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The Brief American Pageant , Sixth Edition
David M. Kennedy, Stanford University
Lizabeth Cohen, Harvard University
Thomas A. Bailey
Mel Piehl, Valparaiso University
Primary Sources

Introduction | Questions to Consider | Source

Oct. 29, Dies Irae
James N. Rosenberg

Instructors' Note
Reviewing the economic prosperity of the 1920s makes a good introduction to discussing the stock market crash as it is portrayed in this political cartoon. Students should perceive the emphasis Rosenberg placed on the shock of the crash as a radical departure from the way the years previous to 1929 were perceived.

Emphasize that investors were buying stock "on margin" and how that created a false sense of endless economic growth. You might also want to place the crash in the context of the worldwide depression. To connect this document to more recent events, you may want to have students compare and contrast this event with the 1987 stock market crash.

A copy of this illustration can be found in Eyes of the Nation: A Visual History of the United States, by Vincent Virga and the Curators of the Library of Congress (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997). This is an excellent starting point for utilizing resources from the Library of Congress.

In Dies Irae (Day of Wrath) artist James N. Rosenberg illustrates his perception of the events of October 29, 1929.

Questions to Consider
  1. Why did the artist title a political cartoon about October 29, 1929, "Day of Wrath"?

  2. What is happening to the skyscrapers? What does it represent?

  3. Who do you think is jumping from the skyscrapers? Why?

  4. What is the mood of the crowd in the street?

  5. What message is Rosenberg trying to convey about the events of October 29, 1929? Do you agree with his assessment? Why or why not?


Dies Irae (Day of Wrath)