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Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt

Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt

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Herbert Hoover, the son of a Jessie Hoover, a blacksmith and Hulda Minthorn Hoover, was born in West Branch, Iowa, on 10th August, 1874. Both his parents were Quakers. Jessie, a successful businessman died in 1880. Huldah, a Quaker minister, frequently left her three children, Herbert, his older brother Theodore, and his younger sister Mary, in the care of friends, to "proclaim the word of God". Hulda died of pneumonia in 1884. (1)

Hoover, aged nine, went to live with his grandmother in Kingsley before being taken in by his uncle, Dr. John Minthorn, a physician and businessman whose own son had died the year before. Hoover was encouraged to work hard at school but at the age of thirteen he was forced to work as office assistant at his uncle's real estate office in Salem, Oregon. (2)

Hoover continued to attend night school and in 1891 was able to enter Stanford University. He had to do a variety of odd jobs to support himself, and struggled in many of his classes, especially English. But he enjoyed university life and eventually decided to concentrate on geology. He fell in love with Lou Henry but was unable to afford to get married. Hoover graduated in 1895, and initially struggled to find a job. (3)

Eventually he found work as an engineer in the gold mining industry in California. In 1897 he moved to Western Australia in 1897 as an employee of Bewick, Moreing & Co., a London-based company. After being appointed as manager at the age of 23, he brought in many Italian immigrants to under-cut the costs of employing local men. Hoover became a strong opponent of trade unions who were attempting to improve the pay and conditions of the miners. In 1898, Hoover was made a junior partner and this increase in his wages enabled him to marry his college girlfriend, Lou Henry. Hoover and his wife had two children: Herbert Charles Hoover and Allan Henry Hoover. (4)

In April 1899, Hoovers relocated to China. Hoover worked as chief engineer for the Chinese Bureau of Mines, and as general manager for the Chinese Engineering and Mining Corporation (CEMC). Under his influence the company became a supplier of immigrant labor from Southeast Asia for South African mines. (5) By 1906, over 50,000 immigrants had been recruited and shipped by CEMC. In February, 1911, Winston Churchill was forced to answer questions in the House of Commons about the working and living conditions of these workers and soon afterwards the scheme was abandoned in 1911. (6)

Herbert Hoover became an independent mining consultant. He specialized in rejuvenating troubled mining operations, taking a share of the profits in exchange for his technical and financial expertise. He also helped increase copper production in Russia, through the use of pyretic smelting. Hoover was also employed by Tsar Nicholas II to manage mines in the Altai Mountains. By 1914, Hoover was a very wealthy man, with an estimated personal fortune of $4 million. (7)

On the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, Hoover helped organize the return of around 120,000 Americans from Europe. He led 500 volunteers in distributing food, clothing, steamship tickets and cash. Hoover agreed to organize a relief effort with the Commission for Relief in Belgium (CRB). As chairman of the CRB, Hoover arranged the importation of millions of tons of foodstuffs for Belgian citizens. Hoover was given a $11-million-a-month budget for the work. Based in London for the next two years, arranged the distribution of over two million tons of food to nine million war victims. (8)

Germany was confident that they could bring Britain to collapse before American intervened. As A. J. P. Taylor pointed out: "They nearly succeeded. The number of ships sunk by U-boats rose catastrophically. In April 1917 one ship out of four leaving British ports never returned. That month nearly a million tons of shipping were sunk, two thirds of it British. New building could replace only one ton in ten. Neutral ships refused cargoes for British ports. The British reserve of wheat dwindled to six weeks' supply." (9)

When the USA declared war in April 1917, President Woodrow Wilson sent the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) under the command of General John Pershing to the Western Front. The Selective Service Act, drafted by Brigadier General Hugh Johnson, was quickly passed by Congress. The law authorized President Wilson to raise a volunteer infantry force of not more than four divisions. (10)

On 10th August, 1917, Hoover was appointed as head of the United States Food Administration, an agency responsible for the administration of the U.S. army overseas and allies' food reserves. The new law forbade hoarding, waste, and "unjust and unreasonable" prices and required businesses to be licensed. During this period "Hooverize" entered the dictionary as a synonym for economizing on food. (11)

One senator protested that Wilson had given Hoover "a power such as no Caesar ever employed over a conquered province in the bloodiest days of Rome's bloody despotism". Hoover replied that, "Winning a war requires a dictatorship of some kind or another. A democracy must submerge itself temporarily in the hands of an able man or an able group of men. No other way has ever been found." (12)

Hoover's main objectives was to persuade farmers to grow more and grocery shoppers to buy less so that surplus food should be sent to America's overseas allies. Hoover established set days for people to avoid eating specified foods and save them for soldiers' rations. For example, people were told not to eat meat on Mondays. In January, 1918, Hoover announced "the law of supply and demand... had been suspended." (13)

As head of the Food Administration's Grain Corporation, Hoover informed millers that if they did not sell flour to the government at a price he determined, he would requisition it, and he told bakers they must make "victory bread or close." In another speech Hoover argued: "The law is not sacred... Its unchecked operation might even jeopardize our success in war... It is imperative... that economic thinkers denude themselves of their procrustean forumulas of supply and demand... for in a crisis... government must necessarily regulate the price, and all theories to the contrary go by the board." (14)

A network of 1,200 Price Interpreting Boards announced "fair prices" which were published in newspapers so that housewives might boycott any grocer or butcher who did not fall into line. "We need to put the stamp of shame on wasteful eating, dressing and display of jewelry." To enforce these rules Hoover relied on his "one police force - the American woman". He urged them to complain to the authorities if they discovered the owners of shops were trying to avoid government regulations. (15)

Herbert Hoover told Wilson that his measures had not only delivered over $1.4 billion worth of food to Europe but had prevented food riots in American cities that would have resulted in "blood in our gutters". He told the congressional committee that democracy had triumphed because of "its willingness to yield to dictatorship". Hoover was attacked by some people for allowing some companies to make great profits from the scheme he had introduced. (16)

The Paris Peace Conference opened in January 1919. Hoover as director-general of Inter-Ally Supreme Council for Relief and Supply, also attended. President Woodrow Wilson argued strongly that it was vitally important to provide food for the German people in order to prevent a Bolshevik revolution. Hoover agreed and the decision to supply the Germans with 270,000 tons of food on 12th January. It has been claimed that Hoover was desperate to unload his "abundant stocks of low-grade pig products at high prices". (17)

Bernard Baruch, was on President's Wilson's staff and saw a lot of him during the conference, but the contact failed to foster a close mutual understanding. At a dinner party Baruch saw "Hoover, flanked by beautiful women, stared distractedly at his plate. Baruch, who was as loath to squander an opportunity to engage the opposite sex as the relief director was to waste food, afterward asked him how he could have ignored such charming companions. Hoover didn't seem to understand the question". (18)

David Lloyd George put in a claim for £25 billion of reparations at the rate of £1.2 billion a year. Georges Clemenceau wanted £44 billion, whereas Woodrow Wilson said that all Germany could afford was £6 billion. John Maynard Keynes, Lloyd George's economic adviser, disagreed with all these figures. He argued that Germany could only afford to pay £2 billion and if these higher figures were accepted it would ruin the economy of Europe. (19) Keynes found that Hoover was one of the few people at the conference who understood these economic arguments. Keynes wrote soon afterwards: "Mr. Hoover was the only man who emerged from the ordeal of Paris with an enhanced reputation." (20)

In 1920, both Democrats and Republicans considered asking Herbert Hoover to become their presidential candidate. It was suggested that Franklin D. Roosevelt could be Hoover's running-mate. Roosevelt agreed with the suggestion: "Hoover is certainly a wonder. I wish I could make him President of the United States. There could not be a better one." (21) Colonel Edward House agreed: "It's a wonderful idea. A Hoover-Roosevelt ticket is probably the only chance the Democrats have in November." (22)

On 6th March, 1920, Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, met Hoover to discuss the issue. Afterwards she wrote: "Mr. Hoover talked a great deal. He has an extraordinary knowledge and grasp of present-day problems." (23) At the end of March, Hoover broke his long silence and announced that he intended to be a candidate for the Republican nomination. However, he was defeated by Warren Harding. It was claimed that he "conducted a highly amateur campaign for the nomination; the politicians dismissed him with a sour laugh." (24)

The United States entered the 1920's in a strong economic position. The economies of her European rivals had been severely disrupted by the First World War and the United States had been able to capture markets which had previously been supplied by countries like Britain, France and Germany. Harding's isolationist foreign policy was popular with the electorate and in the 1920 Presidential Election he was voted into office by the widest popular margin in history. (25)

After the election Harding appointed Hoover as his Secretary of Commerce. Hoover demanded, and received, authority from Harding to coordinate economic affairs throughout the government. He created many sub-departments and committees, overseeing and regulating large areas of industry. In some cases he "seized" control of responsibilities from other Cabinet departments when he deemed that they were not carrying out their responsibilities well. As a result of this behaviour he became known as the "Secretary of Commerce and Under-Secretary of all other departments." (26)

During the campaign Warren Harding, promised to take measures to protect American farmers. It was thought that the rates under the Underwood-Simmons Tariff was too low. Joseph Fordney, the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Porter McCumber, the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced a bill which authorized the "Tariff Commission, working in an 'expert' and unpolitical way (and thus supposedly also independently of economic interests), to set rates so as to equalize the difference between American and foreign costs of production." (27)

In September 1922, the Fordney–McCumber Tariff Act was signed by President Harding. These raised tariffs to levels higher than any previously in American history in an attempt to bolster the post-war economy, protect new war industries, and aid farmers. "Duties on chinaware, pig iron, textiles, sugar, and rails were restored to the high levels of 1907 and increases ranging from 60 to 400 per cent were established on dyes, chemicals, silk and rayon textiles, and hardware." (28) Over the next eight years it raised the American ad valorem tariff rate to an average of about 38.5% for dutiable imports and an average of 14% overall. (29)

In the 1920s Herbert Hoover was associated with the successful growth in the American economy. This was partly due to the introduction of mass production. For example, between 1919 and 1929 output per worker increased by 43%. This increase enabled America to produce items that were cheaper than those manufactured by her European competitors. This enabled employers to pay higher wages. Hoover pointed out: "I think our people have long realized the advantages of large business operations in improving and cheapening the cost of manufacture and distribution…. The more goods produced, the more share there is to distribute." (30)

The United States also pioneered techniques in persuading people to buy the latest products. The development of commercial radio meant that companies could communicate information about their goods to a mass audience. In order to encourage people to purchase expensive goods like motor cars, refrigerators and washing machines, the system of hire-purchase was introduced which allowed customers to pay for these goods by installments.

