• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The 1930's - the great depression

Extracts from this document...


G.C.S.E History Coursework ASSIGNMENT 1 Task 3 In the 1930's the great depression began. I think it all started because of over production. Americans who could afford new, expensive goods already had them. This led to factories over producing goods because they could not sell everything they were making. This obviously meant that companies did not make a profit. Soon they had to start cutting their costs which was bad for workers because their wages were cut and some were made unemployed. This only made matters worse because now the workers had less money to spend which meant they could not buy so many goods. Companies now had to sack even more people to stay in business. This made matters even worse because people had even less money to spend. More and more workers started to be unemployed. So this was going down hill for the workers. Soon it reached rock bottom for the companies as well because some were going bankrupt and others went out of business. As you can see, one bad move led to the next. I think that trade tariffs, republican government policies, unequal spread of wealth, credit buying, over production, speculation on the stock market and the Wall Street crash were the main causes of the great depression. I will look at each cause in turn and work out which one is the trigger cause, I will find out if there was a cause which started off a chain of events. I will say if they were a long, medium or short term cause and how the causes could be linked. I'll also work out if a cause didn't happen, how it would have changed the chain of events and finally I will find out which cause was the most important. One way of making money during the 1920s was to buy stocks and shares. Prices of these stocks and shares constantly went up and so investors kept them for a short-term period and then sold them at a good profit. ...read more.


Farmers borrowed money, like many other Americans, from banks. They used this to buy new machinery, but many farmers were making too little to pay their debts. Over one million farmers were evicted from their farms during the 1920's and many more lived in poverty. Farmers made up a fairly large part of the population and another group (although many were also farmers) who also made up a large part of the population, were the black Americans who made up between 10 and 15% of the population. Millions of black people lived in the southern states such as Alabama. Nearly all blacks were too poor to buy consumer goods, as most were very poor farmers who were in debt. Most whites in America were very racist and did not think that equal rights for blacks should be allowed. The Ku Klux Klan was a very racist group who made sure that any blacks that tried to live a normal life, without living in poverty couldn't make any economic progress. The KKK and the racist Jim Crow laws put many restrictions on black people's freedom. Even after 1900 when black people moved into the north of the country they were still discriminated against and lived in ghetto areas such as Harlem in New York. Black people did not have equality and there was much truth in the saying that Negroes were "the last to be hired and the first to be fired." Even when they were doing the same jobs as whites they were getting worse wages, so the blacks and the farmers, the textile workers and the miners (who made up a large proportion of the country) could not even afford the consumer goods in the boom. America's foreign policies also helped to restrict the market for its goods by the immigration controls. Prior to 1922 America had welcomed immigrants who had been young, strong and ambitious people. ...read more.


Many of the other causes are inter-related, therefore it is hard to decide which is the most significant. I think that the protectionist policies were a key cause as it was obvious that the boom could not last forever on the sale of consumer goods in the USA, as people would no longer have a desire to buy more and more of the same items. Exporting the goods would have been a sensible suggestion. If the protectionist tariffs had not have been introduced, then Europe could have been better off and so could the USA. Then overproduction would not have been such a problem, as the goods the Americans didn't want could have been exported, the economy wouldn't have got worse so quickly and the boom could have lasted. Although the protectionist policies were problematic I think that the unequal distribution of wealth was a long term cause which played a very significant part in leading to the depression. If the Americans had have bought the goods to start with then there would have been no need to export them anyway. The boom was bound to come to an end some time, as a large proportion of the country (farmers, blacks, coal miners etc) could never afford the great new goods anyway. Only a small minority of the country could honestly afford the goods - the rest could not afford them or bought on credit and fooled themselves. This meant that when the minority had bought what they wanted, the surplus goods could not be sold to the blacks, farmers, miners, textile workers and the 60% of the country living below the poverty line, before exports were even thought about. If a larger percentage could have afforded these goods then the boom could have continued for longer. Overall, I would say that the depression was a result of many linked reasons, leading from a reason which had been present for years - the fact that there were far too many poor people and far too few rich people to keep the economic boom going. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE USA 1919-1941 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE USA 1919-1941 essays

  1. African Americans and life during the Great Depression.

    As people enlisted the cost grew higher and by 1932 the cost for relief rolls for everyone was close to $75 million due to shortage of money. Some cities simply removed people from relief rolls, most of them African Americans.5 As a result of shortage of money factories and production lines, like the Ford motor Co.

  2. Explain how both the long-term and the short-term causes contributed to the great depression ...

    Once they were able to produce their own goods especially food they out up tariffs against produce from America. Britain in particular put up tariffs against America because they could now produce their own food and the reparations from Germany helped to rebuild their industry.

  1. The crash (causes and consequences of the Wall Street Crash)

    But, more and more were force to lay off workers, reduce wages and make other savings. More than 60% of the workers in Chicago who kept their jobs had their wages cut by a half or more. The unemployed suffered not only poverty but misery and despondency.

  2. What impact did the Great Depression have on international relations in the 1930s?

    The league still took no action. They did not have the power or the will to act against Japan. The USA suffered the largest rise on unemployment. There figures rose from 1.55 million to 12.06 million. Before the First World War they were the greatest trading nation but because of the depression there trade had dropped tremendously.

  1. 'The Devil's Decade' - How far do you agree with this assessment of the ...

    In the 1930s, the NHS did not exist and doctors and dentists were too expensive. Therefore the idea of the 1930s being a helpless and deadly time greatly supports the ' Devil's Decade' theory. Although life for the unemployed was very tough it is important to acknowledge the medical advances that were taking place in Britain.

  2. Explain the Causes and Effects of the Great Depression.

    Consequently, shares' value dropped, and many people were left without jobs or money. The appealing solution to income problems, it seemed, "made the downfall worse when it came" (Paul A. p., 1996). Agricultural overproduction also proved to be a major cause of the Great Depression.

  1. Did the New Deal end the Depression in the USA in the 1930's?

    So this shows that the people really did trust him. Roosevelt also helped the farmers. Farmers had been having problems before the depression with producing more food than the people needed. So Roosevelt set up one of his many alphabet agencies to help the farmers.

  2. The Great Depression

    Further credit contractions and a decline in the output of borrowing countries could have been caused by the reduction of foreign lending (Richardson, September 2007). This slowing of foreign lending may also be why the economies of Germany, Argentina, and Brazil began to fall before the Great Depression started in the United States (Paul Evans).

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work