Black Thursday shook Michigan harder than almost any other state. Stocks of auto and mining companies were hammered. Auto production in 1929 reached an all-time high of slightly more than 5 million vehicles, then quickly slumped by 2 million in 1930. By 1932, near the deepest point of the Depression, they had fallen by another 2 million to just 1,331,860 — down an astonishing 75 percent from the 1929 peak.

Thousands of investors everywhere, including many well-known people, were hit hard in the 1929 crash. Among them was Winston Churchill. He had invested heavily in American stocks before the crash. Afterward, only his writing skills and positions in government restored his finances.

Clarence Birdseye, an early developer of packaged frozen foods, had sold his business for $30 million and put all his money into stocks. He was wiped out.

William C. Durant, founder of General Motors, lost more than $40 million in the stock market and wound up a virtual pauper. (GM itself stayed in the black throughout the Depression under the cost-cutting leadership of Alfred P. Sloan.)


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