The year 1929 brought about many highs and lows for the American people. Recently elected president Herbert Hoover was about to be inaugurated and had high hopes that the nation was on its way to eliminate poverty. His ironic statement to banish poverty had turned all too real in the fall of that year. The crash of the stock market, as well as international and national turmoil brought about a new scope for America and not in the way Hoover had hoped. It pointed fingers at what and who was to blame for the crash and cause of the depression. There was also a shift in the governments involvement with people in desperate times of need.
Hoovers presidential address projected an anticipation to end poverty. The Great Crash, shook the nation and provided a great deal of uncertainty. Outraged, hungry, and jobless were all common characteristics that flooded the households of Americans. Banks were closing and citizens were impoverished. Fueled with a desire to work, but with few jobs available, especially to men in the automotive and steel industries, the depression was a time of struggle for all. Rural areas were hit the hardest by the depression. Agricultural goods were on surplus, but yet many were starving. The depression was a contradicting time for Americans.
Many believe the stock market was the direct cause for the Great Depression, but that is not true. In the years leading up to the crash, the stock market saw increases as high as 400 percent in the value of stocks. The market seemed to be thriving. People were able to purchase stocks on margin, only having to front part of the cash; it was a huge hit and popular. When the market faltered in the fall of 1929, fingers were pointed at who or what was to blame. The crash was only a building block in the rise and cause of the depression. Problems within the national and international economies shook the world and the New Era vision for America. As the leading economy, the United States did little to help itself or Europe after World War I. The U.S. had a source of power at the time and acted poorly in its reign. High tariffs and power hungry corporations proved disastrous for national and international economies.
Hoover wanted anation built of home owners and farm owners (Roark 610). He was a man for the people and the logical decision, at the time, to lead the growing business nation. Hoover wanted a secure nation that included jobs and monetary savings. After the Great Crash, Hoover created the Agricultural Marketing Act, which later led to the Farm Board in the hopes that if they could purchase a good chunk of the surplus of agriculture goods, then prices could raise and strengthen the economy. This had little success and prices fell, as did the economy. Another failed attempt at the shift in government help was the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. This gave funds to banks who were on the brink of foreclosure in the hopes that the money would trickle down from the top of the economy to the bottom. The idea and money was there, but the plan was poorly executed. Hoover believed that people could rely on each other rather than the federal government to help end their suffering. During Hoovers reign, government had slight direct involvement in aiding its people during desperate times of the depression. There was no federal assistance and the only help came from charities and state or local programs. Humans were suffering and the government stood back and watched the economy unravel.
The election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 brought about a new sense of hope for the American people that differed greatly from Hoover. In his inaugural address, FDR mentions that the nation will revive and prosper bringing about a new, positive outlook on how to overcome the depression. In the same speech, he is most famously quoted for saying The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself., in regards to overcoming and bringing the nation out the depression. FDRs positivity continued in his Fireside Chat. Here is discusses the banking crisis and his plan and approach to reopen the federal banks. He challenged the American people to come together in confidence and courage. FDR also increased federal government involvement in helping the people. He supported privates programs, like the Red Cross to provide relief to citizens as well. This tactic differed greatly for his predecessor.
In conclusion, the depression was a time of suffering for all. Coming off an economic growth of many years, Americans were blindsided by the troubles and poverty between the years of 1929 and 1939. The crash of the market along with international trade catastrophes caused everyone, mainly the poor, to wonder where their next meal was going to come from or when a steady and reliable job would come their way. The two presidents during the duration of The Great Depression brought about conflicting views on how to help a broken nation. The scope of America had changed and government involvement degraded at a time when Americans needed it the most.
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