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When March 4th dawned, it was dark and gloomy in Washington. The weather seemed to reflect the mood of the nation. FDR began his day at a prayer service at the St. John’s Episcopal Church. Reverend Endicott Peabody from Groton presided over the service. FDR arrived in his car at the North portfolio of the White House at 11 a.m. President Hoover joined Roosevelt in the car. Mrs. Hoover entered a separate car with Eleanor Roosevelt to travel the short two-mile ride up Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capital.
The outgoing Vice President, Charles Curtis, swore in John Nance Garner first. Then the crowd headed to the inaugural stand outside. With the help of his son James, Franklin Roosevelt then made the 146-foot walk to the rostrum. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Charles Evan Hughes was waiting to greet the President and administer the oath. Also waiting for FDR was the Dutch family Bible brought to the new world by Roosevelt’s ancestors in the 1650’s. After taking the oath of office and waiting for the artillery cannons to stop their 21-gun salute, FDR began one of the most renowned inaugural addresses. Beginning with the words: “This is a day of national consecration.” Roosevelt went on to speak the most memorable words of the day: “This great nation will endure, as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So first of all, let me assert my firm belief that ‘the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself’.”
The words of Franklin Roosevelt’s address seemed to lift the nation– at least temporarily– from its depression. After the inauguration, Roosevelt partook in a quick lunch, after which he stood for almost three hours and reviewed one of the longest inaugural parades on record going by. Following the parade, Roosevelt then went into the White House and joined the cabinet– all of whom had been confirmed by the Congress that day– and attended their official swearing in ceremony. After that ceremony, Roosevelt went downstairs to greet 13 children with polio who had come from Warm Springs. FDR did not attend the inaugural balls that evening. Instead, Roosevelt turned in at 10:30 p.m., after reflecting with Louis Howe on what they had accomplished.
A political realignment occurs when a particular group or class of voters changes or in other words realigns with a political party or candidate who they vote for in a particular election—known as a "critical election" or this realignment may be spread out over a number of elections. On the other hand, “dealignment” occurs when a voter becomes disenfranchised with his or her current political party and either chooses not to vote or becomes an independent.
These political realignments take place in elections involving the U.S. presidency and the U.S. Congress and are signified by power changes of the Republican and Democratic parties that constitute ideological changes in both issues and party leaders. Other important factors are legislative changes that affect campaign financing rules and voter eligibility. Central to realignment is that there is a change in voters' behavior and priorities.
V. O. Key, Jr. and Realigning Elections
American political scientist V.O. Key, Jr. is most well-known for his contributions to behavioral political science, with his major impact being on election studies. In his 1955 article "A Theory of Critical Elections," Key explained how the Republican Party became dominant between 1860 and 1932 and then how this dominance shifted to the Democratic Party after 1932 by using empirical evidence to identify a number of election which Key termed as “critical,” or “realigning” which resulted in American voters changing their political party affiliations.
While Key specifically starts with 1860 which was the year that Abraham Lincoln was elected, other scholars and political scientists have identified and/or recognized that there have been systematic patterns or cycles which have regularly taken place in the U.S. national elections. While these scholars are not in agreement as to the duration of these patterns: periods that range from every 30 to 36 years as opposed to 50 to 60 years it does appear that the patterns have some relationship with generational change.
Adolf Hitler becomes president of Germany
On August 19, 1934, Adolf Hitler, already chancellor, is also elected president of Germany in an unprecedented consolidation of power in the short history of the republic.
In 1932, German President Paul von Hindenburg, old, tired, and a bit senile, had won re-election as president, but had lost a considerable portion of his right/conservative support to the Nazi Party. Those close to the president wanted a cozier relationship to Hitler and the Nazis. Hindenburg had contempt for the Nazis’ lawlessness, but ultimately agreed to oust his chancellor, Heinrich Bruning, for Franz von Papen, who was willing to appease the Nazis by lifting the ban on Hitler’s Brown Shirts and unilaterally canceling Germany’s reparation payments, imposed by the Treaty of Versailles at the close of World War I.
But Hitler was not appeased. He wanted the chancellorship for himself. Papen’s policies failed on another front: His authoritarian rule alienated his supporters, and he too was forced to resign. He then made common cause with Hitler, persuading President Hindenburg to appoint Hitler chancellor and himself vice-chancellor. He promised the president that he would restrain Hitler’s worst tendencies and that a majority of the Cabinet would go to non-Nazis. As Hindenburg’s current chancellor could no longer gain a majority in the Reichstag, and Hitler could bring together a larger swath of the masses and a unified right/conservative/nationalist coalition, the president gave in. In January 1933, Hitler was named chancellor of Germany.
