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tv   Herbert Hoover and Calvin Coolidge  CSPAN  September 2, 2017 12:45pm-1:46pm EDT

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history of spokane. >> up next, herbert hoover scholar george nash talks about the defining relationship between the president and his oval office predecessor, calvin coolidge. this was part of the herbert hoover presidential library conference called "presidential partnerships." >> i'm going to introduce our second speaker. dr. george h. nash is our foremost authority on the life and times of herbert hoover. receiving a phd from harvard university, nash's dissertation, the conservative intellectual movement in america since 1945, was quickly published and remains a seminal study on this topic. on the recommendation of william f. buckley, hoover presidential library association, now the hoover presidential foundation,
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contracted with dr. nash to write a multivolume biography of herbert hoover. the three volumes that resulted in the life of herbert hoover , the engineer, the humanitarian of emergencies, remains the most thorough treatment of prisoners life from the president's life from birth through the end of his work in the wilson administration as head of the food administration. he expertly edited hoover's unpublished writings, and the crusade years, herbert hoover's lost memoir. as one of our archivists described george, he is someone who will forget more than i will ever know about herbert hoover. dr. nash is currently working on a study of herbert hoover and
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franken roosevelt. that's franklin -- and franklin roosevelt. his talk today is entitled the great engineer." [applause] dr. nash: thank you for that very gracious and generous introduction. good morning, everyone. it is a pleasure to be in your company here at the herbert hoover presidential library. as most of you in the audience know, this was my research home for approximately 20 years. and it remains my research home away from home, as it currently currently live in massachusetts and continue to pursue various studies relating to the life of herbert hoover. thank you, tom, and your staff and the presidential library foundation and all others who
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have had a role in grading this -- in creating this conference and giving me the honor of appearing in it. in the spring of 1923, calvin coolidge have been five vice president of united states for a little more than two years. but his hold on office was anything but sure. in the highest echelons of the republican party, speculation was rising that the laconic new englander would not be renominated. many republican progressives in the west wanted him replaced on the ticket with theodore roosevelt, jr. just four months later, before the "dump coolidge" sentiment could crystallize, president warren harding died. coolidge felt morally bound to carry on harding's policies until the next election. this meant the new president would keep his predecessor's cabinet intact.
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among those he retained was secretary of commerce herbert hoover. since entering the cabinet in 1921, hoover had rapidly established himself as one of the most able and energetic of harding's advisors. hoover is the smartest gink i know, harding had remarked once. , only president's cabinet charles evans hughes had wielded comparable influence. if the hard-driving hoover and the genial harding have been unlikely twosome, hoover and coolidge would be stranger still. in 1895, each man had graduated from college.
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coolidge from amherst in massachusetts. hoover from stanford university in california. from that point on, their careers could hardly have been more divergent. hoover had become a highly successful, globetrotting mining engineer and financier, with a business interest on six continents. coolidge had become a politician in a small city less than 12 miles from his alma mater. during the world war i and its tumultuous aftermath, hoover became a close associate of president woodrow wilson, a participant in the paris peace conference, and an internationally acclaimed humanitarian responsible for saving tens of millions of lives from the threat of famine and death. coolidge, in the same period, had quietly ascended what was called the escalator of elected office in massachusetts, where
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he was elected governor in 1918. in 1912, hoover had supported bullnose moose campaign for the presidency. during this same period, coolidge had been a paragon of party rregularity and by 1920, a regularity, and by 1920, a symbol of safety and conservatism. these distinctions in background caree and career experience were reinforced by profound differences in temperament. hoover was a veritable
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workaholic, filling his calendar with appointments from morning to night. coolidge had a much less robust constitution and was obliged to conserve his energy constantly. not surprisingly, the two men's approaches to government differed markedly. coolidge was devoid of controversy. hoover's speeches tended to be policy statements, laden with statistics and proposals for action. coolidge was legendarily cautious. i have never been hurt but what i have not said, he once declared. "i have never been hurt by what i have not said," he once declared. secretary hoover, although he could be equally cautious, nevertheless generated an unending blizzard of speeches, congressional testimony and press releases as he built his cabinet department into a bureaucratic dynamo. to coolidge, the purpose of government was not to do good,