President Warren Harding died suddenly on 2nd August, 1923, in San Francisco, and was replaced by his vice-president, Calvin Coolidge. The following year, Coolidge easily won the 1924 Presidential Election with 54% of the vote. Hoover remained Secretary of Commerce and the economy continued to grow and so did the industrial wage. This enabled the workers to buy the goods they were making. For example, by 1926 the average daily wage of a Ford worker was $10 and the Model T sold for only $350. (31)

Andre Siegfried, a French visitor pointed out: "In America the daily life of the majority is conceived on a scale that is reserved for the privileged classes anywhere else... The use of the telephone, for instance, is very widespread. In 1925 there were 15 subscribers for every 100 inhabitants as compared with 2 in Europe, and some 49,000,000 conversations per day.... Wireless is rapidly winning a similar position for itself, for even in 1924 the farmers alone possessed over 550,000 radios.... Statistics for 1925 show that... the United States owned 81 per cent of all the automobiles in existence, or one for every 5.6 people, as compared with one for every 49 and 54 in Great Britain and France." (32)

The real wages of industrial workers increased by about 10 per cent in the 1920s. However, productivity rose by more than 40%. Semi-skilled and unskilled workers in mass production, who were not unionized, lagged far behind skilled craftsmen and therefore was a growth in inequality: "The average industrial wage rose from 1919's $1,158 to $1,304 in 1927, a solid if unspectacular gain, during a period of mainly stable prices... The twenties brought an average increase in income of about 35%. But the biggest gain went to the people earning more than $3,000 a year.... The number of millionaires had risen from 7,000 in 1914 to about 35,000 in 1928." (33)

The farming community had not enjoyed the benefits of this growing economy. The Fordney–McCumber Tariff Act caused serious problems for the farmers. Senator David Walsh pointed out that farmers were net exporters and so did not need protection from tariffs. He explained that American farmers depended on foreign markets to sell their surplus. The price of farming machinery also increased. For example, the average cost of a harness rose from $46 in 1918 to $75 in 1926, the 14-inch plow rose from $14 to $28, mowing machines rose from $45 to $95, and farm wagons rose from $85 to $150. Statistics of the Bureau of Research of the American Farm Bureau that showed farmers had lost more than $300 million annually as a result of the tariff. (34)

As Patrick Renshaw has pointed out: "The real problem was that in both agricultural and industrial sectors of the economy America's capacity to produce was tending to outstrip its capacity to consume. This gap had been partly bridged by private debt, easy credit, easy credit and hire purchase. But this would collapse if anything went wrong in another part of the system." (35)

President Calvin Coolidge announced in August 1927 that he would not seek a second full term of office. Coolidge was unwilling to nominate Hoover as his successor. The two men had a poor relationship on one occasion he remarked that "for six years that man has given me unsolicited advice - all of it bad. I was particularly offended by his comment to 'shit or get off the pot'." (36)

Coolidge was not alone in thinking that Hoover might be a bad candidate. Republican leaders cast about for an alternative candidate such as Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon and the former Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes, Despite these reservations, Hoover won the presidential nomination on the first ballot of the convention. Senator Charles Curtis of Kansas was selected as his running-mate. One newspaper reported: "Hoover brings character and promise to the Republican ticket. He is a new kind of candidate in a day surfeited with old forms and old habits in politics." (37)

Senator George H. Moses, chairman of the Republican national convention, sent a letter congratulating Herbert Hoover on his nomination. He replied: "You convey too great a compliment when you say that I have earned the right to the presidential nomination. No man can establish such an obligation upon any part of the American people. My country owes me no debt. It gave me, as it gives every boy and girl, a chance. It gave me schooling, independence of action, opportunity for service and honor. In no other land could a boy from a country village, without inheritance or influential friends, look forward with unbounded hope. My whole life has taught me what America means. I am indebted to my country beyond any human power to repay." (38)

One of the main issues in the election campaign was the taxes imposed on imports. The Fordney-McCumber Act of 1922 raised American tariffs on many imported goods to protect factories and farms. The tariff rate was an average of about 38.5% for dutiable imports and an average of 14% overall. However, in response to this, most of American trading partners had raised their own tariffs to counter-act this measure. (39)

Industrialists such as Henry Ford attacked the tariff and argued that the American automobile industry did not need protection since it dominated the domestic market and its main objective was to expand foreign sales. He pointed out that France raised its tariffs on automobiles from 45% to 100% in response to the Fordney-McCumber Act. Ford and other industrialists tended to favour the idea of free trade. (40)

David Walsh, a member of the Democratic Party, challenged the tariff by arguing that the farmers were net exporters and so did not need protection; they depended on foreign markets to sell their surplus. Hoover and the Republicans still believed in tariffs. William Borah, the charismatic senator from Idaho, widely regarded as a true champion of the American farmer, had a meeting with Hoover and offered to give him his full support if he promised to increase tariffs of agricultural products if elected. (41) Nearly a quarter of the American labour force was then employed on the land and Hoover wanted their vote. He therefore agreed with the proposal and during the campaign promised the American electorate that he would revise the tariff. (42)

The Democratic candidate was Al Smith. As governor of New York he attempted to bring an end to child labour, improve factory laws, housing and the care of the mentally ill. During his campaign Smith gave his support for an increase to the tariffs for imported goods, even though most of the party leaders, including Cordell Hull, John J. Raskob, Burton K. Wheeler and Harry F. Byrd, were strong opponents of the Fordney-McCumber Act. (43)

Smith was the first Roman Catholic to be a serious candidate for the presidency. This became a serious problem in the Deep South and the Ku Klux Klan burned Smith's effigy and Catholics were vilified for letting blacks worship in the same churches as whites. In the 1928 Presidential Election several states that had previously voted Democrat, such as Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia voted Republican. Smith won 40.8% of the vote compared to Hoover's 58.2%. (44)

Carter Field argued that the business community was pleased with the election of Hoover: "In the months following the election of Hoover, in 1928, there was a wild stock-market boom. Most speculators, most businessmen, most people thought the country was moving on to a new high plateau of prosperity. Hoover was the miracle man. He knew about business and would help it prosper. Stocks were already high the day Hoover was elected; for example, American Telephone, which was sold around 150 in the spring of 1927 and was about 200 on election day, 1928, soared to a high above 310." (45)

After his election Hoover asked Congress for an increase of tariff rates for agricultural goods and a decrease of rates for industrial goods. Reed Smoot from Utah and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and Willis C. Hawley, from Oregon, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, agreed to sponsor the proposed bill. In the House of Representatives the president's bill was completely changed and now included rate hikes covering 887 specific products. (46) Smoot and Hawley argued that raising the tariff on imports would alleviate the over-production problem. In May 1929, the House of Representatives passed the Smoot–Hawley Tariff bill on a vote of 264 to 147, with 244 Republicans and 20 Democrats voting in favor of the bill. (47)

The Smoot–Hawley Tariff bill was then debated in the Senate. It came under attack from Democrats. Reed Smoot defended the bill by arguing: "This government should have no apology to make for reserving America for Americans. That has been our traditional policy. ever since the United States became a nation. We have returned to participate in the political intrigues of Europe, and we will not compromise the independence of this country for the privilege of serving as schoolmaster for the world. In economics as in politics, the policy of the government is, 'America First'. The Republican Party will not stand by and see economic experimenters fritter away our national heritage." (48)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the son of James Roosevelt and his second wife, Sara Delano Roosevelt, was born Hyde Park, on 30th January, 1882. Both sides of the family were extremely wealthy. The Roosevelts were one of the oldest families in America and had made their fortune from land and trading in the 18th century and increased their wealth during the 19th century by investing in iron and coal mines. (49)

Since arriving in America from Holland in 1624 the Roosevelts had been active in politics. Franklin later wrote: "Some of the famous Dutch families in New York today have nothing left but their name - they are few in numbers, they lack progressivism and a true democratic spirit. One reason - perhaps the chief - of the virility of the Roosevelts is their very democratic spirit... They have felt that there was no excuse for them if they did not do their duty by the community." (50)

At the time of his birth the United States was becoming the world's most powerful country. It's gross domestic product (GDP) had doubled since 1865 and was now the largest in the world; one third larger than Britain's, twice that of France, and three times as great as Germany. (51) "The production of steel, less than twenty thousand tons in 1867, totaled almost 2 million tons in 1882, Coal production had tripled. On the negative side, more than five hundred miners lost their lives in deep-pit accidents each year." (52)

Families as wealthy as the Roosevelts usually entrusted newborn babies to the care of experienced nurses. As soon as she recovered from childbirth, Sara insisted on doing everything herself: "Every mother ought to learn to care for her own baby, whether she can afford to delegate the task to someone or not." She kept to a tight deadline: "Awake at seven. Breakfast at eight. Lessons until eleven. Lunch at noon. More lessons until four. Two hours of play followed by supper at six and bed by eight." (53)

The Roosevelts were supporters of the Democratic Party and in 1884 Presidential Election they helped fund the campaign of Grover Cleveland. After the election James agreed to a diplomatic post in Vienna. Before leaving Washington, James and five-year-old Franklin called on the president to discuss the appointment. As they were leaving Cleveland told Franklin: "My little man, I am making a strange wish for you. It is that you may never be president of the United States." (54)

James Roosevelt, aged 54 at his son's birth, was content to leave the disciplining to his wife. "Franklin never knew what it meant to have the kind of respect for his father that is composed of equal parts of awe and fear. The regard in which he held him, amounting to worship, grew out of a companionship that was based on his ability to see things eye to eye, and his father's never-failing understanding of the little problems that seem so grave to a child." (55)

Sara Roosevelt employed several tutors to teach Franklin mathematics, history, Latin, French and German. His most important teacher was a young Swiss woman named Jeanne Rosat-Sandoz, who not only taught him modern languages but attempted to instill a sense of social responsibility. He later wrote to her, "I have often thought that it was you, more than anyone else, who laid the foundation for my education." (56)

Franklin Roosevelt did not have any brothers or sisters and so until he was sent away to boarding school he spent most of his time in the company of adults. Sara tried to teach him to think like an adult and was very careful about the books she selected for him to read: "The highest ideal I could hold up before our boy was to grow to be like his father: straight and honorable, just and kind." (57) One family member commented that "seldom has a young child been more constantly attended and incessantly approved of by his mother." (58)

The family spent a lot of time travelling in Europe. The first school he attended was in Bad Nauheim. Sara insisted that nine-year-old Franklin be enrolled in the local school to improve his German. His schoolmaster, Christian Bommersheim, later commented: "His parents put him in my class and he impressed me very quickly as an unusually bright young fellow. He had such an engaging manner, and he was always so polite that he was soon one of the most popular children in the school." (59)

At the age of fourteen Roosevelt was sent to America's most exclusive private school, Groton, in Massachusetts. The founder and headmaster of the school was the Reverend Endicott Peabody, who had studied for the ministry at the Episcopal Theological Seminary at Cambridge. Tuition was $500 a year. That was about twice what the average American family had to live on. Life at the school was Spartan. Each boy lived in a six-by-ten-foot cubicle with a bed, bureau, rug and chair. There was a curtain instead of a door because Peabody was opposed to too much privacy. The boys were also forced to have two cold showers a day. Averell Harriman, one of the boys at Gorton, told his father, that Peabody "would be an awful bully if he weren't such a terrible Christian." (60)