But that was not enough for Hitler either. In February 1933, Hitler blamed a devastating Reichstag fire on the communists (its true cause remains a mystery) and convinced President Hindenburg to sign a decree suspending individual and civil liberties, a decree Hitler used to silence his political enemies with false arrests. Hitler then proceeded to purge the Brown Shirts (his storm troopers), the head of which, Ernst Röhm, had began voicing opposition to the Nazi Party’s terror tactics. Hitler had Röhm executed without trial, which encouraged the army and other reactionary forces within the country to urge Hitler to further consolidate his power by merging the presidency and the chancellorship. Hindenburg died of lung cancer on August 2, 1934.ਊ plebiscite vote was held on August 19. Intimidation, and fear of the communists, brought Hitler a 90 percent majority. He was now, for all intents and purposes, dictator.
The Election of 1932: Photographs of FDR
In my book I use this picture of Franklin Roosevelt arriving at the capital in 1932. Now we have a picture before that of Roosevelt riding with Herbert Hoover from the White House to the capital. These are two men who had been friends since 1917, they had worked together in the Woodrow Wilson administration, they had considered running as a Hoover/Roosevelt ticket for the Democrats in 1920, except that Hoover decided that he was really a Republican and went for them and Roosevelt went for vice president that year on the Democratic ticket. Then they sort of drifted apart, and in 1928 Roosevelt became governor of New York, Hoover became president and then they became rivals in 1932. Their relationship became more and more bitter to the point when they rode from the White House to the capital they practically didn't speak to each other.
At this point they've arrived at the Capital, Hoover is nowhere to be seen, but Roosevelt is out standing with his family. Roosevelt had been stricken with polio in 1921 and he had lost the use of his legs. This was going to be an issue in the election of 1932—would we elect a president who was paralyzed? Hoover knew about Roosevelt's condition and he speculated that the nation would not elect a "half-man" and that Roosevelt might collapse in office. I think Hoover thought that Roosevelt would not be an effective campaigner that he would probably be too weak to carry on a campaign. Roosevelt, in fact, is an enormously vigorous campaigner, [he] spends the time traveling back and forth across the country, being photographed constantly. Hoover, who has been working seven days a week late into the night over the problems of the Depression, has aged terribly in his four years—the photographs of him make him look 82 years old. So Roosevelt looks much healthier and more vigorous than Hoover does.
Roosevelt goes to great lengths to disguise his illness. People wrote stories about it, saying that he had been stricken [with polio] and people knew he had polio, that had been front-page stories in 1921. But, he did not appear in public in a wheelchair, he had leg braces, he had his pants tailored to cover the braces, he walked with a cane, and he always walked with a strong-armed person next to him. During much of the campaign his son James—who is standing here in the bowler hat—was the one who stood next to him. Especially in the back of the trains, when they would step out, the Roosevelt family would be all around him.
Roosevelt had a nice little way of introducing his family to audiences so that you were all part of the family essentially. He would always end with "and my little boy Jimmy," because Jimmy was two or three inches taller than he was and everybody would laugh at that point, but that would diffuse the issue that he was hanging on to Jimmy's arm really to keep himself standing.
So here is Roosevelt dressed for the inauguration, in his top hat, striped pants, the cane, holding on to Jimmy's arm. Standing next to them is Eleanor Roosevelt, who does not look like she's really happy to be there. Eleanor Roosevelt was a very independent-minded person she and her husband had really developed independent lives, especially in the 1820s. She was very politically active and she really did not look forward to him being President of the United States. She did not campaign very much with him, she hated being on smoke-filled trains—which went very slowly, because of Roosevelt's condition he didn't like the train to speed because he was in a wheelchair in the train. So it went relatively slowly across the country. Then you would stop in these little towns everybody got out the back [to] say pretty much the same things to the same types of crowds. The wife was supposed to stand pleasantly on the side, receive a bouquet of flowers, not say anything. Eleanor was just beside herself. She actually left the campaign trail in mid-October to go back to New York to teach in the school—the private school—where she was teaching American history at the time.
She—I'm not even sure she voted for Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, she may have voted for Norman Thomas. She really did not want him to be President of the United States and you can just see this in her body language and the way she's looking at this point. She had great anxiety over what this was going to do to [him]. The irony is that she became a great first lady. She realized this gave her an opportunity to promote all the issues she was interested in, to travel and to do things. But she didn't know that on March 4, 1933, this was all coming in the future.
Now the reason I have this photograph is because of the young man standing on the edge of the picture, looking very nervous, in striped pants and a cut-away: his name is Mark Trice. Mark Trice came to the U.S. capital during World War I as a pageboy and then he stayed that was not uncommon in those days, people were just drawn to politics. He stayed and he worked for the Sergeant at Arms and he was the Deputy Sergeant at Arms in 1933. He was a Republican appointee.
