What consequences did the Great Depression have for ordinary Americans and how did the Hoover administration attempt to deal with the crisis?
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Of course, the Great Depression was seriously bad for the lives of many Americans. They lost their jobs and often lost their homes. Many of them had to go live in "Hoovervilles" or try to travel to some other place in search of work (like Okies to California).
The Hoover administration did more than any previous administration to try to deal with the crisis. Hoover tried to improve things by creating more jobs with projects like the Boulder Dam project. He also set up the RFC to try to loan money to big companies so they would hire more people. He also tried to persuade people to do more charitable work to help those in need.
The problem was that the Depression was way worse than he thought and so this stuff was not enough.
Nearly everyone suffered to one extent or another in the Great Depression. 25% unemployment rates did not include women in their figures, or retirees who had lost their life savings due to bank closures.
Marriage, divorce and child birth were all on the decline as most couldn't afford the financial change in status. Young men were essentially kicked out of their homes to go find work elsewhere; the family couldn't afford to feed them and there weren't jobs available where they lived. Many became hoboes riding the rails in hopes of finding a job in another town.
Hoover's RFC was an attempt to "prime the pump", also referred to as "trickle-down economics". If you can keep the big industries in business, they will need employees to work who will spend their paychecks on the products being manufactured. As the previous post stated, for Hoover it was simply too little too late.
Some very reputable economists insist that government meddeling in the economy, first by the Hoover administration, then by the Roosevelt administration, is the reason the Great Depression lasted years longer than any previous depression. See link below.
The Great Depression is commonly said to have been caused by the stock market crash. However, more accurately, the stock market revealed the economic weaknesses that had been accumulating during the 1920s. Uneven distribution of wealth left the lower 95-99% of the population in poverty. Yet there was still widespread speculation in the stock market. Thus, when it crashed, it undermined the confidence of the well-off from investing. This then lead to decrease in production, then mass unemployment which decreased markets and consumers, which lead to further production cutbacks, and the cycle starts all over again. Thousands of Americans, men especially, lost their jobs and fell into a hopeless mindset. The Hoover administration attempted to resolve this crisis with the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. Hoover believed that saving large businesses would stimulate expansion. However businesses were hesitant to expand because markets were not sufficient. Thus Hoover’s efforts were not very effective.
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