44 Days of Presidents: Herbert Hoover
Posted On: 10/25/2016 - 4:14pm, Posted By: David Conzett, Curator of History Objects & Fine Art
In our series, 44 Days of Presidents, we present artifacts, documents, and connections to our local and national history from our collections that represent each of the 44 Presidents of the United States as we gear up for the 2016 Presidential election.
Herbert Hoover is probably one of the most controversial of the modern U.S. Presidents because of his association with financial crash of 1929 and the Great Depression that followed. Herbert Clark Hoover was born in 1874 to a Quaker family in West Branch, Iowa. Orphaned at a young age, he was raised by family members in Iowa and later Oregon. After graduating from Stanford University in 1895, he toured the world as a mining engineer and consultant and became a wealthy man.
With the outbreak of World War One in 1914, Hoover oversaw the evacuation of Americans from Europe and organized the Commission on Belgium Relief and later the American Relief Administration. He became a respected figure on the international stage. When the United Sates entered the war in 1917, Hoover was appointed director of the U.S. Food Administration by President Woodrow Wilson.
Hoover remained active in the American Relief Administration following the war and was appointed Secretary of Commerce by President Warren G. Harding in 1920. As Secretary of Commerce, Hoover forged a partnership between the government and big business to create regulations and fair pricing for the public good.
When Calvin Coolidge did not seek a second term in 1928, Hoover became the Republican presidential nominee and won a landslide victory over Democrat Al Smith. In October 1929, less than a year after his election, the country was plunged into the worst depression in U.S. History. Although Hoover advocated a number of public works programs and promoted government intervention, his policies were often too little, too late – and the financial situation worsened. He was defeated in a landslide election by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932.
Herbert Hoover remained active as a consultant on national and international affairs until his death in 1964.