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    why did president herbert hoover oppose providing direct relief to citizens during the early stages of the great depression?

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    The Great Depression and President Hoover’s Response

    The Great Depression and President Hoover’s Response

    Brother, Can You Spare A Dime? The Great Depression

    The Great Depression and President Hoover’s Response Brother, Can You Spare A Dime? The Great Depression Introduction

    On March 4, 1929, at his presidential inauguration, Herbert Hoover stated, “I have no fears for the future of our country. It is bright with hope.” Most Americans shared his optimism. They believed that the prosperity of the 1920s would continue, and that the country was moving closer to a land of abundance for all. Little could Hoover imagine that barely a year into his presidency, shantytowns known as “Hoovervilles” would emerge on the fringes of most major cities, newspapers covering the homeless would be called “Hoover blankets,” and pants pockets, turned inside-out to show their emptiness, would become “Hoover flags.”

    The stock market crash of October 1929 set the Great Depression into motion, but other factors were at the root of the problem, propelled onward by a series of both human-made and natural catastrophes. Anticipating a short downturn and living under an ethos of free enterprise and individualism, Americans suffered mightily in the first years of the Depression. As conditions worsened and the government failed to act, they grew increasingly desperate for change. While Hoover could not be blamed for the Great Depression, his failure to address the nation’s hardships would remain his legacy. (2)

    The Stock Market Crash of 1929

    Herbert Hoover became president at a time of ongoing prosperity in the country. Americans hoped he would continue to lead the country through still more economic growth, and neither he nor the country was ready for the unraveling that followed. But Hoover’s moderate policies, based upon a strongly held belief in the spirit of American individualism, were not enough to stem the ever-growing problems, and the economy slipped further and further into the Great Depression.

    While it is misleading to view the stock market crash of 1929 as the sole cause of the Great Depression, the dramatic events of that October did play a role in the downward spiral of the American economy. The crash, which took place less than a year after Hoover was inaugurated, was the most extreme sign of the economy’s weakness. Multiple factors contributed to the crash, which in turn caused a consumer panic that drove the economy even further downhill, in ways that neither Hoover nor the financial industry was able to restrain. Hoover, like many others at the time, thought and hoped that the country would right itself with limited government intervention. This was not the case, however, and millions of Americans sank into grinding poverty. (2)

    The Early Days of Hoover’s Presidency

    Upon his inauguration, President Hoover set forth an agenda that he hoped would continue the “Coolidge prosperity” of the previous administration. While accepting the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 1928, Hoover commented, “Given the chance to go forward with the policies of the last eight years, we shall soon with the help of God be in sight of the day when poverty will be banished from this nation forever.” In the spirit of normalcy that defined the Republican ascendancy of the 1920s, Hoover planned to immediately overhaul federal regulations with the intention of allowing the nation’s economy to grow unfettered by any controls. The role of the government, he contended, should be to create a partnership with the American people, in which the latter would rise (or fall) on their own merits and abilities. He felt the less government intervention in their lives, the better.

    Yet, to listen to Hoover’s later reflections on Franklin Roosevelt’s first term in office, one could easily mistake his vision for America for the one held by his successor. Speaking in 1936 before an audience in Denver, Colorado, he acknowledged that it was always his intent as president to ensure “a nation built of home owners and farm owners. We want to see more and more of them insured against death and accident, unemployment and old age,” he declared. “We want them all secure.” Such humanitarianism was not uncommon to Hoover. Throughout his early career in public service, he was committed to relief for people around the world. In 1900, he coordinated relief efforts for foreign nationals trapped in China during the Boxer Rebellion. At the outset of World War I, he led the food relief effort in Europe, specifically helping millions of Belgians who faced German forces.

    President Woodrow Wilson subsequently appointed him head of the U.S. Food Administration to coordinate rationing efforts in America as well as to secure essential food items for the Allied forces and citizens in Europe.

    Hoover’s first months in office hinted at the reformist, humanitarian spirit that he had displayed throughout his career. He continued the civil service reform of the early twentieth century by expanding opportunities for employment throughout the federal government. In response to the Teapot Dome Affair, which had occurred during the Harding administration, he invalidated several private oil leases on public lands. He directed the Department of Justice, through its Bureau of Investigation, to crack down on organized crime, resulting in the arrest and imprisonment of Al Capone. By the summer of 1929, he had signed into law the creation of a Federal Farm Board to help farmers with government price supports, expanded tax cuts across all income classes, and set aside federal funds to clean up slums in major American cities. To directly assist several overlooked populations, he created the Veterans Administration and expanded veterans’ hospitals, established the Federal Bureau of Prisons to oversee incarceration conditions nationwide, and reorganized the Bureau of Indian Affairs to further protect Native Americans. Just prior to the stock market crash, he even proposed the creation of an old-age pension program, promising fifty dollars monthly to all Americans over the age of sixty-five—a proposal remarkably similar to the social security benefit that would become a hallmark of Roosevelt’s subsequent New Deal programs. As the summer of 1929 came to a close, Hoover remained a popular successor to Calvin “Silent Cal” Coolidge, and all signs pointed to a highly successful administration. (2)

    Source : courses.lumenlearning.com

    Herbert Hoover

    Herbert Hoover (1874-1964), America’s 31st president, took office in 1929, the year the U.S. stock market crashed, plunging the country into the Great Depression. Although his predecessors’ policies undoubtedly contributed to the crisis, which lasted over a decade, Hoover bore much of the blame in the minds of the American people.

