Rather than call for the creation of federal relief programs, this 1931 advertisement placed by the President’s Organization on Unemployment Relief opts for local voluntary charity as a response to the Great Depression. President Herbert Hoover firmly believed that relief was a local responsibility, although even this step, which proved inadequate, went further than pre-World War I presidents, who stood by passively during financial panics. Few Americans expected the government to take drastic action when the Depression struck. Many turned instead to their employers, merchants, churches, landlords, and local banks, as well as to family networks, for assistance. As the Depression and unemployment deepened, however, it became clear that the “moral capitalism” of marketplace institutions was drastically inadequate and aggressive government action was needed.
Source: Literary Digest, November 21, 1931—American Social History Project.