This lecture examines a principal source of tension between Hoover and Roosevelt – their conflicting judgments about government’s role in the nation’s economic affairs. Their disagreements are relevant in our times.
In 1932-1933, two notable figures in American history faced the Great Depression. President Herbert Hoover had an impressive biography. He emerged from humble beginnings, acquired great wealth, saved millions of people from hunger during and after World War I, and was enormously popular when elected president. His reputation took a beating when the economy crashed. In contrast, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speeches and initiatives helped restore confidence, even though the road to recovery would be long and difficult. This lecture describes the tense and hostile relationship that developed between these two leaders during the crisis. It also examines their strikingly different views about the government’s role in economic affairs.