Modern history


1928November: Republican Herbert Hoover wins presidential election over Democrat Al Smith.

1929September 3: After an up-and-down year, the Dow Jones industrial average reaches an all-time high of 381.17.

1929October 24: Thousands of stock market small investors lose their life savings during the “Black Thursday” decline. A few major bankers buy stock in a somewhat successful effort to reverse the downturn.

1929October 29: “Black Tuesday,” a day of major stock losses, ends without a significant upturn in stock prices. This day is considered the beginning of the Great Depression.

1929December: President Hoover proclaims, “We have re-established confidence,” although the Depression will continue throughout the 1930s.

1930June: President Hoover signs Smoot-Hawley Act, the highest tariff in American history.

1932July 8: The stock market bottoms out, as the Dow Jones average plummets to 58.

1932July: Federal troops drive out “Bonus Marchers,” World War I veterans seeking a military bonus promised in 1945, from the capital.

1932November: Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt unseats Herbert Hoover in the most one-sided presidential election in sixty-eight years.

1933February: Widespread financial panic causes several states to declare “bank holidays” to stem withdrawals.

1933March 4: Roosevelt is inaugurated and claims, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

1933March 5: Roosevelt calls an emergency session of Congress to pass his proposed legislation.

1933March 12: Roosevelt delivers first “fireside chat” to outline plans for his administration.

1933—Roosevelt creates a plethora of new government programs, including the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Civil Conservation Corps (CCC), Public Works Administration (PWA), and National Recovery Act (NRA). Chicago celebrates Century of Progress, a fair that attracts 16 million visitors.

1933–35—Droughts and dust storms create the “dust bowl,” causing crop failures that lead to thousands of Midwestern farmers losing their land.

1934—Author Upton Sinclair, whose campaign receives worldwide attention, loses election for governor of California.

1935May: Supreme Court strikes down the National Recovery Act (NRA) as unconstitutional.

1935September 8: Louisiana Senator Huey P. Long, a likely 1936 presidential challenger to Roosevelt, is shot to death.

1936—Hitler invades neutral Rhineland and supports Fascist forces in bloody Spanish Civil War.

1936August: Jesse Owens wins four gold medals in Berlin Olympic games.

1936November: Roosevelt wins re-election in the greatest landslide in history, carrying every state except Maine and Vermont.

1936December: Workers at the General Motors plant in Flint, Michigan, begin a sit-down strike that leads to a union contract.

1937January: Ohio River floods drown nine hundred people and force half a million more from their homes.

1937May: Police shoot ten strikers and wound one hundred in Chicago’s “Memorial Day Massacre.”

1937—Roosevelt announces a proposal to add six new justices to the Supreme Court, a move criticized by both Republicans and Democrats as “court packing.”

1937August: A recession costs 4 million workers their jobs.

1938September: Allies turn over the region in western Czechoslovakia known as the Sudetenland to Hitler.

1938November: Republicans post huge gains in off-year elections.

1939September: Hitler invades Poland, starting World War II.

1939—John Steinbeck publishes The Grapes of Wrath, an epic novel about Depression-era migrant workers. The Civil War epic movie Gone with the Wind premieres.

1940November: Roosevelt wins an unprecedented third term as president.

1941December: The Japanese bomb the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, forcing the United States to enter into World War II. The military buildup from the war puts an end to the Depression.

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