responding to the Great depression: Hoover vs fdr


As is the case during good and bad economic times, there was significant disagreement about the best approach to dealing with the Great Depression.  At the heart of the debate were the philosophies of those responsible for economic policy in the 1930s.  President Hoover and his successor, President Franklin Roosevelt both argued that their approach would best serve America in the short term, as well as the long run.  In the end, neither effectively ended the economic hard times, but still, the relationship between the government and the people would never be the same as a result.  The activity below will help us understand the debate and determine the best approach for America at the time of the Depression and consider the best approach for the US today.

Step One

Utilize the resources provided below to gather information that will help understand the approaches of both Hoover and FDR.  For each, seek information that defines the beliefs/philosophies, actions, & criticisms of their plans.  Create a T-Chart that helps organize this information.  (Sample T-Chart)

Hoover Resources

  1. 14:3 Text (pages 478-481)

  2. Initial Response to the Depression.pdf

  3. Hoover’s Efforts at Recovery

  4. Herbert Hoover and the Depression-pdf

    (retrieved from:

  1. President Hoover

Roosevelt Resources

  1. 15:1&2 Text

  2. Roosevelt and the New Deal.pdf

  3. Government Response Under FDR.pdf

  4. Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats

  5. Purposes & Foundations of the Recovery Program

Step Two

After reviewing the key concepts of both sides as a class, a decision must be made as to which approach would be best for America in facing a depression.  Each student will take on the role of President (or a supporter of the chosen President) and must create a speech to address the nation that includes both your beliefs and intentions for pulling the economy out of despair.  The speech should summarize either Hoover or FDR’s ideas about the economy as well as the plan for saving the U.S. from the depression.  A superior speech also recognizes that criticism of the presented ideas will exist, and seeks to respond to the arguments that must be faced.

Speech Rubric - 30 total points

(7) T-Chart notes included (complete & accurate)

(2) Consistent representation of Hoover’s or FDR’s philosophy

(5) Accurate & complete explanation of philosophy

(5) Accurate & complete explanation of intentions/actions

(5) Accurate & complete recognition & response to potential criticism

(3) Appropriate writing tone for speech (first-person, present tense, etc.)

(3) Proofreading evident (spelling, grammar, capitalization, etc.)


Photo Credits: President Hoover speaks in 1930 during the early stages of the Depression (; FDR speaks to the nation in a famous fire-side chat where he often outlined his approach to the Depression known as the New Deal (