The Great Depression (1929-1939)
Although the United States had experienced several depressions before the stock market crash on October 27, 1929, none had been as severe nor as long lasting before "Black Thursday" struck Wall Street. At first, economists and leaders thought this was a mild bump, perhaps merely a correction of the market, or in any case, no worse than the recession the nation suffered after WW1.
Numbers soon proved the optimists incorrect. The depression steadily worsened. By spring of 1933, when FDR took the oath of office, unemployment had risen from 8 to 15 million (roughly 1/3 of the non-farmer workforce) and the gross national product had decreased from $103.8 billion to $55.7 billion. Forty percent of the farms in Mississippi were on the auction block on FDR's inauguration day. Although the depression was world wide, no other country except Germany reached so high a percentage of unemployed. The poor were hit the hardest. By 1932, Harlem had an unemployment rate of 50 percent and property owned or managed by blacks fell from 30 percent to 5 percent in 1935. Farmers in the Midwest were doubly hit by economic downturns and the Dust Bowl. Schools, with budgets shrinking, shortened both the school day and the school year.
The breadth and depth of the crisis made it the Great Depression.
No one knew…