Franklin Roosevelt was not an outstanding student: "He read rapidly and retained facts easily, a trait that would become more pronounced in the years ahead. He was fluent in French and German and already possessed an uncanny ability to assimilate what he observed. But Roosevelt was not a reflective thinker, nor an original thinker. He learned by doing. And the extensive traveling he did with his parents - he went to Europe eight times in his first fourteen years - exposed him to a wider range of experience than most boys his age." (61)

Roosevelt entered Harvard University in the autumn of 1900, along with sixteen of his eighteen Groton classmates. He rented a three-room suite in Westmorley Court, with his close friend Lathrop Brown. He studied economics, government, and history. Roosevelt had little difficulty academically. Later he recalled: "I took economics courses in college for four years and everything I was taught was wrong." (62)

Franklin's father, James Roosevelt, had a severe heart-attack on 8th December, 1900. He died a few hours later. Franklin was provided with a trust fund and for the rest of his life never had to worry about money. His father left an estate of $600,000 (around $14 million in today's currency). Two years previously, his mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, had inherited $1.3 million from her father ($28 million). (63)

While at university he met became engaged to his cousin, Eleanor Roosevelt. Her father, Elliott Roosevelt, was the brother of Theodore Roosevelt, the president of the United States. Her life had been very difficult. Her mother, Anna Hall Roosevelt, died of diphtheria at the age 29. Her father was an alcoholic, who had committed suicide in August, 1894, and so by the age of ten she was an orphan. (64)

Eleanor's autobiographical writings depict a lovable, caring father and an austere, self-absorbed mother. Her biographer, Blanche Wiesen Cook, has pointed out: "She (Eleanor) did not relate to her mother's bitter situation, even in adulthood, after she knew the facts. And she never acknowledged the sacrifice her mother had made for her, an act of love that allowed Eleanor to maintain her romantic image of her father." (65)

At the age of 15 Eleanor was sent to a boarding school in London. The headmistress of the school was Marie Souvestre, the daughter of the French philosopher and novelist, Émile Souvestre. A committed feminist, she believed passionately in educating women to think for themselves, to challenge accepted wisdom, and to assert themselves. Souvestre wrote to Eleanor's guardian: "She is the most amiable girl I have ever met; she is nice to everybody, very eager to learn and highly interested in her work." (66)

Eleanor was very upset when she had to leave the school at 18: "Mlle. Souvestre had become one of the people whom I cared most for in the world, and the thought of the long separation seemed hard to bear... When I left I felt quite sure that I would return before long, but I realize now that Mlle. Souvestre, knowing her infirmities, had little hope of seeing me again. She wrote me lovely letters, which I still cherish. They show the kind of relationship that had grown up between us and give an idea of the fine person who exerted the greatest influence, after my father, on this period of my life." (67)

Roosevelt was a member of the Democratic Party but in the 1904 Presidential Election he voted for his uncle, Theodore Roosevelt. "My father and grandfather were Democrats and I was born and brought up as a Democrat. But in 1904, when I cast my first vote for president, I voted for the Republican candidate, Theodore Roosevelt, because I thought he was a better Democrat than the Democratic candidates. If I had to do it all over again, I would not alter that vote." (68)

Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt were married on 17th March, 1905. President Roosevelt attended the wedding. When he accepted the invitation he wrote to Franklin about the importance of love: "I am as fond of Eleanor as if she were my daughter; and I like you, and trust you, and believe in you. No other success in life - not the Presidency, or anything else - begins to compare with the joy and happiness that come in and from the love of a true man and the true woman, the love which never sinks lower and sweetheart in man and wife." (69)

Franklin Roosevelt attended Columbia Law School. A fellow student, William Donovan described him as a person with enormous self-confidence but with little desire to spend much time studying. His final grades were three Bs, three Cs, and a D, which placed him roughly in the middle of the class. One of his tutors, Professor Jackson E. Reynolds, commented that Roosevelt had little aptitude for the law and "make no effort to overcome that handicap by hard work." (70)

In 1906 Roosevelt passed his New York state bar exam and joined Carter, Ledyard and Milburn at 54 Wall Street, a bluechip firm whose best clients, big corporations like Standard Oil of Ohio and American Tobacco, who were the very people who were vigorously fighting President Theodore Roosevelt's anti-trust suits in federal court. However, Franklin was too junior to become involved in this work. (71)

Roosevelt wanted a career in politics and in 1910 the Democratic Party in New York asked him to run for election to the state senate for rural Columbia, Duchess and Putnam counties. Frances Perkins was one of the people who helped him in his campaign: "Tall and slender, very active and alert, moving around the floor, going in and out of committee rooms, rarely talking with the members, not particularly charming (that came later), rarely smiling, with an unfortunate habit - so natural he was unaware of it - of throwing his head up. This, combined with his pince-nez (a pair of eyeglasses with a nose clip instead of earpieces) and great height, gave him the appearance of looking down his nose at most people." (72)

Roosevelt became one of the first politicians to campaign in an automobile. It was a risky strategy as cars were luxury items at the time and it highlighted his wealthy background. However, travelling at the speed of twenty miles an hour, Roosevelt was able to criss-cross the district as no candidate had done before. The car draped in the national flag soon caught people's attention and his speeches attracted large crowds: "They came to see as well as hear the handsomest candidate that ever asked for votes in their district. Franklin was so good looking he might have stepped out of a magazine cover." (73)

Roosevelt carried more than two thirds of the precincts in the Senatorial District, defeating the Republican candidate 15,708 to 14,568, an unprecedented Democratic majority. At the age of 28 Roosevelt had achieved his first political success. His mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, commented: "I have always thought Franklin perfectly extraordinary, and, as I look back, I don't think he has ever disappointed me." (74)

Gifford Pinchot was a family friend who was the most important conservationist in the United States. Roosevelt arranged for Pinchot to give lectures on the subject in New York. He was also a supporter of votes for women after he had a meeting with Inez Milholland, one of the leaders of the National Women's Party. His wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, claimed she was shocked by this conversion: "I was shocked, as I had never given the question serious thought, for I took it for granted that men were superior creatures and knew more about politics than women did, and I realised that if my husband was a suffragist I probably must be, too." (75)

In the 1912 election Roosevelt appointed Louis Howe as his campaign manager. Howe was a journalist who had made his name when helping Thomas Mott Osborne, to defeat the press baron, William Randolph Hearst, who was trying to become the Democratic Party presidential candidate. Hearst, who owned 28 newspapers and magazines, was a difficult man to beat. Howe biographer Julie M. Fenster describes the anti-Hearst campaign as a "personal turning point" for Howe, in which he got his first taste of politics, learned the practical mechanics of party organization, and had an opportunity to make news rather than simply reporting it. (76)

Howe was greatly impressed with Roosevelt and came to the conclusion that "nothing but an accident could keep him from becoming president". (77) Making sure he did did so became the purpose of Howe's life. As his secretary explained, "Louis was small, ugly and insignificant looking. Roosevelt was big, handsome and dramatic. Louis Howe closed one eye and saw the two divergent personalities merge into a political entity and the picture fascinated him." (78) Howe's strategy was to send personal letters to voters and this was highly successful and he had an easy victory in November 1912. (79)

According to Eleanor Roosevelt, Howe's most important contribution to her husband's political outlook was to persuade him to become concerned with the plight of the American work-force. He arranged for him to meet with trade union leaders. Howe insisted Roosevelt attend hearings on labour problems in person rather than delegate labour relations to someone else. (80)

On 13th January, 1913, President Woodrow Wilson invited Roosevelt to Washington. He was introduced to Josephus Daniels, the new Secretary of the Navy. Daniels asked Roosevelt: "How would you like to be assistant secretary of the Navy?" Roosevelt replied: "It would please me better than anything in the world. All my life I have loved ships and have been a student of the Navy, and the assistant secretaryship is the one place, above all others, that I would like to hold... nothing would please me so much as to be with you in the Navy." (81)

Daniels told Elihu Root about his appointment. He replied: "You know the Roosevelts, don't you? Whenever a Roosevelt rides, he wishes to ride in front... though, of course, being a Republican, I have no right to make any suggestion." Daniels replied that he wasn't worried about Roosevelt and that he wanted a strong man as assistant secretary. "A chief who fears that an assistant will outrank him is not fit to be chief." (82)

Roosevelt had a good opinion of President Wilson. He told Frances Perkins: "You know, Wilson had an uncanny understanding of the European problem. He understood the moral drives of modern man. He was a Presbyterian, you know, and a tough one, and he was perfectly sure that all men are sinful by nature. He figured it out that Western civilisation would attempt to destroy itself through the natural sinful activities of modern man unless by the grace of God the decent people of Western civilisation resolved to support the doctrine of the Golden Rule." (83)

Daniels and his close friend, William Jennings Bryan, were the two most radical members of Wilson's cabinet. "For seventeen years they had worked to free the common man from the clutches of trusts, railroads, robber barons, and whatever other vested interest appeared on the horizon. Daniels served as Bryan's publicity director in each of his presidential campaigns, and the two shared a contempt for anything that smacked of wealth and special privilege." (84)

Louis Howe moved to Washington to be with Roosevelt and was appointed as his secretary on $2,000 a year. "My husband had asked Louis Howe to come down as his assistant in the Navy Department; Louis moved his wife and two children, one of them a fairly well-grown girl and the other a baby boy, into an apartment not far from us." (85) Every morning at 8.15 Howe would call for Roosevelt and the two men would walk to the Navy Department. Elliott Roosevelt fondly remembers his father "striding down Connecticut Avenue with Louis hurrying along at his side. The two of them looked uncannily like Don Quixote and Sancho setting out to battle with giants." (86)

Howe's duties involved labour relations, special investigations and speech writing. He also took charge of patronage, handled Roosevelt's correspondence, made appointments for his boss. Daniels soon became aware of Howe's importance: "Howe advised FDR about everything. His one and only ambition was to steer Franklin's course so that he could take the tide at the full. He was totally devoted. He would have sidetracked both President Wilson and me to get Franklin Roosevelt to the White House." (87)

Roosevelt read The Influence of Sea Power Upon History 1660-1783, a book published by Alfred Thayer Mahan in 1890. Mahan argued that national greatness was closely associated with the sea, with its commercial use in peace and its control in war. Roosevelt shared Mahan's belief that the example of Britain showed the command of the world's oceans was key to world power. Roosevelt became an ardent proponent of a "Big Navy". (88)

As assistant secretary of the Navy, Roosevelt's impact on the policies of the Wilson's administration was minimal. However, his eight years in Washington provided the opportunity to learn about the realities of national politics. Howe taught Roosevelt how to deal with organized labour. On several occasions he had meetings with trade union leaders. His great strength was that he was a good listener. He told them: "I want you to feel that you can come to me at any time in my office and we can talk matters over. Let's get together for I need you to teach me your business and show me what's going on." (89)

