The Great Depression drastically changed America’s definition of Liberalism. Prior to the onset of the depression, in the roaring twenties, policies of laissez-faire were considered liberal, radical, revolutionary, and even democratic. This was due to the fact that revolution was a horrifying notion and not until after the laissez-faire and the system of free market fails in the 1920’s do people begin to look about for alternatives. The time when people starting to seek alternatives was at the onset of the depression when America’s political views drastically change.
As the Great Depression, started in 1929, America began to view conservatives as following the policies of social Darwinism, laissez-faire, and having small governments. In contrast, liberals were seen as following polices of having more government regulation and large governments. Thus because the Great Depression started and America’s views of liberalism changed, Hoover was seen as a conservative and Franklin D. Roosevelt as a liberal despite occasional occasions where they supported polices not characterized as liberal or conservative.
Due to the fact that the Great Depression changed the definition of liberalism, President Herbert Hoover began as a liberal but by the end of his term was considered a conservative although occasionally advocating liberal policies. When Hoover came into office big business flourished attributable to prior Republican presidents of Harding and Coolidge. Hoover kept the government from intervening in the economy because of the success of the big businesses, the public’s fear of revolution, and the public being contentment with the politics.
In addition, the invention of the production line, which instigated the Second Industrial Revolution, allowed businessmen to prosper, and automobiles and electrical appliances become available to the public and ease the public’s life. Thus this contributed to America’s success and auspicious attitude towards supporting the liberal policies of laissez- affaire in the 1920’s Contrarily before the Depression, there were signs that pointed to President Herbert Hoover becoming more conservative.
Document A suggests that Herbert Hoover didn’t want’ do be considered strictly laissez-faire. Document A proposes that Herbert Hoover wanted to liberalism to be found not ” in striving to spread bureaucracy but striving to set its bounds, ” but also wanted The United States to know that, ” he doesn’t want to be misinterpreted as believing that the Untied States ins a free for all, or system of laissez-faire. ” Hoover appeared as if he was less determined to preserve the capitalistic society of the 1920’s seeing that he argued that capitalism also has social obligations.
However, the success of the American economy under presidents Hading and Coolidge who believed in private interest beliefs required him to make sure that the lack of intervention in the economy would be maintained. Also Hoover began to sense of the public disapproval and transformation of the working masses and public views. The public mass began to start looking favorably on restriction of unfair business practices. This transformation of the public opinion gave president Hoover trouble since he wasn’t completely dedicated to the private interest or public purpose.
Document B shows this stating, “Economic depression cannot be cured by legislative action or executive pronouncement, and the best contribution of government lies in encouragement of this voluntary cooperation in the community. ” This document shows that Hoover wasn’t completely dedicated to one cause seeing that he advocated no legislative action but encouragement of cooperation. Document C continues this belief stating that he feels that if the individual can end the Depression but also assures the public that he will support job production if the situation would require it.
Both Document B and C state that he believes in Laissez-faire as well as the transformation in the views of the working mass. Document B and C of Hoover are similar to document E, a speech by Franklin D Roosevelt, which states he wants a balanced budget but if starvation of the citizens occur he will appropriate the money. The balanced budget of Roosevelt is the one conservative point in his administration can be compared to the restriction of government by Hoover. But the fact is one can see through Document F that the need for government intervention and an unbalanced budget was necessary when the Depression occurred.
However, despite a few efforts by Hoover to create jobs through legislation like the RFC and the Glass Steagall Act, Hoover still seemed unlike Roosevelt, who insisted in 1936 that The United States must never go back to supporting Conservatives who protected private interest unjustly as stated in Document G. Thus before the depression, there were signs that pointed to the fact that Hoover was becoming conservative. In contrast Hoover did have few efforts of creating jobs when the Depression had the public with mounting discontent and pushing for public purpose reform.
The fact remains that Americans still deemed Hoover as a conservative despite a few instances in the end of his term where he endorsed a series of measures that constituted unprecedented federal response to a nation’s economic crisis, such as the time Hoover signed a legislative that authorized the RFC to give 2 billion to state and local governments for job creating public works programs. At first Hoover obdurately held to his conviction that government could not and should not try to end the Depression as shown in Document B. In 1930, Hoover remained conservative.
