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The Great Depression Cause And Effect Essay Rubric

The depression was caused by a number of serious weaknesses in the economy. Although the 1920s appeared on the surface to be a prosperous time, income was unevenly distributed. The wealthy made large profits, but more and more Americans spent more than they earned, and farmers faced low prices and heavy debt. The lingering effects of World War I (1914-1918) caused economic problems in many countries, as Europe struggled to pay war debts and reparations. These problems contributed to the crisis that began the Great Depression.

America's "Great Depression" began with the dramatic crash of the stock market on "Black Thursday", October 24, 1929 when 16 million shares of stock were quickly sold by panicking investors who had lost faith in the American economy. At the height of the Depression in 1933, nearly 25% of the Nation's total work force, 12,830,000 people, were unemployed.

Wage income for workers who were lucky enough to have kept their jobs fell almost 43% between 1929 and 1933. It was the worst economic disaster in American history. Farm prices fell so drastically that many farmers lost their homes and land. Many went hungry.

Faced with this disaster, families split up or migrated from their homes in search of work. 'Hoovervilles' (named after President Hoover, as an insult), shanty towns constructed of packing crates, abandoned cars and other cast off scraps sprung up across the Nation. Gangs of youths, whose families could no longer support them, rode the rails in box cars like so many hoboes, hoping to find a job. 'Okies', victims of the drought and dust storms in the Great Plains, left their farms and headed for California, the new land of "milk and honey" where they believed all one had to do was reach out and pluck food from the trees. America's unemployed were on the move, but there was really nowhere to go. Industry was badly shaken by the Depression. Factories closed; mills and mines were abandoned; fortunes were lost. American business and labor were both in serious trouble.

Unable to help themselves the American public looked to the Federal Government. Dissatisfied with President Herbert Hoover's economic programs, the people elected Franklin D. Roosevelt as their president in 1932. Roosevelt was a bold experimenter and a man of action. Early on in his administration he assembled the best minds in the country to advise him. This group of men were known as the 'Brain Trust.' Within one hundred days the President, his advisors and the U.S. Congress passed into law a package of legislation designed to help lift the troubled Nation out of the Depression.

Roosevelt's program was called the 'New Deal.' The words 'New Deal' signified a new relationship between the American people and their government. This new relationship included the creation of several new federal agencies, called 'alphabet agencies' because of their use of acronyms. A few of the more significant of these New Deal programs was the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) which gave jobs to unemployed youths and to improve the environment, the WPA (Works Progress Administration) gave jobs to thousands of unemployed in everything from construction to the arts, and the NRA (National Recovery Administration) drew up regulations and codes to help revitalize industry. Later on came the creation of the Social Security System, unemployment insurance and more agencies and programs designed to help Americans during times of economic hardship. Under President Roosevelt the federal government took on many new responsibilities for the welfare of the people. The new relationship forged in the New Deal was one of closeness between the government and the people: a closeness which had never existed to such a degree before.

Although Roosevelt and the New Deal were criticized by many both in and out of government, and seriously challenged by the U.S. Supreme Court, they received the overwhelming support of the people. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the only president in U.S. history to be elected for four terms of office.

Despite all the President's efforts and the courage of the American people, the Depression hung on until 1941, when America's involvement in the Second World War resulted in the drafting of young men into military service, and the creation of millions of jobs in defense and war industries.

Causes of the Great depression of USA:

  • Unequal distribution of wealth

  • High Tariffs and war debts

  • Over production in industry and agriculture

  • Stock market crash and financial panic

Effects of the Great depression

  • Widespread hunger, poverty, and unemployment

  • Worldwide economic crisis

  • Democratic victory in 1932 election

  • FDR's New Deal

There is nothing Casual about Causal-Analysis!


Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin. . .

–Orson Welles  

Guidelines for Writing the Cause/Effect Essay

  • Typed MLA formatted Cause/Effect essay, 4 Pages of text
  • Plus typed MLA formatted Works Cited page
  • Must include in-text citations that identifies when you use the sources in the Works Cited page, at least one per body paragraph
  • 3 - 4 Sources (two database), no wikis or blogs
  • Provide copies of the sources used in the paper: web pages and web sites; scanned pages from printed sources, copies of sources from databases, etc.
  • Papers will not be accepted without these minimal requirements.

Taboo Topics

        • Death Penalty
        • Gun Control
        • School Uniforms
        • Gay Marriage
Why a Causal Analysis or Cause/Effect essay?

With the Causal Analysis essay, students are introduced to source-based writing. If 90% of the papers students will write in college are in third person, 98% of the papers will be source-based. With the causal analysis, students will be expected to identify three to four credible sources for their papers. They will read and assimilate the information, then incorporate it in their work as evidence and support.

While students will probably not write a cause/effect essay in their professional life, being able to recognize and incorporate cause/effect data is important. When studying accidents or plane crashes, investigators attempt to determine the sequence of events that led to the crash. What caused it? When deciding to spend all of that taxpayer money to build the train system in the valley, supporters first gathered data showing the current effects of all of the traffic on the city. Then they provided the probable effects of the train system on the valley based upon similar results from other cities. These are just a couple of ways that causal analysis is utilized in society, so it is important to be able to understand it.

