the National Association of

Manufacturing. In his mind, “if they gamble away their savings on the stock market or elsewhere, is our economic system, or government, or industry to blame?” (qtd. in Meltzer 160) Besides finding fault, optimism was also in the air. Charles M. Schwab, a leading steel manufacturer, said in 1930 that “all present indications are that 1930, in broad prospective, will prove to be a year of normal business progress” (qtd. in Boardman 25). Following such shallow judgements, coupled with inactivity, was a deepening of the Depression. As George Soule said in 1931, “The main trouble is not that business is in the saddle; the trouble is that nobody is in the saddle” (qtd. in Romasco 202). General Motors, which before the Depression employed 260,000, had downsized almost