There are many points in American history that have a great effect on America as a whole. But there are also some major turning points, these moments in history leave a large impact on the course of America. A major turning point in America is the Great Depression. The Great Depression made America realize it needs a balance in government involvement in the people and business.
The beginning of the depression. The Great Depression started as a normal recession, but the increase in the price of stocks far above their actual values and the growing amount of unsold goods had reached levels that could not be justified by future earnings (History.com Staff). But the spark that set off the Great Depression was the stock market crash. Which was caused by investors lost confidence which lead to them to start selling. This event was described by Christina Romer and Richard Pells on Britannica.com.
Panic selling began on “Black Thursday,” October 24, 1929. Many stocks had been purchased on margin—that is, using loans secured by only a small fraction of the stocks’ value. As a result, the price declines forced some investors to liquidate their holdings, thus exacerbating the fall in prices. (Romer, Pells)
Because of the crash many banks that had been investing the people money because it was a way to hold money without having to house much physical currency and generate interest for the banks, so when the stock market crashed all the money for the people was gone (American Odyssey: A History of the United States 675).
There were many events that did not cause the depression but did have effects on it. One such event was Congress passing the Smoot-Hawley Tariff which was to raise the tax on imported goods which was supposed to protect American jobs and business from foreign competition, but in turn only made things worse for in retaliation other countries passed their own tariffs this caused almost a complete halt of international trade. From 1935-1940 an event known as the dustbowl occurred. during this time the depression left people to poor to buy crops. The oversupply of wheat caused its price to fall leaving farmers unable to pay the cost of producing their crop (American Odyssey: A History of the United States 680). But the worst part of the dust bowl was the problems with the land.
Moreover, in the course of converting the land to wheat and cotton production, farmers had ripped off the protective tall grasses and thin topsoil of the Great Plains. With the onset of a drought that continued through most of the 1930s, the land became a desert. Constant winds whipped the dry earth into blinding storms of dust. (American Odyssey: A History of the United States 680)
Because of the dustbowl many people moved from the great plains area and headed for California looking for work. California could not handle the massive influx of poor people so in 1933 California passed the indigent act which made it illegal to bring a needy nonresident of California, when people started to get arrested for bringing family members to California the law was challenged and ended up going to supreme court where in 1941 the court found the indigent act unconstitutional.
The Great Depression took a toll on many aspects of life. Many people lost their homes and jobs which led to them not being able to buy products from stores which led to the stores unable to make the money they need to stay afloat. People lived in shanty towns called Hoovervilles. There was also the effect it had on the working men of that time as pointed out in the school textbook American Odyssey: A History of the United States where it has a quote from a working man of that time “Before the Depression, I wore the pants in this family, and rightly so. During the Depression, I lost something. Maybe you call it self-respect, but in losing it I also lost the respect of my children, and I am afraid that I am losing my wife” (American Odyssey: A History of the United States 680). The Great Depression caused the American people to lose faith in President Hoover mainly for his views of what the government should do.
Hoover, a Republican who had formerly served as U.S. secretary of commerce, believed that government should not directly intervene in the economy and that it did not have the responsibility to create jobs or provide economic relief for its citizens. (History.com Staff)
These views of Hoover meant he could not do much for the American people and that lead to them resenting President Hoover. During the Great Depression one event was the straw on the camels back there were marches done by the bonus army which was made up of WW I veterans that wanted the bonus they were promised during the war. President Hoover responded by sending in the military to get rid of them that event turn what good views people had left of him.
But out of all the bad of the Great Depression came a lot of good. One good lasting effect is Roosevelt’s three R’s (the New Deal) which where Relief, Recovery, and Reform while Relief and Recovery focused on fixing the big problems then, Reform focused on making sure to avoid depressions in the future. The Great Depression had a great effect on societal norms. “The experience of the dramatic years during the Great Depression had a large impact on people and, ultimately, helped forge the social beliefs and attitudes that sustained a political system for many years” (Spilimbergo, Giuliano). The great changed the roles of government and allowed new things to come to pass. “the Great Depression gave the state a new role in stabilising the economy, created a new political alliance that dominated the US for several decades, and prompted the Keynesian revolution and the birth of macroeconomics” (Spilimbergo, Giuliano)
The Great Depression was indeed a major turning point in American history. The Great Depression started with the stock market crashing, in turn, causing many banks to fail and people losing lots of money. The government tried to help with a tariff and ended up making thing worse by angering other countries that in response made their own tariffs which led to an almost complete halt of international trade. During all this people were losing their homes, jobs, and their families leading to them having to live in shanty towns called Hoovervilles, and all these problems led people to lose faith and hate President Hoover. The Great Depression caused the new deal to happen which changed the role of the government in relation to people and business.
History.com Staff. “Great Depression.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009.
Romer, Christina D, and Richard H Pells. “Great Depression.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 28 Feb. 2018.
Spilimbergo, Antonio, and Paola Giuliano. “The Long-Lasting Socio-Political Effects of the Economic Crisis.” The Industrial Revolution as an Energy Revolution | VOX, CEPR’s Policy Portal, 25 Sept. 2009, voxeu.org/article/long-lasting-socio-political-effects-economic-crisis.
Keller, Morton, et al., editors. “Chapter 30: The Great Depression Begins 1929–1932.” The American Odyssey: A History of the United States, K12, pp. 670–685.
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