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The onset of the Great Depression

It is almost biblical in tone--the sins of -the seven good years atoned for by the sorrows of the seven bad ones (Sobel, 1975, p. 53).

Yet, despite the mythology surrounding the Great Depression, there were those who were aware that a Depression was possible and there were unmistakable factors which were at the root of the Great Depression. During the post-war period there were some American scholars and politicians concerned with the business cycle. The Harding Administration gave out government contracts for construction in 1921-1922, hoping to boost employment and pump purchasing power into the economy. Legislation was introduced around the same time which called for the president to consider the use of public works projects in the case of future depressions. Similar legislation was re-introduced in 1928 which was even stronger. Both times the legislation was defeated with many Congressman calling it socialistic.

The warnings were there but still the Great Depression occurred, causing an almost immediate shift from prosperity to depression. "All groups in American society felt the tremendous impact of the Depression, and most Americans suffered from it. The crisis resulted from fundamental weaknesses in the economy" (Kirkendall, 1974, p. 5).

One basic explanation for the Great Depression is certainly ironic in that ther


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