I'm not sure where many historians got the idea that Herbert Hoover was a laissez faire president. He was nothing of the sort. Just because many fawning historians say something doesn't make it any more true than many fawning economists saying that Wall Street needed a bailout in 2008 made that a wise decision.
Of Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt himself once said, "He is certainly a wonder, and I wish we could make him President of the United States." Paul Johnson, one of the few who historians who did not worship FDR, correctly observed that Hoover, as part of Woodrow Wilson's administration
absorbed its philosophy of forceful government direction and planning... [He] achieved a worldwide reputation for efficient, interventionist benevolence. There was no aspect of public policy in which Hoover was not intensely active
A History of the American People, page 737Sounds like I'm describing FDR, doesn't it? I'm not. What is the agenda of a media that perpetuates this lie about Hoover? It's not hard to guess. Thomas Woods writes
For decades, American schoolchildren were--and many still are--taught that President Herbert Hoover, who is described as a strict proponent of laissez faire, sat back and did nothing as the Great Depression devastated the country. [In reality] Hoover expressly said that the laissez-faire approach to the economy was a thing of the past. No peacetime president in American history intervened in the economy to the extent that Hoover did.
Meltdown: A Free Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed..., page 98-100Unsurprising to students of actual American history, as Woods tells us,
Much of what constituted FDR's New Deal programs was just a series of extrapolations from what Hoover had already been doing. In short, the Hoover-Roosevelt program...prop[ped] up unsound business decisions.One can really claim that Franklin D. Roosevelt was a good president only if they can convince you that he was different than Herbert Hoover. He wasn't.
When you develop a correct understanding of what really happened, you realize that most historians didn't lie to you by telling you that Herbert Hoover was a terrible president. But then you also realize that Franklin D. Roosevelt was essentially the same kind of president Hoover was. And that would make him and his economic policies rather terrible as well.