Choosing a topic

Many students find the cause/effect essay hard to write. They struggle with a few aspects. First, they struggle to identify an appropriate topic. The topic needs to cover a true cause/effect relationship. Here are some examples:

          • Effects of bullying
          • Effects of air pollution on inner-city children
          • Effects of divorce on children
          • Causes of childhood diabetes
          • Causes of  bullying
          • Three main causes of global warming

These topics identify clear cause/effect relationships. In other words, x most definitely causes y, or y is a direct result of x. These topics are focused enough to provide sufficient information to complete a three to four page essay with in-depth analysis of the topic and support from outside sources.

Students make a few mistakes when choosing a topic. One mistake students make is to pick a topic that is too broad; for example, students choose topics like the causes of WWI or the effects of the Great Depression. Books have been written about topics like this. These topics provide too much information to cover in  a short paper. Instead of an in-depth analysis, the essay is shallow and rushed. Students need to avoid broad topics like these.

The second mistake students make is confusing causes and reasons. A cause has a direct effect. It explains how it occurred. For example, let's say that I put a glass of water in a freezer that is cold enough to freeze water, what will the outcome be? I get ice.  There are laws of physics that operate in this world, and water must obey them. That is how the world works. However, a reason explains why it occurred. The focus of a reason is why something happens. Let's say that I don't study for a test the night before I take it,  what will the outcome be? We don't know. This time the outcome is not automatic. While not studying is a bad idea, it does not mean I will fail the test. It is not an inevitable outcome. The reason I may fail the test is because I chose not to study, but I might be confident about this particular information and feel it is unnecessary to study. Thus, students need to pick topics where the relationship between the cause and effect can be clearly established.

Finally, the third mistake students make is confusing causation and correlation. Things can happen at the same time without there being a direct cause/effect relationship. Let's say that there is a five year study that covered an increase in inflation in the United States. At the same time, the study noted that sales in flat-screen televisions had increased. Does that mean that the increase in inflation caused an increase in TV sales? Probably not. There maybe a relationship between the two, but one does not directly cause the other.

Thus, choosing a topic that shows a clear causal relationship is extremely important.

Writing the Causal Analysis/Cause Effect Essay

The cause/effect essay can be split into four basic sections: introduction, body, conclusion and Works Cited page. There are also three basic formats for writing a cause/effect:

  1. Single effect with multiple causes–air pollution is the effect, and students would identify several causes;
  2. Single cause with multiple effects–bullying is the cause, and students would establish several effects it has on children;
  3. Causal Chain–this is complicated, and I try to steer students away from this format. Causal chains show a series of causes and effects. For example. dust storms between Tucson and Phoenix can be deadly causing a chain reaction of accidents. The dust is the initial catalyst. It causes car A to stop. Car B crashes into Car A. Car C crashes into Car B., etc. Global Warming is a good example of a causal chain topic. Population increase is causing an increase in traffic and greenhouse gases. It is also causing an increase in deforestation for housing, roads and farming.  Deforestation means less plants to take up the CO2 and release O2 into the environment.  Each item causes an effect. That effect causes another effect. All of this contributes to global warming.

The  Introduction

The introduction introduces the reader to the topic. We've all heard that first impressions are important. This is very true in writing as well. The goal is to engage the readers, hook them so they want to read on. One way is to write a narrative. Topics like bullying or divorce hit home.  Beginning with a real case study highlights the issue for readers. This becomes an example that you can refer to throughout the paper. The final sentence in the introduction is usually the thesis statement.

Another way to introduce the topic is to ask a question or questions. What are the main causes of schizophrenia? Who is susceptible? The student would then begin a brief discussion defining schizophrenia and explaining its significance. Once again, the final sentence would be a thesis statement introducing the main points that will be covered in the paper.

The Body

The body  of the essay is separated into paragraphs.  Each paragraph covers a single cause or effect. For example, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, the two main causes of schizophrenia are genetic and environmental. Thus, if I was writing about the causes of schizophrenia, then I would have a body paragraph on genetic causes of schizophrenia and a body paragraph on the environmental causes. The global warming example would have separate paragraphs that explain each cause/effect relationship: population increases, increases in air pollution due to traffic exhaust and manufacturing,  increases in food production and agriculture, deforestation, all causes for global warming and all intricately linked.

A body paragraph should include the following:

          • Topic sentence that identifies the topic for the paragraph,
          • Several sentences that describes the causal relationship,
          • Evidence from outside sources that corroborates your claim that the causal relationship exists,
          • MLA formatted in-text citations indicating which source listed on the Works Cited page has provided the evidence,
          • Quotation marks placed around any information taken verbatim (word for word) from the source,
          • Summary sentence(s) that draws conclusions from the evidence,
          • Remember: information from outside sources should be placed in the middle of the paragraph and not at the beginning or the end of the paragraph;
          • Be sure and use transitions or bridge sentences between paragraphs.

Conclusions

          • Draw final conclusions from the key points and evidence provided in the paper;
          • Tie in the introduction. If you began with a story, draw final conclusions from that story;
          • If you began with a question(s), refer back to the question(s) and be sure to provide the answer(s).

Works Cited page

          • A Works Cited page is a type of bibliography that is formatted according to the Modern Language Association's (MLA) guidelines;
          • Citations are double spaced and placed in alphabetical order by the author's last name;
          • If there is no author, then the title is used;
          • The first line of each entry is placed on the left margin with subsequent lines of that entry indented a half inch.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License by Lynn McClelland.

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