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but as he put it, to prevent harm. when governments attempted to do good, he told a friend, they generally got themselves and other people into trouble. hoover, by contrast, was an avid policy wonk, and a trained engineer besides. and engineers are taught to alter their environment, not leave it alone. for the next five and half years after coolidge's assent to the presidency, the great enigma in the white house, as some called him, and the great engineer, has as many called hoover, dominated the american political landscape. with all their disparities in outlook, some measure of friction between the two men was well-nigh inevitable. although some of the vagaries of their interaction are no doubt lost to history, the record is sufficient to disclose the basic
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pattern. behind the facade of official etiquette and party irregularity, one finds an evolving and increasingly tense relationship. hoover's early contact with coolidge showed every sign of cordiality and cooperation. indeed, in the first year and a half of coolidge is tenure, he appeared to welcome hoover's input and even added to hoover's responsibilities. one area where they found common ground was agricultural policy. perhaps the most contentious issue for the republican party in the 1920's. as the postwar farm crisis lengthened, farmers and congressional allies clambered for federal assistance. notably, a massive interventionist proposal known as the mcnary howling bill
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. although no disciple of laissez-faire, hoover opposed to this, which he thought was dangerously socialistic and thoroughly unsound. by the spring of 1924, an early version of the bill was before congress. with an eye probably on the coming election, president coolidge refrained from definitive comment. but, from the farm legislation he did support in 1924, we can infer that his position on this issue was much closer to an the mcnary supporters. in the initial battle to defeat this bill, a bond was forced between hoover and coolidge. it was to be the most important and consequential bond of their relationship. in the early months of coolidge's presidency, hoover had another opportunity to
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cement new ties to his chief. in 1923, california's senator announced he would seek the republican nomination in 1924. johnson was already an archenemy of hoover. he had challenged him in california's presidential primary. with hoover's assistance and a blessing, his california faction swung into action on behalf of coolidge, and when the votes were counted in the 1924 california primary, coolidge had administered a humiliating defeat to johnson, thereby clearing the last hurdle to an easy nomination. more gratifying perhaps to hoover, his well organized supporters had secured his ascendancy over johnson in the california republican party, and remember that california was hoover's political home during
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that period, he was a resident at stanford, and this ascendancy was a decisive step in hoover's own quest for the white house. as it happened, herbert hoover nearly became coolidge's running mate in 1924. at the republican national convention, after aborted efforts to nominate two other men for vice president who were not interested, hoover's campaign manager declared that hoover be chosen as coolidge's running mate. it was too late. throughout the convention, any many party leaders had resented butler, and ways of now, they took their revenge. furious at butler, and many of them not too keen on hoover anyway, the old stalwarts
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successfully nominated charles g dawes to be coolidge's running mate. it is unlikely that hoover would have tried if he thought president coolidge would have disapproved. hoover actively campaigned for the coolidge-dawes ticket. afterward, coolidge asked hoover to remain in the cabinet. the secretary of commerce excepted. in 1925, coolidge took the presidential oath of office or a new term. no longer warren harding legacy, coolidge's price goals were
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taxcutting, debt reduction and economy in government. conservative goals. the cabinet officer on whom he most relied to implement these was the secretary of the treasury. as the economic boom known as coolidge prosperity took hold in the mid-1920's, the secretary of treasury's influence increased. this did not mean that hoover's influence quickly waned. in size and reputation and governmental appropriation, the department of commerce continued to grow. between 1921 and 1928, it almost doubled its congressional appropriation. in many areas of such as regulation of radio and promotion of commercial aviation and many other fields, hoover was in the forefront and remained there in government
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policy making. it was saying he was secretary of congress and undersecretary every other department. it was observed, "there is more hoover in the administration than anyone else, except in the newspapers and political field, there is more hoover in the administration than coolidge." temperamentally, of course, the gap between the persisted. like many other people, the secretary of commerce found the president peculiar. uber never forgot -- hoover they hadgot the dinner at the white house once. in the distance was a portrait of john quincy adams. evidently, the reflection of the light on adams' bald countenance distracted and irritated coolidge.