Eleanor Roosevelt gave birth to their sixth child, John Aspinwall Roosevelt, on 13th March, 1916. According to one of his biographers, Jean Edward Smith, after the birth of their last child "the evidence suggests that Eleanor and Franklin adopted abstinence as the only sure means of birth control". (90) They were both members of the Episcopal Church that at that time forbade birth control, and it was illegal in many states by statute. Eleanor told her daughter that "sex is an ordeal to be borne" and that after John's birth "that was the end of any marital relationship". (91)

In the summer of 1916 Franklin Roosevelt began a relationship with Lucy Mercer, Eleanor's part-time social secretary. She was 25 and Franklin was 34. Lucy was the impoverished daughter of high-living socialites who had recklessly spent their way through a substantial fortune. Lucy was well-liked by Roosevelt's children: "She was femininely gentle where Mother had something of a schoolmarm's air about her, outgoing where Mother was an introvert. We children welcomed the days she came to work." (92)

Franklin Roosevelt was said to be at his peak of physical attractiveness. Arthur C. Murray, who was based in Washington at this time described him as "breathing health and vitality". (93) Another official commented that "he was the most magnetic young men I ever saw." (94) Admiral Sheffield Cowles warned him about the dangers of the attention he was receiving from young women. (95)

Elliott Roosevelt was aware of the relationship and later explained why his father was attracted to Lucy. She had "the same brand of charm as Father, and there was a hint of fire in her warm dark eyes... in the new circumstances of Father's life at home, I see it as inevitable that they were irresistibly attracted to each other." (96) Alice Roosevelt Longworth, the eldest daughter of Theodore Roosevelt, provided a safe house for the couple to meet. She later recalled: "Franklin deserved a good time. He was married to Eleanor." (97)

By the time the United States had entered the First World War in 1917, Roosevelt had the country's naval plants and yards working efficiently. During the war he helped to devise the plans for the battle of the North Sea which broke the effectiveness of German U-boat warfare. On 24th June, 1917, Roosevelt arranged for Lucy Mercer to work as his secretary in Washington. The war and his relationship with Lucy meant that he rarely arrived home until after midnight. (98)

Josephus Daniels, the new Secretary of the Navy, discovered about the affair. He was old-fashioned in his views about the sanctity of marriage and the sin of divorce, and on 5th October, 1917, he ordered her to be sacked. Blanche Wiesen Cook, also believes that it is possible that Eleanor was also aware of the relationship. Members of the family knew, so did many of Eleanor's Red Cross co-workers, and so did "almost everybody else of importance in Washington." (99)

Further evidence that Eleanor might have suspected something is that all of a sudden she became very close to Sara Delano Roosevelt. The relationship between Eleanor and her mother-in-law had never been easy. However, in 1918 she wrote to her virtually every day. In one letter she said: "As the years go on, I realize how lucky we are to have you, and I wish we could always be together. Very few mothers I know mean as much to their daughters as you do to me." (100) On 17th March she wrote: "As I have grown older I have realized better all you do for us and all you mean to me and the children especially and you will never know how grateful I am nor how much I love you." (101)

In the summer of 1918 Franklin Roosevelt visited the Western Front in France before meeting George Clemenceau. "He is only 77 years old and people say he is getting younger everyday... The wonderful old man leaves his office almost every Saturday in a high-powered car, dashes to the front, visits a Corps Commander, travels perhaps all night, goes up a good deal closer in the actual battle line than the officers like, keep it up all day Sunday and motors back in time to be at his desk on Monday morning." He then had meetings with David Lloyd George, the British prime minister, who he described as "not very tall, rather large head, rather long hair, but tremendous vitality." (102)

On his return, in the course of unpacking Franklin's luggage, Eleanor discovered a pack of love letters from Lucy Mercer. Eleanor later told Joseph P. Lash: "The bottom dropped out of my world. I faced myself, my surroundings, my world, honestly for the first time." (103) Eleanor apparently told Franklin that she was willing to give him a divorce. However, Sara was furious and threatened to cut him out of his will if he left his wife. (104)

Louis Howe pointed out that Josephus Daniels, the Secretary of the Navy, would certainly sack him if he left Eleanor. He also told him that as a divorced man he could never become president. Howe also had a meeting with Eleanor and persuaded her that FDR could not go on without her. She claimed that she would only be willing to continue with the marriage if FDR promised never to see Lucy Mercer again. FDR agreed to this deal and not long afterwards Lucy married the 58 year-old wealthy playboy, Winthrop Rutherfurd. (105)

Franklin Roosevelt attended the Paris Peace Conference with President Woodrow Wilson. He spoke French fluently and this helped greatly in the negotiations. but was highly critical of the terms of Versailles Treaty. He believed the "the effort to make the world safe for democracy had resulted in making the world safe for the old empires". Roosevelt also had doubts about the formation of the League of Nations. (106)

At the Democratic convention in San Francisco, Roosevelt gave his support to Al Smith: "I love him as a friend; I look up to him as a man; I am with him as a Democrat; and we all know his record throughout the nation as a great servant of the public." (107) However, the nomination went to three-term Ohio governor, James Middleton Cox. In the negotiations that took place with party managers, Cox them: "My choice is young Roosevelt. His name is good, he's right geographically, and he's anti-Tammany." (108)

The 1920 campaign saw Eleanor Roosevelt emerge into public life. It was Louis Howe who recognised her potential and asked her advice. "I was flattered and before long I found myself discussing a wide range of topics." (109) Eleanor developed a close relationship with Howe and according to Blanche Wiesen Cook: "Louis Howe was the first of many intimate friends that ER grew to trust and love, with a warmth and generosity both spontaneous and unlimited". (110)

The United States entered the 1920's in a strong economic position. Roosevelt knew that the Democrats had no chance of winning. The Republican isolationist foreign policy was popular with the electorate and in the 1920 Presidential Election Harding was voted into office by the widest popular margin in history. (111)

On 10th August, 1921, Franklin Roosevelt took a swim in Lake Glen Severn, a shallow freshwater pond on Campobello Island. About an hour later Roosevelt felt a sudden chill. He went straight to bed but continued to tremble despite two heavy blankets. The next morning he was worse. When he attempted to stand his left leg buckled beneath him. That evening he had lost the power to move his legs. He ached all over and was paralyzed from the chest down. However, it was not until fifteen years later before he was diagnosed as suffering from poliomyelitis. (112)

At first it was hoped that it was a mild attack but by October it was clear that he had lost the ability to walk. Sara Roosevelt wanted her son to retire from public life. Eleanor Roosevelt and Louis Howe disagreed and thought that the prospect of returning to politics would aid his recovery. Eleanor later recalled: "This was the most trying winter of my entire life. My mother-in-law thought we were tiring my husband and that he should be kept completely quiet. This made the discussions about his care somewhat acrimonious on occasion." (113).

Although he was confined to bed, with the help of Eleanor, Louis and his new secretary, Marguerite LeHand, he was able to keep up a constant correspondence with Democratic Party leaders. In March, 1922, he was fitted with steel braces that weighted fourteen pounds and ran from his heels to above his hips. Since his hips were paralyzed, he was incapable of moving his legs individually and was taught to pivot forward on his crutches, using his head and upper body for leverage. His doctor told him that he would never be able to walk normally. (114)

Eleanor agreed to become involved in politics to keep the Roosevelt name in the news. By this stage Eleanor was politically far to the left of her husband. She became involved in the campaigns against child labour and racial discrimination and became a supporter of organisations such as National Consumer's League, League of Women's Voters, National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) and the Women's Trade Union League. People she worked with during this period included Frances Perkins, Jane Addams, Rose Schneiderman, Nancy Cook and Marion Dickerman. Eleanor became the "centre of a dynamic group of women reformers who were college-educated, who had worked helping the urban poor in settlement houses and were social feminists." (115)

Sara Roosevelt also became involved in these progressive campaigns. Mary McLeod Bethune, the president of the National Association of Colored Women, remembers attending a luncheon for thirty-five board members of the National Council for Women. "Mrs. James Roosevelt did a remarkable thing. Very deliberately, she took my arm and seated me to the right of Eleanor Roosevelt, the guest of honor! I can remember too, how the faces of the Negro servants lit up with pride. From that moment on, my heart went out to Mrs James Roosevelt. I visited her at her home many times subsequently, and our friendship became one of the most treasured of my life." (116)

Franklin Roosevelt returned to public life in 1924 when he agreed to help Al Smith in his attempt to become president. According to Eleanor: "He was entirely well and lived a normal life, restricted only by his inability to walk. On the whole, his general physical condition improved year by year, until he was stronger in some ways than before his illness... In the spring of 1924, before the National Democratic Convention met in New York, Al Smith, who was a candidate for the presidential nomination, asked him to manage his preconvention campaign. This was the first time that my husband was to be in the public eye since his illness. A thousand and one little arrangements had to be made and Louis carefully planned each step of the way." (117)

Frances Perkins believed that this illness changed Roosevelt's personality and in doing so, made him into a better man. "Roosevelt underwent a spiritual transformation during the years of his illness. I noticed when he came back that the years of pain and suffering had purged the slightly arrogant attitude he had displayed on occasion before he was stricken. The man emerged completely warmhearted, with humility of spirit and with a deeper philosophy. Having been to the depths of trouble, he understood the problems of people in trouble." (118)

In 1928 Franklin D. Roosevelt accepted the nomination as the Democratic candidate for the Governor of New York. Some newspapers questioned the decision. The New York Post asserted: "There is something both pathetic and pitiless in the drafting of Franklin D. Roosevelt". (119) The New York Herald Tribune took a similar view: "The nomination is unfair to Mr. Roosevelt. It is equally unfair to the people of the state." (120) Al Smith responded by arguing: "A governor doesn't have to be an acrobat. The work of the governorship is brainwork. Frank Roosevelt is mentally as good as he ever was in his life." (121)

After being nominated Roosevelt had four weeks of energetic campaigning, sometimes speaking as often as fourteen times a day. "Roosevelt surprised all his friends, and I think himself, by the vigor and drive he, just out of the sickroom, put into the whirlwind visits to the hundreds of districts... He took to the automobile as a method of getting around and spoke from the back of it at outdoor meetings... He proved to himself and the people that he was not too sick to assume responsibility, as his opponents claimed. He had that imponderable human quality which made people feel they were close to him." (122)

Although the Democrats did badly that year, with Herbert Hoover being elected as president. However, Roosevelt, bucked the trend and obtained 2,130,238 votes against the 2,104,630 achieved by his Republican opponent, Albert Ottinger - a majority of 25,608 out of more than 4 million cast. The New York Times reported: It is too early to select the new leader of the Democratic Party or to predict nominations for a date so remote as 1932. Yet by a most extraordinary combination of qualities, political fortunes and diversified associations, Governor-elect Roosevelt is within reach of the elements of party leadership." (123)

