The Great Depression was the deepest and longest-lasting economic downturn in the history of the world. After the stock market crash of 1929, the American economy plummeted. This was devastating for many families. Thousands of people were out of their jobs, and left to starve on the streets. Many were forced to simplify their wardrobes, problems in the education systems arose, and the banking system was destroyed. People turned to the government to help them out of their problems. Hoover and FDR worked to pass relief acts that would boost the American economy.
Even though the Depression began with the stock market crash in 1929, schools were not affected until 1932. Thousands of people were fired from their jobs or had lower incomes so they could not afford to send their children to school. Therefore, many schools around the US were forced to shut down. “Retrenchment became the buzzword for budget cutbacks, resulting in reductions in the hours schools operated, increased class sizes, and decreases in teachers’ salaries” (“Education 1929-1941” 186). Children were greatly affected during the Depression, even though they didn’t quite understand what was happening.
They knew if their parents were out of jobs and that money was scarce but that was about it. Many children had to leave school and work full time to support their family. “Industrial high schools taught practical skills such as car repair, bricklaying, carpentering, and sewing. Yet the training black youth received generally provided no advantage, as the Depression caused the elimination of jobs in industry” (“Education 1929-1941” 187). Many rural blacks moved in to the cities due to the worsening economic conditions in the early 1930’s.
City school boards started to establish industrial programs that would hopefully prevent unemployed black teens from getting in to trouble. As a result of the Depression people wanted someone to blame for all the problems that were falling upon them. They turned on one another which made their problems worsen. Many blame the banking system for the cause of the depression even though there were several factors that led to the stock market crash of 1929. Instead people should have worked together to face their problems. “As banks began closing with the worst years between 1930 and 1933, children lost their entire savings.
Teachers, disillusioned at the lessons children learned, sometimes made up for the losses from their own meager salaries. Nothing, however, could compensate for the loss of confidence in banks and the dismay at losing savings at such a young age” (“Education 1929-1941″ (“Education 1929-1941” 186). The loss of confidence in banks was related to the chain of bank failures that took place in the period between 1930 and 1933. The impact on the use of bank money was amplified because bank suspensions were accompanied by restrictions on cash withdrawals imposed by the banks or federal authorities.
Because of these bank failures, many people were fired from their jobs because their employers had no money to pay them with. “The nation’s economic downward spiral was further exacerbated by an overall loss of confidence in the economy with the inevitable reduced spending and a demand for products. Between twelve to fifteen million workers, approximately 25 to 35 percent of the workforce, were unemployed” (“Franklin D. Roosevelt creates social security: August 14, 1935″ 1). When the unemployment rates heightened, the United States manufacturing had a had a huge downfall.
Even though people needed products, they couldn’t afford them, so factory activity was greatly reduced. Many businesses and factories were shut down because people could not afford to buy their products. As a result, the nation became stuck. After the stock market crash of 1929, families turned to the men to find work and provide a source of income so that no one went hungry. Since many people were out of work, it became difficult to afford food to survive. “With many men now out of work, it often became difficult for families to support themselves. Parents struggled to cut corners to make ends meet.
Men, women, and at times even children, took on what jobs they could find and used all the means available to them to stretch their recourses to their limits” (“Food 1929-1941” 21). In the early 1930’s there was little money for food, let alone anything new, but people started finding ways to cope. People started growing vegetables and fruits in their backyards out of necessity. Homeowners also did their own repairs and found ingenious ways to make their home functional and eye appealing. “An unemployed factory worker and father during the Depression may have stayed away from home at mealtime so as not to eat the food his children needed.
Many men felt they were responsible for providing for their families, and some may even have felt that they were to blame for the problems that had befallen them” (“F00d 1929-1941” 21). Men felt that they were responsible for their wife and children so they would go to breadlines. Breadlines were basically non-profit soup kitchens that would feed the hungry. Many families turned to cheap processed foods during the Depression because they were searching for food that would keep them satisfied while not breaking the bank. People knew that they had to use what little money they had on only the necessary things they needed to survive.
Instead of spending their money on new jewelry or a fresh pair of rubber shoes, they chose to spend their money on food. “Rather than buying different jewelry to adorn each different outfit, women instead favored simple styles or wore meaningful pieces to which they could add decoration, such as charm bracelets” (“Body Decorations 1930-1945” 817). The most important characteristic of life during the Great Depression was the widening gap between “haves” and “have nots”. Families stretched every dollar they had by using their money wisely and iving on the absolute bare minimum.
“The types of shoes worn by men and women during the 1930’s were greatly determined by the effects of the Great Depression (1929-1939) on their lives. Those impoverished by the Depression wore old styles, sometimes with holes in the soles of the shoe” (“Footwear, 1930-45” 823). Due to the severe drop in people’s income, people were not able to afford new clothing. They were forced to wear shoes that could barely suit them for work. People during the early 1930’s were forced to ration materials needed for shoes, such as leather and rubber.
The people of the Depression gained a new outlook on life and many survivors still hold those same ideas today. They deny the self-indulgence and have gratification for everything that they ae blessed with. The presidential election was a very important time in United States history because whoever was elected was going to have the responsibility of boosting the American economy. The election was between Herbert Hoover, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt won by a landslide because his relief proposals were more appealing to the public rather than Hoover’s. The 1932 presidential election was mainly decided by the economic state of the country. Many unemployed and financially ruined Americans blamed Hoover for the collapse of the stock market, banking, and industry. FDR, a democrat, was elected in 1932 in a landslide election. Roosevelt promised Americans a New Deal with job creation, aid, and public works” (“The stock market crashes: October 29, 1929” 1).
In the 1932 election, between Hoover and Roosevelt, the public became more attracted to Roosevelt because he proposed policies of relief that would help the United States out of its economic slump. Although Hoover’s early interventions to improve conditions were minimal, he did provide relief funds to the states in 1932 with the Emergency Relief and Reconstruction Act. Most other republicans shared Hoover’s view that aid was largely unnecessary and undeserved” (“The stock market crashes: October 29, 1929” 3). Many people blamed Hoover for the Depression because he did little to help the economy. Hoover thought that aid was not needed so he did not want the government to intervene.
The United States was able to start recovering from the Depression when the government took responsibility. With all of FDR’s relief acts passed such as the CCC, WPA, or the Emergency Relief act, the US economy slowly started improving. Even though the Depression was a long time of sadness in America, the stock market crash of 1929 did teach people a very important lesson: to always appreciate what you have and to cherish everything you are granted with. The Depression was a very important time in US history and the American people became stronger because of it.