Stock Market Crash of 1929

Hundreds of men gather outside the New York Stock Exchange, waiting to be let inside to trade in their shares of stocks that were plummeting in value

The cause of this era all falls back to the events within a period of a single week during the month of October, a week where the fate of the nation would be affected for an entire decade. The fateful week started with the events of Wednesday October 23rd, when waves of panicked investors sold shares that dropped the prices of several blue chip stocks. The next morning, the effects of the day before terrified everyone. Even more waves of people flooded the New York Stock Exchange building, selling shares left and right, tanking stock prices across the board. Burns explains, “In less than two hours, nearly $10 billion of paper value was simply wiped out”.[1] Crowds waiting to sell their own shares waited in terror watching as the stock prices kept dropping. All hope was lost until the “city’s four leading bankers strode up the steps of Wall Street and into the Morgan Bank”, investing $240 million into the market, raising the price of stocks for U.S. Steel by ten full points.[2] With this single act, it seemed that the crash had been stopped in its tracks. On Friday, the bankers withdrew their investments because they believed the market was stabilized. However, the withdrawal of their money only pushed the public back into a terrified frenzy. On Tuesday October 29th, later dubbed as Black Tuesday, the market regained its downward momentum as crazed crowds flooded the stock exchange, seeing over 16 million shares trading hands, with the market loosing $14 billion in value that day alone.[3] Over the course of the week, the market lost $30 million in value, a value “nearly twice the amount the United States had spent during all of World War I”.[4] The stock market had crashed and the lives of millions of Americans were set to change drastically for the next decade.

[1] Burns and Sanders, 373

[2] Burns and Sanders, 373

[3] Burns and Sanders 376

[4] Burns and Sanders 376

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