Al Smith, the previous Governor of New York, urged Roosevelt to appoint two of his key advisers, to his administration, Robert Moses and Belle Moskowitz. Roosevelt, who wanted to show he was in control of the situation rejected these suggestions. He told one aide, "I've got to be governor of the State of New York and I've got to be it myself." Two years later Smith commented: "Do you know, by God, he has never consulted me about a damn thing since he became governor." (124)

Roosevelt appointed Frances Perkins as his industrial commissioner and a member of a governor's cabinet, the first woman to serve in that capacity. On her appointment he stated: "It is my firm belief that had women had an equal share in making laws in years past, the unspeakable conditions in crowded tenements, the neglect of the poor, the unwillingness to spend money for hospitals and sanitariums... would never have come about." (125) Other key figures in his administration included Edward J. Flynn (secretary of state), James Farley (chief strategist), Louis Howe (chief of staff), Henry Morgenthau (Agricultural Advisory Commission), Samuel Rosenman (speech writer) and Basil O'Connor (legal adviser). (126)

Unemployment which stood at 4 million in March 1930, reached 8 million in March 1931. Hoovervilles, settlements on tin shacks, abandoned cars and discarded packing crates, emerged on the edges of all big cities. President Hoover responded by urging Americans to embrace the principles of local responsibility and mutual self-help, by setting up community soup kitchens. If we depart from these principles, he argued, we will "have struck at the roots of self-government". (127)

Franklin Roosevelt made it clear that he disapproved of this approach to unemployment. He pointed out he was willing to spend $20 million to provide useful work where possible and, where such work could not be found, to provide the needy with food and shelter. "In broad terms I assert that modern society, acting through its government, owes the definite obligation to prevent the starvation or dire want of any of its fellow men and women who try to maintain themselves but cannot... To these unfortunate citizens aid must be extended by government - not as a matter of charity but as a matter of social duty." (128)

In addition to the $20 million relief package, Roosevelt asked the New York legislature, for funds to establish a new state agency, the Temporary Emergency Relief Administration (TERA), to distribute the funds. He also requested that the legislature to raise personal income taxes by 50% to pay for the relief effort. New York was the first state to establish a relief agency, and TERA immediately became a model for other states. THis included New Jersey, Rhode Island and Illinois. (129)

Roosevelt selected Jesse Straus, president of R. H. Macy department stores, and one of the most respected businessmen in New York, to head TERA. He chose as his executive director a forty-two-year-old social worker, Harry L. Hopkins, who at that time was unknown to Roosevelt or any of his advisers. Hopkins was an inspired choice. A gifted administrator who proved he could deliver aid swiftly. In the next six years TERA assisted some 5 million people - 40 per cent of the population of New York State. (130)

Eleanor Roosevelt pointed out that TERA was the first of her husband's important projects. "Many experiments that were later to be incorporated into a national program were being tried out in the state. It was part of Franklin's political philosophy that the great benefit to be derived from having forty-eight states was the possibility of experimenting on a small scale to see how a program worked before trying it out nationally." (131)

The Bitter Origins of the Fight Over Big Government

In January 1933, President Herbert Hoover found himself in a position familiar at that point to millions of Americans: He was about to lose his job. Unsure of what the future might hold, he considered whether to accept an offer of a regular appearance on a weekly radio program sponsored by the Old Gold tobacco company. Hoover found the idea distasteful—becoming a speaker on a show whose ultimate purpose was to advertise cigarettes seemed to him a debasement of the presidency—but it was a desperate time. As he wrote to his press secretary, Theodore Joslin, “It is probably something I cannot do, but, well, I hate to say it, but I need that $150,000, Ted.”

Meanwhile, the financial structure of the United States was approaching collapse. At the start of Hoover’s presidency, 24,000 banks had been open for business throughout the country. By 1933, 10,000 of these had shut their doors. One state after another—Nevada, Iowa, California—was suspending normal bank operations in order to keep frightened depositors from withdrawing their cash. Publicly, Hoover insisted that the solution to the panic was a recommitment to the gold standard by nations that had recently abandoned it, such as Great Britain he blamed the impending Roosevelt administration for sowing fear and discord. But privately, only a day before Michigan declared a bank holiday to protect its faltering financial system, he told Edgar Rickard, an old friend from Hoover’s days as a mining engineer and executive, to withdraw “$10,000 in bills” for emergencies.

The story of an angst-filled Hoover quietly squirreling away funds while lecturing the country about the moral necessity of keeping the banks open is one of the pleasures of Eric Rauchway’s Winter War, a crisp narrative of the four-month interregnum between Franklin D. Roosevelt’s victory in November 1932 and his assumption of the presidency in March 1933. To write a whole history of what is essentially a prelude may seem odd. But Rauchway, who teaches at UC Davis, argues that in the conflict between the lame-duck Hoover and the incoming Roosevelt, we can already see the tension between the New Deal and the opposition to it that would structure American politics for much of the rest of the 20th century.

The New Deal, he maintains, was not a matter of invention and experimentation, as it has sometimes been interpreted to be. On the contrary, it reflected a clear ideological direction—one that American voters had consciously chosen in the fall of 1932. What is more, he suggests that these four months marked a distinctive moment of uncertainty and crisis in American history—a time of panic, anxiety, and political violence, when the basic economic and political structures of the United States were challenged in ways that they had not been since the Civil War. Rauchway presents a Roosevelt for our own polarized age, an act of historical imagination that delivers real insights yet also simplifies a complex period.

The timing of the presidential inauguration was just one of the American traditions jettisoned under the pressure of the Great Depression. The first of the nation’s inaugurations was held on April 30, but thereafter they were scheduled for March 4—to mark the anniversary of the day the federal government began its operations in 1789. This changed with the Twentieth Amendment, which was ratified early in 1933 and moved the inauguration date up to January 20, starting in 1937.

Winter War makes clear the problems of such a long transition, certainly in late 1932 and early 1933. The nation was in a state of emergency, but the outgoing president could not take any action, while the new one still did not possess the power to lead. In February, Roosevelt was almost shot by Giuseppe Zangara, an unemployed and unstable bricklayer who showed up at a Miami rally eager to assassinate the “big men” he believed were responsible for his anger and stomach pains. (Chicago’s mayor, Anton Cermak, was hit by a bullet and died a few weeks later.) Eleven million people—about one-quarter of the workforce—were unemployed. In Germany, Adolf Hitler was sworn in as chancellor. In the United States, some people (including the publisher William Randolph Hearst) wondered whether America was in need of a similar strongman.

Roosevelt and Hoover had once been respectful acquaintances. But by November 1932, their relationship had chilled. One of the most powerful themes in Winter War is Hoover’s intense political and personal hostility to Roosevelt, shared by his aides. Apparently, many in Hoover’s circle had been eager to see their man face the New York governor in the election of 1932, believing that FDR’s partial paralysis rendered him obviously incapable of fulfilling the duties of the presidency. “What is he, himself, thinking about when he allows himself to aspire to that office?” Hoover’s congressional liaison, James MacLafferty, mused about Roosevelt. “When I see a man of Hoover’s physical and mental power almost groggy from the blows that rain upon him I cannot make myself believe otherwise than that the election of Roosevelt to the presidency would be a crime against the nation.”

Throughout the campaign, Hoover had attacked what he considered a “social philosophy very different from the traditional philosophies of the American people,” warning that these “so-called new deals” would “destroy the very foundations” of American society. As Hoover later put it, the promise of a “New Deal” was both socialistic and fascistic it would lead the country on a “march to Moscow.” Even as he prepared to leave office, he was setting himself up as the leader of the resistance and the opposition. Rauchway suggests that he did his utmost to limit the incoming administration’s ability to maneuver (an impulse that may sound familiar in the wake of the 2018 midterms in Wisconsin). For example, he attempted to establish a commission to deal with Europe’s overdue war debts that would have been staffed by his appointees even after FDR took power.

Rauchway portrays Roosevelt, too, as farsighted from early in the 1932 campaign onward: Rejecting the fantasy of 19th-century individualism espoused by the Republican Party, he was committed instead to a vision that assigned government some responsibility for shaping economic life, and to quasi-Keynesian programs to achieve that vision. Previous historians have generally taken a very different tack. They have emphasized FDR’s improvisatory qualities, styling him (to quote Richard Hofstadter’s acerbic 1948 book, The American Political Tradition) “the patrician as opportunist”—a wealthy dilettante of the Hudson River Valley who managed to seize an opening for political power without a well-articulated sense of what he might do with it. In the Cold War, Roosevelt’s experimentalism was judged an asset—a virtuous alternative to harsh ideology. More recent interpretations of the New Deal have focused on the conservative and pragmatic elements of the program—the limits of the welfare state it created and the ways that it enshrined rather than challenged corporate capitalism. Political constraints—namely Roosevelt’s dependence on the Southern Democrats—meant that even though he was critical of segregation, he was reluctant to take meaningful action against it.

Rauchway counts on a close dissection of the president-elect’s writings during the winter before he took office to back up his case for FDR’s well-formed social vision. Writing in December 1932 about what he might accomplish, Roosevelt blamed the continuing Depression on the “political failure to grasp the fact of economic interdependence.” On the campaign trail earlier in the year, he had presented what might have seemed like narrowly targeted policy proposals—for example, price supports for farmers—in ways that broadened the issue beyond a specific interest group. In November 1932, after the election, he argued for the price supports in terms of “purchasing power,” and thus linked agricultural interests to the interests of consumers across the country. In contrast to the sunny optimist who proclaimed that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” Rauchway’s Roosevelt was given to occasional worries about political apocalypse. He watched Hitler’s rise with deep anxiety, and he feared that if the distress of America’s jobless wasn’t addressed, they might look to a dictator as well. Rauchway praises FDR’s choice of Frances Perkins as labor secretary and the implicit feminism it embodied. (The chapter on Perkins is titled “Social Justice Warrior.”)

Rauchway does devote a chapter to Roosevelt’s reluctance to combat southern segregationists, showing that the NAACP and other activists were watching him carefully to see whether he would extend any support to the cause of racial justice. But overall, his Roosevelt is a liberal hero who consistently advocated an expansion of public programs both to ameliorate the immediate suffering of the Depression and to stabilize the economy over the long term. Had Zangara’s bullets gone a different way, had Roosevelt’s running mate (the far more conservative John Nance Garner) ascended to the presidency, the fate of the country would have been profoundly different.

That is surely true, even if—as was often commented on at the time—the New Deal was not a clear-cut agenda that Roosevelt had ready-to-hand before he came into office. Rauchway’s revisionist emphasis shouldn’t eclipse the fact that the legislative efforts that went into the New Deal reflected many different interpretations of the problems facing the country in the 1930s. Even Roosevelt sometimes seemed to retreat from what might appear now to be the most basic precepts of the New Deal. He threw the economy back into recession in 1937 when he tried to balance the federal budget. The federal jobs programs he created were conceived as emergency measures that would last only a few years, revealing his underlying ambivalence about a welfare state.