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at the end of the meal, and without explanation, coolidge ordered a servant to bring in a step ladder and rag. coolidge took the rack to the fireplace, rubbed it in ashes, placed the step ladder under the painting, climbed up, and rubbed ashes on adams' shining head . no more glare. ado, coolidgeer d i turned to hoover instantly said, good night. [laughter] dr. nash: for all of the evidence that the hyperactive secretary of commerce was a valued member of the coolidge administration, in late 1925 and 1926, signs multiplied that hoover was becoming disenchanted. one source of his anxiety was growing speculation in the stock market and real estate, trends that were fueled in his opinion by the easy money policies of the federal reserve board.
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unwilling because of his cabinet status to intervene directly with the fed, hoover persuaded a close ally, a senator, to address a set of sharp inquiries to federal reserve officials and in late 1925. it revealed hoover in a characteristic role, the bureaucratic wire puller. working discreetly through willing intermediaries. hoover himself, without mentioning the fed by name, publicly criticized wall street's fever of speculation in his review of economic prospects for 1926. the developing bull market drew no remonstrance from the white house. hoover also believed that coolidge was not being a sufficiently energetic leader in the ongoing struggle over farm relief. despite these private reservations, hoover continued to play the role of loyal lieutenant.
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as he did so during 1926, a number of newspaper began to refer to him as the economic president of the united states. to the apparent annoyance of the white house. "the new york times" even published a glowing article declaring hoover as a veritable one-man cabinet. acutely aware that one misstep could think his presidential ambitions, and the off year election campaign of 1926, hoover conspicuously assisted republican candidates and publicly hailed president coolidge's great work for national rehabilitation. by being such a good political delayr, hoover hoped to conservative doubts about his ideological purity and party regularity.
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early in 1927, hoover had another opportunity to help his president when congress passed another version of the farm relief bill. relying in part on ammunition supplied by commerce secretary, coolidge vetoed the legislation. behind the scenes, however, evidence was accumulating that the friendship of the president and his secretary of commerce had passed its peak. the primary source of friction appears to have been the issue of inland waterway development, an area in which hoover was trying to pass a scheme dismay.dge's evident coolidge warned to not make any
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that camen subjects under the jurisdiction of the department of the interior, rather than the department of commerce. hoover was taken aback and protested his innocence of any transgression. passed.ard moment soon but the one-man cabinet realized more than ever that if he was not careful, he could alienate his boss. despite these and other signs of presidential displeasure, in 1927, coolidge asked hoover to help coordinate the response to a flood along the mississippi river, the worst natural disaster up to that point in american history. hoover immediately took charge of the vast relief effort, and won fresh accolades as a
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managing -- a humanitarian hero and master of emergencies. president coolidge commended his great service. for his part, hoover seemed anxious that spring and summer to proclaim his public fealty to his employer in the white house. as a speculation intensified about whether coolidge would run for president again, hoover let it be known that he himself was not a candidate and that he favored coolidge for another term in office. on july 20, 1927, arrived in the blackver arrived in the hills of south dakota, where he briefed the vacationing president about the mississippi valley flood recovery needs. coolidge may have feared his ubiquitous commerce secretary may have asked him to open flood relief. the atmosphere in south dakota seems to have been anything but
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cordial. when hoover stepped off the train, a secret service agent met him. the president did not get out of his car. when hoover came over to the waiting automobile, coolidge greeted him without a smile. later, the two men were chauffeured to the president's office in rapid city. for the entire drive, 30 miles, neither man spoke to the other. [laughter] dr. nash: less than two weeks later, hoover was vacationing in california when a telegram arrived from the associated press. it read, "president coolidge issues statement as follows, i do not choose to run for president in 1928. please telephone or telegraph your views of president's statement." suddenly, a path to the white house was open. or was it? in reconstruction the next phase in the coolidge-hoover relationship, it may help to
