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One of the most traumatic situations this country has ever experienced was the Great Depression It was an extraordinary event for the people of this country because it effected everyone women and children included Families starved and the living conditions were what we see in third world countries today These extraordinary times required an extraordinary leader Franklin D Roosevelt was such a leader While his New Deal policies were not the sole solution to the multitude of problems that this country faced the first hundred days of his administration set in place the foundation that ultimately restored the economy and more importantly the faith of the people in the federal government Roosevelt inherited the situation from President Herbert Hoover While it is hard to pinpoint the exact date the depression started the stock market crash of 1929 is the major signpost In October of 1929 the New York Stock Exchange lost fifty billion dollars and the leading industrial stocks in the United States had lost forty percent of their value Watkins 40 The ten years following the crash constituted the span of the Great Depression While it is certain that it hit the poor and working class the hardest its reach was felt throughout society and reached into all economic levels Between the years of 1929 and 1932 the year Roosevelt was elected the situation went from bad to worse Signs of collapse were everywhere National unemployment approached 20 percent Joblessness among black Americans was close to 50 percent By 1932 overall manufacturing stood at a paltry 54 percent of what it had been in 1929 More specifically-and depressingly-the automobile industry was operating at only 20 percent of capacity in 1932 and steel at 12 percent Nor did banks escape the economic blows they had helped deliver to others Although more than seven thousand financial institutions had gone under between 1920 and 1929 providing evidence of underlying economic weakness well before the fateful October 1929
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