Segments descriptions
      American Presidents Series
      Depression, Part 1     

                  Description: Hoover

Depression, Part 1  
  sampler  312    (87 lecture).

What tarnishes President Hoovers large reputation
as a humanitarian in his role as head of the
distribution of food to starving Europeans after
World War I?

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31. Herbert Hoover.  He is elected in 1928.  A more substantial figure than the last 2 Presidents, he is from Ohio, trained as an engineer.  As head of food relief for starving Europe after WWI, he uses food distribution as political blackmail.  He is opposed to the League of Nations, believes American power should be projected by economic and political forces.  During the Depression he believes government should keep its hands off, calls for volunteerism, advocates business to help from the top down.  The RFC agency fails.  As the Depression deepens Hoover becomes unpopular.  The shantytowns appearing in every city are named "Hooverville."  The Bonus Army's Tent City in Washington, DC is destroyed by the army led by Douglas McArthur and his deputy, Dwight Eisenhower.  Hoover is blamed and his reputation reaches zero.



32.  Franklyn Delano Roosevelt. 

Early career. A distant cousin of Teddy Roosevelt, he comes from NY old wealth carrying a sense of public obligation.  His wife, Eleanor, lacks early self-confidence.  Marital alienation contributes to her independence and her special role in FDR's career.  FDR's is afflicted with polio in the early 1920s, makes a great effort to overcome its effects, and reenters politics. 



FDR elected in November,1932. but inauguration is not until March, 1933.  In a depression the country drifts dangerously during this interval when no government action will be able to be taken.  A run on the banks begins amid increasing financial panic.  Inauguration day arrives.  FDRs attempts to calm the country.  His famous inaugural speech, We have nothing to fear but fear itself delivered in his trademark firm reassuring voice.  A series of radio fireside chats follow.  He announces a new banking law and pronounces the banks safe. The bank crisis is turned around more by FDR's confidence and reassuring manner than change in policy.   There is a question of whether his philosophy is that of a pragmatist or an opportunist



Farm measures fail.  Major reform legislation in the first 100 days intended to aid small business and farmers hurt by prolonged drought is not effective.  Being paid to restrict crops could not be monitored.  The large farms benefited but the small farmers and sharecroppers continued to suffer.