Born the second son to devout Quaker parents, Jesse and Hulda Hoover, on August 10, 1874, Herbert Clark Hoover brought an interesting reputation to politics as an administrator, an engineer and a widely respected humanitarian. He was an adept manager who had strong beliefs in individualism and philanthropy, two traits that conflicted during his one term as president.
Herbert C. Hoover was born in Iowa, but spent most of his life growing up in Oregon where he was raised by an uncle after the deaths of both his parents before he was ten years old. He and his two siblings were separated at an early age, each of them being taken in by different family members. Because of such experiences, Hoover became a man sympathetic to the less fortunate, especially to children.
Although he never finished high school, Herbert Hoover graduated as part of the first class from Stanford University where he had met his future wife, Lou Henry. Both Herbert and Lou received degrees in geology, which eventually took them to China where Herbert was a mining engineer and later an executive with a mining company. In 1900, during the Boxer Rebellion in China, Hoover assisted in building barricades and rescuing children trapped in areas of heavy fighting. Herbert Hoover was also instrumental in helping over one-hundred thousand Americans escape London when the Germany declared war on France. One of his greatest contributions and accomplishments during World War I was the feeding of Belgium people when Germany attacked that country.
When the United States entered World War I, Herbert Hoover was appointed as the director of the Food Administration where he succeeded in reducing food consumption overseas and at home so that rationing never had to be implemented. After the War, Hoover organized food shipments to Europe, including to the famine-stricken Soviet Russia. In response to criticism for working with the communist during this time, Hoover replied: "Twenty million people are starving. Whatever their politics, they shall be fed!"
Presidents Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge appointed Herbert Hoover as Secretary of Commerce during their terms. In 1928, Hoover was the Republican candidate for president during which he proclaimed that America was nearer to eliminating poverty than ever. The people believed that he would bring prosperity back to the nation, but in just eight months after he was elected, Hoover watched the stock market collapse and America become buried in the Great Depression.
As the economic crisis became global, President Hoover asked the government to aid businesses, help the farmers with mortgage foreclosures and to institute banking reforms. He also wanted the federal government to loan money to the states to help feed and house the unemployed and to fund public works projects to get people back to work. But he did not believe that the people should be helped directly with government funds; those matters should be handled through volunteerism and charities. People rebelled by constructing shanty towns for the homeless, which they called Hoovervilles, a designation that spelled doom for Hoover. His failure to directly aid the poverty-stricken public with available federal funds contradicted the compassion he had shown to the starving in Europe.
Herbert Hoover became the target for the failing economy in the United States, and in part, for the gradual global decline. Hoover was defeated in 1932 when Franklin Roosevelt was elected by an unprecedented landslide victory. Herbert Hoover became a very outspoken critic of Roosevelt's New Deal program because the measures taken therein were contradictory to Hoover's belief that governmental support of an individual would only lead to long-term debt for the nation and an end to self-reliant citizens as the nation moved toward socialism.
After leaving public life, Herbert Clark Hoover spent his time traveling and writing. His autobiography was never completed during his lifetime, but in 2011 it was published more as a criticism of the nation's involvement in global events than as a record of his own life.
More information about Herbert C. Hoover
Some popular websites that offer more information about Herbert Hoover are:
- http://www.hoover.archives.gov/ pictorial
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Hoover extensive biography
- http://www.biography.com/people/herbert-hoover-9343371 synopsis and biography
- http://millercenter.org/president/hoover facts at a glance and good biography
Hoover historical site
The Hoover Library and Museum for visitors are located on the grounds of the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site is located in West Branch, Iowa and is open for visitation.