The American Journey © 2007

Chapter 25: The Depression and FDR

Chapter Overviews

The nation's economic prosperity throughout the 1920s led Americans to invest heavily in the stock market. In October 1929 stock prices dropped drastically as investors sold millions of shares. The United States slid into a severe economic crisis called the Great Depression. As joblessness and poverty spread, many Americans felt that President Hoover was doing nothing to help them. In 1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president in a landslide. Roosevelt moved quickly to calm the nation. During his first hundred days in office the president and Congress passed a program called the New Deal. New Deal laws and regulations affected banking, agriculture, and public works and increased relief for the poor and conservation resources.

In addition to the economic problems of the Depression, the southern Great Plains also suffered a severe drought. The region became so dry and dusty that it was known as the Dust Bowl. Strong prairie winds blew the topsoil away. Farmers went bankrupt. Many of those who lost their homes migrated to California. The Depression also produced two separate trends in the arts and entertainment—escapism and social criticism. Radio shows and movies became popular ways for people to escape from their cares and worries, while some artists used their work to explore more serious topics.

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