The Great Depression Essay

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The Great Depression was the worst economic disaster in American history. A variety of factors led up to it, including a dangerous amount of stock market speculation and an excessive lending of credit. Other contributing factors were a weak farm economy, lack of government regulation of business, and high tariffs. Unemployment rose as high as twenty-five percent of the workforce and the U.S Gross National Product dropped from $104 billion to $56 billion. This huge depression eventually expanded across the globe, leading to a worldwide economic crisis. However, by the end of the Depression, a variety of changes had occurred that altered the social landscape of America. The main changes that transpired were a greater economic equality, the beginnings of a welfare state, and the change to the agricultural and farming society of America. One of the most positive effects that emerged from the Great Depression was greater economic equality between Americans. Evidence shows that immediately before the Great Depression, the top five percent of the richest Americans controlled over thirty-three percent of all income. This created a major class difference in America. Most of the rich had their money invested in the stock market. The crash brought down some of the richest of the rich, and this rift between the rich and the poor was greatly lessened, allowing for a more even distribution of wealth. Another cause for the even distribution of wealth was the New Deal policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt. During his first Hundred Days, a number of programs designed to help the unemployed were created. The FERA (Federal Emergency Relief Administration) gave grants of money to state and local governments so they could offer relief to the homeless and unemployed. The PWA (Public Works Administration), the CCC (Civil Conservation Corps), and the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) all

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