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'the Depths Of The Depression' Essay

1314 words - 6 pages

Life during the Great Depression was a living hell. Those individuals hardest hit by the economic uproar were the farmers. The lengths to which the American people were pushed to in order to survive were unnatural and gruesome, even for a third-world country. "In 1931, Cameroon, in West Africa, sends New York a check for $3.77 to help the starving" (Allen 58). The desperation that people in the U.S. experienced while trying to survive during the Great Depression contributed to the loss of innocence of this great nation. The Great Depression was possibly the worst and most traumatizing time in our nation's history, but the lessons learned will not be forgotten.The Great Depression was caused ...view middle of the document...

Men paid a ten-dollar fee for a job that paid $13.50. At least a Bachelor's Degree was needed in many locations in order to obtain such meager jobs as elevator attendant and bellhop (Manchester 33). Once savings ran out families would pawn any valuables that they had left or try to borrow money from friends and family who were better off. When all those resources dries up they would attempt to get charity aid (Unger 726). New York alone had 82 bread lines (Manchester 35). Ultimately, many were evicted from their homes or apartments. That is when thousands of people began riding the rails in search of more work in other parts of the country. City life was altered dramatically in the early nineteen-thirties. In the north the people were freezing and hungry. Those evicted stuffed their clothes with newspapers to keep warm. Until the Great Depression Americans had not experienced economic suffering on such a large scale. People who had worked hard all their lives and had nothing to do with the stock market suddenly lost all of their savings because the banks failed. This caused mortgage defaults, foreclosures, and failed businesses, therefore resulting in even more widespread unemployment.The 1,352 banks that failed in 1930 represented more than $853 million in deposits. In 1931, 2,294 banks went under, with deposits of nearly $1.7 billion. In 1930, 26,355 businesses failed, and the rate of 122 failures per 10, 000 was the highest ever recorded up to that time. Both numbers were surpassed in 1931 with 28,285 failures and a rate of 133. (Watkins 55)The South Sea Company of England experienced a stock-price plunge to 13.5 percent of it's highest price, resulting in the term 'South Sea Bubble', used to describe failing business ventures. However, the South Sea Company pulled itself out of the hole and went on to do eighty years of business (Manchester 33). This was not the case in the 1930's. This was no passing 'South Sea Bubble'. Everything would not be all right. Thankfully, a mass bank failure of these proportions can never happen again because the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC, ensures individual bank accounts. In fact, the FDIC was proven to work in the nineteen-eighties when many savings and loans failed, again for loaning out too much money. This time however, everyone had their money restored by the government and was able to continue life as usual.The lives of many older people were completely destroyed. A 70-year-old man may have toiled without complaint since he was 15 in order to have some security in his old age. Who is he to blame when his bank closes and leaves him and his wife penniless? Without any government system in place to provide a safety net, the aged had...

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