    Herbert Hoover

    Author: History.com Editors Updated: Mar 29, 2022 Original: Oct 29, 2009

    Contents

    Early Years Humanitarian Work

    The Great Depression

    Post-Presidential Years

    Herbert Hoover (1874-1964), America’s 31st president, took office in 1929, the year the U.S. economy plummeted into the Great Depression. Although his predecessors’ policies undoubtedly contributed to the crisis, which lasted over a decade, Hoover bore much of the blame in the minds of the American people.

    As the Depression deepened, Hoover failed to recognize the severity of the situation or leverage the power of the federal government to squarely address it. A successful mining engineer before entering politics, the Iowa-born president was widely viewed as callous and insensitive toward the suffering of millions of desperate Americans. As a result, Hoover was soundly defeated in the 1932 presidential election by Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945).

    Early Years

    Herbert Clark Hoover was born on August 10, 1874, in West Branch, Iowa–the first U.S. president to be born west of the Mississippi River. He was the second of three children in a family of Quakers, who valued honesty, industriousness and simplicity. His father, Jesse Clark Hoover (1846-80), worked as a blacksmith, and his mother, Hulda Minthorn Hoover (1848-84), was a teacher. Orphaned at age nine, Hoover was raised primarily by an uncle in Oregon.

    Did you know? On March 3, 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed a law that made "The Star-Spangled Banner," based on an 1814 poem by Francis Scott Key (1779-1843), America's national anthem.

    After attending Quaker schools, Hoover became part of the first class to enter Stanford University when it opened in 1891. He graduated four years later with a degree in geology and launched a lucrative career as a mining engineer. Intelligent and hardworking, Hoover traveled all over the world to find valuable mineral deposits and establish business enterprises to extract the resources. His work made him a multimillionaire. On February 10, 1899, Hoover married his college sweetheart, Lou Henry (1874-1944), and the couple had two sons, Herbert (1903-69) and Allan Henry (1907-93).

    Humanitarian Work

    At the start of World War I (1914-18), Hoover dedicated his talents to humanitarian work. He helped 120,000 stranded American tourists return home from Europe when the hostilities broke out and coordinated the delivery of food and supplies to citizens of Belgium after that country was overrun by Germany.

    When the U.S. entered the war in 1917, President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) appointed Hoover head of the Food Administration. Hoover encouraged Americans to reduce their consumption of meat and other commodities in order to ensure a steady supply of food and clothing for the Allied troops.

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    Once the war ended, Hoover, as head of the American Relief Administration, arranged shipments of food and aid to war-ravaged Europe. He earned worldwide acclaim for his humanitarian efforts, as well as thousands of appreciative letters from people across Europe who benefited from the free meals known as “Hoover lunches.”

    Hoover’s success earned him an appointment as secretary of commerce under President Warren Harding (1865-1923), and he continued in this position under President Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933). During the fast-paced modernization of the 1920s, Hoover played an active role in organizing the fledgling radio broadcasting and civilian aviation industries, and also laid the groundwork for the construction of a huge dam on the Colorado River between Arizona and Nevada. (Named after Hoover, the dam opened in 1936.)

    The Great Depression

    In the U.S. presidential election of 1928, Hoover ran as the Republican Party’s nominee. Promising to bring continued peace and prosperity to the nation, he carried 40 states and defeated Democratic candidate Alfred E. Smith (1873-1944), the governor of New York, by a record margin of 444-87 electoral votes. “I have no fears for the future of our country,” Hoover declared in his inaugural address. “It is bright with hope.”

    On October 24, 1929–only seven months after Hoover took office–a precipitous drop in the value of the U.S. stock market sent the economy spiraling downward and signaled the start of the Great Depression. Banks and businesses failed across the country. Nationwide unemployment rates rose from 3 percent in 1929 to 23 percent in 1932. Millions of Americans lost their jobs, homes and savings. Many people were forced to wait in bread lines for food and to live in squalid shantytowns known derisively as Hoovervilles.

