Herbert Clark Hoover
1929 - 1933
Herbert Clark Hoover was born in West Branch, Iowa on August 10, 1874. He was the first President born in Iowa and the first President to be born west of the Mississippi. River.
When he was young a Native American boy taught his how to shoot prairie chickens with a bow and arrow.
Herbert was orphaned as a child. He was nine years old.
He was sent to Oregon to work on his uncle's farm. His uncle was not kind to him. Hoover word six days a week at hard labor clearing stumps and splitting logs.
When asked by a reporter why he liked food so much, Hoover said that it was most likely because when he was a boy he was always hungry.
Later his uncle went into real estate. He worked and sometimes slept in the office. He learned bookkeeping and typing. He attended a business college at night.
With help from a kind professor, he enter Stanford where he studied geology.
That is where he met his future wife Low.
He worked summers making maps. One time he thought he didn't have a job for the summer. When he found out at the last minute that he had a job near Lake Tahoe he walked 80 miles in three days to get to the job.
During the depression he worked in a mine pushing handcars through the dark tunnels. He worked seven days a week. He later lied about his age and got a job as a mining engineer in China.
In 1899, he made enough money to ask Lou Henry to marry him.
They lived in China, London and other spots around the world. In the years 1907, 1908, and 1910 he did not spend a day in the United States.
Herbert Hoover became rich as a mining engineer and running very productive mines. By 1912 he was worth over four million dollars.
Herbert Hoover was a Quaker.
Herbert Hoover was 5' 11" tall.
During WW I Hover worked with the government on saving food and supplies for the troops. He instituted meatless days and encouraged people to start victory gardens for food so more food could go towards the war effort. He created slogans like "Wheatless days in America make sleepless nights in Germany," and "Save beans by all means." Hoover developed a very positive reputation for his work in WW I.
As Secretary of Commerce under President Harding he ordered that airline runways have lights and radio beams to guide the planes. He also created licenses for radio station so they wouldn't broadcast on the same wave length.
After World War I (1919) he was an administrator for food and humanitarian aid in Europe. H raised close to $30 to feed families and children in Europe. He was so popular in Finland that the Fins added hoover to their dictionary. It means "help." It was estimated that he saved nine million lives in Europe.
In 1922, Hoover, then Commerce Secretary, participated in the first successful long-distance television demonstration in New York.
Hoover integrated the Census Bureau and asked the Red Cross to hire more African-Americans.
He and his wife, Lou Hoover, lived in China before he became president. While there he and his wife learned to speak Mandarin Chinese. They some times speak Chinese in the White House to prevent others from listening to their conversation.
Herbert Hoover never promised a "chicken in every pot." It was a Republican Party ad not endorsed by Hoover during the election.
Both the Democrat and Republican Parties wanted Hoover to run for president on their party ballot.
In the 1929 presidential election he won in 40 of the 48 states.
When he became president it was the first elected office he had ever held.
Hoover was the first US President born west of the Mississippi.
Since President Hoover was a Quaker he did not take an oath of office. He affirmed his presidency.
Hoover was the first president to mention crime in a inaugural address. (Bootlegging and Al Capone were in the news at that time.)
Herbert Hoover was the first president to have a telephone right on his desk.
Herbert Hoover required White House servants to be "invisible." Whenever he or the first lady appeared, the servants would jump into the nearest closet to avoid being seen.
During the depression when many people were going hungry, Hoover ate seven course meals that were some of the "most elaborate table ever set at the White House.
He and his wife were served by Marine duty officers that were all the same height.
President Herbert Hoover, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Harvey Firestone at Edison's 82nd birthday. Ft. Myers, Florida, February 11, 1929.
Herbert Hoover Library.
(Click for larger image.)
President Hoover was one of two Presidents who did not accept a salary for being President. He donated his salary to charity. He was a millionaire by time he was forty.
He was the first President that was a millionaire.
He enjoyed eating sweet potatoes with toasted marsh mellows.
He loved to go fly fishing.
President Hoover liked tossing a medicine ball as part of his morning workout.
Hoover Hover's Vice President was Charles Curtis (1929-1933).
Hoover's Secretary of State won a Nobel Peace Prize.
He approved the "Star-Spangled Banner" as our national anthem. It became the national anthem in 1931.
When Mrs. Hoover invited the black wife of a congressman to the White House for tea, he was officially denounced by the state legislature of Texas. Three southern legislatures adopted resolutions reprimanding the First Lady. A southern newspaper stated she had "defiled the White House."
Charles Curtis, Hoover's vice president, was the only nonwhite person to be elected vice president of the U.S. He was a Kaw Indian.
When the Hoovers wanted to speak privately while in the presence of White House guests, they spoke Chinese.
His son had 2 pet alligators that would sometimes wander around the White House. He also had several dogs:
- an Irish Wolfhound named Patrick.
- Fox Terriers named Sonnie and Big Ben.
- Eskimo dog named Yukon
- Elkhound named Weejie
A common sign held up by hitchhikers during the fall of 1932 read: "If you don't give me a ride, I'll vote for Hoover."
During the depression 3 out of every 4 auto workers were let go. One out of every four farmers lost their farms.
When he went to Detroit to campaign at Olympia Stadium, the crowd chanted "Hang Hoover." In Wisconsin, his train was delayed because a man was detected removing spikes holding the tracks.
The homeless built shantytowns out of scrap. The shantytowns were named "Hoovervilles."
One of the worst moves by Hoover involved veterans who were protesting to get pensions. They camped out on the out skirts of Washington. Hoover had the army drive the men out using mounted cavalrymen and tanks. His action was denounced by every newspaper in America.
Hoover became very unpopular as the Great Depression continued. In 1929, he won 40 states in his election. In 1932, Hoover won 6 states.
Herbert Hoover was the last President to have his term of office end on March 3
Secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes re-named Hoover Dam to Boulder Dam in 1934. Congress restored the original name Hoover Dam in 1947.
Hover had honorary degrees from fifty universities.
Herbert Hoover died in New York, New York on October 20, 1964. He was 90 years old. He was one four presidents to reach age 90.
He was buried on a hill overlooking the home he was born in years earlier.
Hover was rated by some as a failed president. In one poll of academics he was rated as the worst president. It is worth remembering that after WW I and WW II he feed more people and save more lives than anyone else in history.
Quotes from Herbert Hoover:
"It is just as important that business keep out of government at that government keep out of business."
Speech, October 22, 1928
"Being a politician is a poor profession. Being a public servant is a noble one.
"Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt."
"No public man can be just a little crooked."
"Those who retire without some occupation can spend their time only in talking about their ills and pills."