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Causes of the Great Depression

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1 Causes of the Great Depression
Chapter 17, Section 1

2 Prosperity Hides Troubles
Throughout the 1920s, the U.S. had experienced economic prosperity with two Republican presidents. When likeable Herbert Hoover was chosen as the Republican candidate in 1928, he promised “…a chicken in every pot, a car in every garage.” Hoover had held numerous gov. positions previously and excelled in them.

3 Prosperity Hides Troubles
Underneath the prosperity, though lurked several problems that compounded throughout the decade. Farmers had increased production, bought more land, and purchased machinery on credit during WWI. However, production did not immediately decrease after the war. Farmers were unable to sell their abundant crops, pushing them further into debt.

4 Prosperity Hides Troubles
When industrial wages rose steadily, their output increased at a much greater rate; management made more. The rich Americans did not make up for the lack of purchasing power of the lower-wage Americans. Buying on credit compounded with each year. More and more Americans bought what they could not afford.

5 Prosperity Hides Troubles
These problems boiled over on October 29th, 1929 when the stock market crashed. It became known as Black Tuesday. However, this was part of the business cycle– a series of expansions and recessions in the economy.

6 The Great Depression Begins
The reaction to the stock market crash signaled the start to the Great Depression. Stock market speculation too many people had put money into the stock based on what could happen, and not real information (known as speculation); Banks collapse when people lost money on the stock market, they feared they would lose their money in the banks, so they withdrew it;

7 The Great Depression Begins
The government attempted to protect American products, the gov. passed the Hawley-Smoot Tariff. It raised taxes on imported goods, crippling international trade. European difficulties with reparations and war debt payments worsened when the U.S. could not lend money to European countries.

8 Americans Face Hard Times
Chapter 17, Section 2

9 Misery and Despair Grip American Cities
Massive unemployment as a result of the economic collapse led to widespread homelessness and poverty. This led to the ‘construction’ of American shantytowns, made from cardboard boxes. They were known as Hoovervilles because many saw the blame for the collapse as belonging to the president.

10 Poverty Devastates Rural America
Part of the problem facing farmers was the over-use of the land in the Midwest. Loose soil, compounded by drought and high winds led to the Dust Bowl– an area where dust storms were common. States affected included Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas New Mexico and Colorado.

11 Poverty Devastates Rural America

12 Poverty Devastates Rural America
Many farmers were forced to abandon their farms. Some chose to become tenant farmers, and work for a larger farmland. Others chose to leave the Midwest altogether, mainly for California. These individuals were known as Okies– although not all were from Oklahoma.

13 Few Americans Escape Hard Times
The Great Depression was not only difficult on the American people economically, but emotionally as well. Women had increased anxiety and stress, and often had to go back to work to support their families; Children sometimes ran away from home and many quit school; Minorities were again blamed for the struggles and had to endure racism.

14 Hoover’s Response Fails
Chapter 17, Section 3

15 Cautious Response to Depression Fails
When Americans looked to Hoover to solve the crisis of the Great Depression, he did not immediately jump into action. In the beginning, Hoover adopted a hands-off policy because he felt the economic cycle would correct itself. However, to appease public opinion, Hoover chose a policy of volunteerism in which businesses and industrial leaders agreed to keep wages, prices and employment at current levels. In return, they would be given money by the government.

16 Cautious Response to Depression Fails
But this policy relied too much on voluntary cooperation– something which most businesses were not willing to do. So, Hoover instead turned to a policy of localism, in which state and local governments would provide jobs. But, this did not work because the governments did not have the funds, and Hoover refused to help them. Instead, he believed in “rugged individualism” where people should better themselves through their own efforts.

17 Hoover Adopts More Activist Policies
The American public associated the President’s name with suffering, so eventually Hoover had to get the government involved. He urged Congress to create the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) to provide loans to railroads, big businesses and banks. By doing so, they would employ more workers and production and consumption would increase again. This theory was known as trickle-down economics– the more wealth at the top of society, the more that was available to ‘trickle-down’ to the poor.

18 Americans Protest Hoover’s Failures
Although Hoover was working hard to end the depression, to the everyday American, it was not enough. Some Americans proposed radical change to correct the economy– a rejection of capitalism and instead adopting socialism or communism. They saw capitalism as creating inequalities within American society.

19 Americans Protest Hoover’s Failures
Although most Americans did not favor radical change, most did want SOMETHING to change. One group included WWI veterans who had been promised bonuses paid to them in 1945. Because of the depression, though, they wanted their money in 1931. Congress had passed a bill allowing the early payment, but Hoover vetoed it. They marched on the White House to demand early payment. Hoover ordered Douglas MacArthur to ‘clear out’ the Bonus Army because he feared violence. However, MacArthur took excessive force on the Bonus Army, using sabers and tear-gas. From that point on, Hoover was doomed in the eyes of the public.

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