He rarely intervened in the economy and thus was considered a conservative despite being a liberal while supporting the same policies a few years before the onset of the depression. Even by 1931, Roosevelt’s liberal New Deal sharply contrasted Hoover’s belief that the private individual can do more than the government to end the Depression as shown in Document C. Document C shows Hoover’s conviction that prosperity would return to America. Roosevelt shared similar optimism, but the public supported Roosevelt more because he adapted to the demand for government intervention in the economy.
Roosevelt worked hard to create reform compared to when Hoover responded the pubic demand in reluctance and only after the obvious failure of National Credit Corporation. As the Depression continued Hoover did pass similar legislation to Roosevelt New Deal. Under Hoover Administration he passed legislation like the Federal Farm Board that was established to promote cooperative commodity marketing that would raise farm prices while reserving the voluntaristic principle Hoover believed according to Document B. The Federal Farm Board would have the government buy surplus corps in effort tot increase farm prices.
Hoover also drafted legislation such as the Reconstruction Finance Corporation that would make loans to major economic institutions such as banks, railroads, and insurance companies. Reluctantly, Hoover also adopted public works project bills such as the one allowing the RFC to give two billion to state and local government for job creating public c works projects. These efforts made by Hoover were similar to Roosevelt’s Agricultural Adjustment Administration, Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
Nevertheless, Hoover was still considered a conservative by the publics during the Depression for two reasons. First, he passed only a few reform bills designed to end the Depression compared to the numerous, massive amounts of legislation passed under Roosevelt’s New Deal. Under Roosevelt New Deal, Roosevelt passed in the first one hundred days more than one dozen important measures. Also because Hoover’s legislation was limited and Hoover was reluctant, his programs failed to cause a noticeable effect on the economy.
Second, the politicians of the 1920’s, Hoover especially, were held responsible for the Depression, as displayed in Document G and E. The statement made by Franklin D. Roosevelt in a speech, “You can never expect any important economy for this Hoover administration, “proves that politicians were blamed for the depression. In addition, Politicians in the 1920s such as Hoover were blamed for the thousands of school children who are in mines and mills, and the one third of the nation ill nourished as stated in Document H.
The blame for the depression consequently caused Hoover to be labeled a conservative. Thus Hoover dogmatically held on to his political beliefs while trying to pass legislation that would appease voters. These legislations measures past by Hoover barely kept America afloat as shown in Document D. Thus Hoover when compared to Roosevelt is seen as a conservative. On the other hand Roosevelt immediately acquired the public’s favor with his liberal ideas. In the first 100 days, Roosevelt stabilized banks with the Federal Bank Holiday.
In the New Deal he fought poverty and unemployment with the many alphabet agencies called the Tennessee Valley Authority, National Recovery Administration, Agricultural Adjustment Administration, Civilian Conservation Corps, and Public Works Administration. These policies were unquestionably liberal in the 1930’s since they were programs that created a larger government, had government step into the economy, and analogous to progressive reforms. Because of the new programs, Roosevelt received fallacious credit for ending the Depression. The veracity was that Roosevelt succeeded only a little more than Hoover in ending the Depression.
Despite tripling expenditures as seen in Document F, a chart document the United sates Government Finances, plus a little more during Roosevelt’s administration, the American economy did not recover from the Depression until World War II. Roosevelt administration and Roosevelt can be characterized as liberal seeing that he quickly passed measures of legislations to create recovery, relief, and reform for the nation by today’s standards and standards of the 1930s even though there were occasional conservative notions like the balanced budget.
However Hoover’s characterization from liberal to conservative changed consequently during the depression. Hoover ideas changed from opposing government intervention in the economy to reluctantly supporting government inception for employment such as the RFC. Thus because the Great Depression started and America’s views of liberalism changed, Hoover was seen as a conservative and Franklin D. Roosevelt as a liberal despite occasional occasions where they supported polices not characterized as being liberal or conservative.
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