Background/Early Life

• Herbert Clark Hoover was born in 1874 in West Branch, Iowa. He became an orphan at age 9.

• In 1891, Stanford University opened its doors and Hoover was part of the founding class. He graduated in 1895 with a degree in geology and had met his future wife, Lou Henry.

• Unable to find employment, Hoover took a job in a California mine pushing ore carts. Eventually he landed as a typist with Louis Janin, a mining consultant in San Francisco. Janin quickly promoted him and recommended him to the Bewick Moreing Company to manage their gold mines in Western Australia. Although only 23, Hoover was given the job.

• By age 40, Hoover had travelled around the world five times and became a self-made millionaire with interests on six of the seven continents.

• At the onset of World War I, Hoover and his family were living in London. He and Lou assisted an estimated 120,000 stranded Americans with aid and travel back to the states. He then set up the Commission for Relief in Belgium to feed more than 7 million non-combatants in German-occupied Belgium and Northern France.

• When the US entered the war in 1917, Hoover was asked by President Wilson to head the Food Administration. Hoover persuaded Americans to voluntary reduce their consumption of meat, wheat and sugar to assist in feeding soldiers and civilians abroad.

• As head of the American Relief Administration after the war, Hoover provided food and medical assistance to millions in Europe.

• President Harding appointed Hoover as Secretary of Commerce, a post he continued to serve under President Coolidge.

How he defined the office

• Known for his meticulous planning, energy and vision, Hoover set an ambitious presidential agenda to provide improved and efficient government services to the American people.

Successes and failures

• A global Great Depression in fall 1929 consumed most of Hoover’s attention. While unable to overcome the economic crisis, Hoover did initiate economic policies such as the Reconstruction Finance Corporation that laid the foundation for later recovery.

• His presidency also had some important successes that are usually overshadowed by the depression. Hoover used the power of the federal government to put gangster Al Capone in jail. A major naval disarmament conference was concluded among the great naval powers. Numerous public works programs such as the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, the U.S. Supreme Court Building and Hoover Dam were begun during his presidency. Hoover also set aside more than 2.2 million acres of forest and park lands.

notable quote

• “Being a politician is a poor profession. Being a public servant is a noble one.”