RUGGED TIMES for RUGGED INDIVIDUALISTSHoover’s exalted reputation as a wonder-worker and efficiency engineer crashed about asdismally as the stock market. The perplexed president was impaled on the horns of acruel dilemma – explain this personal/political dilemma confronting Hoover in thiscrisis.
The president at last worked out a compromise between the old hands-off philosophy andthe “soul-destroying” direct dole then being used in England. He would assist businesses inthe hope that its financial health would trickle-down to the masses.
Partisan critics sneered at the “Great Humanitarian,” who used federal funds to feedfaraway Belgians but would not use federal funds to feed needy Americans. Hostilecommentators criticized Hoover’s support for business who allegedly had plunged theeconomy into the mess. Much of this criticism was unfair – why? Put yourself in Hoover’s place in October, 1929. Do you see him as the “villain” or a “political casualty” of the event? Explain.
HERBERT HOOVER: PIONEER for the NEW DEALPresident Hoover, in line with his “trickle-down” philosophy, at last recommended thatCongress vote immense sums for useful public works. Though at heart an anti-spender, hesecured from Congress appropriations totaling $2.25 billion for such projects. What wasmost imposing of the public enterprises?But Hoover sternly fought all schemes that he regarded as “socialistic.” Early in 1932Congress established the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC). Describe how thisfederal agency would work.Hoover’s administration also provided some indirect benefits for labor – the Norris-LaGuardia Anti-Injunction Act (1932).The truth is that Hoover, despite criticism of his “heartlessness,” did inaugurate asignificant new policy. Slow though Hoover was to abandon this 19th century bias, by theend of his term he had started down the road toward govt. assistance for needy citizens –a road that FDR would travel much farther.Describe Hoover’s woes with Congress during this critical time.
ROUTING the BONUS ARMY in WASHINGTONMany veterans of WWI were numbered among the hard-hit victims of the depression.Industry had secured a “bonus” in the Harley-Smoot Tariff. So the thoughts of theformer soldiers turned to what the govt. owed them for their service. A drive developedfor the premature payment of the deferred bonus voted by Congress in 1924 and payablein 1945.
Thousands of impoverished veterans, both of war & unemployment, were now prepared tomove onto Washington, there to demand of Congress their immediate payment of theirentire bonus.
The “Bonus Expeditionary Force” (BEF), numbering 20,000, converged on the capital in thesummer of 1932. They promptly set up unsanitary camps. Describe the sequence ofevents and their impact.
JAPANESE MILITARISTS ATTACK CHINAThe Great Depression added immensely to difficulties abroad. Militaristic Japaneseimperialists, taking advantage of the West’s economic woes, lunged into Manchuria, boltingshut the Open Door in the conquered area.
Peaceful peoples were stunned by this act of naked aggression, which was a flagrantviolation of the League of Nations covenant. But the League was handicapped in takingtwo-fisted action by the non-membership of the U.S. Numerous Americans, though by nomeans a majority, urged strong measures.
Washington flatly rebuffed initial attempts in 1931 to secure American cooperation inapplying economic pressure on Japan. The only American response was the so-calledStimson doctrine – what did it proclaim?This verbal slap on the wrist from America did not deter the Japanese militarists.Despite further Japanese aggression, there was no real American sentiment for armedintervention. In a broad sense, collective security died and WWII was born in 1931 inManchuria.
HOOVER PIONEERS the GOOD NEIGHBOR POLICYHoover’s presidency brought a more hopeful turn to relations with Latin America. Heundertook a goodwill tour in 1928 to soften an age-old aggressive attitude.As an advocate of international goodwill, Hoover strove to abandon the interventionisttwist given to the Monroe Doctrine by T. Roosevelt. Acts of American goodwill included atreaty with Haiti and the last marines departed Nicaragua in 1933.Thus, Hoover engineered the foundation stones of the “Good Neighbor” policy, furtheredin the 1930’s by FDR.