Brother, deserve to You spare a Dime? The Great Depression


On march 4, 1929, in ~ his presidential inauguration, Herbert Hoover stated, “I have no fears because that the future of our country. The is bright through hope.” most Americans common his optimism. They thought that the prosperity the the 1920s would continue, and that the country was moving closer to a soil of abundance because that all. Little could Hoover imagine the barely a year into his presidency, shantytowns recognized as “Hoovervilles” would emerge on the edge of most major cities, papers covering the homeless would certainly be called “Hoover blankets,” and also pants pockets, rotate inside-out to show their emptiness, would come to be “Hoover flags.”

The stock market crash of October 1929 collection the great Depression right into motion, yet other components were at the source of the problem, thrust onward through a collection of both human-made and also natural catastrophes. Anticipating a quick downturn and also living under one ethos of totally free enterprise and individualism, Americans suffered mightily in the first years that the Depression. As problems worsened and the government failed to act, they grew increasingly desperate for change. While Hoover might not it is in blamed for the great Depression, his failure to deal with the nation’s hardships would remain his legacy. (2)

The Stock sector Crash that 1929

Herbert Hoover ended up being president in ~ a time of ongoing prosperity in the country. Americans hoped he would continue to lead the country through still much more economic growth, and neither he no one the country was prepared for the unraveling the followed. However Hoover’s center policies, based ~ above a strong held belief in the soul of American individualism, were not enough to stem the ever-growing problems, and also the economy slipped further and further right into the good Depression.

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While it is misleading to view the stock market crash of 1929 as the sole reason of the an excellent Depression, the dramatic events of the October walk play a role in the downward spiral the the American economy. The crash, which take it place much less than a year ~ Hoover to be inaugurated, to be the most too much sign the the economy’s weakness. Many factors added to the crash, which in turn caused a consumer panic that drove the economic climate even more downhill, in ways that neither Hoover nor the financial industry was able come restrain. Hoover, like many others at the time, thought and also hoped the the country would best itself with limited government intervention. This was no the case, however, and also millions of american sank right into grinding poverty. (2)

The early Days of Hoover’s Presidency

Upon his inauguration, president Hoover collection forth one agenda the he hope would proceed the “Coolidge prosperity” of the previous administration. While agree the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 1928, Hoover commented, “Given the opportunity to go forward v the policies of the last eight years, us shall shortly with the help of God be in sight of the day when poverty will certainly be banished from this country forever.” In the spirit of normalcy that identified the Republican dominion of the 1920s, Hoover plan to automatically overhaul commonwealth regulations v the intention of allowing the nation’s economy to prosper unfettered by any type of controls. The duty of the government, that contended, must be to produce a partnership through the American people, in i m sorry the latter would climb (or fall) on their very own merits and also abilities. That felt the less federal government intervention in their lives, the better.

Yet, to listen to Hoover’s later reflections ~ above Franklin Roosevelt’s very first term in office, one can easily mistake his vision because that America because that the one hosted by his successor. Speaking in 1936 prior to an audience in Denver, Colorado, he identified that the was always his intent as chairman to ensure “a country built of home owners and farm owners. We desire to see more and more of lock insured versus death and accident, unemployment and old age,” he declared. “We want them all secure.” such humanitarianism was not uncommon to Hoover. Transparent his beforehand career in windy service, he to be committed to relief for people approximately the world. In 1900, he coordinated relief efforts for international nationals trapped in China throughout the Boxer Rebellion. At the outset of world War I, the led the food relief effort in Europe, especially helping countless Belgians who challenged German forces.

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

Hoover’s an initial months in office hinted in ~ the reformist, humanitarian soul that that had presented throughout his career. He ongoing the civil company reform that the early on twentieth century by expanding opportunities for employment throughout the federal government. In response to the Teapot Dome Affair, i beg your pardon had developed during the Harding administration, that invalidated several exclusive oil leases on publicly lands. He directed the room of Justice, with its bureau of Investigation, to crack down on organized crime, leading to the arrest and also imprisonment of Al Capone. Through the summer the 1929, he had signed into law the production of a federal Farm board to assist farmers with federal government price supports, increased tax cuts throughout all income classes, and collection aside federal funds to clean increase slums in significant American cities. To straight assist numerous overlooked populations, he produced the Veterans administration and increased veterans’ hospitals, developed the commonwealth Bureau of Prisons come oversee incarceration conditions nationwide, and also reorganized the bureau of Indian Affairs come further protect Native Americans. Simply prior come the stock sector crash, he even proposed the creation of one old-age pension program, promise fifty dollars monthly to all Americans end the period of sixty-five—a proposal remarkably similar to the social security advantage that would end up being a hallmark of Roosevelt’s subsequent new Deal programs. As the summer the 1929 pertained to a close, Hoover continued to be a popular follower to Calvin “Silent Cal” Coolidge, and also all indications pointed to a extremely successful administration. (2)