    Hoover undertook various measures designed to stimulate the economy, and a few of the programs he introduced became key components of later relief efforts. However, Hoover’s response to the crisis was constrained by his conservative political philosophy. He believed in a limited role for government and worried that excessive federal intervention posed a threat to capitalism and individualism. He felt that assistance should be handled on a local, voluntary basis. Accordingly, Hoover vetoed several bills that would have provided direct relief to struggling Americans. “Prosperity cannot be restored by raids upon the public Treasury,” he explained in his 1930 State of the Union address.

    Source : www.history.com

    Herbert Hoover on the Great Depression and New Deal, 1931–1933

    Herbert Hoover on the Great Depression and New Deal, 1931–1933 | The stock market crashed on Thursday, October 24, 1929, less than eight months into Herbert Hoover’s presidency. Most experts, including Hoover, thought the crash was part of a passing recession. | The stock market crashed on Thursday, October 24, 1929, less than eight months into Herbert Hoover’s presidency. Most experts, including Hoover, thought the crash was part of a passing recession. By July 1931, when the President wrote this letter to a friend, Governor Louis Emmerson of Illinois, it had become clear that excessive speculation and a worldwide economic slowdown had plunged America into the midst of a Great Depression. While Hoover wrote to Emmerson that "considerable continuance of destitution over the winter" and perhaps longer was unavoidable, he was trying to "get machinery of the country into . . . action." Since the crash, Hoover had worked ceaselessly trying to fix the economy. He founded government agencies, encouraged labor harmony, supported local aid for public works, fostered cooperation between government and business in order to stabilize prices, and struggled to balance the budget. His work focused on indirect relief from individual states and the private sector, as reflected in this letter’s emphasis on "support[ing] each state committee more effectively" and volunteerism—"appeal[ing] for funds" from outside the government. As the Depression became worse, however, calls grew for increased federal intervention and spending. But Hoover refused to involve the federal government in forcing fixed prices, controlling businesses, or manipulating the value of the currency, all of which he felt were steps towards socialism. He was inclined to give indirect aid to banks or local public works projects, but he refused to use federal money for direct aid to citizens, believing the dole would weaken public morale. Instead, he focused on volunteerism to raise money. Hoover’s opponents painted him as uncaring toward the common citizen, even though he was in fact a philanthropist and a progressive before becoming president. During his reelection campaign, Hoover tried to convince Americans that the measures they were calling for might seem to help in the short term, but would be ruinous in the long run. He asserted that he cared for common Americans too much to destroy the country’s foundations with deficits and socialist institutions. He was soundly defeated by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932. Roosevelt promised Americans a "New Deal" when he took office, and during his first "Hundred Days" as president, he signed a number of groundbreaking new laws. Roosevelt’s aides later admitted that most New Deal agencies were closely modeled on those that Hoover had attempted, but Roosevelt’s plans differed in financing and scope. New Deal bills supported direct federal aid, tightened government control over many industries, and eschewed volunteerism in favor of deficit spending, all in the hopes of jump starting both consumer confidence and the economy. In a letter to a friend written seven months after he left office, Hoover expressed his fears about the flurry of New Deal legislation. Hoover saw the country already "going sour on the New Deal." He believed revolution inevitable "unless there is a halt" to the fundamental changes in government and the deficit spending. Roosevelt’s reforms had led Americans to "cast off all moorings," and Hoover predicted that the United States would veer dangerously "to the ‘left,’" followed by a reaction leading to "some American interpretation of Hitler or Mussolini." In 1934, after two years out of the public eye, Hoover made these same thoughts public in an article titled "The Challenge to Liberty." Hoover was correct when he predicted that the role of American government would fundamentally change because of the New Deal. A full transcript is available for Hoover’s letter to Louis Emmerson. TRANSCRIPT Herbert Hoover to Louis L. Emmerson, July 10, 1931 July 10, 1931 Confidential Hon. Louis L. Emmerson Governor of Illinois Springfield, Ill. My dear Governor Emmerson: No matter what improvement there may be in our economic situation during the fall, we shall unquestionably have considerable continuance of destitution over the winter. I am wondering if it would not be advisable for us to get the machinery of the country into earlier action than last year in order that there may be provision for funds substantially made before the winter arrives. Your organization last winter was one of the most admirable in the whole country and I had some thought that if all organizations were to begin their appeals for funds some time in October and run them over Thanksgiving we could make it more or less a national question and thereby support each state committee more effectively. This, however, is just thinking aloud on the general situation and I would like your views. I wish again to express my appreciation for the fine courtesies we received at the hands of Mrs. Emmerson and yourself and with kind regards to you both, I am Yours faithfully, Herbert Hoover   A full transcript is available for Hoover’s letter to Bruce Barton. TRANSCRIPT Herbert Hoover to Bruce Barton, October 3, 1933 October 3, 1933 Personal My dear Barton: I have compiled with your momentous wish. Your friend does not need to send an exchange. A smoking President receives enough pipes to last a life time. Likewise fishing tackle. It is the only endowment he gets, except a troubled soul. It seems useless to discuss the situation. The country is going sour on the New Deal, despite the heroic efforts of the Press. unless there is a halt, the real question will be that, having cast off all moorings, will we swing to the "right" or to the "left". I fear first the "left" and then when the great middle class (80% of America) realizes its ruin, it will drive into some American interpretation of Hitler or Mussolini. There is no trouble finding a large occupation in California doing nothing and conducting a detached observatory of national trends. You better come out here! Yours sincerely, Herbert Hoover Mr. Bruce Barton 383 Madison Avenue New York City, New York

