David WillmoreAP US - Pd. 517 February 2011
The Great Depression
In October 1929, the stock market's over inflated values collapsed, and the Great Depressionbegan. Its causes were complex, and its consequences were enormous. In a few short years, thetwo percent unemployment rate of the 1920s had become the 25 percent rate of 1932. Thenation's political institutions were not equipped to respond. The task overwhelmed local andprivate relief efforts. President Herbert Hoover's tentative program of voluntary cooperation,big-business loans, and limited public works was activist by old standards but inadequate to thechallenge. American tariffs and war-debt policy aggravated international economic problemsand thereby added to domestic woes. Although the suffering of Americans, especially AfricanAmericans and Hispanics, was great, most citizens clung to traditional values and resistedradical solutions. With veterans marching, farmers protesting, and millions not working,Franklin Delano Roosevelt won the presidency in 1932.
Points for Discussion:
1. List and explain the factors the text identifies as having been principally responsible for theGreat Depression. How have various historians attempted to explain the causes of thiseconomic disaster?2. On what causes of the Great Depression did Herbert Hoover place emphasis? How did thatshape his response?3. Why were farmers in the South and Midwest particularly hard hit by the Great Depression?What were the results?4. What did the Depression mean to typical Americans in terms of standard of living andlifestyle? Who suffered most? How did basic American social and political values stand upto the economic crisis?5. Analyze the impact of the Depression on American race relations, feminism, and family structure and behavior.6. Discuss the impact of the Great Depression on American popular culture, as well as seriousartistic expression.7. The United States has always been distinctive for the weakness of radicalism in its politicaltradition. Discuss the relative strengths and limits of American radicalism in the 1930s.8. Faced with new economic problems, Herbert Hoover as president continued to rely on theprinciples that had always governed his public life. Describe these principles and analyzetheir appropriateness and adequacy for guiding his administration.9. Why did Franklin D. Roosevelt win the election of 1932?10. What factors caused the environmental disaster known as the Dust Bowl? What impact didthis have on the people who lived in the area, and how did the New Deal attempt to addressthe situation?11. What role did the movies play in American popular culture during the depression? How didthe movies of Frank Capra give expression to a popular vision of American society andpolitics?
1. How weaknesses underlying the apparent prosperity of the 1920s led to the GreatDepression, and how the stock market crash touched it off in the United States and aroundthe world.2. That neither the efforts of local and private relief agencies nor the early volunteerism of Herbert Hoover were able to halt the spiral of rising unemployment and decliningproduction.