Born: August 10, 1874 in West Branch, Iowa
Died: October 20, 1964 in New York,
Married to Lou Henry Hoover
Son of a Quaker blacksmith, Herbert Clark Hoover brought
to the Presidency an unparalleled reputation for public service as an
engineer, administrator, and humanitarian.
Born in an Iowa village in 1874, he grew up in Oregon. He enrolled at
Stanford University when it opened in 1891, graduating as a mining engineer.
He married his Stanford sweetheart, Lou Henry, and they went to China,
where he worked for a private corporation as China's leading engineer.
In June 1900 the Boxer Rebellion caught the Hoovers in Tientsin. For
almost a month the settlement was under heavy fire. While his wife worked
in the hospitals, Hoover directed the building of barricades, and once
risked his life rescuing Chinese children.
One week before Hoover celebrated his 40th birthday
in London, Germany declared war on France, and the American Consul General
asked his help
in getting stranded tourists home. In six weeks his committee helped
120,000 Americans return to the United States. Next Hoover turned to
a far more difficult task, to feed Belgium, which had been overrun by
the German army.
After the United States entered the war, President Wilson appointed
Hoover head of the Food Administration. He succeeded in cutting consumption
of foods needed overseas and avoided rationing at home, yet kept the
After the Armistice, Hoover, a member of the Supreme Economic Council
and head of the American Relief Administration, organized shipments of
food for starving millions in central Europe. He extended aid to famine-stricken
Soviet Russia in 1921. When a critic inquired if he was not thus helping
Bolshevism, Hoover retorted, "Twenty million people are starving.
Whatever their politics, they shall be fed!"
After capably serving as Secretary of Commerce under Presidents Harding
and Coolidge, Hoover became the Republican Presidential nominee in 1928.
He said then: "We in America today are nearer to the final triumph
over poverty than ever before in the history of any land." His election
seemed to ensure prosperity. Yet within months the stock market crashed,
and the Nation spiraled downward into depression.
After the crash Hoover announced that while he would keep the Federal
budget balanced, he would cut taxes and expand public works spending.
In 1931 repercussions from Europe deepened the crisis, even though the
President presented to Congress a program asking for creation of the
Reconstruction Finance Corporation to aid business, additional help for
farmers facing mortgage foreclosures, banking reform, a loan to states
for feeding the unemployed, expansion of public works, and drastic governmental
At the same time he reiterated his view that while people must not suffer
from hunger and cold, caring for them must be primarily a local and voluntary
His opponents in Congress, who he felt were sabotaging his program for
their own political gain, unfairly painted him as a callous and cruel
President. Hoover became the scapegoat for the depression and was badly
defeated in 1932. In the 1930's he became a powerful critic of the New
Deal, warning against tendencies toward statism.
In 1947 President Truman appointed Hoover to a commission, which elected
him chairman, to reorganize the Executive Departments. He was appointed
chairman of a similar commission by President Eisenhower in 1953. Many
economies resulted from both commissions' recommendations. Over the years,
Hoover wrote many articles and books, one of which he was working on
when he died at 90 in New York City on October 20, 1964.