How did Hoover attempt to balance his belief in rugged individualism with economic needs?
Although Pres. Hoover is often caricatured as someone who did nothing to try to end the Depression, this is not accurate. While he did believe in "rugged individualism, " he also tried to do various things to fix the economic problems of the Depression. As time went by, his attempts involved more and more government intervention.
At first, Hoover tried solutions that were more in keeping with rugged individualism. He tried, for example, to persuade local charities to do more to help the poor. This is in keeping with conserative principles that say society (not the government) should help those in need.
However, as it became clearer that the Depression was too deep for that sort of fix, Hoover increased the role of government. For example, he created the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to lend money to banks. He spent more on public works (the Hoover Dam, for example) than previous presidents. Many of his ideas were used by FDR in the New Deal -- it is just that Hoover did not take them as far as FDR did because he did not want to expand the government too much.
So Hoover was not a do-nothing president. He did balance his belief in individualism with the recognition that the government had to do something to help end the Depression.