The Wall Street Crash and Depression
In 1928 the new Republican president Herbert Hoover confidently stated, 'We in America today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of any land.' Within a year, all the confidence had ended and America was plunged into the Depression.
When the Wall Street stock market crashed in October 1929, the world economy was plunged into the Great Depression. By the winter of 1932, America was in the depths of the greatest economic depression [Economic depression: The slowing of economic activity, which usually results in high unemployment, a sharp drop in prices and a fall in production. ] in its history.
The number of unemployed people reached upwards of 13 million. Many people lived in primitive conditions close to famine. One New York family moved into a cave in Central Park. In St Louis, more than 1,000 people lived in shacks made from scrap metal and boxes. There were many similar Hoovervilles all over America. Between 1 and 2 million people travelled the country desperately looking for work. Signs saying 'No Men Wanted' were displayed all over the country.
By the time of the election in November 1932, Hoover's popularity had reached rock bottom. It was not even safe for him to go onto the streets to campaign. After his heavy defeat, Hoover told his friends,
"we are at the end of our string... there is nothing more we can do". The American economy did not fully recover until the USA entered the Second World War in December 1941.
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