In February of 1933 the U.S. Senate fired the Sergeant at Arms. He knew that he was losing his job because his party had lost the majority. He was an old newspaper reporter and he wrote a story about what he really thought about Congress to be published in the March edition of a magazine, not realizing that the March edition came out in February. When it came out—and when his critical comments about Congress were in there—the Senate called him forward to demand to know what he had in mind, and then fired him. That made Mark Trice the acting Sergeant at Arms for Franklin Roosevelt's inauguration. He was very young, he was very scared, he was also very Republican, which is interesting that he was in charge of this Democratic president's inauguration.
When I came to work for the Senate in 1976, Mark Trice was still around—he had been a variety of functions, he had been the Republican secretary, he'd been the Secretary of the Senate. He was retired at this point but he couldn't keep away from the capital. He'd come to the Senate Historical Office and tell us stories—just sit there and tell wonderful stories. He gave us this photograph and other photographs of the time. We tried desperate to do an oral history interview with him I really wanted to record what he had to say. But he felt that he had kept the confidences of these politicians for so long that he could not record it. And he literally one day ran out of the office when we tried to tape-record his stories that he was telling us. But this photograph from him, I think, is a great keepsake of that moment [and] it tells you a lot about those people and about the way that they're presenting themselves to the world.
Photographs are part of the documentary evidence, they're not exclusive, you can't—unless you've done the research to find out what's really going on here—you can look at this picture and not really realize how Roosevelt is presenting himself. But if you look closely you can notice that there's just something that's a little odd about the cuffs of his pants, the way they've been cut, and they're there to cover these very heavy steel braces that Roosevelt used. There's actually a small piece of the brace that goes underneath the heel that you can see there. When he's sitting down sometimes you can see a little bit more of it.
Franklin Roosevelt only mentioned his braces once in public. That was in January or February of 1945 when he had just come back from Yalta. He went to speak in the House chamber and instead of standing, he sat at a table—it was the only time he ever sat for a major speech like that. He apologized to the Congress, but he said, "With 10 pounds of heavy steal around my legs, it's easier for me to sit down." That was the sole reference he ever made to those braces. You can actually see the braces in other pictures where he's sitting down. But there's just a slight awkwardness to the pose.
He walked by pushing his legs forward. Actually, when he became ill, he developed his upper body so he had very powerful arms and shoulders. And getting on and off of trains they actually built parallel bars and he swung his way down. So he gave the illusion of walking, but he was never able to walk again after he was stricken with polio in 1921.
There's a misconception that Roosevelt hid his polio. The fact of the matter is every year on his birthday children used to send dimes to the March of Dimes in his honor. They would have pieces on newsreels in the movie theaters they would actually raise money at movie theaters. Roosevelt became a poster person for polio victims, and eventually of course, when he dies, they put his face on the dime because of the March of Dimes. His illness actually contributes to the final solution to coming up with a cure for polio or prevention for polio. But what he was really trying to show was that he was not limited by polio. That he could go around, he could get anywhere, he could do anything, even though he couldn't walk well.
Some of the people thought he was just lame. Of course the editorial cartoonists used to draw pictures of Roosevelt running, jumping, jumping out of an airplane in a parachute, chasing a bull with a pitchfork, doing the types of things that editorial cartoonists like to do. Which people had the sense that Roosevelt could move. People could see Roosevelt standing up in the newsreels and all the rest. Now if you were in a crowd who had come to see Roosevelt, you would see that he was in some cases physically lifted out of a car, you could see that he was not able to walk smoothly, but he was able to get from point A to point B. They would often put potted plants and other things in front of him so you didn't see him from the waist down. But it was clear that he wasn't walking easily and freely at that point.
His favorite recreation was sailing, which of course you sit down while you're sailing. And again, he looked very outdoorsy, very healthy, in that respect. He had been a very agile, healthy person before that—one of the better golfers, for instance, who became president. He actually had a small golf course made for himself that he could golf in in his wheel chair for a while. But he projected an image of being able to move around, not being limited. I think that was the main issue.
I think he's disguising his disability he made a great effort not to draw attention to it. His press secretary, whenever he was asked about it, would just say it's not a story. The Democrats had actually prepared a pamphlet in defense of Roosevelt about his health conditions to put out if it became a public issue [but] they never released it during the campaign. The Republicans and just his general opponents—and that included Democrats who ran against him for the nomination—they conducted a whispering campaign about Roosevelt. A lot of the whispering campaign was, "Well, it's not really polio, it's really syphilis!" or "it’s a mental illness," or "it’s a stroke," like Woodrow Wilson. They had terrible scenarios that were spread around and there were lots of rumors. So one reason why Roosevelt was out being vigorous in his campaign was to dispel those rumors.
Again, the fact is, anybody who was aware what the—had been reading the newspapers at all in the 1920s and 1930s was not surprised about the news that Roosevelt had polio or that he didn't walk easily. But Roosevelt went to great lengths to minimize that for instance, at his inauguration there was a viewing stand and they created a chair for him—which was a long pole with a seat—so that he could appear to be standing up for hours while watching this, [but] he was actually sitting down. That was part of the image that he was projecting.
