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Chapter One"The Politics of Hard Times"The Democratic party opened the 1932 campaign confident of victory. The crash of 1929 had made a mockery of Republican claims to being "the party of prosperity." In the three years of Herbert Hoover's Presidency, the bottom had dropped out of the stock market and industrial production had been cut more than half. At the beginning of the summer, "Iron Age "reported that steel plants were operating at a sickening 12 per cent of capacity with "an almost complete lack" of signs of a turn for the better. In three years, industrial construction had slumped from $949 million to an unbelievable $74 million. In no year since the Civil War were so few miles of new railroad track laid."1By 1932, the unemployed numbered upward of thirteen million. Many lived in the primitive conditions of a preindustrial society stricken by famine. In the coal fields of West Virginia and Kentucky, evicted families shivered in tents in midwinter; children went barefoot. In Los Angeles, people whose gas and electricity had been turned off were reduced to cooking over wood fires in back lots. Visiting nurses in New York found children famished; one episode, reported Lillian Wald, "might have come out of the tales of old Russia." A Philadelphia storekeeper told a reporter of one family he was keeping going on credit: "Eleven children in that house. They've got no shoes, no pants. In the house, no chairs. My God, you go in there, you cry, that's all."2 At least a million, perhaps as many as two millions were wandering the country in a fruitless quest for work or adventure or just a sense of movement. They roved the waterfronts of both oceans, rode in cattle cars andgondolas of the Rock Island and the Southern Pacific, slept on benches in Boston Common and Lafayette Square, in Chicago's Grant Park and El Paso's Plaza. From Klamath Falls to Sparks to Yuma, they shared the hobo's quarters in