Why The 1930s Were The Worst Years In American History

A decade where nearly everything went wrong

Grant Piper


(Public domain)

A lot of bandwidth has been used to discuss which years were the worst in history. People often love dwelling on the worst times. In fact, there are very few articles talking about the best years in history. For certain people, the times always seem bad. Between COVID-19, political polarization, mass shootings, and multiple wars, many people believe that the current era is one of the hardest in American history. That raises an obvious question. What was the worst time in American history?

There can be no definitive answer to this question. One year could be the best of someone’s life and the worst of someone else’s. However, there is no decade that seems to be steeped in more misery and collective pain than the 1930s. The 1930s were a decade when nothing seemed right. Everything was a mess, and the pain echoed for generations afterward.

Here are six reasons why the 1930s were the hardest and the worst in American history.

The Great Depression

The 1930s will forever be synonymous with the Great Depression. The Depression was kicked off by a horrendous stock market crash that sent the global economy reeling. By 1933, 25% of eligible Americans were unemployed. That number reflects 12,000,000 men and women out of work. Times were tough. Money was scarce. People moved from place to place, hoping to find work. Families uprooted. Farms were lost. Homes were foreclosed on. A malaise settled over the nation. The Great Depression lasted for nearly the entire decade, stretching from 1930 all the way to 1939.

The Great Depression is still considered to be the worst economic downturn in US history, and it is unrivaled in terms of wealth loss, unemployment rates, and overall impact.

But the economy was not the only thing that went wrong during this decade. It also seemed like nature itself was conspiring against the United States.

Heat Wave of 1936

(National Weather Service)



Grant Piper

Professional writer. Amateur historian. Husband, father, Christian.