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Research Paper on The Great Depression

The Great Depression

The Great Depression is probably one of the most misunderstood events in American history. It is routinely cited, as proof that unregulated capitalism is not the best in the world, and that only a massive welfare state, huge amounts of economic regulation, and other interventions can save capitalism from itself. The Great Depression had important consequences and was a devastating event in America, however many good policies and programs became available as a result of the great depression, some of which exist even today.

When the stock market crashed in October 1929, the nation plummeted into a major depression. An economic catastrophe of major proportions had been building for years. The worldwide demand for agricultural goods during World War I vanished after the war and rural America experienced a severe depression throughout most of the 1920s. This lead to banks foreclosing farm mortgages and by the early 1930s thousands upon thousands of American farmers were out of business. The U.S. economy was superficial and shallow. Major businesses increased profits through most of the decade while wages remained low and workers were unable to buy the goods they had helped to produce. The financial and banking systems were very unregulated and a number of banks had failed during the 1920s. The construction and automotive industries, whose booming business had been made possible by the prosperity earlier in the decade, slowed. Declining sales resulted in higher rates of unemployment.

America was witnessing a breakdown of the Democratic and free enterprise system as the US fell into the worst depression in history. The economic depression that beset the United States and other countries was unique in its severity and its consequences. At the depth of the depression, in 1933-1935, one American worker in every four was out of a job. It was a time when federal and state officials were still developing work programs for the unemployed. This great industrial slump continued throughout the 1930's, shaking the foundations of Western capitalism.

When the Depression began, there was no federal relief for the unemployed or assistance for families facing starvation. Some states operated relief programs but curtailed them due to declining tax revenues. Religious and charitable organizations provided relief in many urban areas; however, in many of these organizations operating in the North as well as the South, there was a lot of discrimination and racism, which excluded African Americans from their...

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Length:   5 pages (1,144 words)

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