History Excellence

Report by Mr Blackabey

Year 10 History students are at present studying the USA from 1920 to 73 and developing their analysis and extended writing skills.  A recent extended piece of writing was on the 1932 American election between Herbert Hoover and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  This has been quite topical considering the recent elections in the USA.

A number of students produced exemplary answers.  These were Grace Davis, Nevah Law, Erin Neal, Rebecca Oakes, Abigail-Rose Wallis, Niamiah Jack, Xavier Jenkins, Holly Locke, Konnah Sanson and Fletcher Stevenson.

One such example is this one from Grace Davis:

Why did Roosevelt win the election of November 1932? 

The current President of the United States of America was Herbert Hoover, he served from 1929 to 1933 during America’s Great Depression. Furthermore, because Hoover was the President during the Great Depression, the people of America blamed him for all of their problems; resulting in America hating him. 

For example, Hoover would always say “Prosperity is just around the corner” which aggravated the people because Hoover was a ‘do nothing President’ and did too little, too late. American citizens soon started to bitterly say, ”In Hoover we trusted, now we are busted.” The homeless who had lost everything they had in the Great Depression, built shanty houses in towns and named them ‘Hoovervilles’, they slept on park benches and covered themselves in newspaper to keep warm – Hoover Blankets after their disgust and hatred towards their president, Herbert Hoover. 

Hoover’s reputation was soon damaged further after he refused to meet with peaceful First World War veterans, Hoover called this Bonus Army – because they were demanding the early payment of their war pension or bonus early –  a mob.  He then ordered the regular army under General Douglas MacArthur to evict them from their Hooverville which resulted in the deaths of two ex-serviceman and a twelve week old baby from tear gas. The news spread across the population and made Hoover seem even more heartless and uncaring than before. 

All of Hoover’s attempts to stop the Depression had little or the opposite effect of what he wanted. He added the Hawley-Smoot tariff which damaged American trade as they could not export their surplus goods. He also blocked the Garner-Wagner Relief Bill which would have allowed Congress to spend $2.1 billion to create jobs. Also, Hoover’s and the Republican Party’s attitude of Laissez Faire and belief of rugged individualism did not help and caused Hoover to become unpopular; losing votes. 

America was fed up with Hoover and his belief on rugged individualism, when everyone was suffering by getting no help from their president and being forced to live in extreme conditions because they lost everything. By 1932 there were fourteen million people unemployed which was twenty – five percent of the workforce. Wages had dropped by sixty percent and in 1932,  238 people were admitted to hospital in New York with malnutrition.  It seemed to the people of America that Hoover did not care for them in the slightest. On the other hand, Franklin D Roosevelt believed in active government and wanted to end Prohibition which already made him very popular with the American people because he was the complete opposite of Hoover. 

Roosevelt spoke to ordinary people and understood them, he had energy and was confident in what he was saying, meaning that people would  have hope in him. To prove to the people he was confident he went on a train tour of the whole country, he made sixteen major speeches and sixty from the back of a train covering twenty thousand, eight hundred kilometres. He also appeared to the public as if he had beaten Polio, making American people think if he can beat Polio, he can beat The Great Depression. He offered the people of America hope and a New Deal – something which Hoover could not with his ‘prosperity is just around the corner’.  He had also shown his ability to help the unemployed by a series of reforms while Governor of New York State and his opening of the Warm Springs Polio Rehabilitation Centre, paid for out of his own money.

In conclusion, Roosevelt won the 1932 election because of his completely opposite personality from Hoover, that he was offering people ‘The New Deal’ which gave everyone hope, that he was already active in saying he has three aims that were; recovery, relief and reform and finally that the Nation were willing to vote for anyone other than Hoover because they felt as if they had nothing to lose at this point and Roosevelt gave them hope.

By Grace Davis 10Green