As the Progressive Era made way to the Roaring Twenties, all pretenses of reform movements were abandoned. There still were inventions, naturally, though the country took a deeper interest in itself and completely cast off any in foreign affairs: That is, the average person, even the average politician, did not much care to continue making the rest of the world a "safer place" at, what most believed, the expense of the U.S. But all in all, the Twenties was an extremely prosperous period, when economy was up, jobs were plenty, and even the poorest could get by comfortably. Perhaps it is this false sense of security that prevented America from seeing the bigger picture, for in the Twenties, people spent only a small amount of their income on food and clothing, leaving the rest for entertainment and eating out. The spread of chain stores and installment plans made it easier for the average person to buy things that could not be bought in the past due to lack of money. The stock market, another reason for the prosperity of the nation, was at an all-time high. Stocks were sky-rocketing, and people could buy shares of stock to bring prosperity into their homes. It looked easy enough: Buy stock on credit, wait for it to go up, sell it at a higher price. But many overdid it. By 1929, almost one-third of these stock-buyers were in heavy debt, while most didn't understand that the value of the stock rested on the buyer alone.
An integral part of the Roaring Twenties was Prohibition. Passed earlier on, the law made it illegal to sell alcohol, make alcohol, or transport it. Obviously, it did not work, pricipally because this law was forced on the nation by a few morally "conscious" individuals and because the habit had been ingrained into our nation for over 150 years. Instead it led to a rise in crime, and the act was later repealed under the Roosevelt administration as being a violation of civil liberties and as a public specter (due to rising bootlegging crime).
Stocks in New York City reached their highest value on Sept. 3, 1929. Then, just when U.S.A was counting itself luckier than anyone, there was a whole week of steady drop in prices, and a plummet on October 23 of the same year. Panic struck. Stockholders tried to sell, but nobody wished to buy, so the prices dropped further. Who was responsible for putting millions into debt? The country turned to its president: the unlucky individual known as Herbert Hoover.
Hoover had been elected president in 1928, bringing with him a guarantee that the U.S. would never see poverty again. Unfortunately for him, he had been incredibly wrong. Now, when the economy risked a standstill, the people sought his leadership, expecting him to do something to save the country from ruin. But Hoover believed in letting disasters run their course. And because of this belief, he lost the next election to the country's rising star, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Meanwhile, his neglect succeeded in bringing the economy to a complete halt as the prosperity of the Roaring Twenties disappeared, to be replaced by a poverty the likes of which America had never before known: The Great Depression.