The great Crash

The promise of the Hoover management was cut brief when the stock industry lost virtually one-half its worth in the loss of 1929, plunging plenty of Americans right into financial ruin. However, as a singular event, the stock sector crash itself did not cause the an excellent Depression that followed. In fact, only approximately 10 percent of American households held share investments and also speculated in the market; yet virtually a third would shed their lifelong savings and jobs in the taking place depression. The connection between the crash and the succeeding decade that hardship to be complex, including underlying weaknesses in the economy that many policymakers had long ignored.

What to be the Crash?

To know the crash, that is valuable to attend to the decade that preceded it. The flourishing 1920s ushered in a emotion of euphoria amongst middle-class and also wealthy Americans, and people began to speculate on wilder investments. The federal government was a willing partner in this endeavor: The commonwealth Reserve complied with a quick postwar recession in 1920–1921 v a plan of setup interest rates artificially low, and easing the reserve needs on the nation’s largest banks. As a result, the money it is provided in the U.S. Raised by practically 60 percent, which encouraged even more Americans of the safety of investing in questionable schemes. Lock felt that prosperity was boundless and that extreme risks were likely tickets come wealth. Named for Charles Ponzi, the original “Ponzi schemes” emerged early on in the 1920s to encourage novice investors to divert funds come unfounded ventures, which in reality merely used brand-new investors’ funds to pay turn off older investors together the schemes flourished in size. Speculation, where investors purchased right into high-risk schemes that they hoped would certainly pay turn off quickly, ended up being the norm. Number of banks, consisting of deposit establishments that originally avoided invest loans, began to offer easy credit, permitting people to invest, also when they short the money to carry out so.

Several warning signs portended the unavoidable crash however went unheeded by american still giddy over the potential fortunes that speculation might promise. A short downturn in the industry on September 18, 1929, increased questions amongst more-seasoned invest bankers, leading some to suspect an finish to high stock values, but did little to stem the birds of investment. Also the fallen of the London stock Exchange on September 20 failure to fully curtail the optimism of American investors. However, when the brand-new York share Exchange lost 11 percent of its value on October 24—often referred to as “Black Thursday”—key American investors satellite up and took notice. In an initiative to forestall a much-feared panic, top banks, consisting of Chase National, nationwide City, J.P. Morgan, and also others, conspired come purchase large amounts of blue chip share (including U.S. Steel) in order to keep the prices artificially high. Even that effort failed in the farming wave of share sales. Nevertheless, Hoover delivered a radio attend to on Friday in which he assured the American people, “The fundamental business that the nation . . . Is ~ above a sound and also prosperous basis.”

As newspapers across the country began to sheathe the story in earnest, investors anxiously awaited the begin of the complying with week. As soon as the Dow Jones commercial Average lost another 13 percent the its worth on Monday morning, numerous knew the end of stock market speculation to be near. The evening prior to the infamous crash to be ominous. Jonathan Leonard, a newspaper reporter who on regular basis covered the stock industry beat, composed of how wall Street “lit up choose a Christmas tree.” Brokers and also businessmen who feared the worst the next day crowded into restaurants and also speakeasies (a location where alcoholic beverages were illegally sold). ~ a night of hefty drinking, they retract to surrounding hotels or flop-houses (cheap boarding houses), every one of which to be overbooked, and also awaited sunrise. Kids from surrounding slums and also tenement districts played stickball in the roadways of the jae won district, utilizing wads that ticker tape for balls. Back they every awoke to newspapers filled through predictions the a gaue won turnaround, as well as technical factors why the decline might it is in short-lived, the crash on Tuesday morning, October 29, caught couple of by surprise.

No one even heard the opening bell on wall surface Street that day, as shouts of “Sell! Sell!” drowned the out. In the first three minutes alone, nearly three million share of stock, bookkeeping for $2 million that wealth, changed hands. The volume of west Union telegrams tripled, and telephone lines might not meet the demand, together investors seek any method available come dump your stock immediately. Rumors spread out of investors jumping from their office windows. Fistfights broke out top top the trading floor, wherein one broker fainted from physical exhaustion. Stock trades happened at together a furious speed that runners had nowhere to store the trade slips, and also so lock resorted come stuffing them right into trash cans. Back the share exchange’s board of governors briefly taken into consideration closing the exchange early, they subsequently determined to allow the sector run that course, lest the American windy panic also further at the thought of closure. As soon as the final bell rang, errand boys spent hours sweeping up loads of paper, tickertape, and sales slips, as shown in number 8-1.


