Crisis Before Christmas
The days before Christmas tend to be a time of good will and peace on earth. That was not the case in the week before Christmas, 1932. In spite of Hoover's efforts, Roosevelt refused to go beyond nominal cooperation on the growing financial crisis. Hoover was angry and frustrated. Congress ignored him and would not act on Hoover's legislation unless the president-elect gave his approval. Hoover tried intermediaries such as Henry Stimson, but to no avail.
Hoover was determined to lay the blame for the "Christmas crisis" on Roosevelt's door step by releasing a series of previously confidential documents to the press. In response, Roosevelt expressed shock and noted that he had cooperated with the president whenever he was asked. Efforts by intermediaries such as Secretary of State Henry Stimson and Felix Frankfurter came to naught. Neither man would budge from his position.
Perhaps the biggest crisis was over the definition of "cooperation." To Hoover, the term meant that he and Roosevelt would jointly govern the nation until Roosevelt was sworn in on March 4. But the Democrats--certainly Roosevelt-- thought of cooperation as providing informal and ad hoc advice. Hoover was president and he alone should make the decisions.
Rexford Tugwell best captured the differences between the two men in his diary entry for December 23. "GovernorRoosevelt is still puzzled to know why it is that Hoover insisted again and again on setting up a commission which would carry over from his term to another. . . . It is that Mr. Hoover is a different kind of man from Mr. Roosevelt. . . . The formal set up of governmental struc-