6 November 1928: Herbert Hoover elected US president

On this day in 1928, Herbert Hoover won the US presidential election, ushering in an era of disastrous economic policies.

In a recent poll of American historians, Herbert Hoover was ranked as the seventh-worst president. However, in early life, he was extremely successful.

He was born in 1874; by the age of 40 he had accumulated a fortune of $4m through setting up his own mining consultancy. During World War I he threw himself into humanitarian work, organising food relief for occupied Belgium and helping the post-war recovery.

He was so popular that members of both parties encouraged him to run for president. He failed to become the Republican candidate, but in 1920 was appointed secretary of commerce by then-president Warren Harding. He used the post to try to improve industrial safety and labour relations.

In November 1928, he became president in a landslide victory over Democrat Al Smith. Unluckily for Hoover, he came to office as a credit-fuelled boom was ending. The September 1929 stockmarket crash heralded the unravelling of the financial system. But his decision to sign the protectionist Smoot-Hawley Act didn't help, leading to a global trade war. And his efforts to stop firms from cutting wages or prices saw them slash production instead.

His insistence on a balanced budget further hit demand, turning recession into brutal depression. While his wartime humanitarian efforts saw the Finns add the word "Hoover" to their language, the slums that sprung up around major American cities became known as "Hoovervilles".

Hoover lost the 1932 presidential election to Franklin Roosevelt, and left the White House in March 1933 with unemployment at 25.6% and large numbers of American banks on the brink of collapse.

Recommended

27 February 1900: The launch of the Labour Party
This day in history

27 February 1900: The launch of the Labour Party

Responding to the need for a single political party to represent the trade unions, the Labour Party was formed on this day in 1900.
27 Feb 2021
24 February 1981: Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer announce their engagement
This day in history

24 February 1981: Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer announce their engagement

On this day in 1981, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer made their engagement official in front of the world's press at Buckingham Palace.
24 Feb 2021
24 February 1809: Drury Lane theatre burns down
This day in history

24 February 1809: Drury Lane theatre burns down

On this day in 1809, celebrated playwright Richard Sheridan was effectively ruined when the Drury Lane theatre went up in smoke.
24 Feb 2021
23 February 1963: The case of the electrified Land Rover
This day in history

23 February 1963: The case of the electrified Land Rover

On this day in 1963, an unsuspecting bobby gets a shock when he stumbles upon an electrified Land Rover.
23 Feb 2021

Most Popular

What is “yield curve control” and why is it coming to a central bank near you?
Government bonds

What is “yield curve control” and why is it coming to a central bank near you?

Central banks around the world are determined not to let interest rates go up too quickly or by too much – a practice known as “yield curve control”. …
1 Mar 2021
Expect more turbulence as the market calls central bankers’ bluff
Stockmarkets

Expect more turbulence as the market calls central bankers’ bluff

With bond yields climbing and stockmarkets sliding, markets are hoping central bankers will step in again to repress interest rates – but that won’t …
26 Feb 2021
Why you should still put money into a cash Isa
Cash ISAs

Why you should still put money into a cash Isa

Interest rates may be lousy, but tax-free saving into a cash Isa is still a good idea.
23 Feb 2021