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The Toll of Human Suffering During the Great Depression

The great depression was a worldwide business slump in the 1930’s. It ranked as the worst and longest period of high unemployment, and low business activity in modern times. The great depression actually began in 1929 when stock values dropped rapidly in the United States.

Thousands of stock holders lost large sums of money,some of them were even wiped out completely.Stores,factories,and even banks closed leaving millions of Americans jobless,and penniless.Many people had to depend on the government,or different charities for food.The Great Depression affected almost every nation.There were many causes that contributed to making The Great Depression so severe.

Many bank failures,together with low incomes among farmers,and factory workers helped to set the stage.Uneven distribution of income among workers also contributed to the slump.Most economists agreed that the stock market crash of 1929 is what started it all.Stock values fell for the next three years.Business failures increased rapidly,as unemployment continued to soar.Millions lost their jobs,savings,and homes.What they did manage to purchase was on credit with no way to pay it back.But the banks were unable to lend any more,and hundreds continued to fail.

Human suffering became a reality for millions of Americans as the depression continued.Many died of disease resulting from malnutrition.Thousands lost their home because they could not pay the mortgage. In 1932,at least 25,000 families,and more than 200,000 young people wandered through the country seeking food,clothing,shelter,and a job.

Many of the young people traveled in freight trains,and lived near train yards called hobo jungles.The homeless,jobless travelers obtained food from welfare agencies,or religious missions in town along the way.Most of their meals consisted of soup,beans,or stew and had very little nourishment.The travelers begged for food,or stole it if they could not get something to eat.They even ate scraps of food from garbage cans.

The ragged travelers found clothing even harder to obtain than food.Missions gave most of the clothing they had to the needy local people.Many of the travelers became very ill because they did not have food,or proper clothing.Even the sick wanders had trouble getting help because the hospitals aided local residents first.

Many people who lost their homes remained in the community.Some crowded into the home of a relative,others moved to a shabby section of town and built shacks from tin cans and old crates.Entire families would live in old rusted out car bodies,or what ever they could find.

The Great Depression ended after nations increased their production of war materials at the start of the war.This increased production provided jobs,and put large sums o money back into circulation.The depression had lasting effects on the United States government,and on many Americans.

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  1. James G. Hamilton

    On August 19, 2008 at 9:44 am


    This was a tragic time in history,and really makes you appreciate
    our economy today.I enjoyed this article thoroughly!

  2. richard

    On March 28, 2009 at 2:14 pm


    i though this articl was pretty good. i read some of these exact thing on other sites but other things i learned and used!

  3. Penny

    On March 9, 2010 at 9:57 pm


    eye opening
    keep up the great work
    its very touching

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