Herbert Hoover

Herbert Hoover, 31st President of the United States (1929-1936)

Hoover Re-elected

On June 14, 1932, President Herbert Hoover broke tradition by appearing at the Republican National Convention to accept his renomination in person.  Hoover shocked the country by confessing to his early failings in handling the Great Depression, and pledged that he would work on new solutions in re-elected.  Though the speech gave a slight bump to Hoover, when Franklin Roosevelt was nominated at the Democratic National Convention he still seemed the clear favorite until it was published by several newspapers in August that he had had multiple extramarital affairs.  Roosevelt was forced to unofficially suspend his campaign and return home to convince his wife Eleanor not to divorce him, at least not until after the election.  Hoover, meanwhile, campaigned around the country with his wife at his side, creating an image of himself as the devoted husband as opposed to Roosvelt's developing image as an unfaithful philanderer.  In a drastic turn from his previous positions, Hoover also pledged to support both the repeal of prohibition and assistance to the unemployed.  Though Roosevelt was still the predicted winner come election day, when the returns came in it was Hoover who was the winner, the deciding state Roosevelt's own New York. On March 3, one day before Hoover's second inauguration, the Roosevelts filed for divorce.

Hoover's Second Term (1933-1936)

Though Hoover, a Republican, had won the presidency, the Democrats increased their majority in the House of Representatives with more than three fourths of the seats.  With a sixty-seat majority in the Senate, it seemed possible that the Democrats could override any Hoover veto.  Fearing an impotent presidency, Hoover summoned House Speaker John Nance Garner and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Robinson to the White House in order discuss an agreeable path of legislation that would be acceptable to both parties.  The three worked out a plan that included the repeal of prohibition and the creation of social security.  Hoover conceded to a measure that would install agencies to create better security for banks and the stock market.  They also agreed that the government would encourage private businesses to create new jobs and state governors would be encouraged to supplement this with small public works projects.  However, the federal government would do little more in terms of public works.  The three leaders announced their plans as "The Road to Recovery" on March 7, and almost immediately Congress got to work drafting and passing bills. Some more liberal Democrats fought for more sweeping reforms, but they were blocked by the fairly conservative Garner.  In the 1934 midterms, with recovery progressing at a decent pace, the Republicans won some minor victories in the House, though the Democrats still had more than two thirds of seats, and only a couple of new seats were gained by Democrats in the Senate.  On February 8, 1936, Vice President Charles Curtis died.  Following his funeral, President Hoover asked Congress to pass a bill that would give the president the power to appoint a new vice president in the event of a vacancy, with the Senate voting for his confirmation.  The bill passed through both houses overwhelmingly and was signed into law by Hoover on March 1.  

1936 Presidential Election

In the 1936 election, Kansas Governor Alf Landon won the Republican nomination, while Speaker Garner won the Democrats' in a close victory over Louisiana Senator Huey Long.  Hoover announced that due to his desire to avoid a protracted lame duck period while effective governance was still needed, the winner would be appointed vice president.  Upon confirmation, Hoover would resign, making the winner president two months early.  Dissatisfied with both candidates, New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia announced he would run as an independent candidate.  La Guardia argued that Hoover had not done enough for the ailing country, and that Landon and Garner would both put the country in the wrong direction.  He chose as his running mate little-known freshman Democratic Senator from Missouri Harry S. Truman, who believed that Hoover had not done enough for farmers.  Landon's campaign fell apart when liberal Republicans defected to La Guardia, making the main competition between La Guardia and Garner.  With cities and middle American farmers backing the La Guardia/Truman ticket, the mayor was elected president in a landslide, Landon only winning his home state of Kansas, and Garner taking the deep south.  True to his word, Hoover appointed La Guardia vice president.  After he was confirmed unanimously and sworn in on November 12, Hoover resigned.  Just two hours after being sworn in as vice president, La Guardia took the presidential oath office and became the 32nd President of the United States.  Truman was not sworn in until the official ceremonies on January 20, 1937.

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