Thursday, December 2, 2010
Nickname: None...hmm...how about "The Vacuum."
Hoover gets a bad rap. He was blamed for the Great Depression, and still is to this day. But like most economic calamities, they are inherited by the new president, and started by the old. While he didn’t start the Depression, he couldn’t stop it either, which is what the public needed.
Hoover grew up a Quaker and became an international engineer. This meant two things: First, that he had a humanitarian background, and second, that he was a self made millionaire. Hoover did a lot to help people before he was president. He led humanitarian food programs for those displaced by World War I. In 1917, Woodrow Wilson asked him to manage the nation’s wartime food conservation programs. He became immensely popular and was a shoe in for the presidency. Hoover’s attitude about helping others stopped at being president though. He felt that personal responsibility was the key to progress. While individuals and private institutions were responsible for serving humanity, the federal government was not. Hoover felt that the Constitution did not permit direct federal relief to individuals. This put him at odds with the Bonus Army. The Bonus Army marchers were veterans who wanted Hoover to allow them to borrow against military bonuses they had been given six years earlier. Hoover refused and had the crowd dispersed with force.
This attitude carried over into his other dealings with poverty stricken America. Hoover took little to no action to soften the blow of the depression. Any steps he took were either wrong or too little. People became so disillusioned with Hoover that they began calling the ragged shanty towns Hoovervilles. Hoover left office under one of the darkest clouds ever to shadow the presidency.
Ok, so we have a string of bad presidents. It’s the Gilded Age all over again. Hoover may have not been to blame for the depression, but he did nothing to stop the spread of it. Hoover may have been a nice guy, but the country needed a man who could inspire people and get America back to work.