Roosevelt and his advisers were pushed by events they did not control and by political actors representing a broad range of ideas—communists, socialists, and labor radicals, as well as the followers of Huey Long, Father Charles Coughlin, and Francis Townsend. By the end of the 1930s, many in Washington believed that the New Deal, whatever it was, had failed. Although unemployment had fallen from its peak and some of the worst pain of the Depression had been mitigated, the economy had not recovered—and wouldn’t until World War II. Even the power and stability of the unions were truly secured only during the war. As the economist Alvin Hansen put it in 1940, when asked whether he believed the “basic principle” of the New Deal was economically sound: “I really do not know what the basic principle of the New Deal is.”

To make the New Deal seem as though it was a program that Roosevelt had worked out well ahead of time is to simplify this history, and to cut against the sense of crisis and contingency that Winter War so powerfully evokes. This version of events also makes the New Deal appear somehow a project of Roosevelt alone, rather than a political response to the wave of protests against the economic inequality and poverty that swept up millions of Americans. That surge of discontent may have been—even more than FDR—the real subject of Hoover’s wrath.

As his inauguration approached, FDR's strained relationship with Herbert Hoover hit a low point.

Once they had been friendly acquaintances while serving in Woodrow Wilson's administration. FDR hoped Hoover would enter elective politics as a Democrat. "I wish we could make him President," he wrote a friend in 1920.

By 1933, Roosevelt's admiration had cooled. Hoover found FDR "amiable" but "badly informed and of comparatively little vision." When the bank crisis erupted, Hoover sought FDR's support for a proclamation closing the country's banks and pressed him to reveal his recovery plans. Roosevelt resisted these appeals, determined to keep his options open.

By Inauguration Day, the two were barely on speaking terms. Riding to the Capitol, Hoover sat expressionless while Roosevelt smiled and waved to the crowd. After March 4, they never met again.

Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt, Essay Example

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Compare and contrast Herbert Hoover’s economic policies with those of Franklin Roosevelt.

Juxtaposition of Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt economic policies

Franklin Delano Roosevelt ran the office from 1933 to 1945 and was the 32 nd president of the U.S., while Herbert Clark Hoover, the 31 st president ran the office from 1929 to 1933.The issue here is to define in more certain terms the contributions to the economy made by each of the presidents by comparing and contrasting economic policies under the respective regime. Of utmost importance are solutions the offered to solve problems associated with the great depression.

The policies implemented by Roosevelt (FDR) were more prompt thus, they were more effective. On the other hand, in spite of Hoover’s policies being conservative, they were also implemented late enough to make them less effective. In addition, FDR’s institutions were better organized and readily addressed bank and unemployment problems[1].

These two presidents aimed at getting rid of the great depression. In politics, they were successful and there terms in office were during the depression. During their terms in office, there was considerable collective contribution that these two presidents made to the economy.

The U.S. economy was without many problems from the years 1917 to 1920. There was an upward growth that saw construction of so many factories. Wages were high and there was strong labor force due to increased employment. People became rich as a result of a successful stock market and increased export trade. All these developments came crumbling when the whole world was hit by depression which came as a result of crush in the stock market[2].

Lack of movement in the economy is called depression. Herbert Hoover’s policies accompanied with his absenteeism were mostly the cause of crash of the stock market. Roosevelt’s willingness to experiment helped solve the problem of depression.

[1] Bordo, Michael. “The Gold Standard, Bretton Woods, & Other Monetary Regimes: An Historical Appraisal.” NBER.

[2] Aronson, J., The Press and the Cold War. N Y: Monthly Review Press, 1970.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt and President Herbert C. Hoover

In the 1920s the American economy was headed towards an economic depression. The tariffs passed by the government and actions of proprietors had led to the downfall of the American economy. On October 29. 1929, the stock market crashed, officially signaling the beginning of the depression. During the period of the Great Depression, Herbert C. Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt were presidents. Both presidents had programs that were set to mollify the depression and to take the economy out of it. The actions they took and the goals they set, labeled them as either liberal or conservative.

However the characterizations of these two are valid only to a certain extent because both took actions that showed they were both liberal and conservative. Neither President Hoover nor President Roosevelt can be strictly labeled as a conservative or a liberal because they were a little bit of both.

It is commonly thought that President Herbert Hoover is a conservative. He believed in less government participation in the people’s daily life.

“ Ok, let me say I’m extremely satisfy with the result while it was a last minute thing. I really enjoy the effort put in. ”

In his candidate speech, he renounced liberalism because it set bounds to the liberties of the people. He felt a great need to take government out of peoples lives [Doc A]. This is shown with his “hands off policy” during the depression. He believed in the business cycle and that the country would pull its self out of the depression. He did not want to use government power in dealing with this. In his message to Congress Hoover stated that the, “economic depression cannot be cured by legislative action or executive pronouncement.

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” Hoover believed that all the government can do is encouraged the people to do what is best for their community. The government’s only contribution was giving aid through programs – like waterways, harbor, and flood control – however only for a temporary time [Doc B]. He strongly believed that if the government kept giving money to solve problems, organizations and businesses would cease to help their community thus problems would be solely dependent on the government money [Doc C].

As the depression worsened Hoover did begin to see that the government was needed in helping the economy speed up in the business cycle. In the 1930s, Hoover’s liberal side emerged. He saw that he could not maintain this “hands off” policy and went to help out the people. He first started helping out by merely encouraging voluntary groups in the community to help out the less fortunate. He felt that “government -national, state and local-can join with the community in such programs and do its part.” He put people to work in construction and doubled the government expenditure [Doc B]. He supported and signed into law programs and acts that offered assistance to farmers and businesses. One program that helped farmers was the Federal Farm Board. The board was authorized to help farmers stabilize prices by temporarily holding surplus grain and cotton in storage. Another was the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, created in 1932 it was a federally funded institution. It helped railroads, banks, and other financial institutions by giving out loans. The Federal Home Loan Bank Act further helped people avoid foreclosures, by making loans to building and loan associations, banks and companies.

Franklin D. Roosevelt became the president in 1932, in midst of the Great Depression. This labeled liberal believed that his program, the “New Deal”, would solve the problem of the Great Depression and restore the American economy. This plan included programs that would help the unemployed get jobs, social security issues, housing and agricultural recovery, and programs to help the banking system. Roosevelt’s New Deal assisted both businesses and individuals. For individuals, between 1933 and 1934, Congress passes many pieces of legislation to assist the poor, refinance mortgages, and create jobs in public works and government projects. For banking, Roosevelt requested Congress to approve the Emergency Banking Relief Act, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Homeowners Loan Corporation and the Farm Credit Administration. For farmers, the Agricultural Adjustment Act set up the Agricultural Adjustment Administration in 1933 to pay money for farmers who reduce their production to increase the price of agriculture products. The National Recovery Administration (NRA) carried on its campaign for industrial production limitation and promoted a code of fair competition, which regulate prices, wages, and working hours.

For the unemployed, he established agencies and boards like the Civilian Conservation Corps, Civil Works Administration, and Public Works Administration to provide jobs. . However, as Roosevelt rolled out his “New Deal”, it became apparent that he was contradictory to himself. In his election speech in 1932, liberal Roosevelt attacked the Hoover administration for their increased government spending and involvement in people’s lives. [Doc E]. However Roosevelt’s administration had a larger debt in it first year than any of Hoover’s years and it continued to rise at dramatic amounts, unlike Hoover’s, which didn’t have great deficits [Doc F]. Another contradiction to Roosevelt’s liberal beliefs lie in the same candidate speech of 1932.This speech could allow him to be defined as a conservative because he stated that he believed in “eliminating functions, by abolishing innumerable boards” [Doc E].

This is not first time in history, where the ideals of one party combines with an opposite party. The first two parties of America, the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans, is a prime example of this. The Democratic-Republican Party was victorious over the Federalists. However in their administration, they often used Federalist ideas in their reforms. To say that President Franklin D. Roosevelt is a liberal and that President Herbert Hoover was a conservative is only half-true. Both Hoover and Roosevelt were men of one political stance but had to use the practices of another in order to salvage the nation. The Great Depression called for the use of many different methods and approaches. Without the ambivalence of both men, they would not have been able to lead the country through the perils of the depression.

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Genre/Form: Biographies
Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1998
Online version:
Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1998
Named Person: Herbert Hoover Franklin D Roosevelt Herbert Hoover Franklin D Roosevelt Herbert Hoover Franklin D Roosevelt Herbert Hoover Franklin D Roosevelt Herbert Hoover Franklin D Roosevelt Herbert Clark Hoover Franklin D Roosevelt
Material Type: Biography, Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Timothy Walch Dwight M Miller


John Adams Edit

John Adams, the second president of the United States, learned to read Latin at a young age. [1] In preparation for attending Harvard University, Adams attended a school for improving his Latin skills. [2] While posted in France during the Revolutionary War, Adams became fluent in French. [3]

Thomas Jefferson Edit

Thomas Jefferson spoke and read multiple languages, which included French. According to notes he made while traveling in 1788, he was able to speak French, Latin, and Italian. [4] He claimed to be able to read, as of 1817, these languages along with Greek and Spanish. [4] He also studied and wrote about the Anglo-Saxon language (Old English) [5] and studied German to some extent. [4] After his death, a number of other books, dictionaries, and grammar manuals in various languages were found in Jefferson's library, suggesting that he studied additional languages, possibly including Arabic, Irish, and Welsh. [4] His proficiency in these languages is not known. [4]

Regarding Spanish, Jefferson told John Quincy Adams that he had learned the language over the course of nineteen days while sailing from the United States to France. He had borrowed a Spanish grammar and a copy of Don Quixote from a friend and read them on the voyage. Adams expressed skepticism, noting Jefferson's tendency to tell "large stories." [6]

James Madison Edit

James Madison began his studies of Latin at the age of twelve [7] and had mastered Greek, Latin, and French (the last reportedly with a Scottish accent) by the time he entered the College of New Jersey, later Princeton University. He produced many translations of Latin orations of Grotius, Pufendorf, and Vattel. [7] He also studied Horace and Ovid. [7] He learned Greek as an admissions requirement for higher college learning. [7]

While in college, Madison learned to speak and read Hebrew. [1] When he could have graduated, Madison remained at college for an additional year to study ethics and Hebrew in greater depth. [8]

James Monroe Edit

James Monroe adopted many French customs while a diplomat in Paris, including learning fluent French. The entire Monroe family knew the language, and often spoke it with one another at home. [9]

John Quincy Adams Edit

John Quincy Adams went to school in both France and the Netherlands, and spoke fluent French and conversational Dutch. [10] Adams strove to improve his abilities in Dutch throughout his life, and at times translated a page of Dutch a day to help improve his mastery of the language. [11] Official documents that he translated were sent to the Secretary of State of the United States, so that Adams' studies would serve a useful purpose as well. [11] When his father appointed him United States Ambassador to Prussia, Adams dedicated himself to becoming proficient in German in order to have the tools to strengthen relations between the two countries. [12] He improved his skills by translating articles from German to English, and his studies made his diplomatic efforts more successful. [12]

