“Philosophy of Rugged Individualism”
Herbert Hoover's "Philosophy of Rugged Individualism" Campaign Speech
On October 22, 1928, Herbert Hoover gave the penultimate speech of his successful presidential campaign entitled, "Principles and Ideals of the United States Government." In that speech, the self-made millionaire expressed his belief that the American system was based on "rugged individualism" and "self-reliance." Government, which had necessarily assumed unprecedented economic powers during World War I, should retreat, and cease to interfere with businesses.
During the early days of the Great Depression, Hoover launched the largest public works projects up until his time. But he continued to believe that problems of poverty and unemployment were best left to "voluntary organization and community service." He feared that federal relief programs would undermine individual character by making recipients dependent on the government. He continued to prioritize the concept of "rugged individualism" even in the face of monumental economic catastrophe.
Bornet, Vaughn Davis. Labor Politics in a Democratic Republic: Moderation, Division, and Disruption in the Presidential Election of 1928. Washington, D.C.: Spartan Books, 1964.