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In fact, the 1928 election was a contest between two self-made men, each of whom celebrated the glories of American individualism.Confronted with a heroic opponent who took credit for prosperity while vowing to eliminate society's imperfections, some of Smith's partisans tried portraying Hoover as a dangerous radical. Roosevelt said of Hoover, "He has shown in his own department an alarming desire to issue regulations and to tell businessmen generally how to conduct their affairs." One of the few major issues dividing the candidates was Prohibition, with Hoover supporting the constitutional ban on manufacturing and selling alcoholic beverages and Smith pressing for its repeal.He pressed ahead with plans for a series of dams in the Tennessee Valley and in central California and tax cuts graduated to favor low-income Americans.
In November voters overwhelmingly endorsed the Republican ticket, giving Hoover 58 percent of the popular vote and 444 electoral votes to Smith's 87. "My friends have made the American people think of me a sort of superman," he told the shortly before he was inaugurated: "They expect the impossible of me and should there arise in the land conditions with which the political machinery is unable to cope I will be the one to suffer." It was an uncanny prophecy.
On March 4, 1929, inauguration day, Hoover's address celebrated prosperity while insisting that more could be done to spread its benefits evenly.
A Hoover-appointed commission paved the way for an additional 3 million acres of national parks and 2.3 million acres in national forests.
In the summer of 1929 the President convinced a special session of Congress to establish a Federal Farm Board to support farm prices.
By the time of his death in October 1964, Hoover had regained much of the luster once attached to his name. To begin with, Hoover was an activist reformer, albeit one without the political skills needed to sell himself and his programs to Congress and the public.
The Quaker theologian who eulogized him at his funeral did not exaggerate when he said of Hoover, "The story is a good one and a great one. A shy man, he insisted on keeping much of his life and good deeds out of the public eye.Unveiling his own version of "kinder, gentler" capitalism, he declared, "We want to see a nation built of homeowners and farm owners.We want to see more and more of them insured against death and accident, unemployment and old age.Few men seemed so prepared for the nation's highest office. More realistic than Wilson, more respectable than Warren Harding, more imaginative than Calvin Coolidge, Hoover appeared an ideal candidate.Few Americans asked whether the Great Engineer had a political temperament.We want them all secure." True to his instincts, Hoover's first months in office were a whirlwind of reform.Within thirty days of his inauguration, the new President announced an expansion of civil service protection throughout the federal establishment, canceled private oil leases on government lands, and directed federal law enforcement officials to focus their energies on gangster-ridden Chicago, leading to the arrest and conviction of Al Capone on tax evasion charges.Few Americans have known greater acclaim or more bitter criticism than Herbert Hoover.The son of a Quaker blacksmith, Hoover was orphaned at the age of nine and sent to live with relatives in Oregon.Determined to halt the arms race, he imposed an arms embargo to Latin America, proposed a one-third cut in the world's armadas of submarines and battleships, and sought unsuccessfully to eliminate all bombers, tanks, and chemical warfare.The administration negotiated a treaty authorizing construction of the St. S.-Canadian border, only to have it fall victim to senatorial opposition.