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[Type text]The Great Crash of 1929: A Catalyst for the Great DepressionThe 1920s was a decade of unprecedented decadence and economic growth in the United States. Consumption increased sharply, and a euphoric zeitgeist of opportunity and promise soared like the Hindenburg over the cultural landscape. Instant gratification was the trend, advertising, corporate interests, automobiles, and celebrity culture gripped the public imagination. It was in this frenzy of consumption, manipulation and illusion that the American Dream was born.Up until that moment in time, the stock market, headquartered on Wall Street at the New York Stock Exchange, had been an elite club for only the shrewdest of investors. Propelled by the same insatiable drive to expand, it opened its doors to an optimistic, and unfortunately quite naïve, public. The market skyrocketed, as bull markets tend to do, and even the shoe shine boy was eligible for a loan to buy his share. By 1929, millions of Americans, and many businesses, lured by glittering rumors of fortunes made overnight, were committed to what was essentially gambling; a game rigged by an experienced few, a house that always won. The bankers and financiers at the pinnacle of the structure, Wall Street’s inner circle, had no regard for the livelihoods or futures of the newcomers beneath them. They held a powerful influence over the government’s financial policies and did not hesitate to keep regulations to a minimum, to maintain their control of the market. In the words of John Kenneth Galbraith, “Thesense of responsibility in the financial community for the community as a whole is not small. It is nearly nil” (Galbraith 37). It was this sub-culture, characterized by a flagrant disregard for the interests of the larger community, that served as a tipping point for the Great Crash of 1929, and consequently the Great Depression, a twelve-year period of deprivation that would spell the financial ruin of countless businesses and individuals across the nation, and alter the cultural landscape irrevocably.
[Type text]On December 4, 1928, then president of the United States, Calvin Coolidge, delivered an ebullient State of the Union address, noting that America had never “met with a more pleasing prospect than that which appears at the present time” (Suddath). Indeed, it was a glorious hour,