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This paper seeksto highlight comparisons between two articles. The first excerpt wasauthored by Larry Schweikart (University of Dayton) and Michael Allen(University of Washington). It was derived from the book Apatriot`s history of the United States: From Columbus`s GreatDiscovery to the war on terror. The second excerpt was extractedfrom the book American passages: A history of the United States.Vol. II, Since 1863. This latter book was authored by EdwardAyers (University of Virginia), Lewis L. Gould (University of Texasat Austin, Emeritus), David M. Oshinsky (University of Texas atAustin), and Jean R. Soderlund (Lehigh University). All the writersare distinguished Professors of History and American Studies at theirrespective faculties.
The historianschose to include some facts while leaving out others. Both sets ofhistorians include the details surrounding President Coolidge’sadministration in the early 1920s. They also highlight facts aboutthe Presidential election that pitted Alfred Smith against HerbertHoover. Besides, they highlight reasons that propelled Hoover topower at the expense of Smith. Both sets of historians makedeliberate statements on the popularity of the Republican Partybefore 1929. This was done to serve as a contrast to the deplorablestate of the party from 1932 onwards.
Besides, bothsets of historians mention the desperate state of American farmersbefore and during the Depression. This fosters the view that theGreat Depression of the 1930s was not entirely caused by the stockmarket crash of October 1929. Both articles cite the Smoot-HawleyTariff as one of the primary reasons for the sudden crash of thestock market in 1929. The tariff sought to increase taxes on allimports "by as much as 30 percent" (Schweikart and Allen552). Both sets of historians mention the unpopular policies adoptedby President Hoover as contributing factors to the enhanced severityof the Great Depression. In particular, he "did not viewgovernment action as an appropriate way of responding to theDepression" (Ayers et al. 713). He was convinced that "thetraditional self-reliance and volunteer spirit of the American peopleprovided the most dependable means of ending the economic slump"(Ayers et al. 713).
Both articlesmention the hatred and scorn directed towards Hoover for hisreluctance to use federal powers to end the Great Depression. He“accepted the idea of allocating money to feed animals, but herejected the idea of feeding farmers and their families” (Ayers etal. 715). Both sets of historians mention how the Democratscapitalized on the opportunity to win the election in 1932. From thatpoint forward, the “Depression discredited the Republican Party fortwo decades in Presidential elections” (Ayers et al. 729). Hisshattered reputation never recovered even though he lived for anadditional 30 years after leaving office.
However, bothaccounts leave out details about how the Great Depression was finallyreversed. The historians also leave out specific details of the NewDeal proposed by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Also, the articles do notmention the significant role played by Alfred Smith in the electionof Roosevelt to office. Both sets of historians chose to excludePresident Coolidge’s thoughts on the economy after his retirementfrom office. Besides, both articles leave out details explaining howthe Great Depression would have been averted. They merely state theevents as they occurred.
Severalinstances prove how the two accounts complement in each other. Thisis accomplished when one account includes additional details left outin the other. Both sets of historians mentioned the ascension ofHerbert Clark Hoover to power in 1928. This only occurred after theincumbent President Calvin Coolidge chose not to seek re-electioninto the White House. Ayers et al. left out possible details as towhy President Coolidge elected to retire from politics after one termas Commander-in-Chief. However, Schweikart and Allen enlisted severalpossible reasons for this surprising decision.
For example,President Coolidge felt that he would be ineffective in his lateryears as a Head of State if he served for eight years. Thisconviction was motivated by the prior experiences of Presidents thathad served for two terms. President Coolidge may also have beensprung by the untimely death of his son in 1924. He felt that hisson`s death was exaction for the time he spent in the Oval Office. Itwas also claimed that President Coolidge sensed an upcoming downturnin economic fortunes. Both sets of historians mention the “wonderboy” tag that Coolidge labelled on Hoover. However, Schweikart andAllen provide further insight into how Coolidge despised Hoover.According to Coolidge, Hoover had provided bad advice during hisentire tenure as Secretary of Commerce.
Both sets ofhistorians mention how Democrat Alfred E. Smith lost the election toHoover primarily due to his Catholic faith. Smith “suffered fromanti-Catholic prejudices and the American distrust of New Yorkurbanites” (Schweikart and Allen 549). However, Schweikart andAllen provide additional insight into other factors that worked inHoover’s favor. For example, Hoover was helped by “Quakermoralism and his seeming concern for common Americans” (Schweikartand Allen 549). The press also offered wholehearted endorsements forHoover as he campaigned for office. Smith also had a conservativestance since he favored reduction in federal expenditure and“government interference with business” (Schweikart and Allen549)
The two accountsare in tension due to some differences in opinion. For example, Ayerset al. mention that the "wonder boy" moniker was bestowedon Hoover due to his "intense personal style and love of thelimelight" (Ayers et al. 706). On the other hand, Schweikart andAllen attribute this to “his obsession with paperwork andbureaucratic forms” (Schweikart and Allen 548). Also, Ayers et al.blame banks for divesting most deposits into the stock market.However, Schweikart and Allen suppose that this was an erroneousconclusion.
Schweikart andAllen provide the strongest survey of the Great Depression and itseffects on American society. This is because it provides plenty ofbackground information that helps the reader to develop perspective.For example, the historians provide more details about PresidentsCoolidge, Hoover, and Roosevelt. The reader develops in-depth insightand knowledge into the thinking that shaped the three Americanadministrations sandwiching the Great Depression. Ayers et al.provide the weakest survey of the Great Depression due to littlediscussion of critical contextual factors.
Ayers, Edward, et al. American passages: A history of the UnitedStates. Vol. II, Since 1863. Fort Worth, Tex.: Harcourt CollegePublishers, 2000. Print.
Schweikart, Larry, and Michael Allen. A patriot`s history of theUnited States: From Columbus`s Great Discovery to the war on terror.New York: Penguin Group, 2004. Print.