THIRTY

Herbert Hoover
1929-33

Herbert Hoover ( 1874-1964) became President in March 1929, with a reputation for unusual intelligence, energy, efficiency, and humanitarian concern. A wealthy mining engineer who turned to public service during World War I, he headed the Commission for Relief in Belgium, 1914-19, served as director of Woodrow Wilson's Food Administration, and managed European relief at the end of the war. "He is certainly a wonder," exclaimed young Franklin D. Roosevelt, "and I wish we could make him President of the United States. There couldn't be a better one."1 Both parties claimed him; but he decided he was a Republican and served as Secretary of Commerce for both Harding and Coolidge. Coolidge called him, a bit waspishly, the "wunduh boy," but he was more commonly known as the "Great Engineer." 2 When he entered the White House in March 1929, the stock market was booming, and the country seemed headed for increasingly higher levels of productivity as well as more affluence for many of its citizens. "The poorhouse is vanishing among us," said Hoover cheerily in 1928. "We in America today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of the land. . . . We shall soon with the help of God be in sight of the day when poverty will be banished from this nation." 3

A few months after this millenial statement came the Great Crash. "WALL STREET LAYS AN EGG", screamed a Variety headline on October 30, 1929. The collapse of the stock market was followed

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