Won the 1928 election over Alfred E. Smith by a popular vote of 21,391,993 to 15,016,169 and an electoral vote of 444 to 87, but lost the 1932 election to Fraklin Roosevelt. Charles Curtis served as his vice-president. The first president born west of the Mississippi River. During his term the great depression of 1929 happened, and he was largely blamed for its consequences.
Son of a Quaker blacksmith, Herbert Clark Hoover brought to the Presidency an unparalleled reputation for
public service as an engineer, administrator, and humanitarian. Born in an Iowa village in 1874, he grew up in Oregon. He enrolled at Stanford University when it opened in 1891, graduating as a mining engineer. He married his Stanford sweetheart, Lou Henry, and they went to China, where he worked for a private corporation as China's leading engineer. In June 1900 the Boxer Rebellion caught the Hoovers in Tientsin. For almost a month the settlement was under heavy fire. While his wife worked in the hospitals, Hoover directed the building of barricades, and once risked his life rescuing Chinese children. One week before Hoover celebrated his 40th birthday in London, Germany declared war on France, and the American Consul General asked his help in getting stranded tourists home. In six weeks his committee helped 120,000 Americans return to the United States. Next Hoover turned to a far more difficult task, to feed Belgium, which had been overrun by the German army. After the United States entered the war, President Wilson appointed Hoover head of the Food Administration. He succeeded in cutting consumption of foods needed overseas and avoided rationing at home, yet kept the Allies fed. After the Armistice, Hoover, a member of the Supreme Economic Council and head of the American Relief Administration, organized shipments of food for starving millions in central Europe. He extended aid to famine-stricken Soviet Russia in 1921. When a critic inquired if he was not thus helping Bolshevism, Hoover retorted, "Twenty million people are starving. Whatever their politics, they shall be fed!" After capably serving as Secretary of Commerce under Presidents Harding and Coolidge, Hoover became the Republican Presidential nominee in 1928. He said then: "We in America today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of any land." His election seemed to ensure prosperity. Yet within months the stock market crashed, and the Nation spiraled downward into depression. After the crash Hoover announced that while he would keep the Federal budget balanced, he would cut taxes and expand public works spending. In 1931 repercussions from Europe deepened the crisis, even though the President presented to Congress a program asking for creation of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to aid business, additional help for farmers facing mortgage foreclosures, banking reform, a loan to states for feeding the unemployed, expansion of public works, and drastic governmental economy. At the same time he reiterated his view that while people must not suffer from hunger and cold, caring for them must be primarily a local and voluntary responsibility. His opponents in Congress, who he felt were sabotaging his program for their own political gain, unfairly painted him as a callous and cruel President. Hoover became the scapegoat for the depression and was badly defeated in 1932. In the 1930's
he became a powerful critic of the New Deal, warning against tendencies toward statism. In 1947 President Truman appointed Hoover to a commission, which elected him chairman, to reorganize the Executive Departments. He was appointed chairman of a similar commission by President Eisenhower in 1953. Many economies resulted from both commissions' recommendations. Over the years, Hoover wrote many articles and books, one of which he was working on when he died at 90 in New York City.
held office during the early part of the Great Depression and presided over the transition from a business-managed economy to the government intervention of the New Deal.
