An Independent Woman: The Life of Lou Henry Hoover

By Anne Beiser Allen; Jon L. Wakelyn | Go to book overview

Chapter 14
The Depression Deepens

As the months passed, the nation's financial situation grew steadily worse. Nothing that Hoover's government did to try to contain the damage seemed to work for any length of time. To complicate the situation, the president faced opposition to his programs not only from the Democrats who had become the majority party in the 1930 elections, but from his Republican "allies" as well. The obstructionists in Congress frustrated the president and outraged his wife.

"She was oversensitive," Bert wrote in his Memoirs,"and the stabs of political life which, no doubt, were deserved by me hurt her greatly. . . . Her only departures from sweet urbanity were in outrage at some unfairness in our opponents -- and that in private. . . . Loyalty to a cause, to a party, to a leader, were part of her moral standards."1

The Depression had become a worldwide problem. Europe was also in serious trouble, and foreign markets for American goods were drying up. Foreign debts, left over from the war, went unpaid. At home, a prolonged drought paralyzed the Midwest, where thousands faced starvation in the region now called the Dust Bowl. As Bert's cousin Harriette Miles Odell wrote from her home in Kansas, the wind blowing on the dry fields carried away seed and soil alike, so that "you don't know when you plant if you'll raise the wheat of your neighbor to the south, or the oats of your neighbor to the north."2

As the months passed with no improvement in sight, the number of those who needed Lou's help continued to grow. Lou's correspondence, already much increased, grew larger still as individual citizens appealed to the First Lady to help them out of

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