People pose for photographs, this is a posed photograph: Roosevelt is looking "presidential," Eleanor is looking in despair, poor Jimmy is looking a little nervous in the process, and Mark Trice is scared to death. You can just sort of see there all four of them in that image there.
The Election of 1932: Clifford Berryman Cartoon
My project was to write a history of the election of 1932, which is an election that everybody figured they all knew, it was a forgone conclusion that because of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt was going to be elected president. In fact, many accounts reduced the election of 1932 to a single sentence, "The Depression elected Franklin Roosevelt president." So the question is, how do you write a book about something everyone else can write off in a single sentence? I came to the conclusion that people read backwards into history, we know how history ends and we have 20/20 hindsight and we make assumptions from the end. But those who lived through it didn't see the end first, they started at the beginning and they worked their way to the end, much of which was very problematic.
The thing that surprised me when I read the sources was that Herbert Hoover thought he was going to win reelection in 1932, and there were a lot of very good, very competent political commentators who thought he had a very good chance of doing that. Actually, statistically if you look at what was happening in early 1932 there was an upswing in the economy. About a million people went back to work, and business was beginning to move again. Hoover thought that if that continued until November of 1932 he would be reelected it was not a bad assumption in a lot of ways. He thought he could run the traditional 'rose garden' campaign the presidents did in those days. Which [meant] they stayed in the White House and they made official proclamations and they let their cabinet go out and campaign for them. Calvin Coolidge did that in 1924, and it was seen to be unseemly for presidents to get in a train and go around the country and pitch for themselves. So Hoover played a very low-keyed campaign from the time of his nomination in June throughout the summer.
A couple of things happened to change all of his expectations. One was the reason why the economy was coming back was because the Federal Reserve had loosened up on credit in early 1932. And the reason they did that was because Congress, which was in panic over the Depression, was pushing for inflationary solutions—lots of government spending, let's get money into circulation, let's get people back, let's hire people to work and there were all sorts of federal emergency relief programs that were being proposed in Congress. So the Federal Reserve to steer Congress out of that loosened up credit and things were going fine.
Well, in the summer of 1932, Congress adjourned—they went home—which they did, they usually worked for six months of the year and then they were gone for six months a year. The Federal Reserve sort of breathed a great sigh of relief and tightened back up on credit, under the old orthodox financial system they were trying to balance the budget. One way to do this is to tighten up on credit. Well, the economy went into a tailspin, the million people who had gone back to work at the beginning of the year had all lost their jobs, plus more by the end of the year. In fact, the economy went into a total tailspin, even after the election until March of 1933 when Roosevelt was finally inaugurated.
This is happening in the summer and the fall and it takes a while for Hoover to recognize what the public mood really is. The turning point is the main elections in September, and that's what this cartoon by Clifford Berryman—which ran in the Washington Star—depicts. Clifford Berryman was a cartoonist most famous for creating the teddy bear. When Theodore Roosevelt was president he—Theodore Roosevelt—refused to shoot a small bear on a hunting trip and so Berryman created a cartoon about this and the small teddy bear became very popular as a children's toy and that became Berryman's symbol for the rest of his career. He was still drawing cartoons when Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and I think Eisenhower were president his son then took over drawing the cartoons and continued to draw them until Nixon was president. All of those cartoons have been given to the National Archives and they're in the Center for Legislative Archives.
So as I was getting ready to write my book, I contacted the National Archives and I said, "What Berryman cartoons are available for the election of 1932?" One thing you're looking for, of course, are sources that you can use that are not copyrighted, and the Berryman cartoons are all public domain. So, the Archives gave me about a half a dozen cartoons from that election I wound up using two in the book. This one I used because I thought it captured the moment when the Republicans knew they were in trouble and when Hoover realized that he was in trouble.
Now Maine, because of the weather, always held its state elections in September before the snows came. That was considered to be a barometer of what public opinion was. There was an old slogan, going back to the Civil War, "As Maine goes, so goes the Union." Maine tended to vote Republican—actually since the end of the Civil War—the Republicans were the majority party so therefore, whatever Maine voted did tend to reflect what was going on. Also, in those days the Republican Party's base really was in New England and in the Midwest. So a Republican president candidate was probably never going to get an electoral vote in the South, not as many in the West—it's up for grabs, the West was a contested area. But Republicans from McKinley on counted that they were going to carry the Midwest and they were going to carry New England and the Northeastern states.
Hoover figured that, even though he had done fairly well in the South in 1928, he probably was not going to do very well there in 1932. The reason he did so well in 1928 was that he was running against the first Catholic candidate, there was huge anti-Catholic sentiment in the South—Al Smith did very poorly in the South, Hoover did very well. But that was not an issue in 1932. Then he thought that the West was sort of radical and he probably wouldn't carry much of the West, but that he would carry New England and Northeastern states.
