This page features two timelines: The importance of these timelines cannot be emphasized enough. Seeing the order in which events actually occurred dispels many myths about the Great Depression. One of the greatest of these myths is that government intervention was responsible for its onset.
Bring fact-checked results to the top of your browser search. Political movements and social change Aside from the Civil War, the Great Depression was the gravest crisis in American history.
Just as in the Civil War, the United States appeared—at least at the start of the s—to be falling apart. But for all the turbulence and the panicthe ultimate effects of the Great Depression were less revolutionary than reassuring.
This was undeniably an era of extraordinary political innovationmuch of it expressed in the reforms enacted by Franklin D. It was also a time when a significant number of Americans flirted with Marxist movements and ideas, as well as with the notion that the model for a more humane society could be found in the Soviet Union.
Above all, it was a decade of cultural ferment, in which American writers, artists, and intellectuals experimented with new, more socially oriented forms of literature, painting, theatre, music, and mass entertainment. Yet, paradoxically, the turmoil of the s turned out to be predominantly conservative in its impact on American society.
By contrast, many American intellectuals in the s, disillusioned by what they considered the pointless carnage of World War Ihad shown little interest in politics or social movements. Nor did they display much affection for life in the United States.
Indeed, most American novelists, poets, artists, composers, and scientists continued to believe, as they had since the 19th century, that the United States was culturally inferior to Europe. So, to learn the latest modernist techniques in literature, painting, or music, or to study the most advanced theories in physics or psychoanalysis, they assumed they had to go to London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, or Copenhagen.
During the worst years of the Great Depression, between andthis engagement often took the form of an attraction to Marxismthe Soviet Union, and the American Communist Party.
Spanish Republicans, abandoned by the democracies and relying on aid from the communists, carry on a losing struggle against fascism. From The Second World War: Meanwhile, the communist parties in the United States and in western Europe gave intellectuals—as well as teachers, lawyers, architects, and other middle-class professionals—a feeling that they were no longer solitary individuals suffering from the failures of capitalism but belonged instead to a vibrant community of like-minded souls, in that they were participants in an international movement larger than themselves and that they were literally making history.
For all these reasons Marxism, the Soviet Union, and the various national communist parties enjoyed a prestige and a popularity through much of the s that they had never possessed in the s and would never again enjoy after the Great Depression.
Perhaps no writer better reflected this new sense of social commitment than Ernest Hemingway. In Hemingway published A Farewell to Arms. In this novel, Robert Jordan, another Hemingwayesque volunteer, serving with a band of anti-Franco guerrillas, is badly wounded but stays behind to defend a bridge, thereby protecting his comrades as they retreat.
Jordan—unlike Lieutenant Henry—has found a cause worth fighting and dying for.
Of course, not every Depression-era American writer was entranced by communism or the Soviet Union. The majority of intellectuals and artists, like their fellow citizens, were much more comfortable voting for Roosevelt than idolizing Joseph Stalin. Indeed, by the middle and late s, a growing number of American intellectuals—many of them clustered around the literary and political journal Partisan Review—had become militantly anti-Stalinist even as they retained their sympathy for socialismtheir new stance having formed as Stalin launched a series of show trials that sent his former Bolshevik colleagues to Siberian labour camps or more frequently to their death in the cellars of prisonsas terror spread throughout the Soviet Union, and as stories began to circulate about the communists murdering Trotskyists and anarchists behind the Republican lines in Spain.
Still, it was not until Augustwhen Stalin shocked the world by signing a nonaggression pact with his archenemy Hitler, that the Soviet Union and the Communist Party in the United States lost what was left of their moral authority with all but a few American intellectuals.
New forms of cultural expression The documentary impulse Novelists, poets, painters, and playwrights of the s did not need to be Marxists to create works that dealt with the problems of the Great Depression or the dangers of fascism.
Most writers and artists in the prosperous s thought of themselves as members of a transatlantic avant-garde and as stylistic disciples of Pablo PicassoJames Joyceor Igor Stravinsky.
Given the political and economic calamities at home and abroad, they sought to focus on the plight of workers, sharecroppers, African Americans, the poor, and the dispossessed.
Further, they wanted to communicate their insights in a language—whether literary, visual, or musical—that their audiences could easily comprehend. This impulse led, in a variety of genresto an aesthetic of documentary-style realism and of social protest. For writers such as Edmund WilsonSherwood AndersonJohn Dos PassosErskine CaldwellRichard Wrightand James Ageefiction seemed inadequate in describing the disastrous effects of the Great Depression on political institutions, the natural environmentand human lives.
Their yearning to record the pure, unadorned facts of daily existence, to listen to what Americans said about their plight, and to refrain from abstract theories or artistic embellishment was reflected in the titles of some of the books they wrote about their travels throughout the country: African American farmer using a mule-drawn cultivator, photographed by Doris Ullman.
Because most African Americans were involved in farming or other agricultural work, the Great Depression came early for them. Library of Congress, Washington, D. In order to illuminate the suffering but also the dignity of three sharecropper families in Alabama, Evans tried to photograph his subjects as objectively and as unobtrusively as possible.
Meanwhile, Agee employed a variety of journalistic and artistic techniques: Increasingly, Americans expected to be transported—through photographs, newsreelsor radio —to the scene of the latest calamity.
It was an event shared by millions of Americans, which is why it remains one of the most remembered events of the s. Federal arts programs The Roosevelt administration, too, embraced the notion that writers and artists should immerse themselves in the details, past and present, of American life.
The United States, however, lacked a strong tradition of direct federal support for the arts. A discussion concerning why American museums flourished in the s, from the documentary The Great Depression. Great Museums Television The New Deal rationale for these cultural endeavours was that, just like construction workers, writers, musicians, painters, and actors had to eat—and, more important, to use their skills for the benefit of society.
Consequently, the Federal Theatre Project performances were staged not on Broadway but in working-class and African American neighbourhoods, outside factory gates, and in small towns whose residents had never seen a play.
The Federal Music Project sponsored free concerts and the musical transcription of half-forgotten sea chanteys, cowboy and folk songs, Indian dances, Quaker hymns, and Negro spirituals.The Great Depression was a severe, worldwide economic downturn lasting from to the early s.
The primary cause was the failure of the Fed to carry out its given role of preventing bank schwenkreis.com half the nation's banks failed, as panicked depositors withdrew their life savings, reducing the money supply and retarding schwenkreis.com, . The Great Depression was a severe, worldwide economic downturn lasting from to the early s.
The primary cause was the failure of the Fed to carry out its given role of preventing bank schwenkreis.com half the nation's banks failed, as panicked depositors withdrew their life savings, reducing the money supply and retarding schwenkreis.com, things were made still worse by government.
vi America’s Great Depression Acknowledgments While the problem of has long been of interest to myself as well as most Americans, my attention was first specifically drawn to a study of the Great. The Great Depression was an economic slump in North America, Europe, and other industrialized areas of the world that began in and lasted until about It was the longest and most severe depression ever experienced by the industrialized Western world.
Economic impact. The most devastating impact of the Great Depression was human suffering. In a short period of time, world output and standards of living dropped precipitously.
As much as one-fourth of the labour force in industrialized countries was unable to find work in the early s. vi America’s Great Depression Acknowledgments While the problem of has long been of interest to myself as well as most Americans, my attention was first specifically drawn to a study of the Great.