The Great Depression and a Changing America

The Great Depression was the longest and worst period of high unemployment and low business activity. It began in October 1929 when thousands of stockholders lost large sums of money. Banks, factories, and stores closed, leaving millions of Americans without a job. The Great Depression affected almost every nation and caused some nations to change their leaders. This led to the rise of the German dictator Adolph Hitler and the Japanese invasion of China.
Many causes contributed to the Great Depression. During the 1920’s, prices of farm products fell about 40 percent. Some farmers lost so much money that they could not pay the mortgage for their farm. About nine thousand banks went out of business because farmers experienced such poor conditions. Industrial production increased about 50 percent, but the wages of the workers in coal, railroad, and textile industries rose much slower. As a result, these workers could not buy goods as fast as the industries produced them, which led to the decrease of money circulation, which made business even worse. From 1925-1929, stock values rose rapidly, which encouraged people to buy stocks in hope of making large profits. But on October 29th the stock prices fell rapidly. Thousands of people, as well as banks and businesses, lost huge sums of money. After the Great Crash came to the Great Depression, which lasted for ten years. In 1933, Gross National Product (total production of the economy) was nearly a third less than in 1929.
Many died of disease from the lack of food during the Depression. Thousands lost their homes because they could not pay mortgages. Hundreds of thousands of people wandered through the country seeking food, clothing, shelter, and a job. Farm families were wiped out because of severe droughts and dust storms. A fire in the state of Washington that lasted all summer and fall was caused by unemployed timber workers and bankrupt farmers in an attempt to earn a few dollars…


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