On black Tuesday, October 29, share holders traded over sixteen million shares and also lost over $14 exchange rate in riches in a single day. To placed this in context, a trading work of 3 million share was thought about a liven day ~ above the stock market. World unloaded their stock as quickly as castle could, never ever minding the loss. Banks, encountering debt and also seeking to safeguard their very own assets, inquiry payment because that the loans they had provided to separation, personal, instance investors. Those individuals who might not afford come pay found their stocks sold immediately and their life savings wiped out in minutes, however their debt to the bank still remained.

The financial outcome of the crash was devastating. Between September 1 and also November 30, 1929, the stock industry lost over one-half its value, dropping from $64 exchange rate to approximately $30 billion. Any effort to stem the birds was, as one historian noted, tantamount come bailing Niagara falls with a bucket. The crash influenced many more than the relatively few Americans that invested in the share market. While just 10 percent of households had investments, over 90 percent of all banks had invested in the share market. Many banks failed because of their dwindling cash reserves. This to be in part due come the commonwealth Reserve lowering the boundaries of cash to make reservation that banks were traditionally forced to organize in their vaults, as well as the reality that many banks invested in the stock industry themselves. Eventually, thousands of financial institutions closed their doors after ~ losing every one of their assets, leaving your customers penniless. When a few savvy investors got out in ~ the appropriate time and also eventually do fortunes buying increase discarded stock, those success story were rare. Housewives that speculated with grocery money, bookkeepers that embezzled firm funds hoping to strike it rich and pay the funds back before gaining caught, and bankers who used customer store to follow speculative trends all lost. When the stock sector crash was the trigger, the absence of proper economic and banking safeguards, together with a public psyche that gone after wealth and also prosperity at every costs, allowed this occasion to spiral downward into a depression.

Causes that the Crash

The crash the 1929 walk not occur in a vacuum, nor did it reason the good Depression. Rather, it was a tipping allude where the underlying weakness in the economy, particularly in the nation’s bank system, concerned the fore. It also represented both the end of one era defined by blind belief in American exceptionalism and also the beginning of one in i beg your pardon citizens started increasingly to inquiry some long-held American values. A number of factors play a duty in happen the stock market to this point and added to the downward tendency in the market, which ongoing well into the 1930s. In enhancement to the federal Reserve’s questionable policies and also misguided bank practices, three major reasons because that the fallen of the stock sector were international financial woes, negative income distribution, and the psychology of publicly confidence.

After world War I, both America’s allies and also the beat nations that Germany and Austria competed with destructive economies. The Allies owed big amounts the money come U.S. Banks, which had advanced them money during the battle effort. Can not to repay these debts, the Allies looked come reparations from Germany and also Austria to help. The economic situations of those countries, however, were struggling badly, and they could not pay their reparations, regardless of the loans that the U.S. Listed to aid with your payments. The U.S. Government refused to forgive these loans, and American banks were in the place of extending extr private loan to foreign governments, who used them come repay your debts to the U.S. Government, basically shifting their duties to private banks. When other countries started to default on this second wave the private financial institution loans, still more strain was inserted on U.S. Banks, which quickly sought come liquidate this loans at the an initial sign the a stock industry crisis.

Poor revenue distribution among Americans compounded the problem. A solid stock sector relies top top today’s buyers becoming tomorrow’s sellers, and also therefore the must constantly have an flow of brand-new buyers. In the 1920s, this was not the case. Eighty percent the American households had virtually no savings, and also only one-half come 1 percent that Americans controlled over a third of the wealth. This scenario meant that there were no new buyers coming into the marketplace, and nowhere for sellers come unload your stock as the speculation came to a close. In addition, the vast majority of american with limited savings shed their accounts together local financial institutions closed, and similarly lost their jobs as invest in business and also industry pertained to a screeching halt.

Finally, one of the many important factors in the crash was the contagion effect of panic. For much of the 1920s, the public felt confident the prosperity would proceed forever, and therefore, in a self-fulfilling cycle, the market ongoing to grow. But once the panic began, it spread quickly and also with the exact same cyclical results; civilization were worried that the sector was walking down, they sold their stock, and the market continued to drop. This to be partly because of Americans’ i can not qualify to weather market volatility, offered the limited cash surpluses they had on hand, and also their psychological worry that financial recovery might never happen.

