Bylines in Despair: Herbert Hoover, the Great Depression, and the U.S. News Media

By Louis W. Liebovich | Go to book overview
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column, postelection headline in November 1930 on the front page of The New York Times read: "Roosevelt Denies Seeking Presidency." The first speculative story on the 1932 presidential election quoted James Farley, New York Democratic Party chairman, as saying that Roosevelt's nomination for president was inevitable. 125

With unemployment spiraling and emboldened Democrats and Old Guard Republicans opposing him, Hoover faced a most difficult task at the midpoint of his presidency. He was still as dedicated as ever, but it would take a confident, outspoken man to retain the presidency. Hoover was a quiet, behind-the-scenes engineer who put his trust in hard work and common sense. But if he thought that some unseen hand might intervene to help Americans see his virtues, he was greatly mistaken. The final two years of his presidency would prove to be as trying as any faced by a U.S. president. The years 1931 and 1932 would bring the country to the depths of depression and accelerate the voting trend that began in the fall of 1930. The nation would forget about the man who had introduced institutional humanitarianism to the twentieth century. In 1932 voters would turn overwhelmingly to someone who would promise more than Hoover could deliver. By then, Herbert Hoover would be awash in bylines in despair.

This according to Byron Price, Associated Press Washington Bureau Chief during the Hoover administration. Price Oral History Interview in Washington, D.C., March 21, 1969, Washington, D.C., p. 2, Oral History Files, HHPL.
Herbert Hoover, The Memoirs of Herbert Hoover: The Great Depression 1929-1941 [hereafter referred to as Hoover Memoirs, vol. 3] pp. 5-6; David Burner , Herbert Hoover. A Public Life ( New York: Knopf, 1979), p. 246.
Hoover memoirs, vol. 3, p. 17; Burner, Herbert Hoover, p. 247.
Walter Trohan interview with author, Sept. 19, 1989. Also see Hoover Memoirs, vol. 3, pp. 16-19, for details on some of these meetings.
Burner, Herbert Hoover, p. 247.
Hoover memoirs, vol. 3, p. 30.
Robert Sobel, The Great Bull Market: Wall Street in the 1920s ( New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 1968), pp. 74-76.
Hoover memoirs, vol. 3, p. 41.
For a discussion of 1920s economic speculation, see Edgar Eugene Robinson and Vaughn Davis Bornet, Herbert Hoover. President of the United States ( Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1975), pp. 241-45.
For a discussion of the history of cyclical economic factors see Albert U. Romasco , The Poverty of Abundance: Hoover, the Nation, the Depression ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1965), pp. 31-35.
Hoover memoirs, vol. 3, pp. 2-4.


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Bylines in Despair: Herbert Hoover, the Great Depression, and the U.S. News Media


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