to try to help; they contributed as much as $250,000 per month from their own salaries to help needychildren. Chicago teachers did the same, feeding some eleven thousand students out of their own pocketsin 1931, despite the fact that many of them had not been paid a salary in months. These noble efforts,however, failed to fully address the level of desperation that the American public was facing.25.2 President Hoover°s ResponseBy the end of this section, you will be able to:¥Explain Herbert Hoover²s responses to the Great Depression and how they reflected hispolitical philosophy¥Identify the local, city, and state efforts to combat the Great Depression¥Analyze the frustration and anger that a majority of Americans directed at HerbertHooverPresident Hoover was unprepared for the scope of the depression crisis, and his limited response did notbegin to help the millions of Americans in need. The steps he took were very much in keeping with hisphilosophy of limited government, a philosophy that many had shared with him until the upheavals ofthe Great Depression made it clear that a more direct government response was required. But Hooverwas stubborn in his refusal to give °handouts,± as he saw direct government aid. He called for a spiritof volunteerism among America²s businesses, asking them to keep workers employed, and he exhortedthe American people to tighten their belts and make do in the spirit of °rugged individualism.± WhileChapter 25 Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? The Great Depression, 1929-1932743
Hoover²s philosophy and his appeal to the country were very much in keeping with his character, it wasnot enough to keep the economy from plummeting further into economic chaos.The steps Hoover did ultimately take were too little, too late. He created programs for putting people backto work and helping beleaguered local and state charities with aid. But the programs were small in scaleand highly specific as to who could benefit, and they only touched a small percentage of those in need. Asthe situation worsened, the public grew increasingly unhappy with Hoover. He left office with one of thelowest approval ratings of any president in history.THE INITIAL REACTIONIn the immediate aftermath of Black Tuesday, Hoover sought to reassure Americans that all was well.Reading his words after the fact, it is easy to find fault. In 1929 he said, °Any lack of confidence in theeconomic future or the strength of business in the United States is foolish.± In 1930, he stated, °The worst isbehind us.± In 1931, he pledged federal aid should he ever witness starvation in the country; but as of thatdate, he had yet to see such need in America, despite the very real evidence that children and the elderlywere starving to death. Yet Hoover was neither intentionally blind nor unsympathetic. He simply held fastto a belief system that did not change as the realities of the Great Depression set in.