In the consequences of the Crash

After the crash, Hoover announced that the economic climate was “fundamentally sound.” on the last day of trading in 1929, the new York share Exchange held its annual wild and also lavish party, finish with confetti, musicians, and illegal alcohol. The U.S. Room of job predicted that 1930 would certainly be “a splendid employed staff year.” this sentiments were no as baseless as it may seem in hindsight. Historically, sectors cycled up and also down, and also periods of expansion were often followed by downturns the corrected themselves. But this time, there was no market correction; rather, the abrupt shock that the crash was adhered to by an even more devastating depression. Investors, together with the general public, withdrew your money from banks by the thousands, fearing the financial institutions would walk under. The an ext people pulled out their money in financial institution runs, the closer the financial institutions came come insolvency.

As the financial markets collapsed, hurting the banks that had gambled with their holdings, people started to fear that the money they had actually in the bank would it is in lost. This began bank runs across the country, a duration of still an ext panic, where human being pulled their money out of banks to save it covert at home.

The contagion effect of the crash grew quickly. With investors losing billions that dollars, they invest very tiny in brand-new or broadened businesses. At this time, 2 industries had actually the greatest affect on the country’s financial future in regards to investment, potential growth, and also employment: automotive and also construction. After the crash, both were hit hard. In November 1929, under cars were developed than in any type of other month because November 1919. Even before the crash, prevalent saturation of the sector meant that few Americans purchase them, causing a slowdown. Afterward, very few could purchased them. Through 1933, Stutz, Locomobile, Durant, Franklin, Deusenberg, and also Pierce-Arrow automobiles, all high-end models, were greatly unavailable; production had actually ground come a halt. They would certainly not it is in made again until 1949. In construction, the drop-off to be even more dramatic. It would certainly be another thirty years before a new hotel or theatre was built in brand-new York City. The empire State structure itself stood fifty percent empty for years after gift completed in 1931.

The damage to major industries led to, and also reflected, limited purchasing through both consumers and also businesses. Even those americans who continued to do a modest income during the great Depression shed the journey for conspicuous consumption that they displayed in the 1920s. Civilization with less money to buy goods can not aid businesses grow; in turn, businesses v no sector for their commodities could no hire employees or purchase raw materials. Employers began to lay off workers. The country’s gross nationwide product declined by end 25 percent within a year, and wages and salaries declined by $4 billion. Joblessness tripled, native 1.5 million at the end of 1929 come 4.5 million by the end of 1930, as shown in figure 8-2. By mid-1930, the slide into financial chaos had started but was nowhere near complete. (2)

Figure 8-2: US unemployment 1910-1960 by Lawerncekhoo is in the Public Domain .

The brand-new Reality because that Americans

For many Americans, the crash impacted daily life in myriad ways. In the prompt aftermath, there to be a run on the banks, whereby citizens took your money out, if they might get it, and hid their savings under mattresses, in bookshelves, or everywhere else lock felt to be safe. Some went for this reason far as to exchange their dollars because that gold and ship it out of the country. A number of banks failed outright, and others, in their attempts to stay solvent, referred to as in loans that civilization could not afford come repay. Working-class Americans experienced their wages drop: also Henry Ford, the champion the a high minimum wage, started lowering earnings by as much as a dissension a day. Southerly cotton planters paid workers just twenty cent for every one hundred pounds of noodle picked, meaning that the strongest picker could earn sixty cent for a fourteen-hour job of work. Urban struggled come collect building taxes and also subsequently laid turn off teachers and police.

The brand-new hardships that world faced to be not always immediately apparent; many neighborhoods felt the changes yet could no necessarily look out their windows and also see anything different. Males who lost their tasks didn’t stand on street corners begging; they disappeared. They can be uncovered keeping warmth by a trashcan bonfire or picking through garbage at dawn, however mostly, they remained out of publicly view. As the results of the crash continued, however, the results became more evident. Those life in cities prospered accustomed come seeing lengthy breadlines that unemployed guys waiting because that a meal, as displayed in number 8-3. Suppliers fired workers and tore down employee housing to prevent paying building taxes. The see of the country had changed.

Figure 8-3: Depression, Breadlines – lengthy line of civilization waiting to be fed, brand-new York City – NARA -196499 by Unknown is in the Public Domain . Photo taken circa February 1932. Males waiting in a “bread line” in new York City.

