“Only Hoover is Big Enough” – A Lykens newspaper’s editorial on the eve of the 1932 election

On the eve of the 1932 presidential election, the editors of the Lykens Standard penned a front page editorial making their case to give incumbent Herbert Hoover a second term as President of the United States.

The editorial lambasted challenger Franklin D. Roosevelt as unfit for office and the campaign against Hoover as unprecedented and illegitimate. The election took place as the United States languished in the third year of the worst economic downturn in the nation’s history. The Great Depression was the issue that impacted everyone in the country and left many seeking new leadership.

1327px-Unemployed_men_queued_outside_a_depression_soup_kitchen_opened_in_Chicago_by_Al_Capone,_02-1931_-_NARA_-_541927
A soup kitchen in Chicago in 1931 (National Archives)

The Standard editors believed that Hoover was the only leader to get the nation through the crisis and that he would ultimately be vindicated through the campaign as a leader on par with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

From the Lykens Standard, November 4, 1932:

Only Hoover is Big Enough

Only Hoover is Big Enough

In a few days the nation will pass judgment on the Hoover Administration.

Its verdict will be rendered at the ballot box. This campaign is unique.

Never before was the country flooded with propaganda so false and infamous. Never did the underworld show its hand with such audacity. It seeks to belittle one of our greatest Presidents and bring him into public contempt as weak, unstable, and incompetent.

The clean and patriotic character of Mr. Hoover’s campaign four years ago and the record majority by which he was elected infuriated the vicious elements. They deeply resolved to “get” him. They have not wavered in that purpose. The most universal and protracted business depression in recorded history has added poison to their darts.

He has not retaliated. His magnanimous soul has borne the misrepresentations in silence. He is too engrossed with the public service to answer his traducers or return blow for blow. He trusts the enlightened and fair-minded citizenship to do justice to him and to the nation he has served through its deepest business depression.

Disloyalty likewise attacked George Washington in the darkest days of the War for Independence. But history has vindicated him and rebuked his enemies and critics. Enemies censured Abraham Lincoln in 1864 as devoid of leadership. They denounced the Civil War as a failure. They divided his party, nominated a rival ticket, and sought his defeat. But he is now universally recognized as one of the greatest statesmen and leaders of all time. His defeat would have been an irreparable calamity.

Efforts to overwhelm President Hoover are equally suicidal. His defeat would remove from office at this crucial time the only man conversant with every phase of the economic crisis both at home and abroad and possessed of the wisdom and courage to relieve it. It would substitute one without experience in national and international affairs and whose campaign speeches betray utter lack of constructive policies…

Experiences of the last three years give him an understanding which no one else can have. His knowledge is full and cosmopolitan. After the present storms of abuse are past, history will rank him with Washington and Lincoln. The luster of his achievements will increase long after his traducers are forgotten. Let the nation not be deceived. Let it not be swept off its feet by the deluge of organized vicious propaganda. To strike down at this crucial juncture the great leader so safe and so ripe in skill and wisdom would be a calamity. It might turn us back to economic chaos.

Let no untried novice take the reins. It would imperil every moral and business interest. Uncertainty of the election result even now retards complete recovery. Re-election of President Hoover will quickly restore normal conditions and usher in the era of greatest prosperity since the Republic was founded. Let good citizens work and vote for this objective.   

Lykens and Wiconisco Township supported Hoover’s re-election on November 8, 1932 with 61% of the vote.

But the Standard’s November 11 edition revealed the brutal truth for Hoover supporters in northern Dauphin County. Hoover had been crushed by Roosevelt nationwide. Roosevelt won 57.4% of the vote across the United States and won 472 electoral votes to Hoover’s 59. Pennsylvania was one of only six states that supported the incumbent Hoover.

Standard 1932 Election
The Lykens Standard’s post-election edition.

Hoover did not go down in American history as a Washington or a Lincoln. Herbert Hoover is consistently ranked among the worst presidents in the nation’s history, mainly for his mishandling of the onset of the Great Depression. Though the economic downturn was not necessarily Hoover’s fault, voters overwhelmingly disapproved of his lack of action in response to the crisis. They spoke out at the ballot box in November 1932.


Featured Image: President Herbert Hoover in 1932 – Associated Press


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