Is Herbert Hoover's Influence On His Conception Of The American System?

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During his time Herbert Hoover was vilified as the American President who led the country into the worst depression of its history. Historians of the twentieth century and today have been able to look closer at how Hoover’s dealt with the Great Depression and analyze the reasoning behind his actions. In order to better understand his attempts to navigate the country through the depression, this essay will expand on historical study with a specific focus on how Herbert Hoover’s individualist and Quaker mentalities as an influence on his conception of the ‘American System’. By studying his idealized view of this system due to these mentalities one can better understand the ideology behind his inability to successfully combat the Great Depression. …show more content…

His life as an individual started early when he was orphaned at age nine and sent from Iowa to Oregon to live with his uncle. After a hard childhood working for his uncle he enrolled in the newly founded Stanford University where he specialized in mining engineering a career path that took him all over the globe working in Australia, China, Great Britain, and made him a fortune before he turned 40. Hoover’s success in business during the late 19th and early 20th century period of lax governmental interference and boom of private enterprise as well as his orphaned upbringing manifested itself in his individualist psychology towards economic progress and the power of an individual to advance in society through personal initiative. These aspects of Hoover’s ideology are heavily influenced by not only his individualist pre-presidential life but also by his Quaker faith and mentalities that he carried with him throughout his life. Glen Jeansonne discussed in his book, The Life of Herbert Hoover: Fighting Quaker 1928-1933, the mentalities that are characteristic of the Quaker faith and how Hoover’s mind-set towards the American System were shaped by his faith. Quakers were known to be independent but unselfish with a communitarian tradition and an obligation to help the destitute, however it was an expectation that the destitute would work hard. The Quaker trait …show more content…

He preferred aid to be given through private organization such as the Red Cross whom he declared in his 1931 Statement on Public vs. Private Financing of Relief Efforts, “has always met the situations which it has undertaken.” While Hoover was referencing the Red Cross’s response to the drought experienced during his presidency, his statement shows his belief in private charity organisation as able to provide relief. That being said Hoover’s past humanitarian work was not as widespread and multifaceted as the nationwide crisis of the Great Depression. Not only did he believe that private charity was a capable solution for relief he also preferred individual charity because it helped the destitute and at the same time ennobled the giver. To that end, private charity worked not only to provide economic growth and relief to the country but also allowed for spiritual and moral growth. The spiritual and moral growth of non-governmental assistance conforms to his religious background that helped dictate his policy of voluntarism saying “I cannot conceive of a wholesome social order or a sound economic system that does not have its roots in religious faith.” As mentioned above his faith stressed moral voluntarism to bring aid to those who cannot help themselves,

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