The Great Depression: what brought it about and how it affected the public.

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The Great Depression and the New Deal

In the summer of 1933 President Franklin Roosevelt urged the coal mining workforce to join the union. By no time at all workers everywhere were flocking to the union by the thousands. The miners believed that Roosevelt was trying to get them recognition of the United Mine Workers of America. The coal industry was dangerous work and was getting worse with the great depression in 1929. Unemployment rose while wages were cut. The United Mine Workers (MNW) lost 300,000 patrons in seven years. Workers organized themselves to get improved working conditions and a union contract. By 1930 the union victory was not final but the developments showed the forces that changed America.

The stock market crash that revealed the flaws of the economy ended the prosperity of the 1920s. The two previous years the market hit record highs, this was due to optimism, easy credit and manipulations of the speculators.

After peaking in September it endured several sharp checks, and on October 29th, what is now known as "Black Tuesday" the stock market crashed. Panic spread throughout the market and investors sold their stock at any price. The most damaging factor that led to the crash was unequal distribution of wealth. Out of 400,000 corporations, 200 controlled half the corporate wealth. Prices were kept high and rigid rather than determined by supply and demand. The market crash marked the beginning of the depression.

By the 1930s, the effects of the fallen economy were painfully evident. Factories shut down or cut back, and industrial production dropped dramatically. Many farm families along with urban families could not pay their mortgages. Farm families lost their home and fields and roamed the highways, and railways while urban families lived in Hoovervilles.

The depression particularly harmed racial minorities.