On Tuesday 29 October 1929 life changed for millions of Americans. The USA had enjoyed the 1920s – the Jazz Age – and the economy appeared to be rock solid. It was popular to buy shares (aksjer) in companies, especially since companies were doing very well and shares were becoming more and more valuable.
Then, suddenly, people found they had all the goods they needed, so stores could not sell and factories had nobody to make things for. So the value of shares fell, and fell, and fell. On Black Tuesday share prices collapsed. Americans lost millions of dollars, and many people found themselves very poor. Since there was no need for goods, factories went bankrupt (konkurs) and people lost their jobs.
The Great Depression had started, and it lasted until the USA entered World War II. When the Depression was at its worst, 12 million Americans were unemployed, 20,000 companies and 1,616 banks had gone bankrupt, one farmer in every 20 had to leave his farm, and in one year 23,000 people took their own lives.
In the USA in the early 1930s the government did not help people without work, so organizations like the Salvation Army gave food to the unemployed. It was not until Franklin D. Roosevelt became President in 1933 that the government made serious efforts to make jobs for people and get the country back on its feet.
Correct the information given in these statements:
- During the Jazz Age people thought the economy was weak.
- Share prices fell from 1920 to 1929.
- On Black Tuesday banks went bankrupt.
- The Great Depression started when the USA went into the Second World War.
- 12 million companies went bankrupt.
- 23,000 people were born during the Great Depression.
- 10% of all farmers left their farms.
- In 1929 the government of the USA paid money to people without jobs.
Activities for the links below
- If you go to the first website below, you will find a short description of life on farms on the Great Plains during the Depression. Make a list of three bad things and three good things which are mentioned in the article.
- Turn to the second website, where you will find a very short video about the Great Depression. Watch it two or three times, listen carefully to the commentary, and summarize it in a paragraph headed “The consequences of the Wall Street Crash”.