Wall Street Crash
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 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.
Causes of the Depression
- As early as 1926, there were signs that the boom was under threat - this was seen in the collapse of land prices in Florida.
- Eventually, there were too many goods being made and not enough people to buy them.
- Farmers had produced too much food in the 1920s, so prices for their produce became steadily lower.
- There were too many small banks - these banks did not have enough funds to cope with the sudden rush to take out savings, which happened in the autumn of 1929.
- Too much speculation on the stock market - the middle class had a lot to lose and they had spent a lot on what amounted to pieces of paper.
- The Wall Street Crash of October 1929 was a massive psychological blow.
- America had lent huge sums of money to European countries. When the stock market collapsed, they suddenly recalled those loans. This had a devastating impact on the European economy.
- The collapse of European banks caused a general world financial crisis.
Effects of the Depression
- Unemployment - 13 million people were out of work.
- Industrial production dropped by 45 per cent between 1929 and 1932.
- House-building fell by 80 per cent between 1929 and 1932.
- The entire American banking system reached the brink of collapse.
- From 1929 to 1932, 5,000 banks went out of business.
- Although many people went hungry, the number of recorded deaths from starvation during the Depression was 110, although many other illnesses and deaths were probably related to a lack of nutrition.
The Presidential election campaign of November 1932 took place against the backdrop of the most severe economic depression in American history. While Republican President Herbert Hoover was personally blamed…