In 1920–21, the United States faced a grave economic crisis, worse than the first year of the Great Depression. Double-digit unemployment and a 21 percent decline in production over the previous twelve months greeted the new president.

That president, the now-despised Warren G. Harding, told Americans that the bust following the artificial, credit-induced boom of the war years had to be faced up to, and that no government, however wise, could make it disappear:

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