The Great Depression, which was a tragic worldwide occurrence, began in 1929 when the stock market crashed and lasted a decade until 1939. The panic that was caused by this is what lead to the beginning of bank runs, large amounts of people withdrawing their funds from banks, which could cause more harm. The Great Depression has left a lasting impression on the way the economy, government, and society function as a whole.
The Great Depression was caused partially by the stock market crash on October 29, 1929, also known as Black Tuesday. The value of stocks drastically decreased by 82%, the causes being unrestrained speculation, buying stocks with credit, and a supply and demand spiral which caused businesses to begin to slow production and fire workers. President Hoover tried to increase spending and taxes on imported goods so there could be more money put back into the system but it didn’t work out as planned. Roosevelt became president in 1933, held office for 4 terms and introduced the New Deals and the economy began to recover bringing the country out of the depression.
The image portrays a bank run at the American Union Bank during the great depression, people can be seen crowding the entrance and sidewalk trying to make their way into the bank. Bank runs began in 1930 because people began to lose trust in the banking system and were worried about the safety of their money. The fear caused bank runs ended when Roosevelt became president and declared the national bank holiday which closed banks when they opened people were more trusting of the system and put their money back into the bank. At this point, there were many people living in such poverty that they could not afford most things they needed not to mention the racial tensions that would be happening.
The Great Depression began while Hoover was president and he did try to help the US out of the depression but his methods did not work out. Hoover thought that the government and businesses should create “voluntary partnerships”(Hewitt 720). During this time the government wanted to increase spending and help companies by giving money to those that were about to go bankrupt. The Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930 was supposed to help the sale of domestic products because it increased tariffs on imported goods persuading people to buy American products due to them being cheaper. This backfired when other countries lifted their import duties which decreased the demand for American products. Roosevelt was elected in 1932 with the with no clear policy only the mention of a “new deal”. He had two new deals the purpose of these were to provide relief, allow recovery and reform to prevent something like from happening again but it does not end the depression.
Even though the Great Depression was a devastating time there was plenty learned from it and has helped our society develop into what it is today. Many of the programs put in place during Roosevelt presidency, which were supposed to be short term, are still in place today like Social Security, Securities and Exchange Commission, and National Labor Relations Board. The end of the depression didn’t happen until the end of World War II and it was most definitely a long road to get there.
- Hewitt, Nancy A., and Steven F. Lawson. Exploring American Histories: A survey with Sources. vo.l 2. 2018.
- Wharton, Don. Reader in American History. vol. 2., 2018, pp. 135-142.
- History.com Editors. “Great Depression History”. History. A&E Television Networks. 29 October 2009.https://www.history.com/topics/great-depression/great-depression-history
- History.com Editors. “Bank Run”. History. A&E Television Networks. 23 April 2010. https://www.history.com/topics/great-depression/bank-run