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The Great Depression

The Great Depression

Reading Quizzes

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Sample of Reading Quizzes

Big Picture


1. What was the Great Depression?
2. What major change in American government did the Great Depression initiate?
3. What were some of the radical alternatives to the New Deal?
4. Why was the existence of radical alternatives historically significant?
5. What economic system was cast into doubt by the Great Depression?


1. The Great Depression, initiated by the stock market crash of 1929, was the most severe economic crisis that has ever faced the United States. For more than a decade, millions of hardworking individuals were thrown into poverty while the government struggled to find a way back to prosperity.
2. Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal program of the 1930s was a direct response to the challenges faced by the Great Depression. The New Deal forever changed the relationship between the American people and their government, and was one of the most significant periods of political reform in American history.
3. Communists agitated for revolution, while in California a large minority voted for Upton Sinclair's plan to "End Poverty in California." On the other end of the political spectrum, the country's most popular radio personality, Father Charles Coughlin, was moving from support for the New Deal to bitter denunciations of it and openly flirting with fascism.
4. While most radical alternatives never took root in American society, some were watered down and introduced as part of New Deal reforms. All are historically significant because the mere fact that they were taken so seriously reveals the unparalleled depth of the crisis that struck the nation's established order during the Great Depression.
5. During the Great Depression, it appeared that the American capitalist system had lost its way. For more than a decade, neither the free market nor the federal government was able to restore prosperity. For perhaps the only time in our history, American capitalism broke down so badly, and for so long, that radically different ways of organizing society became not only thinkable, but for some, desperately desired.