Depression DBQ Essay

Submitted By KaylaAshaye
Words: 1285
Pages: 6

America’s society had an extreme change for the worst during the 1920s. After World War One, Americans began to practice nativism. Nativism is the policy of protecting the interests of Native- born or established inhabitants against those of immigrants. America also began to establish fear for immigrants or xenophobia. They began to feel this way when America turned to domestic isolation and social conservatism due to the “Red Scare”. Many Americans were scared of the communists because the Bolshevik Revolution where communists had overthrown the royal family in Russia in 1917. The nineteen twenties also brought about change in women. Women began feel liberation due to more opportunities in the work force and due to the reemergence of birth control. Due to prohibition getting passed into law, people were making and selling alcohol illegally. There were underground bars called speakeasies. The young women were referred to as flappers, and they used to go to the speakeasies as means of entertainment. The industry was booming, factories produced goods such as cars and radios at rates not seen before, and it was said that between 1919 and 1929, the productivity rate of a single worker had increased more than 30 percent. America’s economy was very top-heavy during the 1920s, however, with the top 1 percent of the population owning approximately 40 percent of the nation’s wealth. Many of America’s millionaires owned their wealth in various degrees to the stock market frenzy. Stock prices began to decline in September and early October 1929, and on October 18 the fall began. Panic set in, and on October 24, a record 12,894,650 shares were traded. Investment companies and leading bankers attempted to stabilize the market by buying up great blocks of stock, producing a moderate rally on Friday. On Monday, however, the storm broke anew, and the market went into free fall. Black Monday was followed by Black Tuesday, in which stock prices collapsed completely. Overall, prices continued to drop as the United States slumped into the Great Depression. By 1932, stocks were worth only about 20 percent of their value in the summer of 1929. The stock market crash of 1929 was not the sole cause of the Great Depression, but it did act to accelerate the global economic collapse of which it was also a symptom. By 1933, nearly half of America’s banks had failed, and unemployment was approaching 15 million people, or 30 percent of the workforce. The Great Depression was mainly caused by overproduction by farmers, availability of easy credit, and unequal distribution of income. During the First World War, US farmers had made record profits. They had been able to supply Britain and France with food and on a regular basis. Britain helped on imports of foreign food to feed its population and when the Germans began to sink merchant ships in 1917, food supplies became even more important, but farming didn’t do well in the 1920s. US agriculture had expanded during the First World War to sell food to Europe, but afterwards, countries returned to growing their own grain. This led to farmers to over-produce and it was too much food on the market. Farmers found it more and more difficult to sell their produce. Despite agricultural overproduction and successive attempts in Congress to provide relief, the agricultural economy of the 1920s experienced an ongoing depression. Large surpluses were accompanied by falling prices at a time when American farmers were burdened by heavy debt. Between 1920 and 1932, one in four farms was sold to meet financial obligations and many farmers migrated to urban areas. With 1/5 of the American population making their living on the land, rural poverty was widespread. So, not all farmers were able to participate fully in the emergent consumer economy in America. Apart from white farmers, African-American and immigrants found this decade rough. Therefore, farmers had to over produce in order to make some form of profit, which