President Herbert Hoover 1930

Hoover seeks in vain to combat tough times, Aug. 15, 1930


On this day (August 15th) 1930, President Herbert Hoover held a news conference in which he set out his plans to help people affected by a series of devastating droughts. The droughts, combined with a stock market crash in October 1929, led to a downward economic spiral that lasted throughout much of the 1930s and came to be known as the Great Depression.

In response to widespread drought conditions, the president called for a mass mobilization of aid workers. He called on governors to draft ideas on how best to provide relief to the rising ranks of the unemployed. He ordered the War Department to provide artillery-range land to Montana farmers where they could graze their parched cattle and sheep. Read more.


On this day (August 15) 2017, President Donald Trump held a news conference in which he …

… At a stunning press conference Tuesday (August 15, 2017), President Donald Trump essentially took back his delayed, tepid denunciation of neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and other white nationalists who incited Saturday’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. He even described some as “very fine people.” …  Read More

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Article from the Kiowa County Signal, March 13, 2017

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born and raised in a privileged family in Hyde Park, New York. He was tutored at home until age 14, and after attending a private school for his high school years, graduated from Harvard College.

FDR became governor of New York just before the stock market crash in 1929. He was re-elected in 1930 with the Great Depression underway, and his leadership in New York during that difficult time was part of the reason he was elected president of the United States in 1932.

President Roosevelt promised a “New Deal” to help lead America out of the Great Depression. This included, among other aspects, stabilizing the banking system and creating jobs. His administration created the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Civil Works Administration, which provided jobs building bridges, roads and airports, cleaning beaches and planting trees. The Tennessee Valley Authority created jobs that helped bring electricity and roads to parts of the country that didn’t have them.

FDR communicated with the country through “fireside chats,” speaking often to the American populace over the radio. FRD had integrity and his words had meaning.

Read More

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1930: Tariffs and Walls

Reed Smoot and the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, 1930

Jeffrey D. Nichols
History Blazer, April 1995

During the 1930s the economies of all of the industrialized nations suffered dramatic declines in production, trade, and employment levels. Already weakened by the human and economic toll of World War I, war debt repayment, and trade imbalances with the United States, foreign nations were confronted in 1930 with the highest tariff barriers in U. S. history. The chief architect of the American protectionist legislation was Utah’s Senator Reed Smoot.

When Smoot entered Congress in 1903 the nation was operating under the Dingley Tariff of 1897, at the time the highest in the nation’s history. Smoot, appointed to the Senate Finance Committee in 1908, quickly became an expert on tariff issues, mastering the complex and arcane tariff schedules on a variety of goods and becoming a firm and unyielding advocate of high duties. The Utahn was particularly concerned throughout his political career with the tariffs on sugar and wool, two major Utah products that competed with imports. While Republicans held power they were able to keep the tariff relatively high. When Democrats took the presidency and both houses of Congress in 1912, tariffs were sharply reduced.

 The return of Republicans to national power in 1920 led to a resumption of protectionist legislation. By now a power in the Senate, Smoot was a close economic adviser to Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover. In 1923 the Fordney-McCumber Tariff raised rates again, including those on Cuban sugar, a direct competitor with Utah’s beet sugar industry. With Smoot’s ascension to the chairmanship of the Finance Committee even higher rates were assured. In 1930 President Hoover signed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff which boosted average duties on imports to 53 percent, the highest in American history.

In retaliation, some twenty-five nations raised their duties, making American goods more expensive.

Here's what happened following the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff act. (Image: Bank of America Merrill Lynch)

Here’s what happened following the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff act. (Image: Bank of America Merrill Lynch)

Smoot never fully acknowledged the unintended consequences of his legislation. In fact, he argued in the depths of the depression that the rate might not be high enough. 

Sources: James B. Allen, “The Great Protectionist: Sen. Reed Smoot of Utah,” Utah Historical Quarterly 45 (1977); Mary Beth Norton et al., A People and a Nation (Boston, 1990). READ MORE


That was yesterday’s news – now let’s see what is happening today.

The Depressing 1930s chart shows what happened the last time we had Trump-like trade policy

Does Donald Trump really want to implement a 1930s-style protectionist trade policy? READ MORE

Article by Sam Ro May 29, 2016 

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