Herbert Hoover for Kids
Herbert Hoover was a great humanitarian. He helped Americans stranded in Europe when World War I began. He worked successfully to get food to millions of starving people in Europe, and food to US troops overseas. After World War I was over, he continued to help people who had been hit hard by the war. He spearheaded the construction of the Hoover Dam and the St. Lawrence Seaway, two projects that helped a great many people at home. He was an extremely popular candidate when he ran for U.S. president and won in 1928. Eight (8) months into his first year in office, the stock market crashed. Although this crash was not the only cause of the Great Depression, it led the way. People began losing their jobs by the hundreds, then by the thousands, and then by the millions.
Elected 1928 as U.S. President, Hoover's Policies: Hoover believed that properity would return if people would simply help each other. He did try to keep people working with tax cuts and public works projects. But factories slowed down production as sales continued to decline. In 1930, he made what turned out to be a very bad decision - he signed the Smoot-Hawley Act into law. That act raised taxes on imported goods. His idea was if foreign goods cost more than American made goods, Americans would buy goods made in America. That would increase sales and put Americans back to work. But the depression was not limited to the United States. Many countries were in the midst of a depression. Other nations were so angry about the increased import tax that they stopped buying American made goods. As American exports declined, more workers were laid off. Hoover had spent his entire adult life helping people, but he could not seem to find a way to successfully help the American people in this crisis. In 1932, he lost his bid for a second term as president. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) was elected instead. By the time Roosevelt took office, over 13 million people were out of work, and nearly every bank in the country had closed.
People's Reactions: Many Americans blamed Hoover for the depression. They thought the government should step in and help. But relief did not arrive. People continued to lose their jobs. They were evicted from their homes. Many moved their families into shanties, homes made of cardboard boxes and junk. Communities of shanties appeared across the country, calling themselves Hoovervilles. Newspapers, used as blankets, were called hoover blankets. People pulled their pockets out to show they were empty and called them hoover flaps. In a mere three years, this once popular president had become Hoover the hated by many. But Herbert Hoover was a very good man. He was just the wrong president.
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