There were numerous overlapping reasons why Hoover lost the presidential election in 1932 and the combined effects of these reasons swayed public opinion against the Republicans. The first reason was due to the fact that Hoover was president at the time the Depression started; millions blamed him for the Depression. With bitterness they said, “In Hoover we trusted; now we are busted. ” Then once the Depression hit in 1929 Hoover believed, “Prosperity is just round the corner.
For this reason didn’t take action to end the Depression till 1932; Hoover did too little, too late to help his nation’s suffering people, so they began to believe Hoover didn’t care about them. Also Hoover’s reputation was permanently damaged after he refused to meet with peaceful war-veterans, then ordered General Douglas MacArthur to evict them from their ‘Hooverville’ which resulted in 2 dead ex-servicemen and 1000’s injured by tear gas. Finally Roosevelt won because of his completely opposite personality and his election campaign and as he offered Americans a ‘New Deal. ’ He had 3 main aims, recovery, relief and reform.
With Hoover’s reputation in shatters, the American public were keen to vote for anyone, as long as it wasn’t Hoover. This essay is going to argue that Herbert Hoover’s flawed, political believes were the fundamental reason Franklin Delano Roosevelt won the presidential election campaign in 1932. Hoover was in office when the depression hit. Also, as a Republican, he was tied to the economic policies of the two previous administrations, so many people felt that even if he was not totally responsible for bringing the depression on, it was his job to get the country out of it and he tried the best he could.
One of Hoover’s first statements as president was, ‘we in America are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before. The poor man is vanishing from among us. ’ Hoover believed in a balanced budget and not pumping government money into the economy. He believed in “rugged individualism” and relied on the individual, the churches and private charities, and the local and state governments to handle most of the economic help that was needed.
Although it was not Hoovers fault that the Great Depression took place and that the Stock Market crashed Hoover was widely blamed and was strongly disliked by the American people, due to his lack of involvement. As the U. S failed, American people looked to Hoover for leadership, many were starving, homeless and dying but Hoover refused to believe or give any government assistance to those who needed it. He believed that the people could help themselves and he also referred to the Great Depression as “a temporary halt in the prosperity of a great people.
He also feared that by giving American people assistance it would inflate the federal budget and reduce the self-respect of the Americans receiving the aid. So instead of getting involved and helping out Hoover remained optimistic causing his people to believe he didn’t care about him. Whilst Hoover didn’t attempt to stop the Depression until 1932, he did by this point realise that he needed to try; people just believed he did too little, too late. Hoover’s policies meant that he didn’t do enough to help the ordinary, American person.
The very first thing Hoover did in response to the 1929 crash was call business leaders to Washington to pressure them into keeping wages high, instead of cutting wages as economic conditions required. Professor Lee E. Ohanian calculates that this was the cause of about 2/3 of the unemployment in the first years of the Great Depression. While not believing in charity by the government, Hoover did try and help the economy; he gave much of his money to charity and encouraged Americans to do the same. He spent $500 million a year on public works and government programs to build or improve government properties, for example the Hoover Dam.
Congress established the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (continued by FDR) which created an agency to help banks, railroads, and other key businesses to stay in business thus helping the economy. However all of Hoover’s attempts to stop the Depression had little or the opposite effect of what was intended. He added the Hawley-Smoot tariff which damaged American trade as they couldn’t export their surpass goods. He also blocked the Garner-Wagner Relief Bill which would have allowed Congress to spend ? 2. 1billion to create jobs. Hoover’s attitude of Laissez-Faire didn’t help and caused Hoover to become unpopular; losing votes.
Hoover also lost veterans votes because of the war he handled The Bonus Army. On 11 March 1932 Sargent Walter W. Waters called for a march on Washington and 250-300 men from Portland joined him. The veterans and their families had popular support and the support of some authorities. A Portland railroad offered the use of dung-stained cattle cars to transport the Bonus Army. The Indiana National Guard and the Pennsylvania National Guard used military vehicles to transport the Bonus Army. Toll bridge operators let the Bonus Army march silently across bridges without pay, and police officers refused to arrest Bonus Army veterans for trespassing.
Thousands joined the Bonus Army as it marched towards Washington with Sargent Waters as their elected leader. Waters forbade drinking, panhandling, and ‘anti-government’ or ‘radical’ talk. When Waters and his Bonus Army arrived in late May 1932 they were twenty thousand strong. Among them were eight German soldiers, each having fought against US soldiers, each wounded twice or more in World War I, all naturalized citizens and bearing a total of eight tons of food and supplies for the Bonus Army.
On 29 June 1932 the US Government announced it would not meet the demands of the Bonus Army and that the Bonus Army had to leave by 15 July. On 17 July Congress voted down the bonus and then adjourned. President Hoover went on a vacation. Theodore Roosevelt had described Major General Smedley Butler as the ‘ideal soldier. ’ Butler addressed the Bonus Army on 19 July 1932. “Men, I ran for the Senate in Pennsylvania on a bonus ticket. Hang together and stick it out till the gates of Hell freeze over. Remember, by God, you didn’t win the war for a select class of a few financiers and high binders.
Don’t break any laws and allow people to say bad things about you. If you slip over into lawlessness of any kind you will lose the sympathy of 120 million people in this nation. ” After the incident Hoover publically thanked God that the USA still knew how to deal with a mob this lost him the votes of all the veterans and their supporters and gained interest in FDR. With such resentment toward Hoover being expressed throughout the country; in major cities the unemployed held marches and demonstrations which often turned into riots, Roosevelt was confident of victory.
Still though he was relentless, he went on a grand tour of the USA in the weeks before the election and mercilessly attacked the attitude of Hoover and the Republicans. Roosevelt’s campaign was unique in that it was the first to extensively use radio to communicate its message. Influential supporters helped him with ideas and well written speeches. He wasn’t afraid to ask for advice on important issues from a wide range of experts causing people to believe he cared about people’s opinions and gaining votes.
Hover went on a 20,800km campaign trip with 16 major speeches and another 60 from the back of his train. FDR’s election campaign was designed to force people to believe: Hoover’s policies were wrong, action needed to be taken and he would make action happen. The message was simple: appeal to the voters who were mired in the poverty caused by the depression. If elected President, FDR would use the federal government to create jobs and regulate industries in an effort to eliminate high unemployment and to prevent a depression from happening again.
These ideas were unprecedented in American history because no one had ever used the federal government to the extent the New York Governor was proposing to do. Roosevelt had already started to put his plans on using government money to create work from his position in New York. He worked to provide old age pensions, help for farmers and unemployment relief; he spent $20million to achieve his aims. A majority of the voters believed that FDR’s plan to alleviate the Depression more actively addressed the issue than President Hoover’s plan.
FDR made people feel more confident about their financial future; he believed his main task was to improve life for ordinary people. Roosevelt believed in the ‘forgotten’ people – the unemployed, the homeless and hungry – who voted Roosevelt into office in the 1932 election. In conclusion, there were many reasons why FDR won the 1932 presidential election but the root cause was Hoover’s unpopular policies. His flawed policies led to him not helping America’s people which damaged his reputation and lost him the election by 7 million votes.
Whilst Roosevelt’s election campaign contributed to his victory, he was helped enormously by Hoover making himself unpopular by making mistake after mistake and then not owning up to it. He never apologised for not helping the poor during the Great Depression, he didn’t apologise for injuring and killing American veterans; he called them communists instead. Hoover wasn’t prepared to change his policies and ideas even though America was changing around him. His policies simply weren’t designed to work during a Depression and Roosevelt’s policies were.