On the morning of October 24, 1929 (“Black Thursday”), billions of dollars in stock value were wiped out before lunch. Prices recovered somewhat that afternoon, but the Great Crash was underway. The next day President Herbert Hoover counseled reassurance, but as stock prices continued to plummet Hoover’s reassurances rang increasingly hollow. The president’s efforts to reassure the public did not stop, in part for political reasons. To win reelection in 1932, he would have to convince voters that his policies were bringing recovery. In this excerpt from an October 22, 1932, campaign speech on “The Success of Recovery,” Hoover told a partisan crowd of twenty-two thousand in Detroit’s Olympia Arena that success would have come even sooner if not for Democratic obstruction. The Detroit faithful and radio audiences heard Hoover hail ten sure signs of “economic recovery.” (Less enthusiastic were hundreds of unemployed men who greeted him at the train station with signs like “Hoover—Baloney and Apple Sauce.”)Listen to Audio:
Herbert Hoover: My fellow citizens, the most important issue before the American people right now is to overcome this crisis. What our people need is the restoration of their normal jobs, the recovery of agricultural prices and of business. They need help in the meantime to tide them over until these things can be accomplished and that they may not go hungry nor lose their farms and their homes.
Now I wish to present to you the evidence that the measures and the policies of the Republican administration are winning this major battle for recovery, and we are taking care of distress in the meantime. It can be demonstrated that the tide has turned and that the gigantic forces of depression are today in retreat. Our measures and policies have demonstrated their effectiveness. They have preserved the American people from certain chaos. They have preserved a final fortress of stability in the world.
Recovery would have been faster but for four months of paralysis during the spring months while we were defeating proposals of the Democratic House of Representatives.
Much has been accomplished despite the opposition of selfish groups and sections of our country and the unwillingness of a Democratic House of Representatives to cooperate, and much more must be done. The Democratic candidate says we have been extravagant, and in his various statements implies that we should make a defense of our actions. There will be no defense because none is needed.
Source: Courtesy of the Herbert Hoover Library.