Describe Hoover’s philosophy as actually perpetuating the economic crisis that triggered the solving the problems of the Great Depression.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Hoover's Republican reliance on the minimalist role of government in times of intense economic duress as well as his belief that private organizations can do enough to catapult the nation into prosperity both played a role in perpetuating the national malaise in light of the Great Depression.  Hoover failed to grasp the magnitude of calamity and how to effectively address it.  The idea that federal government minimalism would still be embraced two years into the economic panic is a reflection of the failure of Republican philosophies during the 1920s.  Hoover failed to grasp that government was needed to be transformative in a time when massive and seismic economic shifts had paralyzed so many.  25% unemployment, over five thousand banks collapsing, as well as closing of so many factories and houses of employment, along with the disenfranchisement of so many home owners are all elements that go beyond the notion of "the marketplace will remedy itself" or that private charities can do the work of government.  Interestingly enough, Hoover's decision to use the army to put down the "Bonus Army" reflected how the Republican philosophy of the time period found it acceptable to use the army in times of crisis, but not to use government as an agent of political and social change.  Certainly, this element of his philosophy helped to both perpetuate the economic crisis and hasten Hoover's own political demise in the face of Roosevelt.


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