So when Maine went Democratic in September of 1932, when they elected a Democratic governor and Democratic members of the House of Representatives everybody was shocked. When Franklin Roosevelt was campaigning—the news came as he was campaigning—and everybody in the stands yelled, "As Maine goes so goes the Union!" meaning you're going to do this, Maine has already voted Democratic. In fact, John Nance Garner, who was the vice presidential candidate for Roosevelt told the crowd, "Maine's already voted Democratic, you might as well make it unanimous." So that became a slogan, it boosted Roosevelt's spirits and added to his crowds that he was getting.
It shocked Hoover, and Berryman captured this perfectly, I thought, in this cartoon. The Republican elephant—and the elephant was the symbol of the Republican party going back to the days of Thomas Nast and the Civil War era—is obviously ill, in a terrible funk with a cloud over its head.
It has several nurses one of the nurses is Vice President Curtis. Charles Curtis had been majority leader of the Senate, he was vice president but he was not Hoover's choice for vice president, he was sort of thrust on Hoover by the Republican convention. Hoover referred to him always as the "Old Gentleman," had very little to do with him in fact, during Hoover's presidency there was a George Gershwin play called Of Thee We Sing, and there's a vice president in the play who's modeled after Curtis who can only get into the White House on public tours. So this is Charles Curtis, well, Curtis is this solicitous nurse taking care of the elephant.
Also Everett Sanders, who's the chairman of the Republican National Committee, is the other nurse fretting over this. And "Doctor" Hoover is saying, well, we're going to have to do something to—you know, give some new medication, we've got to get this patient back on his feet because this is the first omen of tough times coming up in this election.
In fact, one of the sources that I used most heavily for this project was the diary of Hoover's press secretary, a man named Ted Joslin. Joslin wrote a little page everyday while he was Press Secretary and in his book—in his little notes—Hoover says, "This is a disaster for us" when he gets the results. "We are going to have to change our tactics, we're going to have to campaign vigorously." Hoover realizes the rose garden campaign is out, he's got to raise a lot of money, and he's got to get out on the campaign hustings and he's got to campaign. From that point on, Hoover changes course and does become a very active candidate in October. It's almost too late for him at that stage.
But this cartoon captures that moment. And I think in that sense, for students coming to the project, it personalizes it a little bit, it shows them the urgency and it's also a humorous account of the period. That’s one of the great things about editorial cartoons in general, that visual depiction with a bit of humor. And in the case of Berryman of course the faces are all very close to what the people actually look like, it's just that the bodies have been twisted around to make them a little bit funnier and [he's] dressed them up as nurses and doctors at that point.
One of the things that editorial cartoonists like to do is put people into funny costumes. It's very common in the late 19th, early 20th century for them to dress men as women. For instance presidential candidates are all going to Cinderella's ball, which one is going to be—who are the ugly stepsisters and who's going to be the "Cinderella" at the ball. Of course these were bearded men dressed up in frilly frocks and all the rest of it to make it a little bit funnier and to bring them all down to size a bit. In this case Curtis and Sanders were not particularly dynamic figures so it's sort of making fun of them to turn them into nurses.
Women were not major political players, they were just getting into it because starting in 1920 women got the right to vote. A lot of women didn't use the right to vote actually at that period there were a few women who were elected to office, not many. In 1932 there was a women candidate for the Senate in Illinois and she's defeated. Really it takes a while for women candidates to take over. So politics is still "men's business," but the cartoonists still turn the men into female figures.
Now, "Doctor" Hoover is dressed as a man. Hoover ran his administration, he was in charge, nobody would have put Hoover in a nurse's costume. He was the doctor. He had been seen actually before this as the nation's physician. Before he became president he had been Secretary of Commerce during a major flood that took place in the Mississippi River. He was sent in to help [with] emergency relief. Before that during World War I he had provided emergency relief for the Belgians and others in Europe. So Doctor Hoover was the man who came in when you were sick and in trouble. That was the great irony of his presidency—the nation was in trouble and Doctor Hoover failed and people had expected him to play the role he had played before he had become president. For a lot of ideological reasons Hoover refused to do that. But again, an editorial cartoonist would have never gotten away with putting Herbert Hoover in a skirt in any of these cartoons.
One of the cartoonists who's very influential at this period is a man named Rollin Kirby. Kirby reported for—or drew cartoons for—the New York World, which was a liberal, Democratic newspaper which did not survive the Depression, it went out of business in 1931, it was folded into [a] very conservative newspaper in New York. It dispersed all of its editorial writers, people like Walter Lippmann and others—and also the cartoonists—so Kirby began drawing for national syndicate, or rather having a single newspaper. His cartoons were syndicated all over the country.
When Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, went to the Chicago convention, he flew to the Chicago convention, to accept the nomination in 1932, this broke all precedent. Kirby was impressed by this and caught up with that. In the midst of Roosevelt's speech—which reporters had not gotten an advanced copy of the speech, because Roosevelt was actually putting it together as he spoke. He was taking a draft from one set of advisors and a draft by another advisor and mixing the two, as he tended to do during the campaign. There's a line in there [in which] Roosevelt promises a "New Deal" for the American people. His speechwriter had lifted this from a series of articles that was appearing in the New Republic at the time, it was a nice applause line, and it sort of reflected back to his cousin Theodore Roosevelt's Square Deal.
But Roosevelt really didn't see this as the defining description of his upcoming administration. In fact, he doesn't use the phrase for the next several speeches. It's only because Rollin Kirby, the cartoonist, drew this cartoon of a plane flying over with the words "New Deal" on it and a farmer in the field looking up at this plane going by as the symbol of "change is in the air." Newspaper editorial writers, and headline writers, and others began to realize that the New Deal was a nice little catchphrase to describe this sort of disparate notion of the types of things that Franklin Roosevelt was proposing. So Roosevelt himself later embraced the idea of the New Deal, but the editorial cartoonists were actually ahead of him in this case. That's the idea, you want to get it down to the nub, get the idea in the point it can be visual, everybody understands what it's about, makes the point, and they—in some cases—get a chuckle out of it and then they turn the page and go on to the sports.
Because the editorial cartoonists are aiming at a general public—they're not aiming at a highly educated people—they're aiming at a "man on the street" image. They want to make sure that everyone knows exactly what this is, which is the reason why they put lots of labels on to everything that they're doing so you don't make any mistakes about it. The really clever cartoonists don't need a lot of labels—the picture tells the story—but usually there's a very strong visual sense with an editorial cartoon. There are stacks and stacks of these cartoons—Berryman's at the National Archives, the Library of Congress has the Herblock cartoons from the Washington Post. It’s a huge collection, and Herblock was doing cartoons from the 1930s to up through George W. Bush's presidency.
These are terrific teaching tools we can go back to the 19th century and use Thomas Nast cartoons. Earlier than that if you deal with the American Revolution, they have cartoons but they're so complicated and they have so many layers in labels that in many ways they overwhelm the student. But visually the cartoons become more pointed the further on you go, and certainly at least from the 1860s on they are just absolutely terrific teaching tools.
I think cartoons have changed with audiences and audience expectations. How much time people had to spend to look at these things. You know, looking at Tom Jones is a novel and the convoluted nature of those things, people enjoyed that and they could relate to that. Of course you're also talking about a much smaller reading class of people who would have looked at a magazine or a newspaper that would have carried a cartoon like this. For mass consumption, cartoons are much simpler. So for instance Benjamin Franklin draws the snake that's divided and it says "unite or die" and that's something that anybody—even the mob—will recognize and see. For the genteel drawing-room class, then you have lots of pictures that draw on religious allegories and others. You can see this change over time.
I think the late 19th century is one of the great periods for editorial cartoons. Part of this was printing needs, the artist would sketch but then it would have to be copied over by engravers. Well you have to make it a little less complicated to do that, to make the transfer. Then you had the Germans coming in, and it was a very strong German press in the United States in the late 1880s, 1890s, and on. Pulitzer and other people coming out of it, getting experience there. Hiring editorial cartoonists—people like Keppler and others—drawing originally for the German-speaking population of the United States, then translating it into English. They brought in all sorts of fanciful, fairytale, Brothers Grimm type of images into the cartoons.
They began to settle on certain very recognizable images. Nast uses the elephant for the Republicans, he's got a donkey for the Democrats—but sometimes a rooster for the Democrats, sometimes the Tammany tiger for the Democrats—but it begins to develop a lot along those lines. Uncle Sam becomes a familiar figure. Santa Claus actually was a cartoon figure that appears in the same period by the same cartoonists. So by the 1900s, the average person who picks up a newspaper can tell right away if this is a cartoon about the Republicans or the Democrats and the pictures are getting simpler and simpler.
The Election of 1932 - History
The Bonus Army incident that took place in the summer of 1932 virtually assured Roosevelt's election. By then, the unemployment rate had reached 23.6 percent. Over 12 million were jobless (out of a labor force of 51 million).
Some 20,000 World War I veterans and their families marched on Washington. Their purpose was to pressure Congress into voting for immediate payment of a veteran’s bonus earmarked for 1945. The proposal was to pay veterans $1 for each day served in the United States and $1.25 for every day overseas. The Democratic-controlled House approved the measure, but the Republican Senate refused. Meanwhile, thousands of veterans jammed the Capitol grounds.
On June 7, as 100,000 watched, some 8,000 veterans marched down Pennsylvania Avenue. By mid-July, the White House was "guarded from veterans" by "the greatest massing of policemen seen in Washington since the race riot after the World War."
