Return to First Page --- ARKANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY, VOLUME 32(Autumn 1973), p. 218
the various relief organizations President Herbert Hoover had established to ameliorate the pain and hopelessness which were gradually becoming endemic in America. During 1930 and 1931 he had served as chairman of the Arkansas Drought Relief Committee and as head of the Arkansas branch of the President's Unemployment Relief Organization. Though a confirmed Democrat, he had nevertheless won President Hoover's admiration as a man who was willing to put aside political partisanship when national emergencies demanded unified action (2).
In the fall of 1931 the depression worsened as the United States experienced the most serious financial crisis in its history. The banking system was crumbling in the face of precipitous declines in factory production, commodity prices, securities values, and bank deposits. Bank suspensions and failures had surpassed all previous records, and national confidence in the banking system was steadily deteriorating. In December 1931, President Hoover proposed the establishment of a Reconstruction Finance Corporation to loan federal funds to distressed railrods, banks, and farmers. In January 1932, Congress acted on his request and established the RFC (3). Harvey Couch's compassion and determination, combined with his expertise in the fields of transportation, finance and public utilities, and local relief made him a prime candidate for leadership of the new agency Hoover had established to combat the depression. With the recommendation of President Hoover and Senator Joseph Robinson of Arkansas, Congress approved the nomination of Harvey C. Couch as one of the seven directors of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (4).
(2) Roger Lambert, "Hoover and the Red Cross in
the Arkansas Drought of 1930," Arkansas Historical
(3) Annual Report of the Federal Reserve Board (Washington, D.C., 1932), 16-20; Commercial and Financial Chronicle, Oct. 17, 1931; Federal Reserve Bulletin, XVII (Nov., 1931), 607.
(4) Herbert Hoover, The Memoirs of Herbert Hoover, Volume III: The Great Depression (New York, 1952), 108; The Nation, CXXXIV (Feb. 2, 1932), 154; Eugene Meyer, Columbia Oral History Research Project, Columbia University, Vol. III, 627-629.