In the early 1930s Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon had advised the traditional do-nothing approach. He even argued that a short depression would be good for the country because “it will purge the rottenness out of the system.” But as the depression became more severe, the government took unprecedented steps to promote recovery. Unfortu-
nately, these measures were not sufficient to halt the downward trend. As Americans continued to suffer, they increasingly blamed their plight on Herbert Hoover. Hoover’s limited measures to end the depression did little to ease the crisis. RUMBLINGS OF DISCONTENT By 1932 Hoover was the most hated man in America. His appearance in movie newsreels provoked boos and catcalls from audiences. And he made little effort to win public support by changing his aloof manner or stiff, boring speeches. “This is not a showman’s job,” Hoover remarked. “I will not step out of character.” As confidence in Hoover eroded, radical political parties grew more vocal. Both the Communist party and the Socialist party condemned the capitalist system that they believed created the depression. Both parties helped organize several mass protests in the early 1930s. Socialist leader A. J. Muste gathered the jobless into Unemployed Leagues to demand work. The Communist party encouraged labor-union activism and led strikes by migrant farm workers. --- Andrew Mellon --- As the depression worsened, more and more people began to blame President Hoover for their troubles. This cartoon appeared June 1931 in the Albany News. 686 The party also helped expose racial injustice. In 1931 an all-white jury in Scottsboro, Alabama, sentenced eight of nine black youths aged 13 to 21 years to death on a highly questionable rape charge. The Communist party helped supply legal defense for the “Scottsboro Boys” and organized mass demonstrations to overturn the convictions. Many desperate Americans responded to communist and socialist calls for direct action. Early in 1932, thousands of unemployed men demanding work participated in a hunger march on the Ford auto plant near Detroit. Four were killed when police opened fire. In Seattle, 5,000 unemployed
protestors seized a public building. After two days local officials finally forced them out. Some activism was spontaneous, reflecting the desperation of the times. In rural areas people armed with clubs, pitchforks, and shotguns confronted officials trying to foreclose on homes. Farmers destroyed crops and blocked roads to prevent food from being shipped to market, hoping that limiting food supplies would push prices up. “They say blockading the highways illegal,” an Iowa farmer said. “Seems to me there was a Tea Party in Boston that was illegal too.” The biggest protest was staged by more than 10,000 World War 1 veterans and their families in May 1932. They came to Washington, D.C., to support a veterans’ bonus bill then before Congress. The bill would have granted the veterans—many of whom were unemployed—early payment of pension bonuses due to them for their service during the war. This group was soon dubbed the Bonus Army .
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- Spring '16
- Dr Wong
- Great Depression, Wall Street Crash of 1929