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Safeguarding Democratic CapitalismU.S. Foreign Policy and National Security, 1920-2015$
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Melvyn P Leffler

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691196510

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691196510.001.0001

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Herbert Hoover, the “New Era,” and American Foreign Policy, 1921–1929

Herbert Hoover, the “New Era,” and American Foreign Policy, 1921–1929

(p.47) 2 Herbert Hoover, the “New Era,” and American Foreign Policy, 1921–1929
Safeguarding Democratic Capitalism

Melvyn P. Leffler

Princeton University Press

This chapter reveals that Herbert C. Hoover was a “forgotten progressive.” In the 1970s, his place in American history was being reconceived by historians, who argued that Hoover was not the heartless and dogmatic conservative who waged relentless war against the New Deal. Trained as an engineer, widely traveled, and committed to scientific management, Hoover wanted to use knowledge to transcend class divisions and national rivalries without overextending the reach of government. Serving as an adviser to President Woodrow Wilson during World War I and orchestrating the distribution of relief after the conflict, he believed that the system of democratic capitalism was beleaguered by mass politics and the ideological appeal of rival systems of political economy. He wanted to safeguard the American way of life, the defining quality of which was individual opportunity. He believed that to achieve this goal he had to encourage businessmen, workers, and farmers to see that their interests could be served through voluntary cooperation.

Keywords:   Herbert C. Hoover, New Deal, New Era, political economy, mass politics, American life, individual opportunity, voluntary cooperation

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