"Something must be done to save the American banking system, and the bankers were not doing it; the spirit of the day was sauve qui peut. . . . in America, as in other parts of the world, the economic system had now become so complex and interdependent that the possible consequences of widespread bankruptcy - to the banks, the inssurance companies, the great holding-company systems, and the multitutdes of people dependent upon them - had become too appalling to contemplate. . . . [the President] was driven to the point of intervening to protect the debt structure - first by easing temporarily the pressure of international debts without canceling them, and second by buttressing the banks and big corporations with Federal funds.
"Thus a theoretically flexible economic structure became rigid at a vital point. The debt burden remained almost undiminished. Bowing under the weight of debt - and other rigid costs - business thereupon slowed still further. As it slowed, it discharged workers or put them on reduced hours, thereby reducing purchasing power and intensifying the crisis.
". . . It is . . . useless to ask whether Hoover was acting with a tory heartlessness in permitting financial executives to come to Washington for a corporate dole when men and women on the edge of starvation were denied a personal dole. What is certain is that at the time of such widespread suffereing no democratic government could seem to be aiding the financiers and seem to be simultaneously disregarding the plight of its humbler citizens without losing the confidence of the public. . . . How could they endorse a government which gave them - for all they could see - not bread, but a stone?"
- Frederick Lewis Allen, Since Yesterday: The Nineteen-Thirties in America (1940)
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