A Take On The Great Depression And World War II


Manage episode 180929297 series 1456791
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On October 29, 1929 the Stock Market crashed, resulting in a devastating economic depression. The Great Depression was caused by the overuse of bank loans, interest and credit. It affected people all across America, leaving them unemployed and job less. Herbert Hoover being President at the time was the inspiration for the name "Hoovervilles," where many homeless people lived. He was credited for the misfortune on the majority of Americans. Fortunately on March 4, 1933 Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected President. He initiated a New Deal Program that instilled relief, recovery and reform from this Depression. Many new programs helped rise the employment rate such as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Some programs are still implemented today such as the Social Security Act. While America made their way out of Depression conflicts in Europe were evolving. On December 7, 1941 Japanese planes attacked the navel base Pearl Harbor. At first America claimed they were not going to be involved in foreign affairs, however the bombing of Pearl Harbor lead America to join the war. Many battles were fought during World War II, such as the D-Day invasion (June 6, 1944) and the Battle of the Bulge (December 16, 1944). Preceding these battles, two atomic bombs were dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan on August 6th and 9th. They successfully forced Japan to surrender, ending World War II on August 12, 1945. This time in history was very significant and resulted in America coming out of the Great Depression into a surge of nationalism. Ellen Whitmoyer Smiley was born on February 19, 1921 in Reading, Pennsylvania. She lived on Front Street in a rural community with similar buildings and close, friendly neighbors. Being eight year old at the time, Ellen recalls the stock market crash of 1929 when her Uncle lost a lot of investments. Growing up during the Great Depression the Smiley family was very fortunate and was always able to have food. Taking interest in Biology and Chemistry, Ellen studied at Albright College, later working as a medical technician. Oliver Smiley (Ellen's Husband) graduated from college and had trouble finding employment in his field. In the 1940's he was fortunately able to find a job in Baltimore, moving Ellen from her hometown, to Maryland. Together they lived there for a few years in a home built by the government, later moving to Kimberton, PA. In 1949 Oliver and Ellen began the construction of their house, where they lived until moving to Saint John's Herr Estate in 1991. Today, being 96-years-old Ellen is able to clearly recall her life growing up during the Great Depression and World War II.

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