As I began teaching the unit on the great depression I decided to try to dispel some of the myths that bother me about this time, but more importantly to present all of the information and let the students to decide for themselves what is truth. For instance, most people (who know anything about the Great Depression) are under the impression that Hoover is largely responsible for the economic crash, and furthermore that he did nothing to help the country as it plunged into despair. In fact Hoover offered federal money to all of the states, but only a few decided to accept it. He created more Federal works projects than any other previous president including the Hoover dam, the Golden Gate Bridge, and work on the Supreme Court building. He tried to stabilize farm prices by asking farmers to leave their fields fallow, but this only softened the fall.
Hoover was a good man, a humanitarian, who was adept at helping people, and worked hard to not only ease the suffering of the American people, but also to maintain the tenets of our government and economy. In contrast Roosevelt was a playboy and a smooth talker. A person who was good at telling people what they wanted to hear. He also opposed women's suffrage and was critical when Harvard accepted its first black students. Nearly everyone he met commented that he seemed intellectually weak. When he took office after promising a "new deal" he made things up as he went, borrowing many of the things that Hoover proposed, including the bank holiday which began the "hundred days."
Roosevelt did some things that I admire as well, but I am critical of him because he is praised for "getting the US out of the depression," while in fact even during his presidency, the unemployment rate only once dropped below 8 million. Not exactly getting the country out of the depression. In fact it is the enormous military industrial complex that is created when the US mobilized for WWII that corrected our economic shortcomings. Roosevelt felt that he was so important that he was the only president to serve more than two terms. Of course he did not survive the forth term and died in office, leaving the country in the hands of Harry Truman. His cousin Teddy Roosevelt is the only other president to run for a third term, although it was as a third party candidate.
You decide who we should praise, and who we should condemn. I will just do what I feel teachers should do and present the facts.