Vilified for Causing Great Depression, Herbert Hoover Was Actually A Great Humanitarian

Republican President Herbert Hoover won the 1928 election in a landslide only to preside over the stock market crash of October, 1929, and the subsequent Great Depression where one out of four Americans lost their jobs. Democrats blamed him for his “laissez faire” (hands off) economic philosophy, and dubbed shanty-towns “Hoovervilles.” He believed rigidly that the federal government should not borrow money or engage in deficit spending to stimulate growth or provide a social safety net such as unemployment insurance or retirement benefits to workers. If people were hurting, he believed private charity and volunteerism, not the government, should help them, and he put his own money and ingenuity behind this philosophy. CBS Sunday Morning offered this brief, but flattering portrait of Hoover:

“Herbert Hoover had been president for less than a year when the Crash of 1929 initiated the Great Depression, an epochal event in American history that would place his name near the bottom of presidential rankings. But the engineer and business magnate, who made several fortunes in his 20s, is also remembered as a great humanitarian for feeding several million starving Belgians during World War I, and for introducing a variety of innovations in American life, from standardized traffic lights to milk cartons. Mo Rocca examines Hoover’s remarkable rise (from humble beginnings to the White House) and his remarkable fall.”

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