The hardships that the great Depression threw family life into disarray. Both marriage and also birth rates declined in the decade after the crash. The most fragile members the society—children, women, minorities, and also the working class—struggled the most. Parents often sent children out to beg because that food at restaurants and also stores to save themselves from the disgrace of begging. Many youngsters dropped the end of school, and also even fewer checked out college. Childhood, together it had actually existed in the prosperous twenties, was over. And yet, for many youngsters living in rural locations where the affluence that the previous decade was not fully developed, the Depression was not perceived as a good challenge. Institution continued. Beat was an easy and enjoyed. Families adjusted by growing more in gardens, canning, and also preserving, wasting tiny food if any. Home-sewn clothing came to be the norm as the decade progressed, as did creative methods of shoes repair through cardboard soles. Yet, one constantly knew of stories of the “other” family members who endured more, including those living in cardboard crate or caves. Through one estimate, as countless as 200,000 kids moved about the nation as vagrants because of familial disintegration.

Women’s lives, too, to be profoundly affected. Part wives and mothers sought employment to do ends meet, an undertaking the was often met with strong resistance indigenous husbands and also potential employers. Many men derided and criticized women who worked, emotion that work should walk to unemployed men. Part campaigned come keep providers from hiring married women, and an increasing number of school districts expanded the long-held exercise of banning the rental of married woman teachers. Despite the pushback, women entered the workforce in raising numbers, native ten million in ~ the start of the Depression to almost thirteen million by the finish of the 1930s. This increase took place despite the twenty-six states that passed a range of legislations to prohibit the employed staff of married women. Numerous women discovered employment in the arising pink collar occupations, viewed as classic women’s work, consisting of jobs as telephone operators, social workers, and also secretaries. Others took tasks as maids and also housecleaners, working for those fortunate few who had maintained their wealth.

White women’s forays into domestic service came at the cost of decimal women, that had even fewer employed staff options. Unsurprisingly, african American men and women skilled unemployment, and the grinding poverty that followed, at dual and triple the prices of their white counterparts. Through 1932, unemployment amongst African american reached near 50 percent. In countryside areas, where large numbers of afri Americans ongoing to live in spite of the great Migration that 1910–1930, depression-era life stood for an intensified variation of the poverty that they traditionally experienced. Subsistence farming allowed many african Americans who lost either your land or tasks working for white landholders come survive, but their hardships increased. Life because that African american in urban settings was same trying, v blacks and also working-class whites life in nearby proximity and competing for scarce jobs and resources.

Life for every rural Americans to be difficult. Farmers largely did not experience the prevalent prosperity that the 1920s. Although continued developments in farming methods and agricultural machinery caused increased agricultural production, decreasing need (particularly in the ahead markets created by world War I) stability drove down commodity prices. Together a result, farmers can barely salary the blame they fan on machinery and land mortgages, and also even then can do so just as a an outcome of generosity lines of credit from banks. While factory workers may have lost your jobs and also savings in the crash, countless farmers also lost their homes, as result of the thousands of farm foreclosures seek by no hope bankers. Between 1930 and 1935, almost 750,000 family farms disappeared with foreclosure or bankruptcy. Also for those who regulated to save their farms, there was tiny market for your crops. Unemployment workers had less money to invest on food, and also when they did purchase goods, the market excess had actually driven price so low that farmers can barely piece together a living. A now-famous instance of the farmer’s plight is that, once the price of coal began to exceed the of corn, farmers would simply burn corn to stay warmth in the winter.

As the results of the good Depression worsened, wealthier american had particular concern because that “the deserving poor”—those who had lost all of their money as result of no fault of their own. This ide gained better attention start in the progressive Era the the late nineteenth and also early twenty centuries, when at an early stage social reversal sought to enhance the quality of life for all Americans by addressing the poverty the was becoming more prevalent, particularly in emerging urban areas.

By the moment of the good Depression, social reformers and also humanitarian agencies had figured out that the “deserving poor” belonged come a different classification from those who had speculated and also lost. However, the sheer volume of americans who fell into this group meant the charitable assistance might not begin to with them all. Some fifteen million “deserving poor,” or a complete one-third the the labor force, were struggling through 1932. The nation had no device or system in location to aid so many; however, Hoover stayed adamant the such relief should rest in the hands of private agencies, not through the commonwealth government.

Unable come receive assist from the government, Americans thus turned to personal charities; churches, synagogues, and other religious organizations; and also state aid. But these establishments were not all set to resolve the limit of the problem. Private help organizations showed declining assets also during the Depression, with fewer american possessing the capacity to donate to together charities. Likewise, state governments were particularly ill-equipped. Branch Franklin D. Roosevelt was the an initial to academy a room of Welfare in brand-new York in 1929. City federal governments had equally small to offer. In brand-new York City in 1932, family allowances were $2.39 every week, and also only one-half that the family members who standard actually received them. In Detroit, allowances dropped to fifteen cent a day per person, and also eventually ran the end completely. In most cases, relief was just in the type of food and fuel; organizations noted nothing in the means of rent, shelter, clinical care, clothing, or various other necessities. There to be no infrastructure to support the elderly, that were the most vulnerable, and this population largely depended upon their adult children to assistance them, including to families’ burdens.