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recall that coolidge was both a stubborn vermont yankee and a lover of practical jokes. certainly this least flamboyant of presidents must have relished the perplexity that his cryptic announcement produced in the nation's political elite. what did the president mean, and how much did he mean it? for the next 10 months, hoover and other politically attuned americans struggled to divine the answer. 's stunning thunderbolt posed a media problems for hoover. the secretary of commerce could ill afford to look overly ambitious, at least not until the president's own intentions were certain. if for hoover, the future still seemed murky, for coolidge it was apparently altogether clear. sometime in the autumn of 1927, the president was out on one of
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his frequent strolls in downtown washington with his secret service escort and friend, edmund w. starling. suddenly, coolidge spoke. "well, they're going to elect that superman hoover, and he is going to have some trouble. he is going to have to spend money, but he will not spend enough. then, the the democrats will come in and spend money like water, but they don't know anything about money. then they will want me to come back and save some money for them, but i won't do it." [laughter] dr. nash: is this anecdote recorded in starling's memoirs is accurate, it was one of the most prescient remarks coolidge ever made. one area they diverged was the ir attitude toward the surging
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stock market. by early 1928, prices on the new york stock exchange had advanced to record levels. abetted by a staggering growth in brokers loans. on january 6, president coolidge was asked at a news conference whether the amount of loans was now dangerously high. relying upon information from the treasury department, the president replied that he saw no signs that the amount was "large enough to call particularly unfavorable comment." upon hearing this presidential benediction, the stock market soared again. when hoover heard this, he was incredulous. turning to an aide, he asked, did coolidge say that? actually, coolidge himself had
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qualms about the credit expansion that was driving the stock market upward, but for a variety of reasons he kept them quiet and declined to intervene. as he put it to a relative of a few days later, "i regard myself as a representative of the government and not as an individual. when technical matters arose," he turned them over to a government agency and use the feedback for his official stance. "that does not prevent me from thinking as i please as an individual." and, as an individual, he considered any loan for what he considered gambling on stocks to be an excessive loan. hoover's perception of the presidential office was to be far more expensive. meanwhile, coolidge's attitude toward hoover was becoming more critical. in the wake of the mississippi
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flood disaster and the shower of accolades heaped upon the secretary of commerce, coolidge began to privately disparage hoover as the miracle worker and wonder boy. nonetheless, coolidge posed no objections to hoover running for president when hoover on at least two occasions went to the white house and tried to clarify coolidge's desire. hoover made it plain that it coolidge was still thinking of running, hoover would step aside. but, he got no clearer answer on that. in february of 1928, hoover confirmed his candidacy for presidency. coolidge remained scrupulously neutral in the developing presidential campaign.
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privately, an agitated hoover was not so sure. hoover was fully cognizant that much of the opposition to his candidacy was coming from conservative republicans plotting for a deadlocked convention and then a last-minute draft of coolidge. furthermore, hoover believed, as he later wrote a friend, that coolidge considered him a somewhat dangerous liberal. from day-to-day, hoover lived in fear that the enigmatic man in the white house would in some way intervene and deprive him of the great prize. meanwhile, in washington, the mcnary haugen monster had once again reared its head. only weeks before the republican convention of 1928, congress enacted yet another version of this farm relief panacea so loathed by coolidge and hoover. coolidge vetoed the measure. for hoover, the president's
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scathing rebuff of the measure was a mixed blessing. on the one hand, he was in accord with coolidge and eastern wing of the republican party. it also through a massive a massive roadblock in front of hoover's rivals for the nomination, some of whom, such as the governor of illinois, had endorsed the legislation. on the other hand, the divisive controversy threatened to sunder the republican party and unite the affection of the farm belt states to the democrats. in a bid to quell the aquarian -- agrarian rebellion, the secretary of agriculture asked the president in may to send a special message to congress urging enactment of an alternative farm bill sponsored by himself and hoover.
