Policies of the republican presidents of the 1920’s
Harding came into power in 1921, and started ordering his policies. He called for retrenchment in government, lowering of taxes and repeal of the wartime excess profit tax. Also reduction of railroad rates and the promotion of agricultural interests, a national budget system, a great merchant marine, and a department of public welfare. He was reluctant to assert the power of his office and did not get many corporations from Congress. His most permanent domestic accomplishment (in the house) was the development of the Bureau of the Budget. Harding gave praise for the Fordney-McCumber tariff act of 1922. This was a tariff that raised rates on manufactured goods to their highest level to that date. He reversed Wilson’s practise of excluding from federal posts, and in Birmingham, ALA. In a speech of extraordinary boldness, he called for political, economic, and educational equality for the races.
While he was in power the war boom had collapsed, wages had been cut, unemployment grew, and growing farm distress and the urban resentment of prohibition did not make him look good. Much of his popularity had gone away and people lost confidence in him. These factors do not show us a successful government. Also scandals became noticeable. After it was discovered that Secretary Fall had received several hundred thousand dollars from oilmen Harry Sinclair and Edward Doheny, to whom he had leased naval oil reserves in California. The name Teapot Dome come about and was linked with Harding and showed corruption. Fall, finally convicted of bribery, went to jail, as did Forbes and others. Rumours spread that he had committed suicide or had been murdered.
On the night of August 2 1923, when President Harding died Coolidge’s life was changed. He became president. Coolidge had Harding’s probs on his hands. He firstly set out to establish a working relationship with the leading members of the Harding administration, and he drew on many people for advice and help. Coolidge spent most of his time defending his party when the scandals of Harding came to light. He coped with the scandals by prosecuting offenders; he now had public confidence for him.
Coolidge got most of what he wanted during his full term as president. He started paring the national debt and reducing income taxes, this would mean there would be more money for consumer spending. He made the civil and military aviation grow, expansion of the services of the departments of Agriculture and Commerce, regulation of radio broadcasting, development of waterways, flood control, and encouragement of co-operative solutions to farm problems. Twice, he blocked enactment of the McNary-Haugen bill, which proposed to dump farm surpluses abroad in the hope of raising domestic market prices. He objected to price-fixing features and its cost.
Much of his time was absorbed in finding world peace. When the Geneva Naval Conference of 1927, which Coolidge sponsored, failed because of the refusal of France and Italy to participate and Anglo-American disagreement on what to disarm, the president was discouraged. He supported a multilateral declaration renouncing war as an instrument of national policy and agreeing to settle all disputes by pacific means. This was incorporated into international law through the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928.
Coolidge also restored diplomatic relations with Mexico. It seemed for a while, however, in 1927 that the good relations between the two countries might end again as a result of restrictions on foreign oil rights and on the Catholic Church in Mexico, and because of the sharp disagreement over recognition of a new government in Nicaragua. Working largely through special representative Henry Stimson in Nicaragua and the new ambassador to Mexico, Dwight Morrow, the Coolidge administration was able to settle the situation. This and other actions anticipated the Good Neighbour policy toward Latin America.
He tried to repair damage in China and the Dawes plan come about. This made reparations for Germany possible. His health declined and on Jan the 5th he passed away, dying from coronary thrombosis.
Hoover became president in 1928. He only enjoyed half a year of economic prosperity. After the stock market had crashed in autumn he took drastic measures to deal with the depression that followed. He urged business leaders not to cut wages, as had been their usual custom during hard times. The policy was only temporarily successful; production declined, unemployment grew, and eventually wages for those still employed were cut after all. In addition, the government’s own policies, leading to a drastic decline in the money supply, may have hastened the slide into the depression. Hoover believed that the causes of the Great Depression were international and that the remedy for it must be sought in the same fashion. He therefore sponsored a moratorium in 1931 on inter-allied war debts. He was planning an international monetary conference in London when his election defeat intervened.
Hoover’s foreign policy was also based on voluntary co-operation. His overtures to Latin America, in contrast to the traditional US imperialism in that area, foreshadowed the good neighbour policy of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his secretary of state, Cordell Hull. He opposed retaliation against Japan for its invasion of Dongbei (1931), rejecting the idea that the United States had a responsibility to police the world.
As an administrator, Coolidge was most successful. He demanded and got efficient and economical performance in government operations. He was instrumental in releasing the remaining political prisoners convicted under the Sedition Act during the Wilson administration. He also helped by his appointments to raise the level of competence among diplomats and federal judges. The most unsuccessful was Harding, who had many people after him.