THE GREAT CRASH ENDS the GOLDEN TWENTIESWhen Hoover became president there were not any obvious indications that the boomingeconomy was in trouble. Few people sensed that overproduction and over extension ofcredit would bring the “economic house of cards” crashing down. Only a few brave soulswere bold enough to sound warnings and these were drowned out by the mad clatter ofthe ticker-tape machine.
The catastrophic crash came in October 1929. The floor of the NYSE following the collapse
The crash was partially triggered by the British and other foreign investors. Tensionbuilt up to the panicky “Black Tuesday” of October 29, 1929. Losses, even in blue-chipsecurities, were unbelievable – by the end of 1929, stockholders had lost $40 billion inpaper values, more than the total cost of WWI to the U.S.
The stock market collapse heralded a business depression, at home and abroad, that wasthe most prolonged and prostrating in American world experience. The chaotic scene outside the NYSE following the crash
By the end of 1930, more than 4 million workers in the U.S. were jobless; two years later the figurehad about triples. Hungry and despairing workers searched for nonexistent jobs. Where employeeswere not discharged, wages & salaries were often slashed. No socioeconomic group was immune fromthe disaster.
The misery and gloom were incalculable, as factories closed, banks collapsed, and farmerslost their farms. Life savings were lost, homes were lost, bread lines formed and soupkitchens dispensed food.
Families felt the stress, as jobless fathers nursed their guilt and shame at not being ableto provide for their households. Unemployed workers desperate for jobs at a city job bureau
Breadless breadwinners often blamed themselves for their plight, despite evidence thatthe economic system, not individual initiative, had broken down. The economic crisisdramatically reduced the fertility rate in the country.
HOOKED on the HORN of PLENTY What caused the Great Depression? Consider both domestic and international factors.
By 1930 the depression had become a national calamity. Through no fault of their own, ahost of industrious citizens had lost everything. Initiative and and self-respect werestifled, as panhandler begged. In extreme cases individuals slept under “Hoover blankets”and lived in tin-and-paper shantytowns cynically named “Hoovervilles.”
The very foundations of America’s social and political structure trembled.