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in this way, the farm states could be appeased. but coolidge was not to be moved. when he was asked outright, he exploded. "that man has offered me unsolicited advice for six years, all of it bad." the final weeks before the convention were a time of high drama as for and anti-hoover forces worked. despite tremendous pressures from conservative republicans, coolidge refused to give the signal that even then could have stopped hoover. yet, if coolidge did not interfere and did not want the nomination, he was not
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necessarily gratified by the convention's outcome. as it happened, the president was on his way by train to wisconsin for a summer vacation when the republican party chose his successor. when coolidge received the news of hoover's victory, the secret service agent who was with him never forgot his reaction. his face betraying anger, the president bluntly ordered the agent to get him a bottle of whiskey. at this point, one might ask, if coolidge was so unenthusiastic about hoover, why did he not try in some way to thwart hoover's pursuit of the prize? appears to have believed a sitting president should not influence his successor. reasond, less abstract
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-- the lack of first-class alternatives. vice president charles dawes mcnary haguenism. another contender also embraced that bill. had it not been for that bill veto, he might have won the nomination over hoover in the end. that was the great roadblock. this dearth of acceptable rivals of hoover underscores the mcnary centrality of the mcnary haugen controversy in the 1920's. common this essential ground between them, it is doubtful hoover could have become coolidge's successor. in the next several months, the now familiar coolidge-hoover
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pattern repeatedly manifested itself. public correctness and private strain. on july 16, the republican nominee and his wife visited the presidential retreat in the wisconsin woods. at the outset, it was an awkward encounter. when the two men met, the president was not smiling. it was left to the two wives to do the smiling. a few minutes later, the two men sat solemnly for photographers. when asked by one of them to carry on a conversation, the president turned to hoover and made some remarks. hoover smiled but made no reply. the president spoke to him again. once more, his guest smiled but said nothing. turning to the photographers, coolidge said, "i am sorry, i am willing, but i cannot get mr. hoover to keep up his end of the
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conversation." this was a switch. silent cal unable to get hoover to speak. mrs. coolidge and mrs. hoover or were greatly amused. time does not permit a recitation of the excruciating process by which hoover and his allies now struggled to secure coolidge's enthusiastic endorsement of the ticket. several times in the summer and fall, coolidge issued words of public support but never, it seems, warmly enough or probably best promptly -- or promptly enough to satisfy republican activists. nor did coolidge campaign for his party's nominee. he told visitors that he did not consider it dignified for a president to deliver speeches in a political campaign. in the end, just four days before the election, coolidge, ever the party regular, finally gave hoover an extraordinarily effusive public endorsement in a
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prearranged telegram that evoke d sensational newspaper headlines. hoover, he declared, had shown his fitness to be president. hoover, said coolidge, was able, experienced, trustworthy and safe. hoover was grateful. republican leaders were jubilant and relieved. when hoover won in a landslide, coolidge held the result of an endorsement of his own administration and announced he could now retire from office in contentment. the president's term still had four months to run. and he was known to be touchy about his prerogatives. no doubt with these sensitivities in mind, hoover proposed that he, hoover, take a semi official goodwill tour of latin america after the election. coolidge agreed. and so, from november 19, 1928
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until early january 1929, hoover not only stayed out of washington, better still, he stayed out of the country. on march 4, 1929, fulfilling an ambition that had touched his soul for a decade or longer, herbert hoover became president of the united states. he had done so without ever having held an elected public office. for an hour and a half during the ceremonies, he and calvin coolidge stood, sat and walked side-by-side without saying a word to each other. in his inaugural address, hoover politely paid tribute to his predecessor. when the ceremonies of the capital were over, the two men said goodbye, and the ex-president took a train home to new england. coolidge's exit from washington did not mean he left the
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national stage, much as hoover might have desired it. for the next four years, as coolidge's prosperity curdled into depression, the promising yankee in massachusetts cast a troubling shadow over his successor. as the great depression intensified, talk of replacing hoover in 1932 with another candidate circulated widely among republican leaders. hoover could never be sure when a challenge to his renomination might interrupt from party rupt from party conservatives, or from that republican progressives. hoover knew that coolidge could've taken the price from him in 1928 at any time, and the coolidge faction had only grudgingly acquiesced at hoover's selection. the man in the white house therefore kept an anxious eye on the former president.