District of Columbia officials, under White House pressure, ordered the Bonus Army's camps evacuated. A skirmish turned into a riot two police officers and two veterans were killed. President Hoover called on the Army to "put an end to rioting and defiance of authority."
The Third Cavalry advanced on the veterans, followed by infantry with fixed bayonets, a machine gun detachment, troops with tear gas canisters, and six midget tanks. The camps were burned. The flames and smoke from the torched shack burned near the Capitol dome. Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur claimed the "mob" had been "animated by the essence of revolution."
Although Hoover was appalled by what happened, he publicly accepted the responsibility and endorsed MacArthur's charge that the bonus marchers included dangerous radicals who wanted to overthrow the government. Most Americans felt outraged by the government's harsh treatment of the Bonus Army, and Hoover encountered resentment everywhere he campaigned.
Upon learning of the Bonus Army incident, Franklin D. Roosevelt remarked: "Well, this will elect me." Roosevelt was correct he buried Hoover in November, winning 22,809,638 votes to Hoover's 15,758,901 votes, and 472 to 59 electoral votes. In addition, the Democrats won commanding majorities in both houses of Congress.
American History: A Long Conservative Period Ends With Election of 1932
BOB DOUGHTY: Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION – American history in VOA Special English.
I'm Bob Doughty with Steve Ember. This week in our series, we continue the story of the administration of Herbert Hoover. And we talk about the election of nineteen thirty-two.
STEVE EMBER: President Herbert Hoover worked hard to rescue the American economy following the crash of the stock market. It happened in October of nineteen twenty-nine. Within a month, Hoover called the nation's business leaders to the White House. "Don't lower wages," the president told them.
Hoover called on the bankers at the Federal Reserve to make it easier for businesses to borrow money. He tried to provide funds to help farmers get fair prices for their crops. He pushed Congress to lower personal taxes. And above all, the president urged Americans not to lose hope in their economy or in themselves.
BOB DOUGHTY: But the economy was in ruins, falling faster with each passing day of the crisis that grew into the Great Depression. The value of stocks had collapsed. Millions of workers lost their jobs. The level of industrial production in the country was less than half of what it had been before the stock market crash.
Hoover's efforts were not enough to stop the growing crisis. In ever greater numbers, people called on the president to increase federal spending and provide jobs for people out of work.
But the president was a conservative Republican. He did not think it was the responsibility of the federal government to provide relief for poor Americans. And he thought it was wrong to increase spending above the amount of money that the government received in taxes.
STEVE EMBER: The situation seemed out of control. The nation's government and business leaders appeared to have no idea how to save the dollar and put people back to work.
Hoover was willing to take steps like spending government money to help farmers buy seeds and fertilizer. But he was not willing to give wheat to unemployed workers who were hungry.
He created an emergency committee to study the unemployment problem. But he would not launch government programs to create jobs. Hoover called on Americans to help their friends in need. But he resisted calls to spend federal funds for major relief programs to help the millions of Americans facing disaster.
BOB DOUGHTY: Leaders of the Democratic Party made the most of the situation. They accused the president of not caring about the common man. They said Hoover was willing to spend money to feed starving cattle for businessmen, but not willing to feed poor children.
Hoover tried to show the nation that he was dealing with the crisis. He worked with Congress to try to save the banks and to keep the dollar tied to the value of gold. He tried hard to balance the federal budget. And he told Americans that it was not the responsibility of the national government to solve all their problems.
STEVE EMBER: Late in nineteen thirty-one, President Hoover appointed a new committee on unemployment. He named Walter Gifford to head this committee. Gifford was chief of a big company, American Telephone and Telegraph.
But Gifford did Hoover more harm than good.
When he appeared before Congress, Gifford was unable to defend Hoover's position that relief was the responsibility of local governments and private giving. He admitted that he did not know how many people were out of work. He did not know how many of them needed help. Or how much help they needed. Or how much money local governments could raise.
BOB DOUGHTY: The situation grew worse. Some Americans began to completely lose faith in their government. They looked to groups with extreme political ideas to provide answers.
Some Americans joined the Communist Party. Others helped elect state leaders with extreme political ideas. And in growing numbers, people began to turn to hatred and violence.
However, most Americans remained loyal to traditional values even as conditions grew steadily worse. They looked ahead to nineteen thirty-two, when they would have a chance to vote for a new president.
STEVE EMBER: Leaders of the Democratic Party felt they had an excellent chance to capture the White House in the election. And their hopes increased when the Republicans re-nominated President Hoover and Vice President Charles Curtis in the summer of nineteen thirty-two.
For this reason, competition was fierce for the Democratic presidential nomination. The top candidate was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the governor of New York state.
Roosevelt had been re-elected to that office by a large majority just two years earlier. He came from a rich and famous family, but he was seen as a friend of the common man. Roosevelt was conservative in his economic thinking. But he was a progressive in his opinion that government should be active in helping people.
