The Great Depression was a dark time for the United States of America that was ultimately brought to an end by the Americans involvement in World War 2. Their involvement in the war expanded their economy due to the increase in demand for materials by the army. Although the beginning of the war did not end the Great Depression right away, it set the foundation for the road to recovery, which continued after the war even into the 1950’s. This essay will cover 2 factors from the war that contributed the end of the Great Depression. We will begin with a brief discussion of what caused the Great Depression, and then how the War reduced unemployment rates and how it boosted American fabrication.
To understand what brought at end to the Great Depression, we must first analyze the root causes of this tragedy. The end of World War 1 brought prosperity to the United States, calling the 1920’s the Golden Age for the American economy. This ended October 27th 1929, when the New York Stock Market crashed. Now we cannot single this crash as the sole cause of the Great Depression. However this crash set of a “chain of events that plunged the United States into its longest, deepest economic crisis of its history”. Before the crash, American companies and firms were making record breaking profits and re-investing them in the companies for expansion. There came a point where the expansion was too great, and the only way to go was down as “workers could no longer continue to fuel further expansion”. At the same time, banks functioned without any guarantees or insurance for their customers, which would cause problems if ever times got tough as banks could not return any of the funds to their customers.
The stock market crash prevented other countries from doing business with the United States, thus reducing their exporting products which decreased the demand of American products. This caused the unemployment rate to rise above 25%, “which meant even less spending to help alleviate the economic situation”. This led to President Hoover to authorize the creation of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff in 1930, which imposed a high tax for all imported goods. This in turn led to less trade between the United States and other countries, thus negatively impacting the American economy. The first war factor that helped the American economy was the reduction of unemployment rate. After the attack on Pearl Harbour, the United States became fully involved in the war. This meant recruiting men into the army, even forcing them at times. With all the men being sent to war, there were very few men left to stay back and work in the factories. This significantly reduced the unemployment rate from 25% to about 3-5%. This was because now the demand for workers was much higher, since most of the young, healthy men were busy fighting in the frontlines of the war. During this time many women, who were normally accustomed to be stay at home moms, stepped up and took on much of the work that was normally carried out by men. This allowed women to become well trained in such trades as metal fabrication and machinery, which would be a real asset in the post war years. Although this was not a real solution to the problem, it began laying the groundwork for recovery.
The second war factor that contributed to the end of the Great Depression was the need for metal fabrication. America was at war, and to stay in the war there was a great need for constant influx of guns, bullets, tanks and ships. All the above mentioned items are not made in just one factory. This means that different factories are needed to produce different parts of these war items. This opens the door for more factories to be opened, which also opens the door for more workers. Unlike other materials and products, these war products needed to be constantly produced, as these items and structures were being destroyed on a regular basis. The army could not afford to have a shortage of weapons and war machines, which means there always needed to be a surplus in case they needed to immediately send out an emergency shipment to the soldiers in the frontline. Again, this was only a temporary solution, since once the war ended there would not be a big a need for metal fabrication for the construction of weapons and war machines. Also, think of all the tens of thousands of soldiers returning from the war who would need a job. However, as with the previous factor, this paved the way for recovery from the Great Depression. After the war, President Roosevelt issued out a new Bill of Rights which had the goal of guaranteeing employment for all soldiers returning form the war, without taking the jobs of those that stayed behind and worked hard for the fabrication of materials for the American war effort. This bill included more government involvement in helping its citizens find work, while at the same time limiting its interference on free speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion. This bill was the start of the recovery from the Great Depression post war era.
Although the War was a terrible thing for the world, it did bring the American people together to help fight a common enemy: the Great Depression. Although the war did not theoretically bring an end to the Great Depression, it paved the way for new economic plans to be put in place that would eventually help the American people get out of the Great Depression and into a new golden era, much like was experienced in the 1920’s. The reduction of unemployment rate due to the amount of men busy fighting the war opened up more jobs and allowed women and others to step up and learn new skills that would benefit them in the future. The war also increased the demand for weapons and items that required metal and other materials, which opened up more factories and expanded the metal industry, opening up more jobs for more Americans. Although the negative impacts of the war outweigh the positive impacts, it did allow the United States to overcome one of its darkest periods and to come out prosperous and ready to provide a safe and secure haven for its citizens.
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