    Herbert Hoover on the Great Depression and New Deal, 1931–1933

    Herbert Hoover on the Great Depression and New Deal, 1931–1933 A Spotlight on a Primary Source by Herbert Hoover

    Herbert Hoover to Louis L. Emmerson, July 10, 1931. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

    The stock market crashed on Thursday, October 24, 1929, less than eight months into Herbert Hoover’s presidency. Most experts, including Hoover, thought the crash was part of a passing recession. By July 1931, when the President wrote this letter to a friend, Governor Louis Emmerson of Illinois, it had become clear that excessive speculation and a worldwide economic slowdown had plunged America into the midst of a Great Depression. While Hoover wrote to Emmerson that "considerable continuance of destitution over the winter" and perhaps longer was unavoidable, he was trying to "get machinery of the country into . . . action." Since the crash, Hoover had worked ceaselessly trying to fix the economy. He founded government agencies, encouraged labor harmony, supported local aid for public works, fostered cooperation between government and business in order to stabilize prices, and struggled to balance the budget. His work focused on indirect relief from individual states and the private sector, as reflected in this letter’s emphasis on "support[ing] each state committee more effectively" and volunteerism—"appeal[ing] for funds" from outside the government.

    As the Depression became worse, however, calls grew for increased federal intervention and spending. But Hoover refused to involve the federal government in forcing fixed prices, controlling businesses, or manipulating the value of the currency, all of which he felt were steps towards socialism. He was inclined to give indirect aid to banks or local public works projects, but he refused to use federal money for direct aid to citizens, believing the dole would weaken public morale. Instead, he focused on volunteerism to raise money. Hoover’s opponents painted him as uncaring toward the common citizen, even though he was in fact a philanthropist and a progressive before becoming president. During his reelection campaign, Hoover tried to convince Americans that the measures they were calling for might seem to help in the short term, but would be ruinous in the long run. He asserted that he cared for common Americans too much to destroy the country’s foundations with deficits and socialist institutions. He was soundly defeated by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932.

    Roosevelt promised Americans a "New Deal" when he took office, and during his first "Hundred Days" as president, he signed a number of groundbreaking new laws. Roosevelt’s aides later admitted that most New Deal agencies were closely modeled on those that Hoover had attempted, but Roosevelt’s plans differed in financing and scope. New Deal bills supported direct federal aid, tightened government control over many industries, and eschewed volunteerism in favor of deficit spending, all in the hopes of jump starting both consumer confidence and the economy.

    In a letter to a friend written seven months after he left office, Hoover expressed his fears about the flurry of New Deal legislation. Hoover saw the country already "going sour on the New Deal." He believed revolution inevitable "unless there is a halt" to the fundamental changes in government and the deficit spending. Roosevelt’s reforms had led Americans to "cast off all moorings," and Hoover predicted that the United States would veer dangerously "to the ‘left,’" followed by a reaction leading to "some American interpretation of Hitler or Mussolini." In 1934, after two years out of the public eye, Hoover made these same thoughts public in an article titled "The Challenge to Liberty."

    Hoover was correct when he predicted that the role of American government would fundamentally change because of the New Deal.

    A full transcript is available for Hoover’s letter to Louis Emmerson.

    TRANSCRIPT

    Herbert Hoover to Louis L. Emmerson, July 10, 1931

    July 10, 1931 Confidential

    Hon. Louis L. Emmerson

    Governor of Illinois

    Springfield, Ill.

    My dear Governor Emmerson:

    No matter what improvement there may be in our economic situation during the fall, we shall unquestionably have considerable continuance of destitution over the winter. I am wondering if it would not be advisable for us to get the machinery of the country into earlier action than last year in order that there may be provision for funds substantially made before the winter arrives.

    Your organization last winter was one of the most admirable in the whole country and I had some thought that if all organizations were to begin their appeals for funds some time in October and run them over Thanksgiving we could make it more or less a national question and thereby support each state committee more effectively.

    This, however, is just thinking aloud on the general situation and I would like your views.

    I wish again to express my appreciation for the fine courtesies we received at the hands of Mrs. Emmerson and yourself and with kind regards to you both, I am

    Yours faithfully, Herbert Hoover

    Source : www.gilderlehrman.org

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