Sunday, October 25, 2015

Herbert Hoover

Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Museum

Those who assume that all Republicans are militaristic war hawks are unfamiliar with the life of Herbert Hoover (1874 - 1964).  He was born into a strict Quaker family and was a lifelong pacifist.
Young Hoover and Lou
The future 31st President of the United States was born in West Branch Iowa.  He was orphaned at a young age and was sent off to his uncle in Oregon.  He attended Stanford University where he studied engineering and met his future wife Lou.
Herbert Hoover
Hoover went into the mining business and worked in Australia and China.  Though present in China during the Boxer rebellion in 1900 he refused to take up arms.  He grew wealthy in the mining business.
Hoover helped feed the Belgians
He was living in London at the outbreak of World War I in 1914.  He made his first real entry into public service with the Commission for Relief of Belgium.  Thousands of Belgian lives were saved due to his actions. Winston Churchill was not a fan of Hoover referring to him as an "SOB"; perhaps this was and inevitable conflict as Hoover was bringing food into German-occupied Belgium while Churchill, as head of the Admiralty, was in charge of enforcing a blockade designed to starve the Germans into surrender.

When America joined the war on the Allied side in 1917 Hoover joined the Wilson administration where he supervised food rationing and distribution.  Millions of lives were saved as a result of Hoover's actions during and after the war.  Hoover became known as the great humanitarian.

Hoover Commerce Secretary
He served as Commerce secretary under Harding launching the radio broadcasting industry.  The Commerce building in Washington DC was named in his honor.
Wall St. Lays and Egg
He was elected President in 1928 by a wide margin.  The stock market crash of 1929 is widely believed to have derailed his Presidency. He was a reformer and many of the New Deal innovations credited to FDR were, in fact, initiated by Hoover.
Hoover did not invade!
As President he presided over a time of peace.  In America Invades our only reference to Hoover can be found in Nicaragua chapter where we wrote..."President Hoover ordered the withdrawal of US marines (from Nicaragua), which took place in January 1933."  Though FDR receives credit for the Good Neighbor policy towards central and south America it was Hoover who initiated it.  As President elect Hoover visited several central American countries in 1928 making use of the US Navy battleship Maryland -- the ever-parsimonious outgoing President Coolidge had initially hoped he would take a cruiser!

Battleship Maryland in 1928
With the onset of the Depression Hoover was swept from power in the 1932 election that ushered in the FDR era.  He was frustrated in his attempted political comeback in 1940 by the nomination of Wendell Wilkie.  Though he disapproved of Truman's use of the atomic bomb against Japan, Hoover developed a friendship with Truman.  Hoover said, "The use of the atomic bomb, with its indiscriminate killing of women and children, revolts my soul."  He served as an adviser to many Republican leaders from Eisenhower to Nixon.

During his many years in the political wilderness Hoover became a prolific writer, memoirist and historian.  His book on World War II, Freedom Betrayed, was only published in 2011 (!  Hoover was an anti-interventionist who supported isolationism prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Hoover was a consistent advocate for freedom and limited government; he opposed statism of the fascist right and also the Communist left.
Hoover suite at the Waldorf
Hoover presided over two government commissions that were designed to improve government efficiency.  He lived at the Waldorf hotel in New York city.  He also loved to fish.

Hoover fly fishing
You can learn much more about Hoover at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Museum in West Branch, Iowa...

You can purchase copies of America Invades 
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Unknown said...

I would be interested in reading your elaborations on "Hoover was a reformer and many of the New Deal innovations credited to FDR were, in fact, initiated by Hoover."

Commander Kelly said...

Bob, For much more on this topic see James Grant's book Money of the Mind. Here is the Amazon link...

Unknown said...

Bob, Robert Murphy has done some excellent work on this subject as well, diving into the economic data to show how much of an economic interventionist Hoover was. The idea that Hoover was laissez-faire is a completely false narrative. Hoover had a long government career before becoming President and believed strongly in government's ability to fix problems. Calvin Coolidge, an actual laissez-faire President, said of Hoover (whom he derided as "Wonder Boy" behind closed doors), "That man has offered me unsolicited advice every day for six years, all of it bad."

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