So Mr. President, What Did You Do During Your Term In Office? 1929

The Herbert C. Hoover Administration : Year 1929

Hoover was a liberal Republican who won the 1928 Presidential election against Democratic nominee Al Smith of New York. His campaign promised "A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage." Hoover made only a few speeches. In his acceptance speech he said, "We in America today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of a land." " We have not yet reached the goal, but, given a chance to go forward with the policies of the last eight years, we shall with the help of God be in sight of the day when poverty will be banished from the nation....""the poorhouse is vanishing from among us." When the crash came a few months after his inauguration, the President was blamed for the depression although it was world wide and as unstoppable as a hurricane. He summoned to the White House for conferences the industrial, commercial, financial and labor leaders. He kept reassuring the people that "Prosperity was just around the corner."

When the stock Market crashed seven months after he took office in 1929, Hoover was doomed to the same obloquy or worse that Van Buren faced in the first national depression nearly a century earlier. At first neither Hoover nor anyone else had any notion of how bad the Great Depression was to be. Very soon more than twelve million Americans were out of work and businesses were going bankrupt by the thousand.

Hoover tried hard to do something about the Depression. Neither he nor his advisors, or the best economists of the country knew what to do.

March 4, 1929
Herbert Clark Hoover takes the oath of office as the 31st President of the United States.

March 12, 1929
Eight days after coming into the White House, President Hoover announced that there would be no leases or disposal of government oil lands, except those which might be mandatory by Congressional acts. In other words, there would be complete conservation for government oil in his administration.

March 15, 1929
President Hoover amplified this statement, pointing out that 20,000 permits had been issued on public lands under which there had been no compliance with the law requiring active drilling, and they were held simply for speculation. Under his order, permits over hundreds of thousands of acres were canceled, and the rights were returned to the government.

Shortly after winning the election, President-elect Herbert Hoover sets out on a goodwill tour of Latin America. Throughout his term as president Hoover slowly but steadily shows that the United States has embarked on a new course and is trying to be a "good neighbor," a term he coins. The Good Neighbor policy is continued by his successor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and is promoted actively by FDR's secretary of state, Cordell Hull.

March 25, 1929
To demonstrate his interest in governmental economy. President Hoover donates the horses in the White House stable to the U.S. Army.

April 16, 1929
Congress, convened in extraordinary session to consider proposals for farm relief and tariff changes, hears President Hoover suggest the establishment of a farm board with sufficient funds to assist farms in setting up cooperatives. He also calls for increasing specific tariffs to help certain ailing industries.

June 1, 1929
On this day President Hoover appointed an interdepartmental committee consisting of Postmaster General Brown, Secretary of Commerce Lamont, and Secretary of the Navy Adams, to report upon necessary reforms in ocean-mail contracts to be let in the future.

June 15, 1929
President Hoover signs the Agricultural Marketing Bill. The bill establishes the Federal Farm Relief Board to assist farmers in setting up cooperative organizations, but it does not contain a plan whereby the Government would subsidize the sale of surplus commodities on the world market, as desired by a majority of the Senate.

August 21, 1929
A conference of western governors was taking place in August, 1929 to get cattle and sheep range conservation on government lands under way and to deal generally with western conservation measures, President Hoover proposed a joint commission to study the problems of the public domain. He concluded: " It is my desire to work out more constructive policies for conservation in our grazing lands, our water storage, and our mineral resources, at the same time check the growth of Federal bureaucracy, reduce Federal interference in affairs of essentially local interest, and thereby increase the opportunity of the states to govern themselves, and in all obtain better government."

September 19, 1929
President Hoover appointed a committee of leading economists and sociologists to undertake an exhaustive examination and report. The committee's own statement of instructions was: "In September, 1929, the Chief Executive of the Nation called upon the members of this Committee to examine and to report upon recent social trends in the United States with a view to providing such a review as might supply the basis for the formulation of large national policies looking to the next phase of the national development. The summons was unique in our history....The first third of the Twentieth Century has been filled with epoch-making events and crowded with problems urgently demanding attention on many fronts." (Memoirs)

September 28, 1929
President Hoover invited the heads of the leading mutual insurance companies to have luncheon with him at the White House. He reminded them that they all sold annuities based upon their investments. Could they not, in a special set-up, devise a direct old-age insurance policy with pensions beginning at sixty-five years of age: this policy to be based upon either lump-sum payments or annual premiums starting at any age from one year up, the cost to be lessened by forfeiture of all payments by those who died before sixty-five? He also suggested that they consider selling such insurance to business and industry on a group basis, thus making it easier for such enterprises to provide old-age insurance for their employees. He asked them to give him some computations on lump payments or annual premiums necessary for different ages in order to secure a unit of, say, $50 a month after sixty-five years of age. " (Memoirs)

December 7, 1929
On this day the President requested authority from the Congress for an official commission to examine the situation in Haiti and advise when and how the United States were to withdraw, in effect, how to extricate themselves from the mess into which they had been plunged by the Wilson administration. Immediately upon receiving the report of the commission, he began the withdrawal of American forces and the building up of a substantial government in Haiti. (Memoirs)

December 16, 1929
President Hoover signs an income-tax reduction bill that would save taxpayers $160,000,000 on their 1929 Federal taxes. Convinced of the fundamental strength of the economy and that the deepening depression will run its course, Hoover keeps government intervention to a minimum. In foreign relations, he arranges for a one-year moratorium on the Nation's World War I loans.


Website: The History
Article Name: So Mr. President, What Did You Do During Your Term In Office? 1929
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: From my collection of books: The American Presidents by David C. Whitney; Reader's Digest Association, Inc. (1996), The New York Public Library American History Desk Reference; A Stonesong Press Book (1997) The Memoirs of Herbert Hoover, Macmillan Company (1952); The Bicentennial Almanac Edited by Calvin D. Linton, Ph.D. Publishers, Thomas Nelson Inc. (1975) The Presidents of the United States Vol 2, A.S. Barnes & Co. (1973)
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