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hoover was soon convinced that coolidge was preparing to be a candidate for president again or someone close to coolidge would challenge hoover's bid for renomination. publicly, of course, and by now we should not expect otherwise, the two men maintained a carefully respectful relationship. they even met on a couple of ceremonial occasions. if coolidge had reservations about his successor's policies, he did not discuss them in public, nor did coolidge undercut the incumbent with the any proposals of his own, despite incessant pleading that he do so. as it happened, hoover need not have fretted about coolidge's political ambitions. ever the party loyalist and burdened by failing health, the former president had no intention of running again. in the spring of 1932, he gave no encouragement when his
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diehard supporters attended to -- attempted to draft him for the ticket. he and his allies quashed the insurrection. in september, coolidge told a friend it would be a great calamity if hoover were not reelected. coolidge made two forceful public speeches on behalf of his successor. one was at madison square garden. it was coolidge's turn to be the loyal lieutenant. his argument was a classically conservative case for a man he had once disparaged as a meddlesome liberal. herbert hoover was almost pathetically grateful. almost two months after the election, calvin coolidge died suddenly. hoover was shocked and attended his funeral in northampton. perhaps partly in gratitude for coolidge's contribution for the
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republican campaign, hoover in the years to come tended to suppress their past differences. in 1934,rrespondent he denied ever been any friction between coolidge and himself. the acute underlining since of senseense -- underlying of vexation that they came to feel about each other was lacking in hoover's later reminiscences. long after his predecessor passed away, hoover perpetuated the patina of diplomatic correctness that had marked the relationship in life. personal factors may also have contributed to his self-restraint. during the 1920's, coolidge's wife and hoover's wife had friends whoear
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corresponded for years. they eventually had nicknames for each other in the letters they exchanged. mrs. coolidge was known as lily, or sometimes easter lily. mrs. hoover was bleeding heart. i think this derived from their custom of exchanging those plans on easter sunday. they did that for a number of years. ,erbert hoover, meanwhile corresponded at times with mrs. coolidge on several occasions. in 1962 at the age of 88, he enthusiastically accepted the invitation of coolidge's son , john, to join the advisory board of the new calvin coolidge memorial foundation and urged him to establish a coolidge presidential library. thus, the norms of politeness prevailed over full public disclosure of hoover's often tense relationship with calvin coolidge.
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and what more need now be said? political parties are alliances of the factions. only three times in the 20th century, 1908, 1928 and 1988, did an elected candidate of one party succeed in office and elected incumbent of the same party. such intraparty successions can be fraught with peril, for they such intraparty successions can be fraught with peril, for they entail the ascendancy of a new faction within the coalition. trouble can soon result. if calvin coolidge have been a younger man and less of an organization man, the republican party might have engaged in factional warfare in 1932 as it did in 1912 and 1992. and for some of the same reasons. the convoluted hoover-coolidge story illustrates something
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else. the republican party in the 1920's was no monolith. in the nuances of these two men's relationship, we can see in microcosm, some of the fault lines in a decade more intriguing than is normally perceived. thank you. [applause] >> my history is not that good, but who were the presidents of those last three elections you mentioned, 1992, and the two others previous to that?
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dr. nash: in 1908, that was when taft succeeded teddy roosevelt. the same party and so forth. within two years, the republican party was in a civil war between the cap supporters and roosevelt people. in 1928, hoover of course was succeeding coolidge. and hoover was winning out over the considerable opposition of the eastern conservative wing of the republican party that did not trust him. in a 1988, it was george bush, the first george bush succeeding ronald reagan, and there were tensions that developed rather quickly between the bush people and residual reagan people. in 1992, that is one of the factors that permitted clinton to win, and coolidge became a one term president, as it did hoover and taft, for some other reasons, but i think the factional aspect was important. >> thank you.
