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Herbert Clark Hoover (August
10, 1874 - October 20, 1964)
was the 31st (1929-1933)
President of the United Order: 31st President
States. Term of Office: March 4, 1929 - March 4, 1933
Followed: Calvin Coolidge
Succeeded by: Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Date of Birth Monday, August 10, 1874
Place of Birth: West Branch, Iowa
Date of Death: Tuesday, October 20, 1964
Place of Death: New York City. New York
First Lady: Lou Henry
Family Background Political Party: Republican
Hoover was born into a Vice President: Charles Curtis
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
Bolshevist 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
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.
Hoover and The Economy
Hoover's economic policy was laissez-faire.
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
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 unemployment 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.
Hoover was badly defeated in the 1932 presidential election. After Franklin
Roosevelt assumed the Presidency, Hoover became a critic of the New Deal,
warning against tendencies toward statism.
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.
Supreme Court appointments
* Charles Evans Hughes - Chief Justice - 1930
* Owen Josephus Roberts - 1930
* Benjamin Nathan Cardozo - 1932