Herbert Clark Hoover was inaugurated President in March of 1929. When he became President, the country was enjoying economic prosperity. Half a year later everything would change.
Hoover was born on August 10, 1974 in West Branch, Iowa. His parents were rural Quakers. His father was a blacksmith and his mother a school teacher. He studied geology and mining at Stanford University in that institutions’ first freshman class. He met a female student, Lou Henry, in his geology class, whom he later married. After college Mr. and Mrs. Hoover managed and organized mining properties in China, Africa, Europe, and Western Australia. By the time Hoover was 40 years old, he was a millionaire.
In 1914, World War I breaks out. To old to fight, Hoover organizes and assists in the return of thousands of Americans stranded in Europe. That completed, he turns his attention to Belgium. Belgium had been hit hard by the War. People were starving, they also lacked clothing and medical supplies. He set up Hoover’s Commission for the Relief of Belgium. For the next five years his relief organization operated it’s own fleet of approximately two hundred ships and transported more then five million metric tons of food to war weary Belgium. The over one billion dollars he spent came from government loans and private donations.
In 1917, the United States entered the war. Hoover was put in charge of the food administration. His job was to curb wartime profiteering in food supplies. After the war he was put in charge of the American Relief Administration - charged with distributing medical supplies, food, and clothing to refugees in Eastern Europe, including the Soviet Union. All his efforts were considered successful. John Maynard Keynes called Hoover “the only man” to emerge from the peace conference “with an enhanced reputation.” He “had never known failure,” wrote the novelist Sherwood Anderson. (Foner, 748)
Hoovers reputation as an engineer and humanitarian projected him onto the political stage. Hoover preached a doctrine of voluntary cooperation by privately associated Americans and businessmen with the support, but not the control, of government. He did not believe in traditional laissez-faire or that the state should be involved in economic planning. Hoover believed that the government should regulate two areas of new technology, commercial aviation and radio broadcasting. His experience led him to believe that the department of commerce was important for the expansion of overseas American business.
Republican candidate, Herbert Hoover, defeated Governor Alfred E. Smith of New York, the Democratic candidate, in 1928. Hoover showed some of his mettle when he did not participate in the religion controversy. Smith was a Roman Catholic.
For years, Wall Street investors expected healthy profits as stock market prices soared. Between 1925 and 1929, all stocks of the New York Stock Exchange almost doubled.
There were many reasons for the Depression, not...