How far was Roosevelt himself responsible for his election victory in 1932? Explain your answer.
There were several reasons for Roosevelt’s election in 1932 all of which can be placed into three different categories, Roosevelt’s strengths, the opponent’s weaknesses and The Depression. All of these reasons were important in their own ways.
The Depression had caused America huge problems. Unemployment had risen to nearly 14 million by 1932. Businesses had had to cut production by in some cases up to 80%. Average wage had fallen from 59 to 49 cents an hour. This meant that people were slowly getting more and more desperate as there seemed to be no action being done by the republican government so people started looking for solutions in the Democratic Party.
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Hoover was very unpopular. He did not acknowledge the depressions existence he didn’t admit there was a problem as he claimed in his speech delivered on the 26th of October a week after the depression started. This meant that people who were suffering through unemployment and homeless were annoyed that Hoover was not even admitting there was a problem which meant he would not help them.
In 1932 United States veterans went on a ‘Bonus March.’ The soldiers from WW1, who had been promised a bonus that would be paid to them in 1945, wanted to receive the bonuses early because of starvation and homelessness. 15000 people streamed into Washington. Hoover refused to pay and brought in the army to deal with the veterans. This made Hoover less popular because people respected those who had fought for their country and when Hoover had attacked them which was a terrible thing to do so people viewed him as a bad person.
Hoover believed in ‘Lassiez Faire’ which meant that he believed that the Economy should run itself and not be interfered with. This made Hoover unpopular as it meant he would not offer any support for the workers who were now unemployed or loan money to businesses that needed loans to help them create more jobs.
Roosevelt did many things to increase his popularity. Firstly, Roosevelt came up with the ‘New Deal’ which outlined what he was going to do to reverse the depression. Roosevelt offered the public relief, recovery and reform none of these policies were in Hoover’s campaign who was still hoping the problem of the depression would fix itself. This meant that people who were suffering wanted a man like Roosevelt in power who was willing to do something about the depression and give them relief.
Roosevelt’s ability to bounce back from his polio inspired Americans. People saw how he could deal with a problem face on and overcome rather than hide from it. This was a very appealing characteristic for a president during the depression as people knew that if he was in power he would be determined to face the problem head on.
Roosevelt liked touring the country and meeting people. He talks to the people and lets them get to know him as a person not just a far off distant man like Hoover, who people saw as cold and unfriendly. This meant that people liked Roosevelt as a person and felt they had a bond with him that they didn’t have with Hoover, this increased his popularity.
I believe that the depression was the greatest cause for Roosevelt’s victory in the 1932 election. During the 1920’s Hoovers ‘Lassiez Faire’ values worked well, there was a large boom and most of the country benefited. However when The Depression occurred it revealed all the problems with Hoover and made Roosevelt look like a better candidate for the job.