In addition to the two languages he spoke fluently, he also studied Italian, but he admitted to making little progress in it since he had no one with whom to practice speaking and hearing the language, as well as Russian, but never achieved fluency. [11] Adams also read Latin very well, translated a page a day of Latin text, [13] and studied classical Greek in his spare time. [14]

Martin Van Buren Edit

Martin Van Buren was the only American president who did not speak English as his first language. He was born in Kinderhook, New York, a primarily Dutch community, spoke Dutch as his first language, and continued to speak it at home. [15] He learned English as a second language while attending Kinderhook's local school house. He obtained a small understanding of Latin while studying at Kinderhook Academy and solidified his understanding of English there. [16]

William Henry Harrison Edit

At Hampden–Sydney College, William Henry Harrison spent a considerable time learning Latin, and favored reading about the military history of ancient Rome and Julius Caesar from Latin histories. While there, he also learned a small amount of French. [17]

John Tyler Edit

John Tyler excelled at school, where he learned both Latin and Greek. [18]

James K. Polk Edit

Although James K. Polk had no background in foreign languages upon entering college, he proved a quick learner. [19] Upon graduating from the University of North Carolina, he was asked to give the welcoming address at graduation he chose to do so in Latin. He proved very proficient in classical languages, and received honors in both Greek and Latin on his degree. [20]

James Buchanan Edit

James Buchanan studied a traditional classical curriculum, which included Latin and Greek, at the private Old Stone Academy before transferring to Dickinson College. He excelled in both subjects. [21]

Rutherford B. Hayes Edit

Rutherford B. Hayes studied Latin and Greek at the Isaac Webb school in Middletown, Connecticut. He initially struggled with the languages, but soon became proficient in them. He also briefly studied French there. [22]

James A. Garfield Edit

James A. Garfield knew and taught both Latin and Greek, and he was the first president to campaign in two languages (English and German). [23] He was also ambidextrous. Stories emerged to the effect that Garfield would entertain his friends by having them ask him questions, and then writing the answer in Latin with one hand while simultaneously writing the answer in Greek with the other. However, specifics of these stories are not documented. [24]

Chester A. Arthur Edit

Chester A. Arthur was known to be comfortable enough in Latin and Greek to converse with other men who knew the languages. [25]

Theodore Roosevelt Edit

A foreign correspondent noted that although Roosevelt spoke clearly and quickly, he had a German accent while speaking in French. [26] He read both German and French very well and kept a good number of books written in these languages in his personal library. [27] He quite often read fiction, philosophy, religion, and history books in both French and German. [28] He was most comfortable with informal discussions in French, but he made two public addresses in the West Indies in French in 1916. [28] He recognized that, while he spoke French rapidly and was able to understand others, he used unusual grammar "without tense or gender". John Hay, secretary of state under Roosevelt, commented that Roosevelt spoke odd, grammatically incorrect French, but was never difficult to understand. [28]

Though he could read and understand the language thoroughly, Roosevelt struggled to speak German. When Roosevelt attempted to speak with a native German, he had to apologize after botching the attempt. [28] While not fluent in the language, Roosevelt was also able to read Italian. [29] Though he at one point studied Greek and Latin, Roosevelt found both languages a "dreary labor" to translate. [30]

Roosevelt understood some of the Dutch language and taught songs in Dutch to his children and grandchildren, as is documented in a letter in English that he wrote to the painter Nelly Bodenheim in Amsterdam. [31]

Woodrow Wilson Edit

Woodrow Wilson learned German as part of earning his Ph.D. in history and political science from Johns Hopkins University. However, he never claimed proficiency in the language. While he did read German sources when they were available, he often complained about the amount of time and effort it took him. [32]

Herbert Hoover Edit

Herbert Hoover and his wife, Lou Hoover, once translated a book from Latin to English. [33] The pair took five years, and sacrificed much of their spare time, to translating the Latin mining tract De re metallica. [34] While at Stanford University, Hoover had access to the extensive library of John Casper Branner, where he found the important mining book which had never been fully translated into English. [34] For years, five nights of the week were spent translating the book, including naming objects that the author had merely described. [34] The Hoovers also spoke some Mandarin Chinese, having lived in China from April 1899 until August 1900. [35] Lou Hoover studied the language daily in China but Herbert Hoover confessed that he "never absorbed more than a hundred words." [36] Still, the two would converse in their limited Mandarin when they wanted to keep their conversations private from guests or the press. [37]

Franklin D. Roosevelt Edit

Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke both German and French. He was raised speaking both, as his early education consisted of governesses from Europe preparing him for boarding school in his teens. In particular, he had a German governess and a French governess who taught him their respective languages. A Swiss governess, Jeanne Sandoz, furthered his studies in both languages, [38] particularly stressing French. [39] Roosevelt spent one summer of his schooling in Germany [40] both his time with his instructors and his frequent trips abroad allowed him to master both German and French, though he always spoke them with a distinct New England accent. [41] Though he never had a mastery of the language, his governesses also taught him a limited amount of Latin. [42]

Roosevelt gave a bilingual speech (in English and French) during a 1936 visit to Quebec City. [43]

Jimmy Carter Edit

Jimmy Carter has a functional command of Spanish, but has never been grammatically perfect. [44] Carter studied the language at the United States Naval Academy [45] and continued his studies while an officer of the United States Navy. [46] Carter sometimes spoke Spanish in 1976 television campaign advertisements, but in his native South Georgia accent. [ citation needed ]

He could speak fairly fluently, but joked about his sometimes flawed understanding of the language while discoursing with native speakers. [47] Carter has written and given a number of addresses in the Spanish language [48] and sometimes spoke to constituents in Spanish. [46] To practice his Spanish, he and his wife Rosalynn read the Bible in Spanish to each other every night. [49]

Bill Clinton Edit

While a freshman at Georgetown University, Bill Clinton was required to choose a foreign language to study, and chose German because he was "impressed by the clarity and precision of the language". [50] He is able to hold casual conversation in the language. [51] Later, while giving a speech at the Brandenburg Gate, he gave part of a speech in German, pledging to the 50,000 Germans gathered there that "Amerika steht an Ihrer Seite jetzt und für immer" ("America stands on your side, now and forever"). [52]

George W. Bush Edit

George W. Bush speaks some Spanish and has delivered speeches in the language. [54] His speeches in Spanish have had English interspersed throughout. [55] During his first campaign for the presidency in 2000, some news outlets reported that he was fluent in the language, though a campaign spokeswoman and others described him as having conversational proficiency rather than being "completely fluent." [56]

Barack Obama Edit

From the age of six through ten (1967–1971), Barack Obama lived in Jakarta, Indonesia and attended local Indonesian-language schools. He reportedly was able to exchange greetings and "pleasantries" in "fluent Indonesian" with Indonesia's then-president and others. [57] [58] During a White House interview with an Indonesian journalist, he remarked that he "used to be fluent" in Indonesian but that he had not been able to use it much as an adult. [59] During his 2008 presidential campaign, while promoting foreign-language education in the United States, Obama said, "I don't speak a foreign language. It's embarrassing!" [60]

Politics of Herbert Hoover vs Franklin Roosevelt

In reflection there are many differences between the United States’ 31st president Herbert C. Hoover and it’s 32nd president Franklin D. Roosevelt, so much so that their administrations and thoughts on how to run the country existed on two completely different paradigms in relation to their views on the governments role in society. To begin with, the Grand old man and the New dealer start out with a difference in the very foundation of their political standpoints. Herbert Hoover was affiliated with the Republican Party while Franklin D.

Roosevelt was a member of the democrat party and their administrations are but a reflection of their affiliations. Herbert Hoover was appointed to office on March 4th of 1933 and Franklin Roosevelt was appointed April 12th of 1945. Hoover ended up serving four years in office as he lost his reelection to Roosevelt himself who later came to serve a total of three terms in office resulting in twelve years of presidency before his death in office.

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In the administrations of Hoover and Roosevelt it is clear that Roosevelt was more for government involvement than was Hoover however, Hoover had served as the secretary of commerce under the administrations of president Harding and president Coolidge and even in those administrations he believed that the government did not have to be passive and he backed the concept of “associationalism” that envisioned the creation of national organizations of businessmen in particular industries.

This was meant to stabilize industries and promote efficiency in production and marketing but he never truly had an opportunity to implement his plans because less than a year after his inauguration the United States plunged into the Great Depression, sidelining previous ambitions and goals.

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In new light of his presidency Herbert Hoover implements government economic recovery that granted limited success such as the Smoot-Hawley tariff which hurt his administration and the economy rather than help it. And much of his doctrine for governing the American people was to have the least amount of direct government involvement in the people’s everyday lives. On the other hand Roosevelt was elected into the Great Depression and in his first 100 days in office he implemented a flurry of economic legislation that was part of his “New Deal” domestic program in attempt to alleviate (immediately yet not completely) the crisis looming over the United States.

During his presidency Roosevelt implemented many acts that dealt with the Economy/Jobs, Financing/Banking, Defense/Foreign Affairs, Social issues, Housing and even Environment and even got the nation’s unemployment rate down from 25% to 2%( The Agricultural Adjustment Acts, Emergency Relief Appropriation Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, Farm Credit Act, Federal Emergency Relief Act (FERA), Gold Reserve Act, National Industry Recovery Act (NIRA), National Labor Relations Act, Tennessee Valley Act, The Federal Farm Bankruptcy Act, Glass-Steagall Act, Corporate Bankruptcy Act, Emergency Banking Act, Federal Securities Act, Securities Exchange Act, Veterans Administration Act, Lend-Lease Act, Neutrality Acts, Selective Training and Service Act, Revenue Act of 1932, Revenue Act of 1941, Social Security Act, Farm Mortgage Refinancing Act, Home Owners Loan Act, National Housing Act, and the Reforestation Relief Act).

Roosevelt’s new economic programs brought jobs to hundreds of thousands of men during the Great Depression through rural and agricultural projects that allowed them to once again get a paycheck, which also alleviated the congestion of large urban areas, a feat which overshadows president Hoover’s rural projects such as the Hoover dam. Roosevelt may have implemented many acts such as the Conservation Corps (CCC), Works Progress Administration (WPA) and Tennessee Valley Authority but it wasn’t just his economic reform that allowed for alleviation of the crisis, it was also his cheerful personality. Franklin D. Roosevelt used his optimism to bring trust and public confidence to his administration. And some of the ways he did this was through the “Fireside Chats” which were radio chats which he would use to communicate his programs and plans with the people. Roosevelt’s personality was even shown in his inaugural address where he stated “we have nothing to fear but fear itself” and it was often unknown that he was paralyzed in both of his legs.

