As President of the United States at the beginning of the Great Depression, Herbert Hoover’s reputation hasn’t held up all too well. Viewed by some as culpable in the calamity, Hoover was largely disfavored by Americans when he left office in 1932. But 20 years after his election loss, the man himself pointed towards something else as having been responsible.
Starting with the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the Great Depression represents a sorry chapter in U.S. history. It marked a whole decade or so of harsh living among Americans, with many even forced to leave the country. All in all, it was a time defined by huge levels of poverty and unemployment, as well as a broadly pessimistic outlook.
During the economic disaster’s initial years, President Hoover was seen by many as not being active enough in seeking to mitigate its effects. And this commonly shared sentiment ultimately culminated in his decisive loss to Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1932 election. Hoover joined the list of one-term U.S. presidents.
By 1952 Hoover was reflecting on his presidency – and he had his own thoughts regarding the Great Depression. Writing in his memoir, the former president suggested that the First World War had been largely responsible. In his own words, “Without the war there would have been no depression of such dimensions.”
As it turns out, there are expert voices that now agree with Hoover’s thinking. For instance, Maury Klein, a history professor and writer, has backed him up. “World War One and its aftermath is the dark shadow that hangs over the entire period leading up to the Great Depression,” he has claimed. “Pick any policy you want, and you can see how it leads back to World War One.”