The 1932 election was the ‘Depression election’. America was in turmoil because of the 1929 stockmarket crash and then going into the Depression. America needed help! Many people had lost their homes, jobs and their money. By 1932 America were in an economic crisis. There was massive political discontent. It was against this background that the 1932 elections took place. The two candidates, which were competing, were Herbert Clark Hoover, who was a Republican and was already president at the time, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was a Democrat and was the governor of New York at the time.
I am going to explain how Herbert Hoovers response of “Rugged individualism” towards the depression made him unpopular, and how Roosevelt’s response of the “Forgotten man” made him very popular and in the end made him the president of the United States Of America. Born in1874, Herbert Hoover lost both his parents before he was eleven years old. Brought up by his uncles he left school to become an office boy and at 18 went to university where he worked hard and became a well respected mining engineer and humanitarian administrator .
As a United States Commerce Secretary in the 1920s under Presidents Harding and Coolidge, he promoted economic modernization and became an important figure amoungst the government and Republican Party. In the presidential election of 1928 Hoover had easily won the Republican nomination and the nation was prosperous and optimistic, leading to a landslide for Hoover over Democrat Al Smith. Hoover deeply believed in the Efficiency Movement, arguing that there were technical solutions to all social and economic problems. However that position was challenged by the Great Depression, which began in 1929, the first year of his presidency.
He energetically tried to combat the depression with many new programs, but none of them worked since he and Congress failed to acknowledge the disastrous effects of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930, which throttled US trade, engendered retaliatory tariffs, and began a cascade of international bank failures. Hoover was a strong believe in self-help and ‘rugged individualism’, meaning, that individuals could achieve success through their own hard work and effort (as he had done since a young boy) an he believed in carrying on this belief within politics.
In Hoover’s 1932 election campaign he promised a great ‘ turnaround’ leading to the return of prosperity to the damaged state of America and believed in giving businesses the chance to bring an end to the depression without the interference from the government. He thought that too much help from the government would damage the self-reliance of America and believed in the relief being provided by private charities and the local government itself.
His belief in self help was shown strongly in Hoover’s campaign and policies and much to an extent looked nothing new to the people of America who perhaps felt bored with Hoover’s presidency and perhaps his policies were too little too late. Hoover’s presidency since 1929 had damaged him, did him no justice and left him unpopular with the public which left a huge gateway for Roosevelt in the 1932 election, if he could manage to put forward a difference to Hoover’s campaign for America.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born into a very wealthy family and spent his early years in Hyde Park, New York leading an extremely comfortable land spoilt childhood, already a strong difference to Hoover. He was an only child and grew up in an atmosphere of privilege and strongly influenced by his possessive mother spent his early years home schooling. Roosevelt led a sheltered life as a young boy as a governess educated him privately and rarely mixing with other children and different understandings of life.
He eventually attended formal education at Groton School, Massachusetts, where he was popular and a keen sportsman. He became heavily influenced by Headmaster and teacher Endieott Peabody who preached the duty as a father to society to help the less fortunate. After graduating from Groton, Roosevelt attended Harvard University, studying history and law and dgained his law degree in 1904. Soon after, he met his future wife Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, who was a great reformer just like Roosevelt.
They married in 1905 and had six children in rapid succession. On the brink of success he was unfortunately unlucky enough to be struck down by polio but with his courage and strength battled it out to persue his dreams of making it and was put forward as the Democrat candidate for the 1932 election. In Roosevelts campaign he failed to outline proposed policies in much detail yet spoke with confidence about how as a country they could end the Depression.
His campaign beamed with new policies such as; government schemes to provide more jobs; measures to revive industry and agriculture; relief for the homeless and unemployed and protection for the workers against irresponsible employers. Roosevelt’s policies were by far better than Hoover’s, who seemed little competition for the presidency. He put forward for the alphabet agencies which would apply big change to America along with sorting out the banks and government help.
Roosevelt was a fantastic public speaker and worked extremely hard to take his message to the whole of America including the ordinary men and women. Roosevelt felt that he had managed to overcome his own fearful blows in his life, for example polio, so convinced voters that he was qualified to help the American people overcome their own suffering. A firm change was needed for America and Roosevelt seemed to be the only option for this to proceed. Roosevelt being a Democrat was already a huge difference to Hoover and helped Roosevelt succeed in wining the 1932 election.
In many ways I believe Roosevelt’s victory needs no explanation, putting forward new policies along with change, it would be surprising if any President could have been re-elected against this after the sufferings of 1929-1932. Roosevelt’s policies were perceived as better for the American people than Hoover’s campaign and policies were. I feel it was a combination of Hoover’s errors such as, not giving the people of America what they wanted and needed and no faith in their president, along with Roosevelt’s strengths like, having someone new in the office and his new policies, which won the 1932 election.