By 1932, the Depression was at it’s worst point. Industrial production had fallen by 40%, wages 69%, and share prices over 80%. America had 14 million unemployed but Herbert Hoover remained with the believe that economy would recover and prosperity return if businesses were left alone.
He was seen by the people as the “do nothing President”. He believed that the Depression had been caused because of economic problems in Europe, not in America. He did nothing to help those who were worst hit by the Depression. Hoover believed that social security was not the responsibility of the government but of the local government or charities.
In 1932 Hoover proved how heartless he was by accusing the servicemen who had fought in WWI and marched into Washington to ask for their bonuses to be paid early as Communists and criminals and the army dispersed the Bonus Marchers leading to the death of two babies. The people saw the government to have lost all sense of proportion.
Hoover’s Democratic opponent F.D. Roosevelt was a great contrast to Hoover. He believed in active government which should do the best to help the life’s of ordinary people. Roosevelt wanted to spend public money to get people back to work..
F.D. Roosevelt asked advice on important issues to a wide range of experts without hesitating. He ran an inspiring campaign when we he went on a grand train tour around the USA. He also believed that governments should help the poorer citizens providing confidence.
Roosevelt seemed optimistic and one of his striking promises was “I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people” which we can see in Source A. People won hope and confidence in Roosevelt’s ideas and saw someone who was ready to help them, the ordinary people. He promised to get rid of Prohibition which was very unpopular at the time.
Farmers supported him because he had promised them to increase their income. He had made himself a name by introducing tax relief for farmers. His charisma reached the living rooms of many homes when Roosevelt held his side chats on the radio. He had a natural gift for speaking to people over the radio. To the people, he seemed to be the normal man in the street who kept himself in contact with the people rather than a distant politician who hid behind power.
In Source A, Roosevelt for the first time expressed his desire for a New Deal. Roosevelt was able to provide confidence with his straight but significant ideas such as “I am waging war against Destruction, Delay, Deceit and Despair”. The strikes he had had in the past, made the people see him as well qualified to help the American people overcome their problems.