The Only President from Iowa, and He Sucked: The Chronicles of Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover is the lone president to ever hail from our home state.
Prior to his stay in the White House, the West Branch native served as the secretary of commerce under Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge. Following Coolidge's announcement that he wouldn't be running for re-election, Hoover quickly joined the favorites to represent the Republican party in 1928.
After his selection in the primaries, the republican would face off with Alfred E. Smith, the Democrat.
Combining factors like the Roaring Twenties took place under two Republican presidents, there was a heavy anti-Catholic sentiment at the time (Smith was a Catholic), along with Smith's New York-esque behavior that was detested in rural America, Hoover won in a landslide via the electoral college, 444-87.
The following graph depicts the nationwide results of the election:
|presidential candidate||political party||electoral votes||popular votes|
|Source: Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.|
|Alfred E. Smith||Democratic||87||15,016,443|
|William Z. Foster||Communist||48,770|
|Verne L. Reynolds||Socialist Labor||21,603|
|William F. Varney||Prohibition||20,106|
If the voters only knew what would come over the next four years, let alone within the first year of his presidency.
Though largely out of Hoover's control, the 31st president was largely blamed for starting the worst economic downturn in American history -- the Great Depression that began in 1929.
One may reference our proclivity to point the finger at sitting presidents as to why Hoover is often in the discussion of 'worse president ever.' But, it wasn't so much that the Great Depression happened, but how Hoover perpetuated the problem.
A staunch conservative, the Stanford graduate stuck to his principles in attempts to relieve the country of its troubles, but often made the matters at hand much, much worse.
As gilderlehrman.org said,
Hoover refused to involve the federal government in forcing fixed prices, controlling businesses, or manipulating the value of the currency, all of which he felt were steps towards socialism. He was inclined to give indirect aid to banks or local public works projects, but he refused to use federal money for direct aid to citizens, believing the dole would weaken public morale. Instead, he focused on volunteerism to raise money.
Though adhering to values as a president can be admired, it simply did not work for America at that point in time. Often considered an ineffective communicator, Hoover was viewed as uncompassionate and mean-spirited toward the common man. According to usnews.com,
The homeless dubbed their make-shift shanty towns Hoovervilles.
The site continues on Hoover's miss-placed attempts to right the economy:
Perhaps his single greatest policy blunder was supporting and signing into law a a tariff act that fueled international trade wars and made the Depression even worse.
Although his intentions were pure and his fervor to provide the country relief was genuine, he would join the short list of one term presidents in 1932. And thus, Franklin Delano Roosevelt would take the reigns, aiding in the recovery of the economy, earning mass-approval nationwide, and leading the country into World War II.
It must've sucked to be Herbert Hoover, man. Can't imagine being the guy before FDR. Oof.