Handling the Great Depression


Hoover and Roosevelt had very different ideas on how the 
Depression should be handled. This was almost entirely a result of two 
integral differences in their schemas; Hoover was a Republican, and 
had basically worked his way through life, while Roosevelt was not 
only a Democrat, he had basically been born with the proverbial silver 
spoon in his mouth. As one can easily see, in many ways these two are 
complete opposites; in fact, if one looks at both their upbringing and 
their political affiliation, it seems that Roosevelt's and Hoover's 
policies must have been different in a great many ways. Hoover was 
brought up in a poor family, and worked almost his entire life. When 
he was eight years old, his parents died so he went to live with his 
uncle. His uncle worked with him, and later became rich. Hoover had 
endured a great many hardships in his life, and knew what it was like 
to do without. In fact, Hoover was very poor as a child, although not 
necessarily living in poverty. This effect on his schema would be 
rather interesting, as it seems that he should have had a better 
understanding of how to handle problems with the poor than Roosevelt. 
As Hoover was born poor, one would think that he would know how to run 
the country like a business, so that it would stay afloat; however, 
when confronted with the Depression, he repeatedly cut taxes. Hoover 
was basically a hard working Republican, the quintessential self made 
man. 	Roosevelt, on the other hand, had been born into a very rich 
family; He grew up with education at Harvard, had his own pony and 
sailboat, and had everything basically taken care of for him in his 
childhood by his mother. This gave him a sense of security, of being 
able to do anything he wanted, most simply because he didn't fail 
early on. He had never lived through what the American public was 
going through, so his view of the world, his schema, did not 
necessarily include what it was like to live in poverty. He believed 
that the Depression could be solved merely by putting as many people 
to work for the government as possible. This could relate to how, 
growing up, he himself did not have to work in any way, shape, or 
form. Roosevelt did have one other perspective that would always be 
unavailable to Hoover; he was a cripple. He had contracted polio on 
1921; by the time he became governor of New York in 1928, he could not 
walk unaided. He refused to let this stop him, though, and remained a 
suave speaker, unlike his competitor Hoover.

 Political affiliation is also one of the most necessary 
differences to realize in contrasting Hoover and Roosevelt. Hoover's 
policies, when viewed form the modern perspective, seem rather 
strange. One of his major efforts appears to have been lowering taxes; 
he basically expressed faith in the existent American system. He 
called leaders of industry to Washington D.C. and made them promise to 
keep up wages and such, but when they did not he worked with local 
welfare agencies. He basically refused to give out any national 
welfare, believing that it demeaned proud Americans. While he 
attempted much to help businesses, it was clear by 1932 that his 
policies were a complete failure. Even when the Democrats had control 
of the congress after 1930, he still stubbornly refused to take 
stronger action. Throughout this time, the bank failures had been 
steadily going up. His lowest point in popularity was when a group of 
veterans camped in D.C. demanding a bonus that they were due. Hoover 
ordered them removed. Yet even through all of this, he still insisted 
that the American public did not honestly want national relief. 
Basically, Roosevelt could have no better campaign than Hoover's 
presidency. Roosevelt's philosophy, on the other hand, was entirely 
different. His most readily apparent ability was his voice; he was 
able to talk to people in such a way that they almost always went 
along with him. He was exceptionally confident, and made those around 
him feel so too. Roosevelt did not tend to deal with underlying 
problems; he was, however, wonderful at taking care of the surface 
problem. On his inauguration day, he gave his famous speech asserting 
that the only thing America had to fear was fear itself; not entirely 
true, because the nation stood on the brink of collapse. The banks in 
Chicago and New York were closed. Within ten days, Roosevelt had them 
back open. Throughout the next few years, Roosevelt's general policy 
was to make work for anyone and everyone who was idle; it didn't 
matter if the work was pointless, and didn't really need to be done. 
Roosevelt simply took the men of the nation and put them to work at 
whatever he could think of for them to do. The job really didn't 
matter; the only reason it was there was to keep the public happy. It 
is questionable how much these work projects actually helped America 
to come out of the Depression; in fact, most believe that only World 
War II saved America's economy. Regardless, the American spirit was 
once again uplifted, and even if the Depression hadn't gone away the 
American public once again felt as though they were the best country 
in the world. Hoover and Roosevelt had a variety of differences, both 
in their background and in their political ideas. Hoover had been born 
poor, and had worked his way up to a higher station in life (partially 
with the help of an uncle who came into money). Roosevelt's family, 
though, possessed basically old wealth. He had whatever he wanted as a 
child. As far as their political views, Hoover favored a local end to 
the Depression, basically not believing that the central American 
government could accomplish what was necessary. Roosevelt, on the 
other hand, understood as Robert Wiebe did, that the time for island 
communities was over, and it was necessary for the central power in 
the country to lend a hand.


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