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  1. THE GREAT DEPRESSION 1929-1939 The Coming of the Great Depression

  2. Great Depression • Worst, economic collapse in U.S. History • 1929-1939 • Included • Stock Market Crash • Rapid declines in production and sale of goods • Sudden, severe rise in unemployment (25%) • Business and bank closings • Loss of homes and savings • Hunger and personal depression

  3. THE GREAT DEPRESSION 1929-1939 The Great Crash

  4. The Great Crash • THE GREAT BULL MARKET • 1927 -1929 stock prices doubled in value while business relatively static • caused by the easy credit polices of brokerage firms • September 1929 stock prices began to fall • October 23 & 24 – beginning of the crash • recovered with the help of big investment bankers • October 29 “Black Tuesday” = the crash

  5. Shares of stock • Certificates of ownership in a corporation • Traded (bought, sold) on stock market • Buy low , sell high = quick profit • Rampant stock speculation during the 1920s

  6. Dow Jones Industrial Average • Average of the value of stocks of 30 large, primarily industrial companies in the U.S. • Most important stock performance indicator

  7. Speculation • A financial transaction that involves risk but is potentially profitable • 1920s stock market speculation widespread • Buying stocks for quick profit , ignoring risks • Belief that anyone could profit led to less affluent Americans to speculate

  8. Buying on margin • Risky practice of buying stock on credit • Investors paid a small part of stock price and borrowed the rest • Hoped to sell the stock at high price to repay the loan and make a profit • Helped fuel bull market and stock speculation of 1920s

  9. Black Tuesday • October 29 – beginning of the stock market crash • Investors rushed to sell stock , avoid loss • Average drop that day – 10% value • Many stocks became virtually worthless • Within a month , stocks lose half value and continued to decline for several years

  10. THE GREAT DEPRESSION 1929-1939 Causes of the Depression

  11. Causes of the Great Depression 1.Lack of diversification in U.S. economy in the 1920s • Prosperity dependent on a few basic industries 2.Uneven distribution of wealth during the 1920s • Too few Americans were able to purchase goods produced by American Industries 3.Credit structure of the economy • Some of the major banks did not have enough reserves to withstand an economic downturn 4.America’s position in international trade • American industries & banks involved in the European economy • Collapse of international credit structure hurt by US policy of loaning less money to foreign countries

  12. THE GREAT DEPRESSION 1929-1939 Progress of the Depression

  13. PROGRESS OF THE DEPRESSION • The closing of over 9,000 American banks between 1930 and 1933 resulted in a decrease in the money supply • At first national leaders talked as if nothing wrong “Prosperity just around the corner”

  14. THE GREAT DEPRESSION 1929-1939 The American People in Hard Times

  15. THE GREAT DEPRESSION 1929-1939 Unemployment and Relief

  16. UNEMPLOYMENT AND RELIEF • the unemployment rate in 1932 peaked at 25 percent • industrial Northeast and Midwest experienced the collapse of city and state relief systems • 1929 – 1932 : Dust Bowl • high temperatures • decline in rainfall • decline in farm prices • overproduction in agriculture

  17. THE GREAT DEPRESSION 1929-1939 African Americans and the Depression

  18. AFRICAN AMERICANS • Suffered hardship because • unemployed whites want positions formerly held by blacks • the sharecropping system unprofitable • blacks not receiving fair share of relief benefits • Scottsboro Case • eight young blacks sentenced to death • an organization associated with the Communist party came to the aid of the youths • never acquitted by southern juries • all of the youths eventually gained their freedom • Equal rights advanced when many blacks allowed to join labor unions

  19. THE GREAT DEPRESSION 1929-1939 Hispanics and Asians in Depression America

  20. HISPANICS • Experienced hardships similar to blacks • Received less relief than whites • Suffered social discrimination • Being last hired & first fired • But … HISPANICS encountered the additional problem of having little access to public school and hospitals

  21. THE GREAT DEPRESSION 1929-1939 Women and Families in the Great Depression

  22. WOMEN AND FAMILIES • 25 percent more women were working • By the end of the 1930’s, the American feminist movement had reached its lowest point in nearly a century • the Great Depression caused a decade-long decline in the birthrate

  23. THE GREAT DEPRESSION 1929-1939 The Depression and Values

  24. THE DEPRESSION & VALUES • Social values seemed to change relatively little • sociological study of Muncie, Indiana, found Americans still committed to the traditional value of individualism • blamed themselves for their economic difficulties • But traditional “success ethic” undermined in some ways indicated by the fact that many Americans : • accused corporate moguls and international bankers of causing much of the distress • looked to the government for assistance in a situation that was basically society’s problem • Dale Carnegie’s 1936 bestseller, How to Win Friends and Influence People • adaptability to one’s environment and making others feel important are the more effective routes to success