During this time, local neighborhood groups, such together police and also teachers, functioned to assist the neediest. New York City police, because that example, began contributing 1 percent that their wages to start a food money that was aligned to assist those discovered starving on the streets. In 1932, new York City schoolteachers likewise joined pressures to shot to help; they contributed as much as $250,000 per month indigenous their very own salaries to assist needy children. Chicago teacher did the same, feeding some eleven thousands students the end of their own pockets in 1931, regardless of the fact that countless of them had not to be paid a value in months. This noble efforts, however, fail to totally address the level the desperation that the American public was facing. (2)

President Hoover’s Response

President Hoover to be unprepared because that the scope of the depression crisis, and his minimal response walk not begin to aid the millions of Americans in need. The steps he take it were an extremely much in keeping with his philosophy of limited government, a viewpoint that numerous had common with him till the turmoils of the good Depression made it clear that a more direct government an answer was required. Yet Hoover to be stubborn in his refuse to provide “handouts,” together he saw direct government aid. He referred to as for a spirit of volunteerism among America’s businesses, asking them to store workers employed, and also he exhorted the American people to tighten your belts and make execute in the soul of “rugged individualism.” while Hoover’s philosophy and his appeal to the country were really much in maintaining with his character, it was not enough to save the economic climate from plummeting further into financial chaos.

The actions Hoover did at some point take were also little, too late. He developed programs for placing people ago to work and helping beleaguered local and also state charities through aid. Yet the program were small in scale and highly particular as come who could benefit, and also they only touched a little percentage of those in need. Together the situation worsened, the public grew increasingly unhappy through Hoover. The left office with one of the lowest approval ratings of any kind of president in history.

The early Reaction

In the immediate aftermath of black Tuesday, Hoover search to relief Americans the all was well. Reading his words after the fact, it is simple to discover fault. In 1929 that said, “Any absence of confidence in the financial future or the strength of business in the United claims is foolish.” In 1930, the stated, “The worst is behind us.” In 1931, the pledged federal help should he ever witness starvation in the country; but as of that date, he had actually yet to check out such require in America, in spite of the very real proof that children and also the elderly to be starving to death. However Hoover to be neither purposely blind no one unsympathetic. He merely held rapid to a belief system the did not adjust as the realities that the good Depression collection in.

Hoover believed strongly in the ethos of American individualism: that hard work lugged its very own rewards. His life story testified to that belief. Hoover to be born right into poverty, make his means through university at Stanford University, and also eventually make his fortune as an engineer. This experience, as well as his substantial travels in China and throughout Europe, shame his fundamental conviction the the very existence of American civilization depended top top the moral fiber the its citizens, as shown by their ability to overcome all hardships through individual effort and also resolve. The idea of government handouts come Americans was repellant to him. Vice versa, Europeans might need assistance, such as his hunger relief work in Belgium during and also after human being War I, he thought the American character to it is in different. In a 1931 radio address, he said, “The spread out of federal government destroys initiative and also thus destroys character.”

Likewise, Hoover to be not totally unaware of the potential injury that wild share speculation might create if left unchecked. Together secretary the commerce, Hoover frequently warned chairman Coolidge of the threats that such speculation engendered. In the weeks prior to his inauguration, he readily available many interviews to newspapers and magazines, urging american to curtail their rampant stock investments, and even motivated the commonwealth Reserve to raise the discount rate to do it more costly because that local financial institutions to loan money to potential speculators. However, fear of developing a panic, Hoover never issued a stern warning to discourage american from together investments. Neither Hoover, nor any kind of other politician of the day, ever gave significant thought come outright government regulation that the share market. This was also true in his an individual choices, as Hoover frequently lamented bad stock advice he had actually once offered to a friend. As soon as the stock nose-dived, Hoover to buy the share from his girlfriend to assuage his guilt, vowing never again to advise anyone on problem of investment.

In maintaining with these principles, Hoover’s solution to the crash concentrated on two really common American traditions: that asked individuals to tighten their belts and also work harder, and also he request the company community to voluntarily help sustain the economy by retaining workers and continuing production. He immediately summoned a conference of leading industrialists to meet in Washington, DC, urging them to keep their existing wages while America rode out this quick economic panic. The crash, the assured business leaders, to be not part of a greater downturn; they had nothing to worry about. Similar meetings with utility companies and railroad executives elicited guarantees for billions that dollars in new construction projects, while job leaders agreed come withhold demands for wage increases and also workers continued to labor. Hoover additionally persuaded congress to pass a $160 million tax cut to bolster American incomes, leading many to conclude that the president to be doing all he can to stem the tide of the panic. In April 1930, the brand-new York time editorial board concluded that “No one in his place can have done more.”

