Hoover was born into a Quaker family in an Iowa village, but after his parents' deaths lived in Newberg, 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 Tianjin. 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 Woodrow 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 Allies fed.
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 Warren G. Harding and Calvin 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 what became known as the Great Depression.
After the crash Hoover announced that while he would keep the Federal budget balanced, he would cut taxes and expand public works spending. However, he signed the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act, which raised tariffs on over 20,000 dutiable items. This act is often blamed for deepening the depression, and being Hoover's biggest political blunder. The Hoover administration's tightning of the money supply (for fear of inflation) is also regarded by most modern economists as a mistaken tactic given the situation.
In 1931, repercussions from Europe deepened the economic 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 economy in 1932. The agency advanced $2 billion in loans to state and local governments and to banks, railroads, farm mortgage associations, and other businesses. It was too little too late and did not stem the mass unemployment of the Great Depression.
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 responsibility.
Since 1930, the Hoover administration had seldom let a month go by without public announcements that the worst of the economic downturn was over. Such proclamations were invariably soon followed by more news of stock-market falls and rises in enemployment proving these assesments wrong. Hoover became the scapegoat for the Depression, and shanty towns of unemployed rising across the country became known as "Hooverville"s.
Due to the RFC's limited success, Hoover called for construction of a new dam on the Colorado River, named the Hoover Dam. This 12-year project was to provide thousands of jobs, electricity, and generate income to stimulate the economy. Hoover's government-operated RFC program and Hoover Dam marked a shift away from laissez-faire governmental policy and paved the way for Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal programs.
His Political Defeat His opponents in Congress, who he felt were sabotaging his program for their own political gain, painted him as a callous and cruel president.
In 1947, President Harry S 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 from intestinal cancer[?] at the age of 90 in New York City on October 20, 1964.
(Original Source: White House Website (http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/hh31))
Supreme Court appointments
|Presidents of the United States||Succeeded by:
Franklin Delano Roosevelt