When it was all over, I once made a list of New Deal ventures begun during Hoover’s years as Secretary of Commerce and then as president. . . . The New Deal owed much to what he had begun. —FDR advisor Rexford G. Tugwell
Many historians, most of the general public, and even many economists think of Herbert Hoover, the president who preceded Franklin D. Roosevelt, as a defender of laissez-faire economic policy. According to this view, Hoover’s dogmatic commitment to small government led him to stand by and do nothing while the economy collapsed in the wake of the 1929 stock market crash. The reality is quite different. Far from being a bystander, Hoover actively intervened in the economy, advocating and implementing polices that were quite similar to those that Franklin Roosevelt later implemented. Moreover, many of Hoover's interventions, like those of his successor, caused the Great Depression to be “great”—that is, to last a long time.