  25. THE GREAT DEPRESSION 1929-1939 The Depression and the Arts

  26. THE DEPRESSION & THE ARTS • Writers and photographers portrayed the distress • primary group addressed = southern tenant farmers and sharecroppers • Employed by Farm Security Administration in late 30s • Documentary photographers traveled through the South recording what they say • Dorothea Lange - Migrant Mother

  27. Photo by Dorothea Lange (1936) MIGRANT MOTHER

  28. THE DEPRESSION & THE ARTS • Literature that addressed the social problems and political solutions • John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath • John Dos Passos’s U.S.A. trilogy • Clifford Odet’s Waiting for Lefty • Radio shows, movies, and literature reflected America’s desire to escape • Best selling novel = Harvey Allen’s Anthony Adverse

  29. Culture of the 1930s • Movies & radio offered escape from hard realities of the Depression • About wealth , good times, adventure, romance , justice • Films : The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind • Radio Broadcasts : Lone Ranger , soap operas • Paintings, Music, literature most often somber, serious, expressed hardships

  30. Woody Guthrie

  31. THE GREAT DEPRESSION 1929-1939 The Allure of the Left

  32. THE ALLURE OF THE LEFT • The American Communist party of the 1930’s was: • active in • the formation of the Lincoln Brigade • Volunteer Americans to fight fascists in Spain • an alliance of anti-fascist groups = “the Popular Front” • the Washington, D.C. , hunger march of 1931 • supervised by the Soviet Union (Comintern) • obeyed Stalin’s policy orders in 1939 to abandon “the Popular Front” = criticize American liberals • Norman Thomas • Leader of the Socialist party of America

  33. THE GREAT DEPRESSION 1929-1939 The Ordeal of Herbert Hoover

  34. THE GREAT DEPRESSION 1929-1939 The Hoover Program

  35. Herbert Hoover’s early response to the Depression • persuade businessmen not to cut production or lay off workers • ask Congress for an increase in spending on public works programs • create a federal program to help farmers raise agricultural prices • Raise agricultural tariffs

  36. HOOVER DAM • A federally financed public works project supported by Hoover • Voted for by Congress under Coolidge • Begun in 1930 under Hoover • Completed in 1936 under FDR

  37. MUSCLE SHOALS BILL • Vetoed by Hoover as “socialistic” • Public works project to dam the Tennessee River creating a government electricity service • Later passed under FDR as part of the controversial TVA

  38. The Agricultural Marketing Act of 1929 • Attempted to improve conditions for farmers • failed because relied on voluntary cooperation rather than federal control • Created the Federal Farm Board • lent money to farmers primarily to organize producers’ cooperatives

  39. Hawley –Smoot Tariff of 1930 • Extremely high protective tariff • Intended to aid U.S. farmers and manufacturers from foreign competition • Had opposite effect • Many countries retaliated by raising tariffs • Made unemployment worse • Caused the world wide depression to deepen • Reduced world trade = world wide depression

  40. THE GREAT DEPRESSION 1929-1939 A Deepening Crisis

  41. 1930 and 1931 • the Republicans lost heavily in the 1930 elections • the banking structure in Europe collapsed • 1931 collapse of the largest bank (Austria) • European nations reacted by withdrawing their gold from American banks • many Americans holding Hoover personally responsible for the crisis

  42. Hoovervilles • Nickname for shanty towns of homeless • Term critical of Hoover • Exemplified • Suffering of the Great Depression • Public frustration w/ Hoover’s inability to solve the problems and suffering of the Depression

  43. Hoover’s Responses (1931) • To international finance crisis • suspended war debts, reparations, and international private debts • To domestic crisis • Asked Congress to increase funding for financial institutions in order to prevent mortgage foreclosures

  44. Reconstruction Finance Corporation (1932) • provided federal loans to • troubled banks, railroads and other big businesses • local governments for public works projects • RFC : first of the “alphabetical agencies” set up under Hoover’s administration • not effective enough • limited funds • tight restrictions on use of funds

  45. HOOVER’S APPROACH • adopted unprecedented federal initiatives to combat the depression • lend funds to feed farm livestock • directly assisting businesses and banks • faith in the efficiency of the industrial system • continuing to rely on the American tradition of rugged individualism • AGAINST providing direct aid to the people • Too little , too late • Hoover’s reluctance to spend large amounts of federal funds

  46. “Rugged Individualism” • Political philosophy of Hoover • Belief that • People succeed by own efforts, not dependent on government • Welfare weakens self respect, moral fiber, work ethic • Accounts for Hoover’s cautiousness • Frustrated suffering Americans


  48. THE GREAT DEPRESSION 1929-1939 Popular Protest

  49. 1932 FARMERS PROTEST • lobbied Congress for a guaranteed return on their crops • organizing a strike in an effort to keep their crops from market • staging public protests in the nation’s capital

  50. 1932 BONUS ARMY PROTEST • The Bonus Expeditionary Force • Group of 20,000 WWI veterans • march into Washington, D.C. • Wanted early payment of bonuses due to World War I veterans • Built tent camps in city and around the White House