The Great Depression.

Essay by urvit21 September 2005

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The Great Depression was the worst and longest economic collapse in the history of the modern industrial world. Beginning in the United States, the depression spread to most of the world's industrial countries, which in the 20th century had become economically dependent on one another. The United States saw rapid declines in the production and sale of goods and a sudden, severe rise in unemployment. Businesses and banks closed their doors, people lost their jobs, homes, and savings, and many depended on charity to survive. In 1933, at the worst point in the depression, more than 15 million Americans--one-quarter of the nation's workforce--was unemployed.

The depression produced lasting effects on the United States that are still apparent more than half a century after it ended. It led to the election of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who created the programs known as the New Deal to overcome the effects of the Great Depression. These programs expanded government intervention into new areas of social and economic concerns and created social-assistance measures on the national level. The Great Depression fundamentally changed the relationship between the government and the people, who came to expect and accept a larger federal role in their lives and the economy.

On a personal level, the hardships suffered during the depression affected many Americans' attitudes toward life, work, and their community. Many people who survived the depression wanted to protect themselves from ever again going hungry or lacking necessities. Some developed habits of frugality and careful saving for the rest of their lives, and many focused on accumulating material possessions to create a comfortable life, one far different from that which they experienced in the depression years.

The Dust Bowl did not help the country get out of the depression but instead put the country into a...