The Great Depression was the longest-lasting economic downturn US history. In the United States, the Great Depression began after the stock market crash of October 1929, which wiped out millions of investors. Over several years, consumer spending and investment dropped, causing significant downturns in industrial output and rising unemployment levels. By 1933, when the Great Depression reached its extreme low pont, some 13 to 15 million Americans were unemployed and nearly half of the country's banks had failed. Though the measures put into place by President Franklin D. Roosevelt helped lessen the worst effects of the Great Depression in the 1930s, the economy did not fully turn around until after 1939.
The Dust Bowl was the name given to the Plains region effected by a bad drought in 1930s. The area, surrounding the Oklahoma and Texas and sections of Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico, had little to no rainfall, light soil, and high winds. When drought struck from 1934 to 1937, the soil lacked the stronger root system of grass as an anchor, so the winds easily picked up the loose topsoil and swirled it into dense dust clouds. Repeated dust storms choked cattle and pasture lands and drove 60 percent of the population from the region.
By 1932, during the Great Depression, at least a quarter of the American workforce was unemployed. When President Franklin Roosevelt took office in 1933, he acted fast to try and stabilize the economy and provide jobs to those who were suffering. Over the next eight years, the government introduced a series of projects and programs, known collectively as the New Deal, that aimed to restore dignity and prosperity to many Americans. More than that, Roosevelt’s New Deal permanently changed the federal government's relationship to the U.S. population.
Spanning the 1920s to the mid-1930s, the Harlem Renaissance was a literary, artistic, and intellectual movement that kindled a new black cultural identity. Its aspect was summed up by Alain Locke in 1926 when he declared that through art, "Negro life is seizing its first chances for group expression and self determination." Harlem became the center of a "spiritual coming of age" in which Locke's "New Negro" transformed "social failure to race pride." The Renaissance included the art, but excluded jazz.
Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, one of the best-selling novels of all time and the blockbuster 1939 movie, was published. Published in 1936, Gone with the Wind caused a sensation in Atlanta and went on to sell millions of copies in the United States and throughout the world. While the book drew some criticism for its romanticized view of the Old South,its epic tale of war, passion and loss captured readers. By the time Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937, a movie project was already in the works. The film was produced by David O. Selznick, who paid Mitchell a record-high $50,000 for the film rights to her book.
On the morning of December 7, 1941, hundreds of Japanese planes attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, Hawaii. The attack lasted just two hours, but it had drastic effects. The Japanese destroyed nearly 20 American naval vessels, including eight HUGE battleships, and almost 200 airplanes. More than 2,000 Americans soldiers and sailors died in the attack, and another 1,000 were wounded. The day after, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan, and Congress approved his declaration. Three days later, Japanese allies Germany and Italy also declared war on the United States. More than two years into the conflict, America had finally joined World War II.
On August 6, 1945, during World War II (1939-45), an American bomber dropped the world’s first deployed atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The explosion wiped out 90 percent of the city and immediately killed 80,000 people.Others died of excessive radiation exposure. Three days later, a second bomber dropped another bomb on Nagasaki, killing about 40,000 people. Japan's Emperor Hirohito announced his country's unconditional surrender in World War II on August 15, citing the devastating power of "a new and most cruel bomb."
During World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union fought together as allies against the Axis powers. However, the relationship between the two nations was very tense. Americans had long been watchful of Soviet communism and concerned about Russian leader Joseph Stalin’s tyrannical, blood-thirsty rule of his own country. After the war ended, these complaints ripened into an overwhelming sense of distrust and enmity. Postwar Soviet expansionism in Eastern Europe fueled many Americans’ fears of a Russian plan to control the world. Meanwhile, the USSR came to resent what they perceived as American officials’ aggressive address, arms buildup and interfering approach to international relations. In such a hostile atmosphere, no single party was entirely to blame for the Cold War.