DBQ: What Caused The Great Depression

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In the words of President Calvin Coolidge, “The country can regard the present with satisfaction and anticipate the future with optimism,” (Doc B). Despite being President of the country, Coolidge was incredibly mistaken. Coolidge had no clue as to how far down their economy would plummet from 1929 to 1939. Coolidge had no clue that there would be thousands of homeless families and failing businesses in America’s not-so-distant future. Even John T. Raskob could not see this happening as he wrote in Everybody Ought to be Rich, “...anyone not only can be rich, but ought to be rich” (Doc C). Due to the overconfidence in our economy it left the nation wondering, “What Caused the Great Depression?” It is essential to define caused in this question; …show more content…
With foreign nations owing the United States nearly three billion, and moving in the direction opposite of where they needed to go, as stated by William E. Leuchtenburg, the Great Depression was inevitable. Leuchtenburg states in The Perils of Prosperity, “if the United States was to function as a creditor nation, it had to import more than it exported (only by selling to the US could foreign nations get the money to pay off Us Creditors). But the country moved in the opposite” (Doc P). To paraphrase, this meant that the United States made it hard to allow the foreign nations to pay them back, as they kept adding on new high tariffs, making it improbable for any nation to pay back the United States the debt they owed. Even then with the addition of the Hawley-Smoot Tariff, it changed the international trade and made it improbable for the United States to even gain a profit from the international trade. It is even demonstrated through political cartoon. In 1930 a newspaper published a cartoon with the United States surrounded with a barrier that is seemingly impossible to break down. The caption reads: “A mighty fortress is our gold” (Doc O). This could be easily interpreted as the Americans being separated from other nations because they were not in immense amounts of debt. The United States was extremely comfortable believing they would be paid back the debt they were owed by foreign nations, which …show more content…
The failure of the banking system helped cause the Great Depression. “When one bank failed, the assets of others were frozen while depositors elsewhere has… [a] warning to go ask for their money” (Doc L). This was a minor cause because if one bank failed it started a domino effect of all the banks failing one at a time. The more banks that failed, the more of the American nation was left homeless and unemployed. The cycle helped cause the Great Depression and slowly but surely tore down the American

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