Digital History

The Great Depression Timeline, Digital History ID 2941


U.S. population: 123,203,000

June 17: The Smoot-Hawley Tariff raises duties on agricultural and manufactured goods, triggering foreign retaliation.


March 3. President Herbert Hoover signs an act making the "Star-Spangled Banner" the national anthem.

March 25: Nine black youths, the "Scottboro Boys, are charged with rape. The case established the right of African Americans to serve on juries.

September: A bank panic leads 305 banks to close in September and another 522 in October.


Jan 22: The Reconstruction Finance Corporation is established to provide loans to banks, railroads, and insurance companies.

March 1: The son of aviator Charles Lindbergh is kidnapped.

July 2: Democratic presidential candidate Franklin Roosevelt promises a "New Deal" for the American people.

July 28: Bonus Army. President Herbert Hoover orders the army to remove 15,000 WWI veterans who had been camped in Washington for two months demanding early payment of a bonus due in 1945.


January 30: Adolf Hitler, leader of Germany's Nazi party, is appointed Chancellor.

March 4: Franklin D. Roosevelt becomes President and launches the New Deal. In his inaugural address, he says: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." During his first hundred days in office, Congress enacts the AAA, which provides farmers with payments for restricting production; establishes the Civil Works Administration and the Public Works Administration; and creates the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Bank Deposit Insurance Corporation.

December 5: Prohibition is repealed.


January 1: Dr. Francis Townsend, a 66-year-old retired dentist, proposes federally-funded pensions for the elderly.

July 22: Public Enemy Number 1, bank robber John Dillinger, is shot and killed by the FBI while leaving a movie theater in Chicago.

September 15: The Nuremberg Laws strip German Jews of and prohibit intermarriage with non-Jews.


May 27: The Supreme Court declares the national industrial Recovery Act unconstitutional, suggesting that any federal effort to legislate wages, prices, and working conditions was invalid.

June 10: Alcoholic Anonymous is organized in New York City.

July 5: The Wagner Act guarantees workers' right to bargain collectively.

August 14: President Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act.

September 8: Huey Long is assassinated in Louisiana's state capitol.

October 18: The Committee for Industrial Organization is formed with John L. Lewis, president of the United Mine Workers, as its head. In 1938, it became the Congress of Industrial Organizations. Unlike the AFL, it did not limit membership to skilled workers.


March 7: In violation of the Versailles Treaty ending WWI, 4,000 German troops occupy the Rhineland.

Summer: Jesse Owens wins four medals at the Olympics in Berlin, rebutting Hitler's claims about the superiority of the Aryan race.

July 17 Civil War erupts in Spain, ending the country's five year experiment with democracy. Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini provide arms to Gen. Francisco Franco, who defeats the Loyalists in 1939 and imposes a dictatorship.


February 5: President Roosevelt proposes his "court packing" scheme.

February 11: After a 44-day occupation of General Motors factories, GM recognizes the United Automobile Workers.

March 18: A school fire in New London, Texas, kills 294.

March 29: The Supreme Court upholds a minimum wage law for women.

April 12: The Supreme Court upholds the National Labor Relations Act of 1935.

May 1: A Neutrality Act prohibits the export of arms and ammunition to belligerents.

May 24: The Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of the Social Security Act.

December 12: Japanese planes sink the U.S. gunboat Panay in Chinese waters, killing two. The Japanese government apologizes and pays reparations.


May 26: The House of Representatives creates

September 29: Munich Pact: To avert war, Britain and France give in to Hitler's claim to the Sudetenland, the German-populated part of Czechoslovakia. Critics denounce the agreement as "appeasement."


April 9: Denied use of Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution, contralto Marian Anderson sings at the Lincoln Memorial before 75,000 people.

August 23: Germany and the Soviet Union sign a non-aggression pact. The two countries agree to divide Poland.

September: World War II begins following Germany's invasion of Poland on September 1.

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