Roosevelt had suffered from polio and could not walk. He used a wheelchair, although it was rarely shown in news pictures.
BOB DOUGHTY: Franklin Delano Roosevelt's two main opponents were Al Smith and John Garner. Smith had been the governor of New York before Roosevelt. Garner, a Texan, was the speaker of the House of Representatives.
Together, they hoped to block Roosevelt's nomination. And they succeeded the first three times that delegates voted at the Democratic nominating convention in Chicago.
Roosevelt's chief political adviser, James Farley, worked hard to find Roosevelt the votes he needed at the convention. Finally, Farley found a solution.
He made a deal with supporters of John Garner. Roosevelt would make Garner the vice presidential nominee if Garner's forces voted to make Roosevelt the presidential nominee. Garner agreed. And on the next vote, the Democratic delegates nominated Franklin Roosevelt to be their presidential candidate. Al Smith was so angry about the deal that he left Chicago without congratulating Roosevelt.
Roosevelt wanted to show the nation that he was the kind of man to take action -- that he had more imagination than Hoover. So he broke tradition and flew to Chicago. It was the first time a candidate had ever appeared at a convention to accept a nomination. And Roosevelt told the cheering crowd that together they would defeat Hoover.
STEVE EMBER: The main issue in the campaign of nineteen thirty-two was the economy. President Hoover defended his policies. Roosevelt and the Democrats attacked the administration for not taking enough action.
Roosevelt knew that most Americans were unhappy with the Hoover administration. So his plan during the campaign was to let Hoover defeat himself. He avoided saying anything that might make groups of voters think he was too extreme.
But Roosevelt did make clear that he would move the federal government into action to help people suffering from the economic crisis.
He said he was for a balanced federal budget. But he also said the government must be willing to spend extra money to prevent people from starving.
BOB DOUGHTY: Americans liked what they heard from Franklin Roosevelt. He seemed strong. He enjoyed life. And Roosevelt seemed willing to try new ideas, to experiment with government.
Hoover attacked Roosevelt bitterly during the campaign. He warned that Roosevelt and the Democrats would destroy the American system.
But Americans were tired of Hoover. They thought he was too serious, too afraid of change, too friendly with business leaders instead of the working man. Most of all, they blamed Hoover for the hard times of the Depression.
On election day, Americans voted in huge numbers for Franklin Roosevelt and the Democrats. Roosevelt won forty-two of the forty-eight states at that time. The Democrats also gained a large majority in both houses of Congress.
STEVE EMBER: The election ended twelve years of Republican rule in the White House. It also marked the passing of a long conservative period in American political life.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt would become one of the strongest and most progressive presidents in the nation's history. He would serve longer than any other president, changing the face of America's political and economic systems.
In our next program, we take a look at the beginning of his administration.
BOB DOUGHTY: Our program was written by David Jarmul. I’m Bob Doughty with Steve Ember.
The Election of 1932 - History
The Republican Party had won the White House in 1920. Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge became President and Vice-president after that election, having defeated the Democratic ticket of James W. Cox and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Many echoes of isolationism could still be heard after the end of World War I (in 1918), and Harding promised "a return to normalcy."
Harding died in 1923, and Coolidge became president. The vice-president-turned-president was known for being a man of few words, but one of his more famous quotes was "The business of America is business." Businesses and companies and banks boomed in the 1920s, in America and abroad. But it didn't last.
The downturn began in the latter half of the 1920s. Still, Americans were happy enough with the Republican Party to elect a third straight member of the GOP, Herbert Hoover, who took office in March 1929. Soon after, things began to go downhill.
The Great Depression was in full swing in 1932, when the presidential election got under way. Although President Herbert Hoover had had some successes, they were few and his policies were unable to stem the tide of economic downturns, which were being felt not only in America but also in Europe and elsewhere in the world. A great many people had lost their jobs and their life savings.
The Democratic Party found its standard-bearer in Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had run for Vice-president in 1920 and had since become Governor of New York. Hugely popular in his own party, Roosevelt soon found popularity among the nation as a whole. His promise of a New Deal resonated with a great many people, who were desperate for a change in government.
The election of 1932 was a landslide victory for Roosevelt, who ushered in the New Deal, a series of immediate and long-term measures to help get the American economy back on track. In the end, Roosevelt and his running mate, John Nance Garner, won 44 states and 472 electoral votes, to Hoover's 59 electoral votes. The popular vote was emphatic as well, with the Democrats winning more than 7 million votes more than the Republicans.
During the long administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933 to 1945), the Democratic Party controlled both houses of Congress. As a result, the Democrats obtained 60 of the 96 existing Senate seats and 318 of the existing 435 House seats hence the party now controlled two-thirds of Congress.
1928 United States Senate elections
|Leader||Charles Curtis||Joseph Robinson|
|Leader since||November 9, 1924||December 3, 1923|