However, these modest actions were no enough. By so late 1931, when it became clear that the economic situation would not improve on its own, Hoover known the require for some federal government intervention. He produced the President’s Emergency Committee for Employment (PECE), later renamed the President’s organization of unemployment Relief (POUR).

In keeping with Hoover’s distaste of what he viewed as handouts, this company did not administer direct commonwealth relief to civilization in need. Instead, it aided state and private relief agencies, such as the Red Cross, Salvation Army, YMCA, and Community Chest. Hoover also strongly urged world of method to donate funds to assist the poor, and also he himself gave far-ranging private donations to worthy causes. However these personal efforts can not minimize the widespread impacts of poverty.

Congress driven for a an ext direct government solution to the hardship. In 1930–1931, it attempted to happen a $60 million invoice to carry out relief to dryness victims by enabling them accessibility to food, fertilizer, and also animal feed. Hoover stood rapid in his refuse to provide food, resisting any kind of element of direct relief. The last bill the $47 million provided for everything except food but did not come close to adequately addressing the crisis. Again in 1931, congress proposed the commonwealth Emergency Relief Bill, which would have detailed $375 million to states to help administer food, clothing, and shelter come the homeless. Yet Hoover protest the bill, stating that it ruined the balance the power in between states and also the commonwealth government, and also in February 1932, the was defeated by fourteen votes.

However, the president’s adamant opposition come direct-relief federal government programs need to not be regarded as among indifference or uncaring toward the suffering American people. His personal sympathy for those in need was boundless. Hoover was among only 2 presidents to reject his salary because that the office he held. Transparent the good Depression, he donated an mean of $25,000 yearly to various relief institutions to aid in their efforts. Furthermore, he assisted to progressive $500,000 in personal funds to support the White residence Conference on kid Health and Welfare in 1930. Rather than indifference or heartlessness, Hoover’s steadfast adherence to a philosophy of individualism together the course toward permanent American restore explained numerous of his policy decisions. “A voluntarily deed,” he consistently commented, “is infinitely more precious come our nationwide ideal and spirit 보다 a thousand-fold poured from the Treasury.”

As conditions worsened, however, Hoover at some point relaxed his opposition to federal relief and formed the repair Finance corporation (RFC) in 1932, in part because it was an election year and also Hoover hope to keep his office. Although not a kind of straight relief come the American civilization in greatest need, the RFC to be much larger in border than any type of preceding effort, setup aside $2 billion in taxpayer money to rescue banks, credit transaction unions, and also insurance companies. The goal to be to boost confidence in the country financial institutions by ensuring that they were on solid footing. This model was fault on a number of levels. First, the program only lent money to financial institutions with sufficient collateral, which intended that many of the aid went to big banks. In fact, that the an initial $61 million loaned, $41 million walk to simply three banks. Tiny town and also rural financial institutions got almost nothing. Furthermore, in ~ this time, confidence in financial organizations was not the primary issue of many Americans. They needed food and also jobs. Countless had no money to put into the banks, no matter exactly how confident lock were the the banks were safe.

Hoover’s various other attempt at federal assistance additionally occurred in 1932, when he endorsed a invoice by city council Robert Wagner of brand-new York. This to be the Emergency Relief and also Construction Act. This action authorized the RFC come expand past loans to financial institutions and allotted $1.5 exchange rate to claims to fund local public functions projects. This routine failed to provide the kind of assist needed, however, together Hoover severely restricted the types of projects it could fund to those that were eventually self-paying (such as toll bridges and public housing) and those the required expert workers. While well intended, these programs preserved the status quo, and also there was still no straight federal relief come the people who therefore desperately required it.

Public Reaction to Hoover

Hoover’s steadfast resistance to government aid cost the the reelection and has put him squarely in ~ the forefront of the many unpopular presidents, follow to publicly opinion, in modern American history. His name came to be synonymous v the poor of the era: “Hoovervilles” became the usual name because that homeless shantytowns (see number 8-4) and also “Hoover blankets” for the papers that the homeless supplied to save warm. A “Hoover flag” to be a pants pocket—empty of every money—turned within out. Through the 1932 election, hitchhikers hosted up signs reading: “If friend don’t give me a ride, I’ll vote for Hoover.” americans did no necessarily think that Hoover brought about the an excellent Depression. Their anger stemmed rather from what appeared to be a willful refuse to aid regular citizens through direct assist that might allow them to recuperate from the crisis.

