Herbert Hoover

Herbert Hoover
President Hoover portrait.jpg
31st President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1929 – March 4, 1933
Vice PresidentCharles Curtis
Preceded byCalvin Coolidge
Succeeded byFranklin D. Roosevelt
3rd United States Secretary of Commerce
In office
March 5, 1921 – August 21, 1928
PresidentWarren G. Harding
Calvin Coolidge
Preceded byJoshua W. Alexander
Succeeded byWilliam F. Whiting
Director of the United States Food Administration
In office
August 21, 1917 – November 16, 1918
PresidentWoodrow Wilson
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Personal details
Herbert Clark Hoover

(1874-08-10)August 10, 1874
West Branch, Iowa, U.S.
DiedOctober 20, 1964(1964-10-20) (aged 90)
New York City, U.S.
Resting placeHerbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum,
West Branch, Iowa
Political partyRepublican
Lou Henry
(m. 1899; died 1944)
  • Jesse Hoover
  • Hulda Randall Minthorn
ResidenceStanford, California, U.S.
Education (BS)
SignatureCursive signature in ink

Herbert Clark Hoover (August 10, 1874 – October 20, 1964) was an American engineer, businessman and politician who served as the 31st President of the United States from 1929 to 1933 during the Great Depression. A Republican, as Secretary of Commerce in the 1920s he introduced themes of efficiency in the business community and provided government support for standardization, efficiency and international trade. As president from 1929 to 1933, his domestic programs were overshadowed by the onset of the Great Depression. Hoover was defeated in a landslide election in 1932 by Democratic Franklin D. Roosevelt. After this loss, Hoover became staunchly conservative, and advocated against Roosevelt's New Deal policies.

A lifelong Quaker, he became a successful mining engineer with a global perspective. He built an international reputation as a humanitarian by leading international relief efforts in Belgium during World War I, 1914-1917. When the U.S. entered the war in 1917 he became "food czar" as head of the U.S. Food Administration with charge of much of the nation's food supply and a massive advertising campaign to help consumers adjust and save. He worked well with President Woodrow Wilson and the cabinet, and gained a large national audience. After the war, he led the American Relief Administration, which provided food to the inhabitants of Central Europe and Eastern Europe. Hoover was popular among progressives as a potential candidate in the 1920 presidential election, but his candidacy quickly petered out. Republican Warren G. Harding won and appointed Hoover as Secretary of Commerce. Hoover was an unusually active and visible cabinet member, becoming known as "Secretary of Commerce and Under-Secretary of all other departments". Hoover won the Republican nomination in 1928, and defeated Democrat Al Smith in a landslide. Hoover avoided the anti-Catholicism that hurt Smith, but in a time of peace and prosperity his success was highly likely.

The Great Depression was the central issue of his presidency, starting with the Wall Street Crash of October 1929. There were occasional upswings but more frequent downswings until the economy verged on disaster in 1931-33, along with that of most of the industrial world. Hoover pursued a variety of policies in an attempt to lift the economy, but opposed direct federal relief efforts until late in his tenure. He asked business and labor leaders to avoid wage cuts and work stoppages, and raised taxes in the hope of balancing the budget. In 1930, he reluctantly approved the Smoot–Hawley Tariff, which sent foreign trade spiraling down. The economy kept falling, and the unemployment rate rose to 25%, with heavy industry, mining, and wheat and cotton farming hit especially hard. In 1932, Hoover signed a major public works bill and established the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, which was designed to provide government loans to banks, railroads and big businesses in danger of failing. The downward economic spiral, along with violent dispersal of the Bonus Army, set the stage for Hoover's overwhelming defeat by Roosevelt, who promised a New Deal.

Hoover became a conservative spokesman in opposition to the domestic and foreign policies of Roosevelt. He opposed entry into the Second World War and was not called on to serve in any public role during the war. He had better relations with President Harry S. Truman, and Hoover helped produce a number of reports that changed U.S. occupation policy in Germany. Truman also appointed Hoover to head the Hoover Commission, intended to foster greater efficiency throughout the federal bureaucracy, and Hoover served on a similar commission under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. By the time of his death in 1964, he had rehabilitated his image. Nevertheless, Hoover is generally not ranked highly in historical rankings of presidents of the United States.

