October 23: the Wall Street Crash, the Battle of Leyte Gulf, and Other Events of the Date
A number of important events took place on October 23 in U.S. history. Here is our take on the most interesting and valuable of them.
1929 –Wall Street Crash
One of the biggest market crashes in history occurred on this date 89 years ago. The crisis, also known as the Stock Market Crash or simply as the Great Crash marked the beginning of the toughest era in U.S. history: the Great Depression.
Historians and economists still argue about why Wall Street crashed in 1929, yet, one of the most likely culprits is the lifestyle of the Roaring 20s’—a time of wealth for Americans for the first time in modern days, coupled with extreme self-confidence. Rural inhabitants were moving to the big cities to have a more prosperous life in the rapidly-growing industrial sector of the American economy. The growth of the cities, in turn, led to a crisis in the agricultural sphere: Believing the cities would continue growing, American farmers overproduced, which eventually led to the overall economic crash.
Another factor was professional speculators, who made the stock market unstable in a desperate attempt to earn money from the future crisis, but when the stock market started crashing, they (as well as the vast majority of Americans) lost everything.
1942 – Second World War: Pacific Theater: The Battle of Henderson Field
This battle took place on the island of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands between October 23 and 26, 1942 and was a part of the massive Guadalcanal campaign, one of the key campaigns of the war in the Pacific.
During the battle, U.S. Marine and Army forces, under the command of Major General Alexander Vandegrift, struggled against the 17th Japanese Army led into the battlefield by Lieutenant General Harukichi Hyakutake. On the defense near the Lunga perimeter, where a strategically important airfield was located, the Americans managed to stop the Japanese offensive, with many casualties for the Japanese.
In just three days, Japanese forces tried to assault American positions numerous times, losing hundreds of soldiers each time. Eventually, when the battle was over, the Japanese lost no less than 2,200 soldiers (yet, some sources give a number of 3,300 Japanese killed there). The Japanese fleet also lost 1 cruiser and 14 aircraft. At the same time, the American army lost only up to 86 soldiers killed, with 1 tugboat and 1 patrol boat sunk. The Battle of Henderson Field was the last significant ground offensive of the Japanese Army on Guadalcanal.
1944 – Second World War: Pacific Theater: The Battle of Leyte Gulf
The largest naval battle of the war (and, probably, in history) took place near the Philippine islands of Leyte, as well as the islands of Samar and Luzon between October 23 and 26, 1944: the same three days on which the Battle of Henderson Field was fought, two years later.
The battle was a desperate attempt by Japan to stop the American invasion of the island of Leyte (which occurred on October 20, 1944): a strategically-important island, the occupation of which might had resulted in the naval blockade of Hirohito’s Empire—so Japanese forces mobilized nearly their entire available fleet. Yet, the Third and Seventh American Fleets, under the command of Admirals Halsey and Kinkaid respectively, repulsed the attack of the Combined Japanese Fleet led by admirals Kurita, Nishimura, Shima, Ozawa, and Seki.
8 fleet carriers, 8 light carriers, 18 escort carriers, 12 battleships, 24 cruisers, and 166 destroyers and destroyer escorts fought in the Battle of Leyte Gulf on the American side. 1 fleet carrier, 3 light carriers, 9 battleships, 14 heavy cruisers, 6 light cruisers, and more than 35 destroyers took part in the battle from the Japanese side.
Suffering four times as many casualties as the Americans (12,500 killed sailors againast 3,000), having 1 fleet carrier, 3 light carriers, 3 battleships, 10 cruisers, and 11 destroyers sunk, the Japanese fleet lost this battle, which was a true disaster for a country already losing the war in the Pacific.
These are the most notable events in U.S. history that occurred on October 23, at least in our view.