provide direct federal aid to business and local governments. The RFC came into being in January 1932 with a $1.5 billion budget and by March had loaned hundreds of millions of dollars to ailing banks, insurance companies, and other institutions. Bank failures slowed from 346 in January to 46 in April. 97
Enraged conservatives felt Hoover had abandoned his ideals. Many less conservative congressmen, who were being bombarded with pleas for help from their home districts, felt that only direct relief to individuals would provide adequate relief and reassure the public. Hoover could not go that far. It was his feeling that aid to businesses would prime the pump and would provide enough additional funding to revive the economy, while putting people back to work. But basically recipients of the government loans paid off their debts and refused to spend more or to hire more. The RFC, the most extraordinarily populist step in Hoover's career, had little or no impact. Public unrest grew daily.
By the spring of 1932, the situation had grown desperate, and special interest groups clamored for the president's and Congress's attention. Many middle-class and poor people had reached the end of their resources. They were destitute, hungry, and desperate. They had somehow expected someone somewhere to save them, and in three years no one had stepped forward. What they read in their newspapers and magazines, and what they heard and saw on radio and in newsreels did not reassure them. They complained that the president had failed them, and they began to associate the Great Humanitarian with the inhumanity of hunger and homelessness. One such group decided in early spring 1932 to take matters into their own hands, and so would begin a series of events that would tarnish the president's name forever.