Family background and early life

Herbert Hoover in 1877

Herbert Hoover was born on August 10, 1874 in West Branch, Iowa. He is the only president born in that state, and the first born west of the Mississippi River. His father, Jesse Hoover (1849–1880), was a blacksmith and farm implement store owner of German (Pfautz, Wehmeyer), German-Swiss (Huber, Burkhart) and English ancestry. Jesse Hoover and his father Eli had moved to Iowa from Ohio twenty years previously.[1] Hoover's mother, Hulda Randall Minthorn (1849–1884), was born in Norwich, Ontario, Canada and was of English and Irish ancestry. Both of his parents were Quakers.

Hoover's family figured prominently in the town's public prayer life due almost entirely to Hulda's role in her church.[2] His father, noted by the local paper for his "pleasant, sunshiny disposition", died in 1880. After working to retire her husband's debts, retain their life insurance, and care for the children, his mother died in 1884, leaving Hoover (age nine), his older brother, and his younger sister as orphans.[3] Fellow Quaker Lawrie Tatum was appointed as Hoover's guardian.

Herbert Hoover birthplace cottage, West Branch, Iowa

After a brief stay with one of his grandmothers in Kingsley, Iowa, Hoover lived the next 18 months with his uncle Allen Hoover in West Branch. In November 1885, he went to Newberg, Oregon, to live with his uncle Dr. John Minthorn, a physician and businessman whose own son had died the year before. The Minthorn household was considered cultured and educational, and imparted a strong work ethic.[4] Observers, including Minthorn himself, describe Hoover as being unhappy with the long days of toil he experienced while staying with the Minthorn household. Hoover attended Friends Pacific Academy (now George Fox University), but dropped out at the age of thirteen to become an office assistant for his uncle's real estate office in Salem, Oregon. Though he did not attend high school, Hoover attended night school and learned bookkeeping, typing, and mathematics.[5]

Hoover entered Stanford University in 1891, its inaugural year, after failing all the entrance exams (except mathematics) and then being tutored for the summer in Palo Alto.[6] Hoover claimed to be the very first student at Stanford, by virtue of having been the first person in the first class to sleep in the dormitory.[7] Hoover worked a variety of odd jobs to support himself, and struggled in many of his classes, especially English. But he found a happiness at Stanford that previously eluded him.

Hoover had been unsure of his major before arriving at Stanford, but a position working for geologist John Casper Branner convinced him to switch his major to geology, and Hoover interned for Branner and the United States Geological Survey during the summer. Though he was shy among fellow students at first, Hoover won election as student treasurer and became known for his distaste for fraternities and sororities. In his senior year, he became smitten with a classmate named Lou Henry, but his financial situation precluded marriage. Hoover graduated from Stanford in 1895, in the midst of the Panic of 1893, and initially struggled to find a job.[8]

While at the university he was the student manager of both the baseball and football teams and was a part of the inaugural Big Game versus rival the University of California and friend (Cal Manager) Herbert Lang.[9] Only 10,000 tickets were printed for the inaugural game and 20,000 people showed up. Both Hoover and Lang had to find pots, bowls and any other available receptacles to collect admission fees.[10] Stanford won the game.[7][11]:21–22 In 1892 Hoover invited Polish composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski to give a benefit concert. Hoover and his associates were unable to pay Paderewski the entire honorarium. The musician after hearing their story returned them the money so they could pay for rental of the concert hall. In 1919 Paderewski, now prime minister of Poland, traveled to America to thank the head of the American Relief Administration for helping Poland. "That's all right, Mr. Paderewski", Hoover replied. "Besides, you don't remember it, but you helped me once when I was a student at college and I was in a hole."[12][13][14]

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српски / srpski: Херберт Хувер
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Herbert Hoover
татарча/tatarça: Герберт Гувер
українська: Герберт Гувер
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粵語: 胡佛
žemaitėška: Herbert Hoover