Leading Blog






06.05.09

Newswire: Herbert Hoover and His Times

NewsWire
    The following is from the American Heritage magazine Summer 2009 edition and is excerpted from Herbert Hoover (The American Presidents Series: The 31st President, 1929-1933). It is a good analysis of Herbert Hoover’s time in office.
  • The Wrong Man at the Wrong Time
    by William E. Leuchtenburg, American Heritage Summer 2009

    On March 4, 1929, Herbert Hoover took the oath of office as the thirty-first president of the United States. America, its new leader told the rain-soaked crowd of 50,0000 around the Capitol and countless more listening to the radio, was “filled with millions of happy homes; blessed with comfort and opportunity.”

    He spoke in a monotone, but his words were oracular. “We are steadily building a new race, a new civilization great in its own attainments,” he claimed. “I have no fears for the future of the country. It is bright with hope.” One assertion more than any other articulated the theme of his inaugural address: “In no nation ‘are the fruits of accomplishment more secure.”

    Through much of his term, critics would fling those words back in his face. He had been, in the phrase of the day, asking for it. “Never in American history,” observed a journalist in 1932, “did a candidate so recklessly walk out on a limb and challenge Nemesis to saw it off.

    Hoover believed that the country was going through a short-term recession much like that of 1921, and hence that drastic remedies were not required. Businesses continued to report year-end profits; the stock market recovered by several points; and, in contrast to past panics, no large bank or corporation had collapsed. Hoover has been roundly criticized for not realizing that the stock market crash signaled the onset of the Great Depression, but no one else—including liberals—had any perception that the slump would last over a decade.

hooverville
The president had no sense of how to reach out to a desperate nation. Hoover, observed Sir Wilmot Lewis, Washington correspondent of the Times of London, “can calculate wave lengths, but cannot see color. . . . He can understand vibrations but cannot hear tone.” The biographer Henry Pringle wrote that Hoover didn’t use a single gesture when speaking in public but read with “his chin down against his shirt front—rapidly and quite without expression.”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:22 AM
| Comments (0) | This post is about Leaders , NewsWire



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