Born on August 10, 1874, Herbert Clark Hoover, the 31st president of the United States.
Herbert Hoover was born into a Quaker family in Iowa, and orphaned at nine. He went to live with relatives in Oregon. A college education at Stanford led to a career in the mining industry and a great personal fortune.
You may know that he was the Republican president when the Stock Market crashed in 1929 and he attempted to lead the country through the first years of the Great Depression. Hoover was defeated by Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932.
But you may not know that Hoover was considered a hero and savior to millions of people. First during World War I, he had organized food relief programs in war-torn Belgium. Later, in the aftermath of World War I, Russia was in the throes of Europe’s greatest calamity since the days of the Black Plague . More than five million died in the new Soviet Russia when famine struck. In 1921, Herbert Hoover led America’s response to the “Great Famine,” subject of this PBS documentary and is credited with saving millions of lives.
Hoover gets hard knocks for the hard times of the Depression and his flawed response to the problems confronting America. But others assess him more generously. Historian Richard Norton Smith once noted:
“Herbert Hoover saved more lives through his various relief efforts than all the dictators of the 20th century together could snuff out. Seventy years before politicians discovered children, he founded the American Child Health Association. The problem is, Hoover defies easy labeling. How can you categorize a ‘rugged individualist’ who once said, ‘The trouble with capitalism is capitalists; they’re too damn greedy.’ ” (“Remembering Herbert Hoover,” New York Times, August 10, 1992)
President Hoover died on October 20, 1964 in New York City. He was 90 years old. This is his New York Times obituary.
The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum offers archival materials and online exhibitions.
You can read more about Hoover in the forthcoming Don’t Know Much About® the American Presidents, to be published on September 18, 2012 by Hyperion Books.