America's Dark Age

Stock Market Crash Launched Worldwide Great Depression

by Leila Fletcher, age 11

Between 1929 and the late 1930’s, the Great Depression pulled America into one of its darkest ages.

When World War I (1914-1918) was over, millions of British, American and French soldiers returned home. Since the war was over, American veterans had to seek new types of employment to support their families. There were so many veterans that it was unlikely for all of them to find jobs. And when people did get jobs, employers could not afford to pay them very much. But these men still had plenty of expenses.

Because families barely had enough money to live on, they were less likely to save it. Banks and businesses failed left and right. The price of food fell, and farmers, who could no longer make a living off their trade, were forced to leave their land.

The United States stock market crashed in 1929. Businesses shut down when investors withdrew their money because their stocks lost value. The US crash had ripple effects on worldwide market. The world plunged into a Great Depression.
In the midst of the Great Depression, many families had to rely on handouts of food and clothing. They could not find jobs and had lost their homes because they could not pay their mortgages. But the people still did not give up. They roamed the streets, looking for work.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt launched a program called the “New Deal,” aimed at helping the poor by creating community projects that generated jobs for the unemployed.

The economy was not the only problem. In the already poverty-stricken state of Oklahoma, a drought in 1930 made the conditions even worse. The lack of rain made the crops lose moisture and die. The soil turned to withing three years, devastating farms. The “Dust Bowl” led people to flee Oklahoma. They sold everything they could and went to California, or other places that were better off, to seek work.

It took some time to get over this chilling period in American history. The grasslands in Oklahoma and the economy eventually recovered, but the suffering of the Great Depression will not be forgotten.

[Source: The Kingfisher Children’s Encyclopedia]