Herbert C. Hoover The Man Years 1871 1964 Presidential Term 1929 1933



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Herbert C. Hoover - The Man

Years - 1871 - 1964

Presidential Term - 1929 - 1933
Material taken party from Pictorial History of American Presidents by John and Alice Durant @ 1955

The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents by William A. DeGregorio @ 1984

Presidential Anecdotes by Paul F. Boller, Jr. @ 1981

The Presidents Tidbits and Trivia by Sid Frank & Arden Davis Melick @ 1984
Herbert Hoover was the first president born west of the Mississippi, and the first to enter the White House a multimillionaire. He stood 5’ 11” tall and had straight brown hair, hazel eyes, a round fleshy face, ruddy complexion, and a husky build. He was of Swiss-German and English heritage. His father was Jesse Clark Hoover, a blacksmith and farm equipment salesman in West Branch, Iowa. He prospered here in the closely-knit Quaker community. He died at 34 of heart trouble when Herbert was six years old.

His mother was Huldah Minthorn Hoover, a native of Ontario, Canada, but she grew up near West Branch. She attended the University of Iowa (a rare accomplishment for women at that time) and taught school briefly before she married Jesse in 1870. After her husband’s death she took in sewing, carefully saving his life insurance money for her children’s education. She became a Quaker minister. She developed pneumonia, and at 35 died, thus leaving Herbert an orphan at age nine. The second of three children, Hoover had an older brother and a younger sister. Hoover was an eighth cousin once removed of Richard Nixon. They are the only two Quaker Presidents in the United States.

The three Hoover orphans were divided among the relatives and Herbert went to live with his uncle, Dr. John Minthorn, in Oregon. Raised amid strong religious influence, he had read the entire Bible by age 10. As president he attended the Friends Meeting House in Washington.

Hoover never graduated from high school. He took the entrance exam for the newly created Stanford University at Palo Alto, California in 1891 and failed. He took college preparatory instruction, tested again, and was admitted at age 17 – the youngest in Stanford’s first class. He graduated with a B.A. in geology in May 1895.

Here he met Lou Henry – the school’s only female geology major. He was a senior and she a freshman. They put off their wedding plans while she continued her education and he pursued his engineering career in Australia. From there he cabled her in her senior year and proposed marriage, and she promptly accepted by return wire. Although raised an Episcopalian, she decided to become a Quaker. They were both 24 years of age, and were married on February 10, 1899.

Soon after the wedding they sailed for Tientsin, China, and Hoover’s new job. Here he served as China’s mining engineer. There he developed vast coal deposits. They were there when the Boxer Rebellion broke out in 1900. On one occasion Hoover rescued a trapped Chinese child in the line of gunfire. Lou became quite proficient in Chinese and while in the White House the Hoovers at times conversed in Chinese to foil eavesdroppers.

In 1902 he returned to Australia to develop highly lucrative zinc mines. In Burma Hoover made much of his fortune; by 1914 he was worth an estimated $4 million. In 1908 he formed his own engineering firm, which aided in unearthing resources all over the globe. By the time he was forty he had a chain of offices encircling the globe and had amassed a fortune as a promoter and financier of mining properties from China, to Russia, Burma and to Africa.

Hoover had two sons, both of which were born in England. Herbert Hoover, Jr. – who became very successful in business and government service, and Allan Hoover who also became very successful in business.

Hoover was unknown outside of mining circles until 1914 when W.W.I. broke out in Europe. He was appointed head of the American Relief Committee, lending assistance to some 120,000 Americans stranded in Europe at the opening of hostilities. As head of the Relief of Belgium, he distributed some 34 million tons of American food, clothing, and supplies valued at $5.2 billion in addition to supplies provided by other countries. Meanwhile, as U.S. food administrator 1917-1918, he exhorted the nation to observe wheatless and meatless days to conserve supplies for the war effort; the new verb to hooverize meant voluntarily to ration one’s goods. Lou Hoover assisted her husband with the Belgium relief and for her work was decorated in 1919 by King Albert of Belgium.

At one point during the war Hoover hurried to Berlin to protest U-boat sinkings of the Belgian Relief Commission’s ships. A high German naval official assured him that it would never happen again. Hoover replied with a parable. “Your Excellency,” he said, “there was a man once who was annoyed by a snarling dog. He went to see the owner and asked him to muzzle the dog. ‘There is no need of that,’ said the owner, ‘the dog will never bite you.’ ‘Maybe,’ said the man. ‘You know the dog will not bit me. I know the dog will not bit me. But does the dog know?’” “Pardon me one moment, Herr Hoover,” said the official. “I will telephone at once the dog.” And he did so. (Paul F. Boller, Jr. p. 254)


After the war Hoover organized great food-relief projects in Europe. Billions of dollars passed through his hands during the seven year period he engaged in humanitarian work, but he declined compensation for his services.

Having supported Warren G. Harding for president in 1920, Hoover was appointed Secretary of Commerce and stayed on in the Coolidge administration. He gave up a salary of $500.000 to that of $15,000 for this position.

In 1928 Hoover aggressively pursued the Republican nomination. Charles Curtis of Kansas was nominated for his vice presidential candidate. Curtis was ¼ Kaw Indian and born on Indian land at Topeka, Kansas, and grew up for a time on an Indian reservation. Admitted to the bar in 1881, he practiced law in Topeka and in 1885 was elected county attorney for Shawnee County. He then served in the House and the Senate before being chosen as the vice presidential candidate.

In the White House the Hoovers entertained lavishly, employed more people than ever before in history (about 150 all told, of which some 80 were military aides, police and secret-service men.) As First Lady, Lou entertained frequently and at times threw together informal dinners on the spur of the moment, placing an unwelcome strain on the White House staff.

Hoover, along with John F. Kennedy, saw their political activities as being a public servant. They are the only two presidents to refuse their presidential salaries.

Defeated for reelection by F.D.R. he retired to his home in Palo Alto, California. In 1938 he toured Europe as it drifted toward war. He met with Adolf Hitler, whom he found “partly insane” but intelligent and well informed. He opposed U.S. entry into W.W.II until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. During the war he served as chairman of relief organizations for Poland, Finland, and Belgium. After the war President Truman appointed him coordinator of the Food Supply for World Famine 1946 – 1947. His most prominent activity in retirement was as chairman of the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government, popularly known as the Hoover Commission, 1947 – 1949 and 1953 – 1955. About ¾ of the recommendation to streamline government were adopted.

Mrs. Hoover died of a heart attack, in New York City on January 7, 1944. She was buried in Palo Alto, California, and reinterred at West Branch, Iowa, next to the president, following his death in 1964.

In later years he resided mostly at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. At 84 Hoover underwent his first operation, for removal of his gallbladder. He developed intestinal cancer and in 1962 had a tumor removed. Thereafter he was plagued by sporadic gastrointestinal hemorrhages. He was virtually deaf and blind near the end. He died October 20, 1964 in New York City. He had a simple funeral without eulogies, as befitted his Quaker faith. After the service, his body lay in state for two days at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington. He was buried at West Branch, Iowa. In his last will and testament he left the bulk of his estate, believed to be worth millions of dollars, to a trust fund established in 1961 for the benefit of his heirs. He also left specific bequests totaling $140,000 to six female secretaries.

Hoover also wrote about 10 books during his lifetime.

Hoover has had the second most honoree Doctorate Degrees conferred upon him. Robert Frost had the most.

Ford lived to 93 - 45 days older than Reagan

Reagan lived to 93



John Adams lived to 90 years

Hoover lived to 90 years – 200 days less than Adams.


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