The Great Depression

By:Andres Garcia and Keyshawn Echols

Cause of the Great Depression

Causes of the Great Depression included: insufficient purchasing power among the middle class and the working class to sustain high levels of production; falling crop and commodity prices prior to the Depression; the stock market's dependence on borrowed money; and wrongheaded government policies, including high tariffs that reduced international trade and contracted the money supply.

Political and Social Conquences

The Great Depression transformed the American political and economic landscape. It produced a major political realignment, creating a coalition of big-city ethnics, African Americans, organized labor, and Southern Democrats committed, to varying degrees, to interventionist government. It strengthened the federal presence in American life, spawning such innovations as national old-age pensions, unemployment compensation, aid to dependent children, public housing, federally-subsidized school lunches, insured bank depositions, the minimum wage, and stock market regulation. It fundamentally altered labor relations, producing a revived labor movement and a national labor policy protective of collective bargaining. It transformed the farm economy by introducing federal price supports. Above all, it led Americans to view the federal government as an agency of action and reform and the ultimate protector of public well-being.

The Great Depression and American Culture

The Great Depression challenged certain basic precepts of American culture, especially the faith in individual self-help, business, the inevitability of progress, and limited government. The Depression encouraged a search for the real America. There was a new interest in “the people,” in regional cultures, and in folk traditions. The movies played a crucial role in sustaining American ideals in a time of social upheaval across Europe. Films projected images of a world in which financial success was possible and of a society in which class barriers could be overcome.