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Herbert Hoover: The 31st President, 1929-1933

Despised at home, Hoover was a savior to many Europeans

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In July of 1932, in the depths of the Great Depression, President Herbert Hoover ordered Gen. Douglas MacArthur to rout the so-called “bonus army”: US veterans who had come to Washington, D.C., seeking advance bonus payments.

During the night, MacArthur used tanks to drive the veterans and their families out of their makeshift settlements, after which infantry prodded them with bayonets, fired tear-gas canisters, and torched their shelters.

No episode, writes William Leuchtenburg in Herbert Hoover: The 31st President, 1929-1933, “so fixed in the mind of Americans the conviction that Hoover was cold and heartless.”

Leuchtenburg, an emeritus professor of history at the University of North Carolina and a Franklin Roosevelt scholar, argues convincingly that Hoover wasn’t responsible for the Great Depression, but was in fact a “more complex, more interesting man” than many caricatures of him have suggested.

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