Friday, October 7, 2011

The Great Depression

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The Great Depression

Two presidents, Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt, were unfortunately faced with the greatest economic plummet of their times. The bedlam over speculation caused stock prices to soar, causing the stock market to take a turn for the worst. Businesses collapsed and savings were completely expunged. Unemployment soon reached a peak of 1 million people.

Although orphaned by the young age of 10, Herbert Hoover did not let the tragic obstacle stop him from being successful. He went on to graduate from the prestigious Stanford University and when the war broke out in Europe, he became involved in high-level relief work, supervising the distributing of food and supplies to the people of Belgium and northern France. These acts of kindness earned him the title of the U.S food administrator. He moved up to Secretary for Commerce which got him noticed by the public as the leader of America’s confident business community. In 18, he became president. The Great Depression suddenly pounced upon the country, leaving Hoover with no option, but to take action. Although Hoover was always striving for individualism and self help, he was not merely going to sit back and watch the country fall. He exhorted bankers, businessmen, state governments and others to voluntarily stabilize credit, keep wages up and give to charitable enterprises. In 1, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation was created to send loans to banks, railroads and insurance companies. Home loan banks were set up to aid home owners meeting mortgages, and the government also sent money to drought-stricken farmers. Although Hoover did not exactly stick to his instincts on individualism, he definitely would never use the national government for direct relief work. He would simply not allow for federal handouts, because he believed it would lead to a “dependency of citizens upon state.” In 1, he was again nominated by the Republicans but was severely defeated by Franklin D. Roosevelt.

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Born to a wealthy landowner who was vice president of the Delaware and Hudson Railroad, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a very enjoyable childhood. He was participant in tennis, polo, yachting, and riding to hounds. Amongst all of his fun activities, he was reared with a sense of civic responsibility. His parents set him with patrician values and his father had some root in Democratic politics. Another political influence Franklin had was his fifth cousin, “Teddy” Roosevelt, whom he deeply admired. After he graduated from Harvard, he began to robustly campaign to become a Democratic state senator which sent Franklin’s name to the ears of the public. In 11, he was stricken by the viral disease of polio. He was paralyzed from the waist down and decided to retire for two years in which he endured great physical and emotional distress. When he realized that his unfortunate condition was permanent, he forced himself to walk, relying on leg braces and two canes. Although in the beginning he was discouraged, in the end, his battle with polio deepened and strengthened his character. Never once did he ask for sympathy and he knew just how to hide his pain. He was stronger than he ever had been. With his new outlook on life, he returned to politics. The Depression reached its all time low in the period between his election and inauguration. When he was elected into presidency, he took the role as Pioneer of the New Deal. Not only did he collect ideas from his allies, he branched out to professors, economists, and lawyers in the planning to replace the free market of classical economics. He had plans to bring relief to the most disadvantaged members of society. He set up new measures to regulate securities and insurance and created numerous acts to employ the unemployed. Although few of his many acts to help the people and the economy were declared unconstitutional, he launched his “Second New Deal” with goals to protect union rights and set up old age insurance. He introduced Fireside chats that reassured millions and later served two more terms in presidency.

“This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” were the famous, reassuring words of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Hoover and Roosevelt stepped up to the crisis with their heads held high and charged into it with confidence in their country. They knew America would hold strong and work together to overcome this hardship of the economy. Hoover started the recovery from the massive depression and Roosevelt brought up the tail end. He supplied six million unemployed with jobs, restored faith in the economy and the Democratic party was now the natural home to man ethnic groups. These two men could have merely ran away with their tails tucked between their legs, but they held strong, and sealed the bond holding America together.

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