Figure 8-4: Migrant family pea areas California by Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum is in the Public Domain . A Hooverville in California, 1935, through a household using an automobile as component of your shack.

Frustration and Protest: A bad Situation grow Worse because that Hoover

Desperation and frustration often create emotional responses, and the an excellent Depression to be no exception. Transparent 1931–1932, suppliers trying to remain afloat sharply cut worker wages, and, in response, workers protested in significantly bitter strikes. Together the Depression unfolded, end 80 percent of automotive workers lost their jobs. Also the generally prosperous Ford Motor company laid off two-thirds of its workforce.

In 1932, a major strike in ~ the Ford Motor firm factory close to Detroit brought about over sixty injuries and also four deaths. Often referred to as the Ford Hunger March, the occasion unfolded together a planned demonstration amongst unemployed Ford employees who, to protest your desperate situation, marched nine miles indigenous Detroit to the company’s flow Rouge tree in Dearborn. In ~ the Dearborn city limits, local police introduced tear gas in ~ the roughly three thousand protestors, who responded by throwing stones and clods of dirt. Once they ultimately reached the entrances of the plant, protestors faced more police and firemen, as well as private defense guards. Together the firemen turn hoses onto the protestors, the police and security guards opened fire. In enhancement to those killed and injured, police arrested fifty protestors. One mainly later, sixty thousands mourners attended the general public funerals of the 4 victims of what numerous protesters labeling police brutality. The event set the tone because that worsening labor relations in the U.S.

Farmers additionally organized and protested, often violently. The most notable example was the farm yard Holiday Association. Led through Milo Reno, this company held far-ranging sway among farmers in Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the Dakotas. Although they never made up a bulk of farmers in any type of of this states, your public actions attracted press attention nationwide. Among their demands, the combination sought a commonwealth government setup to set agricultural prices artificially high enough to covering the farmers’ costs, and also a federal government commitment to sell any kind of farm excess on the world market. To achieve their goals, the group referred to as for farm holidays, throughout which farmers would neither sell their produce nor purchase any kind of other goods until the federal government met your demands. However, the best strength the the association come from the unexpected and seldom-planned actions of that is members, which had barricading roads into markets, attacking nonmember farmers, and also destroying their produce. Part members even raided little town stores, destroying develop on the shelves. Members additionally engaged in “penny auctions,” bidding pennies on foreclosed farm land and threatening any potential buyers v bodily injury if they completed in the sale. As soon as they winner the auction, the association returned the land come the original owner. In Iowa, farmers intimidated to hang a local judge if the signed any much more farm foreclosures. At least one death emerged as a direct an outcome of this protests prior to they waned following the choice of Franklin Roosevelt.

One of the many notable protest movements occurred toward the finish of Hoover’s presidency and centered top top the Bonus Expeditionary Force, or Bonus Army, in the spring of 1932. In this protest, approximately fifteen thousand world War ns veterans marched ~ above Washington to need early payment of their veteran bonuses, which to be not as result of be paid till 1945. The group camped out in vacant federal structures and set up camps in Anacostia Flats close to the Capitol building (Figure 8-5).

Figure 8-5: Bonus military on resources lawn by Underwood & Underwood is in the Public Domain . Members of the Bonus army resting ~ above the U.S. Funding lawn, Washington, D.C., 1932.

Many veterans stayed in the city in protest for practically two months, although the U.S. Senate officially rejected their request in July. By the center of that month, Hoover want them gone. The ordered the police to empty the buildings and clear the end the camps, and in the exchange that followed, police fired right into the crowd, killing 2 veterans. Fearing an armed uprising, Hoover climate ordered basic Douglas MacArthur, in addition to his aides, Dwight Eisenhower and George Patton, to forcibly remove the veterans native Anacostia Flats. The occurring raid verified catastrophic, as the military melted down the shantytown and also injured dozens of people, including a twelve-week-old infant who was killed when accidentally struck by a tear gas canister (see number 8-6).

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Figure 8-6: Evictbonusarmy by Signal Corps Photographer is in the Public Domain . Shacks, put up through the Bonus military on the Anacostia flats, Washington, D.C., burn after the battle with the military. The Capitol in the background. 1932.

As americans bore witness to photographs and newsreels that the U.S. Military forcibly removed veterans, Hoover’s popular plummeted also further. By the summer of 1932, he was mainly a beat man. His pessimism and also failure mirrored the of the country citizens. America to be a nation in desperate need: in require of a charismatic leader to gain back public confidence as well as administer concrete remedies to pull the economic situation out the the an excellent Depression. (2)