The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001

Garnering Votes for "Cactus Jack": John Nance
Garner, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the 93 2
Democratic Nomination for President
NORMAN D. BROWN*
B Y THE FALL OF 1930, THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WERE BECOMING INCREASINGLY
disgruntled over the collapse of Republican prosperity, and
Democratic prospects nationally seemed bright. No president could
have prevented the Depression or brought the nation back to good
times quickly. Much of the criticism of Herbert Hoover was unfair. He
was the first president in history to attack depression systematically; but
as the economy continued downward, he grew more rigid and doctri-
naire in trying to cope with the crisis. He was also his own worst enemy,
too unyielding to get on well with the politicians and too colorless and
aloof to win the public's confidence and affection. People needed a
scapegoat for the hard times, and the president received the blame. As a
Texas Democratic leader wrote in December 1930, "Hoover seems to
have lost the confidence of this section, among them many who voted
for him two years ago; I have myself been compelled to revise my rather
favorable estimate of the man." Another Texan declared bitterly, "Truly,
I have been hit hard, but I deserve no sympathy, I voted for Hoover."
The president's name became a trademark for every artifact of the
Depression. Shanty towns were sometimes referred to as "Hoover
Heights" or "Hoovervilles." Men who slept on park benches dubbed the
newspapers with which they covered themselves "Hoover blankets." A
pocket turned inside out was a "Hoover flag." Jackrabbits, eaten by many
hungry Texans, were known as "Hoover hogs." Harvest hands sang
"Hoover made a souphound outa me."'
*Norman D. Brown is Barbara White Stuart Centennial Professor in Texas History at the
University of Texas at Austin. This is an expanded version of the presidential address he deliv-
ered at the lo4th TSHA annual meeting, in Austin, March 3, 2000.
'Thomas Watt Gregory to Edward M. House, Dec. 11, 193o, Gregory Papers (Library of
Congress); Seth Shepard McKay and Odie B. Faulk, Texas After Spindletop, I9o0-I965 (Austin:
Steck-Vaughn Co., 1965), 119; William E. Leuchtenburg, The Perils of Prosperity, I914-32
VOL. CIV, NO. 2 SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY OCTOBER, 2000

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/. Accessed December 29, 2014.