His parents and most of his close relatives were rural Quakers, an influence that was decisive and lifelong. Entering Stanford University with that institution's first freshman class, Hoover studied geology and mining. There he met Lou Henry (1875-1944), then the only woman geology major attending Stanford, who later became (1897) his wife. Managing and reorganizing mining properties in Western Australia and China (where he and Mrs. Hoover endured the siege of Tientsin during the Boxer Rebellion) and elsewhere, Hoover was a millionaire by the time he was 40 years old.Relief Work. At the outbreak of World War I in 1914 Hoover organized and assisted the return of thousands of Americans stranded in Europe and then turned to the aid of war-torn Belgium. Overcoming resistance from the warring powers, Hoover's Commission for the Relief of Belgium during the next five years spent $1 billion in government loans and private donations, operated its own fleet of 200 ships, and transported 5 million metric tons of food. Returning home after the U.S. entry into the war in 1917, Hoover headed the Food Administration, which sought by voluntary methods to curb wartime profiteering in food supplies. After the war an American Relief Administration under Hoover's leadership distributed food, clothing, and medical supplies to refugees in Eastern Europe, including the Soviet Union, although Hoover personally detested communism.Secretary of Commerce. Hoover's reputation as engineer and humanitarian projected him onto the political stage. Mentioned as a presidential possibility as early as 1920, he served (1921-28) as secretary of commerce under Presidents Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge. Believing neither in traditional laissez-faire nor in economic planning and direction by the state, Hoover preached a doctrine of voluntary cooperation by privately associated Americans with the support, but not the control, of government. His management of flood relief on the Mississippi in 1927 showed this philosophy in action. He did, however, sponsor the expansion of government regulation in two areas of new technology, radiobroadcasting and commercial aviation. He made federally collected statistics more usefully available and encouraged manufacturers to standardize parts and supplies. Hoover saw the Department of Commerce as an important support for the expansion of American business overseas, and in the area of foreign commerce the department expanded its operations tremendously at the expense, some felt, of the State Department's traditional role.
Nominated for president by the Republicans in 1928, Hoover defeated Gov. Alfred E. Smith of New York, the Democratic candidate, in a campaign marred by partisan use of the issue of religion (Smith was a Roman Catholic), a controversy in which Hoover, to his credit, did not participate.The depression. Inaugurated in March 1929, Hoover enjoyed only a half year of the economic prosperity with which the country had become familiar during the 1920s. In the fall, after the stock market had crashed, he took unprecedented measures to deal with the depression that followed. In the interest of maintaining consumer purchasing power, he urged business leaders not to cut wages, as had been their usual custom during hard times. The policy was only temporarily successful; production declined, unemployment grew, and eventually wages for those still employed were cut after all. In addition, the government's own policies, leading to a drastic decline in the money supply, may have hastened the slide into the depression. Hoover sanctioned increasing government expenditure for useful public works, and after some prodding, government loans to business firms through a Reconstruction Finance Corporation. As the economy continued in stagnation, however, private and local relief funds became exhausted; against his own voluntaristic principles, therefore, Hoover reluctantly turned to direct federal spending for welfare purposes. Politically, it was too late; Hoover's Democratic opponents had fashioned an image of him as a reactionary unwilling to do anything to help people in distress. Unfair though it was, in light of Hoover's previous record, this stereotype haunted him, and his party, for the rest of his life, even though his opponents, when they came to power in 1933, wrestled with the same intractable problems until wartime production and employment came to their rescue. Hoover believed that the causes of the Great Depression were international and that the remedy for it must be sought in the same fashion. He therefore sponsored (1931) a moratorium on interallied war debts. He was planning an international monetary conference in London when his defeat for reelection intervened.Foreign affairs. Hoover's foreign policy was also based on voluntary cooperation. His overtures to Latin America, in contrast to the traditional U.S. imperialism in that area, foreshadowed the good neighbor policy of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his secretary of state, Cordell Hull. He opposed retaliation against Japan for its invasion of Manchuria (1931), rejecting the idea that the U.S. had a responsibility to police the world. Later Career. Nominated for reelection in 1932, Hoover was defeated by Franklin D. Roosevelt. He wrote and spoke against Roosevelt's New Deal, but little attention was paid to him except at Republican national conventions, where he ritually appeared every four years to be hailed as an elder statesman. Under Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, however, he headed two groups (known as the Hoover Commissions) that planned an extensive reorganization of the executive branch of the government. Hoover's books include American Individualism (1922), The Challenge to Liberty (1934), and Memoirs (3 vol., 1951-52).