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>> thanks. i wonder if you could talk about the hoover-coolidge foreign policy, especially toward europe. i'm thinking of the american loans flowing into germany in particular. were they on the same page in your view on america's relationship to europe? dr. nash: did everyone here the question? the question is, what about the relationship between hoover and coolidge in terms of foreign-policy differences or similarities? this was a period when the
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united states was not in the league of nations, that not a period in which we were truly isolationist, as that term is sometimes used, because there were many informal relationships between american businesses, great banks like j.p. morgan and so forth, loaning money partly to prop up germany and help in the rehabilitation of europe. hoover as the secretary of commerce considered that aspect of our considerable economic interaction with your as part of his sphere of responsibility. this ended up putting him at odds at times with the state department and with the new york banking elite. hoover argued that the u.s. government should oversee, or basically get approval to major foreign loans that were going to all sorts of european countries, cities, governments and so forth. hoover said much of this could be spent on arms rather than on constructive, productive purposes for rehabilitation of
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these countries. why should we, the american people, be permitting money to be loaned out in this way? this sentiment was it also the state department to some degree. hoover wanted more supervision of a state department did and certainly was at loggerheads with the morgan partners, who felt hoover was a meddlesome bureaucrat interacting with private transactions, private economic activity. so hoover was in a sense more interventionist than the financial sector or maybe you could say the coolidge administration wanted to be. hoover i think for time was hoping that harding would somehow, as was indicated earlier, see his way to renegotiate the treaty, if you will, making a new deal under better terms with the europeans in the aftermath of the first world war. but hoover thought that was not
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likely to happen. hoover was a very global minded. i don't have the sense that coolidge was carrying all that much, but hoover put attaches of the commerce department in major indices, of our indices, to collect data, statistics on how much coal is being produced in germany and that sort of thing. data that would be useful for the purposes of the government and private government over here. that kind of activity put the attaches somewhat in competition with the state department attaches, and there were turf wars. hoover was at loggerheads with hughes in the first term, for example, and hoover often had conflicts with other departments of which he was the so-called undersecretary, and they sometimes resented what they saw was him exceeding his sphere of proper responsibility. but part of hoover's condition for taking the job in the first place with harding, who was an
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accommodating individual, was that commerce affects nearly everything, so hoover had a very expansive understanding of the proper scope of his agency. you have to understand in the context of the 20's come up when hoover started, the department had only been in existence for about 20 years. his predecessor told him, all you have to do is turn out lighthouses and see the fish are sleeping at night, basically nothing to do. that was not hoover's temperament or philosophy. he rapidly transformed the commerce department to the point it became, i would say still by far, the most active and influential secretary of commerce with ever had. that expansion of influence was not particularly, it was not easily in character with the kind of coolidge program of debt reduction and so on. hoover was also on the release, the debt commission for europe.
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he was particularly interested in belgium. my sense is that hoover was not a believer in extracting every dime that the allies owed us from war death, something like $10 billion. privately he had been willing to make some compromises. at one point he said some of the money should be used to set up cultural exchange, educational funds for people rather than just taking the money back. coolidge's attitude was, they hired the money, didn't they? his attitude was, all right, i think i am fairly stating his position that basically the allies borrowed the money, they should pay it back and uncle sam is the lender and should receive what is properly due. hoover might have been more flexible. but when hoover became president, he found out that
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congress was not in and internationalist mood and not anxious to make too many rearrangements along these lines. he had to toward the end publicly claim he was not seeking to renegotiate the terms of the world war i debts more than he might have been put into a harder line stands than in his heart he believed, but he saw the political difficulties and had to accommodate to that. i would say that the coolidge policy would've been correct relationships, who pretended to look toward toward economic growth. hoover was also -- i think he was moderately a tariff man, i think he felt he had to tread carefully, and initial in
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presidency, he was a little unsure of his footing. worried about the political types. i think he got more assertive toward the end. >> tom mentioned that you are working on a book on hoover and franklin roosevelt. would you talk a little bit of a hoover and franklin roosevelt in the 1920's come in particular? roosevelt is out of office and emerges as a candidate for governer. dr. nash: i still have some of the book to write about hoover and roosevelt. to set the stage a little bit, hoover and roosevelt had some contact during the war in the wilson administration period. on a number of occasions through a common friend they would get together for informal dinners and things like that. the roosevelts, both of them, came to think very highly of
