There Could you imagine life wondering where
There they were, poor hopeless, half dressed toddlers and young children sitting on the garbage filled streets with little food or water and no mother or father to take care of them or feed them. Would you have enjoyed that as a child? Could you imagine life wondering where your next meal was coming from? I did not think so. In the days of the Great Depression, the majority of people were lucky to be living in a warm home with all their family with them and alive. In October 29, 1929, everything changed in the United States.
Families had hit some hard patches, but no one had been prepared for this economic catastrophe that had arisen before them. The Great Depression had been a crisis that caused families mainly in North America and Europe to lose a large percentage of their wages. Even the most talented and educated men could not keep a job especially if they were of black color. Employers allowed employees to have all holidays off; however, they were never paid and there were never any benefits like there are today. The basic needs of people were not being met which caused widespread poverty. Many unemployed men got called Hobos as they wandered through the streets of their country looking for some way to keep enough money to live. The stock market crashed and caused innocent people to lose their homes and livelihoods. Some small homes held several families at once.
This became the longest and worst depression our country has ever known, and many people could not push hard enough or long enough to make it all the way through the treacherous battle. The idea of stashing money under your mattress instead of at the local bank became a necessity back then, and paychecks were few and far between. There were many consequences of the Great Depression including unemployment that led to poverty. In this paper, the cause, the consequences, and the relief of the Great Depression will be addressed. The Great Depression came about due to a 1929 stock market crash.
This terrible crash has been recorded in history as the day of “Black Tuesday”, the worst Tuesday ever recorded on Wall Street. Approximately fourteen billion dollars went up in smoke that Tuesday with 30 billion dollars vanishing by the end of the week. People were so devastated that they were taking their own precious lives. National news had reported people boldly jumping in desperation out of windows after the crash in New York City. In addition to the stock market crash, U.S. citizens had no insurance in their banks.
As banks began to fail, people were losing all of their life savings. In turn, the amount of spending diminished completely.As a massive panic struck the United States, unemployment became the leading consequence of the Great Depression. Between the years of 1929 and 1932 many American employers struggled to distribute paychecks to their employees which caused many employees to have to leave their jobs. The employees who decided to stay with their employers would receive an uncertain portion of their wages if any wages at all.
Towards the end of 1929, the crash of the stock market caused many banks and factories to close with no money guarantees to anyone. The feeling of depression came when people began wandering the streets with absolutely no hope of work. “By 1933, when the Great Depression reached its lowest point, some 15 million Americans were unemployed and nearly half the country’s banks had failed.” By this time, many banks had closed for good. While unemployment spread, poverty became a direct result. This caused many American citizens to scramble for food, water, clothing, and shelter. With little welfare and relief systems, it grew to be difficult for families not to give up. In addition to society’s feeling of helplessness, soup kitchens and bread lines were slowly decaying which continued to reassure people that there would be no hope.
Crime rose as people became desperate for food, clothing, and shelter. Husbands were forced to walk away from their wives and children leaving them with no financial support. Some farmers had a small advantage; they were fortunate enough to have food. They would try and exchange their home grown food, for someone who could work to keep the farm up and running through the unbearable times. However, some farmers struggled to afford the harvesting of their crops.
While citizens were starving all around them, many farmers were forced to walk away as their produce sat and rotted in their plowed fields. Farmers also had to dessert their farms due to major droughts and dust storms. “Massive dust storms choked towns, killing crops and livestock, sickening people and causing untold millions in damage.” The families who were forced to leave their homes ended up surviving in “shanty towns”.
By default, these shanty towns were also called “Hoovervilles”. Those individuals eating from the soup kitchens would be eating what became known as”hoover stew”. When the United States was at a all time low, hope of restoring the economy came in a presidential election.
The greatest number of black population than ever before even voted democratic during this election. Presidential Democrat, Franklin D. Roosevelt took matters into his own hands and proposed a “four-day ‘bank holiday'” in attempt to rebuild society’s confidence in U.S. banking.
He stated his famous words, “The only thing to fear is fear itself.” He also began addressing the country’s people via radio in order to regain everyone’s confidence. Roosevelt worked to provide relief programs that rebuilt the U.S. financial system.
He formed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that exists today. The Federal Deposit Insurance Commission rebuilt confidence in banking specifically for deposit protection, and the Securities and Exchange Commission rebuilt security in the stock market. In 1935, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) gave 8.5 million people long term jobs. Other programs that regained strength in the economy included the New Deal and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).
It appears evident that the Great Depression was an event in U.S. history that changed and molded many lives. Many lives were lost along the way, and many people lived to tell their brave and grueling stories. Many of these stories and memories are shared around the family dinner table today. Stories that express great sadness, helplessness, and anguish. Stories that share the importance of preserving and being grateful for what they have.
It seems difficult to fathom the inability to find work and to provide for your family. My own Great Grandmother Mary Jane told of stories where her mother would feed the bums, as she referred to them, that stopped at the railroad tracks near her home even when she barely had enough food to feed to her many children. Her heart was too big not to feed them. They primarily lived off of their chickens they kept in their front yard. All of these things were directly related to the unemployment and, in turn, the poverty that regular U.
S. citizens experienced during that historical time period. These two consequences have forever changed our society.