Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck

Ashley Sucheski, Sharon Jo, Kaitlyn McCloskey

The Great Depression

The Great Depression was the worst economic downfall in American history. It took place between the years of 1929 and 1939. It began soon after began soon after the stock market crash of October 1929, which sent Wall Street into a panic and wiped out millions of investors. The economy would not fully turn around until after 1939, when World War II kicked American industry into high gear. The stock market crashed in 1929 as consumer spending dropped and the amount of unsold goods went up, and production slowed. At the same time, stock prices rose, and by autumn of that year they had reached levels that could not be fixed with future payments. A record 12.9 million shares were traded on a day called, "Black Thursday." Five years later on "Black Tuesday," about 16 million shares were traded causing panic to spread. Millions of those shares ended up being worthless and lots of investors lost lots of money. Production in factories slowed and many workers lost their jobs. The depression that hit America was so serious that it impacted the world, especially Europe.

President Herbert Hoover assured that the depression was just a phase that would soon end, but it just got worse as time went on. By 1930, 4 million Americans looking for work could not find it; that number had risen to 6 million in 1931. More and more people found themselves homeless and needing to go to shelters and soup kitchens. Farmers couldn't afford to harvest their crops so others were left to starve. In autumn of 1930, the first of four waves of banking panics began, as large numbers of investors lost confidence in the solvency of their banks and demanded deposits in cash, forcing banks to liquidate loans in order to supplement their insufficient cash reserves on hand. Thousands of banks closed their doors. Hoover tried to fix this problem by giving government loans to the banks so that they could hire more employees and have more business.

13-15 million people (or more than 20 percent of the U.S. population at the time) was unemployed. Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt won an overwhelming victory in the presidential election, and by inauguration day, every U.S. state ordered all remaining banks to close, and the U.S. Treasury didn’t have enough money to pay all of the government workers. Roosevelt said his famous words, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." People admired him for trying to stay optimistic and calm in a time with so much panic. His goals were to fix the economic problems so his administration passed legislation that aimed to stabilize industrial and agricultural production, create jobs and stimulate recovery. He created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to protect depositor's accounts and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to regulate the stock market and prevent abuses of the kind that led to the 1929 crash.

Many programs and institutions of the New Deal aided in recovery from the Great Depression. They were the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which built dams and hydroelectric projects to control flooding and provide electric power to the people facing poverty, Tennessee Valley region of the South, and the Works Project Administration (WPA), a permanent jobs program that employed 8.5 million people from 1935 to 1943. In the spring of 1933, these programs showed to start recovery as the economy continued to improve over the next three years. However, in 1937, the problems arose once more. These problems were caused in part by the Federal Reserve’s decision to increase its requirements for money in reserve. The economy started to rise again in 1938 but once again a wave of problems struck and the decade ended with the prolonged effects of the Great Depression.

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The American Dream

Some may agree that a cause of nationalism in the United States is from the wide variety of directions to go when one has a dream they want to pursue. That popular idea is common when citizens of struggling countries look for a place to emigrate. The reason behind that idealistic vision is from the familiar set of ideals that many seem to hope for or have taken advantage of, usually aiming for a positive direction.

“The American Dream” includes the national opinion on democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity, and equality. Over the years, the meaning behind the phrase, “American Dream” has slightly changed. Throughout the nineteenth century, there were many German emigrants settling in the United States. The citizens who lived in this country of diversity all had a common goal, which was to gain instant wealth. The California Gold Rush was a popular way for them to achieve their idea of the “American Dream”.

As the twentieth century approached, many seemed to realize the importance of not just gaining instant wealth, but also to attain a better, fuller, and richer life. They understood the advantage they had against other countries at that time, so they wanted to grow in their fullest development. Freedom was a familiar ambition to everyone, and this “American Dream” continues to live out today. This Dream has become a goal and hope to other countries as well.

·What is the American Dream?
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John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck was born on February 27, 1902 in Salinas, California. There, he was born and raised in a farming community, that included trading and shipping. Growing up, his family faced many setbacks as a teenager; for example, his father lost his job and eventually opened a feed store that eventually failed. As a young boy, John was very interested in writing and reading. Because of this, he attended Stanford University and took many creative writing classes to better understand literature. Then, he left school early and worked as a deckhand and construction laborer.

Steinbeck had won a Pulitzer Prize in 1940 for The Grapes of Wrath and also won a Nobel Prize for his Literature in 1962. His most known work is his first novel, Cup of Gold, which was based on a pirate, Tortilla Flat, which was a bestseller that was based on Mexican-Americans in California, Of Mice and Men, and so much more. Most of his work was based on ordinary Americans, and was mostly written during the time of The Great Depression. His writings were combined with both “sympathetic humor and social perception”. Eventually, he died of a heart failure; his legend still lives on through his work.
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