In order to answer the above question it is necessary to first look at the seriousness of the Depression. T o measure the success of President Hoover in lifting America out of the Great Depression in the years 1930-32, one would have to look at the situation at the end of his term, end of 1932. By 1932, the growth rate was a staggering -14.7% and the unemployment 24.1%. In 1929, the GNP was $203.6 billion, while in 1932 the figure was $144.2 billion. The devastating social effects had resulted in 23,000 people committing suicide in 1932, the largest yearly figure in American history.
The picture looks terrible in the introduction. It was. Hoover was not able to solve the Depression mainly because of the rigidity and obstinacy in his views. Hoover believed that people should be responsible for their own welfare and this attitude was to make him inflexible in his handling of the Depression. Till about 1932, he did nothing at all to help people, other than perhaps give a portion of his income to charity and that of some other government officials.
Those who criticize Hoover fail to see that his government involved itself more in the economy than any other previous American government; but all the measures taken by the Hoover administration were half hearted and in the end, futile. Before 1930, Hoover’s main focus was on agriculture. The A agricultural Marketing Act, 1929, established a Federal Farm Board with funds of $500 million to buy, store and eventually dispose of farm surpluses in an orderly way. And this was done when people were going hungry throughout America. So in effect, enough food was being produced but people were still starving.
After 1930, other acts followed. But it must be kept in mind that mainly the Congress had a hand in making all these acts. There was the Hawley-Shoot tariff which came into effect in June...