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The Great Depression

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    The Great Depression

  • Stock Market Crashes

    The stock market crashes, marking the end of six years of unparalleled prosperity for most sectors of the American economy. The "crash" begins on October 24 (Black Thursday). By October 29, stock prices will plummet and banks will be calling in loans. An estimated $30 billion in stock values will "disappear" by mid-November.
  • 3.2 million people unemployed

    More than 3.2 million people are unemployed, up from 1.5 million before the October, 1929 crash. President Hoover remains optimistic, however, stating that "all the evidences indicate that the worst effects of the crash upon unemployment will have passed during the next 60 days."
  • Food riots break out

    "Food riots" begin to break out in parts of the U.S. In Minneapolis, several hundred men and women smash the windows of a grocery market and make off with fruit, canned goods, bacon, and ham. One of the store's owners pulls out a gun to stop the looters, but is leapt upon and has his arm broken. The "riot" is brought under control by 100 policemen. Seven people are arrested
  • Hoover against payment to Bonus Army

    Texas congressman Wright Patman introduces legislation authorizing immediate payment of "bonus" funds to veterans of World War I. The "bonus bill" had been passed in 1924. It allots bonuses, in the form of "adjusted service certificates," equaling $1 a day for each day of service in the U.S., and $1.25 for each day overseas. President Hoover is against payment of these funds, saying it would cost the Treasury $4 billion.
  • Bank of the United States collapses

    New York's Bank of the United States collapses. At the time of the collapse, the bank had over $200 million in deposits, making it the largest single bank failure in the nation's history.
  • R.F.C lends billions to banks

    Congress establishes the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. The R.F.C. is allowed to lend $2 billion to banks, insurance companies, building and loan associations, agricultural credit organizations and railroads. Critics of the R.F.C. call it "the millionaires' dole."
  • Bonus Army Marches to Washington DC

    More than 300 World War I veterans leave Portland, Oregon en route to Washington, D.C. to urge Congress to pass the Bonus Bill. It will take them 18 days to reach Washington, D.C.
    Determined to collect their "bonus" pay for service, 15,000 - 25,000 World War I veterans gather and begin setting up encampments near the White House and the Capitol in Washington, D.C. On June 15, the House passes Congressman Wright Patman's "bonus bill" by a vote of 209 to 176. The bill falls to defeat in the Senate
  • FDR Elected President

    Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected president in a landslide over Herbert Hoover. Roosevelt receives 22.8 million popular votes to Hoover's 15.75 million.
  • FDR orders US off Gold Standard

    President Roosevelt, under the Emergency Banking Act, orders the nation off of the gold standard.
  • CCC Established

    The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) is established. Designed as a relief and employment program for young men between the ages of 17 and 27, the CCC is made up of groups of young men who work in national forests, parks, and federal land for nine-month stints. FDR envisions the program as a kind of volunteer "army." The first 250,000 young men are housed in 1,468 camps around the country. At its peak in 1935, the CCC will include 500,000 young men.
  • TVA Established

    The Tennessee Valley Authority is created. A federally run hydroelectric power program, the TVA Act is considered a huge experiment in social planning. The TVA also builds dams, produces and sells fertilizer, reforests the Tennessee Valley area, and develops recreational lands. Opponents of the TVA call it "communistic to its core."
  • NRA Established

    The National Industrial Recovery Act is introduced into Congress. Under Title I of the act, the National Recovery Administration is designated to maintain some form of price and wage controls. Section 7(a) of the act guarantees labor the right to organize and bargain collectively. As part of the act, The National Labor Board is set up to negotiate disputes between labor and management.
  • Glass-Steagal Act passes Congress

    Congress passes the Glass-Steagall Act that separates commercial from investment banking and sets up the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to guarantee bank deposits.
  • CVA Established

    The Civil Works Administration is established. Devised as a wide scale program that could employ up to 4 million people, the C.W.A. is involved in the building of bridges, schools, hospitals, airports, parks and playgrounds. Additionally, C.W.A. funds go toward the repair and construction of highways and roads. Early in 1934, Congress will authorize $950 million for the continued operation of the C.W.A.
  • Dust Storms Ravage Great Plains

    A three-day dust storm blows an estimated 350 million tons of soil off of the terrain of the West and Southwest and deposits it as far east as New York and Boston. Some east coast cities are forced to ignite street lamps during the day to see through the blowing dust.
  • WPA Created

    FDR signs legislation creating the Works Progress Administration. (Its name would be changed in 1939 to the Work Projects Administration.) The program employs more than 8.5 million individuals in 3,000 counties across the nation. These individuals, drawing a salary of only $41.57 a month, will improve or create highways, roads, bridges, and airports. In addition, the WPA will put thousands of artists -- writers, painters, theater directors, and sculptors -- to work on various projects. The WPA w
  • Social Security Act Signed

    The Social Security Act of 1935 is signed into law by FDR. Among the most controversial stipulations of the act is that Social Security will be financed through a payroll tax. Historian Kenneth S. Davis calls the signing of the act "one of the major turning points of American history. No longer could `rugged individualism' convincingly insist that government, though obliged to provide a climate favorable for the growth of business profits, had no responsibility whatever for the welfare of the hu
  • Photographer Dorothea Lang chronicles life of "Okies"

    Photographer Dorothea Lange visits a pea-pickers' camp in California's San Joaquin Valley and takes photographs of harvest workers. The images, especially those in the "Migrant Mother Series," vividly illustrate the plight of the workers. The San Francisco News runs the photo essay under the headline, "Ragged, Hungry, Broke, Harvest Workers Live in Squallor (sic)."
  • FDR Re-elected

    Defeating Kansas Governor Alfred M. Landon, FDR is elected to his second term as president, winning every state in the Union except Maine and Vermont.
  • New Deal Programs make some progress

    The slow economic recovery made possible by New Deal programs suffers a setback as unemployment rises. FDR's detractors call it the start of the "Roosevelt recession."
  • FDR asks Congress for 3.75 billion

    FDR asks Congress to authorize $3.75 billion in federal spending to stimulate the sagging economy. Economic indicators respond favorably over the next few months. Still, unemployment will remain high and is predicted to stay that way for some time.
  • FDR elected to 3rd term as President

    Franklin Roosevelt is elected to an unprecedented third term as president, defeating Wendell Willkie. FDR's victory is seen as proof of the nation's support of his war policies. Roosevelt lobbies Congress to pass the Lend-Lease Act, which will aid Britain in its struggle to fend off Germany.
  • Japan bombs Peril Harbor ending the Great Depression

    Japan's December 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. will enter the war in the Pacific and in Europe. The war effort will jump-start U.S. industry and effectively end the Great Depression.