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hoover. here is the fact some of you already know, frank and roosevelt wanted hoover to run to be the democratic nomination as hoover's successor -- rather, wilson's successor in 1920. he even wrote a letter saying that he wished hoover could be president, there could not be a better one. roosevelt did become the running mate of the democratic presidential nominee in 1920. i believe, and my research i helpful demonstrate this, that roosevelt, who was encouraging a democratic pro hoover -- that he hoped to be hoover's running mate. he did become the running mate, but not of hoover. their wartime association and aftermath, which led to a cordial but not intimate
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friendship, did not cease because they still have contacts on occasion, but they were going and politically different directions. hoover had become a republican, and roosevelt was a democrat and seeking to overcome polio and rehabilitate his career. in 1928, hoover was running for president and roosevelt that year, somewhat against his own inclination, was kind of coerced almost into running for governor of new york to help the democrats carry that state. that was when hoover was running against smith. roosevelt one very narrowly, while hoover was carrying the state by over 100,000 votes. a lot of tickets living. that established roosevelt immediately in 1929 as governor of the largest state with the most electoral votes in the country and potential heir to
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the white house. certain things happened, i don't have time to get into the details, but roosevelt saw through correspondence as a loyal democrat to get people to support smith. he wrote letters to businessmen saying smith would be friendlier to business them herbert hoover, my old friend. this eventually got back to hoover, who thought this was rather not a nice thing to say, from one friend to another. the seeds of the great split were sown in 1928 and things happened thereafter dissolved the friendship. there is much more to the story, but that should suffice for an answer to your question on the 1920's. they were initially friendly, he became rivals, and even before they became rivals, they sensed they were rivals, and that made the relationship ultimately
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untenable. >> thank you, george. let's thank george for his presentation. [applause] c-span is in spokane, washington with our comcast cable partners as we explore that rich history and literary scene. tvay at 7:30 p.m. book features the history of spokane with the author of a historian. >> spokane was built by the money from the mining district. they have the gold strike and goldrush. to a silver strike. it was one of the largest producing silver areas in the united states. a lot of the mansions and big buildings are all built from the
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mining money. >> the life of one of the most significant environment years and father of the parks department james hunt talks about his book. he was probably one of the most significant environmental thinkers, leaders. antigonus ofy the the parks department. >> on sunday at 2:00 p.m. the firstey look at environmentally themed world affairs. >> spokane was one of the small cities in the world to post the world's fair. it was the first environmental world's fair. the first to use the environment as a theme. it is followed closely by 1972 with earth day. there was a great consciousness around the world with environmentalism. and a obsession
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of expo 74. >> c-span's cities to her in spokane, washington. at 2:00 p.m. on american history tv on c-span3. working with our cable affiliates and visiting cities across the country. >> labor day weekend on american history tv on c-span3. at 8:00 p.m. eastern tonight fears of overpopulation. quite some of the issues talked about -- pesticides was a big one. pollution was a big one. nonrenewable resources, things like oil and gasoline. one somethingig that really overshadowed that earth day was the prospect of
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global famine due to overpopulation of the earth. >> sunday on the presidency. the friendship between hoover and truman. grexit is easy to overlook the fact that people have roots in farming community stated they had known economic hardship. they were transformed by the configuration of world war i. they lived in the shadow of franklin d. roosevelt. >> monday that 1967 detroit riot. >> we prefer to think of it as a rebellion. all of the energy and anger that went into that moment had long been predicted. people have been begging for a remedy for the discrimination, the police brutality, the economic discrimination. the frustration could not be understood. it was a rebellion. three-day labor day weekend
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on american history tv on c-span3. >> up next on american history tv, holocaust survivor josaine traum recalls her family's experience after germany invaded belgium and imposed anti-semitic laws. she talks about her parents' resistance to the nazi regime and her time in hiding. it was part of the united states holocaust memorial museum's first-person series. >> good morning, and welcome to the united states holocaust memorial museum. i am part of the museums public program. we are in the 18th year of the first person program, and our first person today is mrs. josaine traum, who you will meet shortly. this is made possible by the generosity of the lewis franklin smith foundation with additional funding from the arlene and


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