IN a review of the depression years distinct divisions of progress and of policy appear. The first was from the stock market crash in October, 1929, to the end of Hoover's term. Most indexes worsened until the summer of 1932, which may be called the low point of the depression economically and psychologically. Improvement in the next few months was said by Hoover and his supporters to be the beginning of a true recovery, which, alas, was checked and turned downward by business fears of the inflationary intentions of the new President-elect. Probably the charge proceeded from political pique rather than from economic insight. Later, when Roosevelt was in office, departure from gold was accompanied by business betterment; further, despite the earlier emergence of most European countries, what the people were to learn of the stubbornness of the depression in the United States warrants the belief that matters had not commenced to mend by the autumn of 1932.
The Hoover treatment of the depression was founded on outmoded tenets, false optimism, and inertia. This approach was not due simply to Hoover's attachment to the sufficiency—almost the sacredness—of free economic forces. Time was a factor. The experience of business exuberance was so fresh. Coolidge had shown, or so it was felt, that government could coast while prosperity smiled all around. Hoover, so auspiciously placed in the driver's seat, had no need to use the engine, for the car gathered speed. The sudden blow-out left all with a sense, mocking though it was, of continued forward motion.
Much that was later ascribed to Roosevelt daring was made possible by instructive observation of Hoover's failure. Roosevelt in his first campaign was not so far ahead of Hoover, in the seriousness of his apprehensions or the boldness of his proposals, as his