Herbert Hoover in contrast was not as outspoken and forth going and he lost the trust of the American people. More radical programs of relief were presented to him but he insisted that his policies were working. Hoover’s popularity began to decline due to his perceived political failures and many Americans thought him personally responsible for the conditions that they were in which led them to begin calling the shantytowns (housing for the unemployed) that they lived in on the outskirts of town, “Hoovervilles” But not only are Hoover and Roosevelt different in their domestic services but they were also different in their foreign affairs as Hoover didn’t have much direct involvement in foreign affairs but he did pass the Hoover-Stimson doctrine which refused to recognize Japan’s conquer of Manchuria and even mediated on behalf of Peru and chile to settle a land dispute as well as sending ships to shanghai in order to protect U.S citizens.

Hoover simply did not have the same pressing issues in foreign affairs as Roosevelt did because WWII occupied a lot of the time that Roosevelt was in office. Initially Roosevelt attempted to keep America out of the war and simply implemented ways to aid in the war effort while still on the home front such as the cash and carry act where munitions had to be bought and picked up from the United States instead of being shipped to the buyer and this improved the economy as European demand for war goods increased. And even though Roosevelt attempted to keep America out of the war, entry was inevitable after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor that Americans themselves wanted revenge for. This led to more foreign intervention and direct involvement that president Hoover didn’t have to endure as president although he did assist in the war effort under president Wilson by supplying the troops with food as well as organizing a large return of Americans from Europe.

In conclusion, President Herbert C. Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt are two president who lived on different sides of the political spectrum. President Hoover was a hands off type of president and was not big on large reform and radical change but rather little government involvement in the affairs of the American people whereas president Roosevelt had more of a direct approach. President Roosevelt believed that the government should have direct involvement in the affairs of the people and it was evident in his administration due to all of the economic legislation that was passed during his terms. In the end they were both presidents who stuck to their respective presidential strategies.

Hoover and 20th Century Presidents: Franklin Roosevelt

Picking up a thread dropped months ago, I resume my series on Hoover’s interactions with American Presidents. Beginning with Franklin Roosevelt, connections get deep. In fact, there have been book-length explorations of Hoover’s ties to FDR, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. Rather than recap them, I suggest that those who want to know the rest of the story consult these books edited by Timothy Walch and Dwight Miller. That allows me to focus on my favorite stories.

Early in Hoover’s career, Franklin Roosevelt wrote to Hugh Gibson in January 1920: ‘I have had some nice talks with Herbert Hoover before he went west for Christmas. He is certainly a wonder and I wish we could make him President of the United States. There could not be a better one.’ Gibson, who knew Hoover well, shared this observation with the Chief. Through Gibson, Hoover let Roosevelt know that he was a Republican. Later in 1920, after FDR’s nomination as vice president on the Democratic ticket, Hoover wrote: ‘My dear Roosevelt: The fact that I do not belong to your political tribe does not deter me from offering my personal congratulations to an old friend. I am glad to see you in the game in such a prominent place…. If you are elected you will do the job properly.’ Light and sociable correspondence followed until Roosevelt ran against Hoover in 1932.

Hoover was initially pleased to see the Democrats nominate Roosevelt in 1932. He felt that FDR was weaker than either Newton Baker or Owen Young, two other candidates with support at the convention. Hoover saw Roosevelt as a dilettante and was confident that this would be exposed in the campaign. Hoover confided to James MacLafferty: ‘I suppose of those mentioned he will be the easiest to beat.’ This proved to be a grievous error. Roosevelt thrived on the campaign trail, hammering Hoover and his policies relentlessly.

As the campaign entered the final week, Hoover realized that he may not be re-elected. In his last major speech, Hoover said to an overflow crowd at Madison Square Garden: ‘This campaign is more than a contest between two men. It is more than a contest between two parties. It is a contest between two philosophies of government. We are told by the opposition that we must have a change, that we must have a new deal…. The basis upon which our opponents are appealing to the people is their fear and their distress. They are proposing changes and so called new deals which would destroy the very foundations of the American system of life.’

When the votes were tallied November 7, 1932, Roosevelt won in a landslide. As was customary, the loser conceded defeat: ‘I wish for you a most successful administration. In the common purpose of all of us I shall dedicate myself to every helpful effort.’ FDR replied: ‘I appreciate your generous telegram. For the immediate as well as for the more distant future I join in your gracious expression of a common purpose in helpful efforts for our country.’ This goodwill was short-lived. The rivalry of the campaign trail turned to the rancor during the long interregnum.

The five months between the November 1932 election and the March 4, 1933 inauguration were among the darkest in American economic history. The Great Depression deepened. European economic problems grew acute and domestic bank failures threatened to destroy state and local economies. As a lame duck President working with a Congress controlled by the opposition party, Hoover had little leverage. He reached out to President-elect Roosevelt, hoping to mitigate the impending catastrophe. For his part, Roosevelt had no legal authority to act and little political will to align himself with the man he’d just defeated. FDR was content to take action after his inauguration as President, when he had the Constitutional authority to do so. Hoover saw this as partisan gamesmanship. He never forgave Roosevelt and spent the rest of his life holding in FDR in bitter enmity.

Hoover’s ill-will only deepened over the remaining twelve years of Roosevelt’s life. He was convinced that FDR’s expansion of federal government was inimical to American ideals. Hoover wrote The Challenge to Liberty in 1935 to drive home this point. When World War II broke out in 1939, Hoover adamantly opposed American involvement, writing the pamphlet Shall We Send Our Youth to War? As Roosevelt’s policies favored the Allies, Hoover warned that FDR was trying to ‘back-door’ America into the war. When Roosevelt ran for an unprecedented third term as President, Hoover led the outraged Republican backlash. Roosevelt’s response to all these challenges was silence.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hoover put patriotism above personal animus. He issued a press statement supporting Roosevelt: ‘Today there is just one job before the American people. We must defeat this invasion by Japan and must fight it in any place that will defeat it. Upon this job we must have and will have unity in America. We must have and will have full support for the President of the United States in this war to defend America. We will have victory.’

For his part, Roosevelt saw that American entry into war would strain the nation. He met with Bernard Baruch seeking advice on how to deal with the manpower shortage and the economic transition to war footing. Baruch offered that Herbert Hoover might be useful. Roosevelt replied: ‘I’m not Jesus Christ. I’m not raising Hoover from the dead.’ Discussion over. Hoover remained far removed from the levers of power until Franklin Roosevelt died in April 1945.

Upon Roosevelt’s death, Hoover issued a statement: ‘The Nation sorrows at the passing the President. Whatever differences there may have been, they end in the regrets of death…. The new President will have the backing of the country. While we mourn Mr. Roosevelt’s death, we shall march forward.’ On a personal note, Hoover sent Eleanor Roosevelt a touching letter: ‘I need not tell you of the millions whose hearts are going out to you in sympathy. I want you to know I join with them. Your own courage needs little support but the whole country is extending it to you. With Mrs. Hoover’s passing I know the great vacancy that has come into your life. I cannot forget your fine courtesy in writing to me at that time.’ Thus Hoover offered a gracious coda ending years of bitterness.

Two Tense Transitions

One of the hallmarks of our democracy is the peaceful transfer of power from one president to another, reaching back to March 4, 1797 when George Washington turned over the reigns of power to John Adams. And while the inauguration of a new president has always been peaceful, it hasn’t always been pleasant. Here are two such stories.

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson: When John Adams’ vice president, Thomas Jefferson, defeated him in his bid for a second term in the newly constructed Executive Mansion (as the White House was then known), Adams was humiliated and upset. He decided he wanted nothing to do with Jefferson’s inauguration. In fact, he didn’t want to even be there. But rivalry had not always defined their relationship.

  • Friendship and Feud: The two men had formed a close friendship and collaboration when they first met in 1775 in Philadelphia to push for independence from Great Britain. That continued as they served together in Europe as diplomats representing the new nation. But by 1796, their friendship had turned into a political feud, with each of them privately denigrating the other.
  • Lobbing Insults: Just three months after their inauguration as the embryonic nation’s top two elected officials, Vice President Jefferson privately groused to a French diplomat that President Adams was “distrustful, obstinate, excessively vain, and takes no counsel from anyone.” Weeks later, Adams spewed out his frustration, writing in a private letter that his vice president had “a mind soured, yet seeking for popularity, and eaten to a honeycomb with ambition, yet weak, confused, uninformed, and ignorant.”
  • Adams Skips Town: When Jefferson ousted Adams from the presidency in the election of 1800, Adams was forced to pack his bags and vacate the newly constructed Executive Mansion after just a few months. At four o’clock in the morning on March 4, 1801, Jefferson’s inauguration day, the sullen Adams slipped out of the Executive Mansion without fanfare, boarded a public stage and left Washington. The streets were quiet as the president left the capital under the cover of darkness on his journey ba ck home. He wanted nothing to do with the man who had publicly humiliated him by denying him a second term as president, nor in witnessing Jefferson’s inauguration and moment of triumph. Fortunately, Adams’ petulant and immature action did not establish an unhealthy precedent for the new nation.

Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt: More than a century and a quarter later – at the height of the Great Depression – Herbert Hoover was electorally evicted from the White House by a man who had once been one of his biggest fans. Hoover harbored feelings of humiliation, just like Adams had.

  • Boy Wonder: During World War I, Hoover and Roosevelt were good friends, neighbors, and top officials together in the Wilson administration. Roosevelt was an unabashed fan of the ever-competent but dour and charisma-challenged Hoover. He lobbied for Hoover to run for president, declaring in 1920 that “I wish we could make him President of the United States. There could not be a better one.”

President Herbert Hoover and President-elect Franklin Roosevelt on FDR’s inauguration day

  • Awkward Ride: Unlike John Adams, at least Hoover showed up for FDR’s inauguration, but it wasn’t a comfortable encounter. Hoover dreaded the day. The president-elect’s car pulled up to the White House to pick up the president for the ride down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol where FDR would take the oath of office. Hoover greeted FDR before getting in the car. But there was an awkward tension in the air as the two former friends and colleagues – now bitter rivals – sat in the back seat of an open convertible with their shoulders just inches apart. They barely spoke to each other on the short trip. FDR flashed his famous smile to the crowds lining the street while an unsmiling and petulant Hoover awkwardly endured what he viewed as a very public humiliation. At the conclusion of Roosevelt’s inaugural address, Hoover rose, perfunctorily shook the new president’s hand, and left immediately for the train that would take him to his political exile in New York City. It was the last time they ever saw one another.

The Future: Win or lose, the peaceful transition of power from one president to another remains a deeply embedded and cherished tradition. May it always continue to be so.

Presidential Relationships: These two stories contain a few of the quotes included in my book, 101 Presidential Insults: What They Really Thought About Each Other – and What It Means to Us. The book is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local bookstore.

Watch the video: President Coolidge, 1st Presidential Film 1924 (August 2022).