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Famous Iowans

Updated on September 7, 2014
Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover | Source

POLITICIANS

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Herbert Hoover

Naturally, it only seems appropriate to start with Herbert Clark Hoover, the 31st president of the United States, who was born in West Branch, Iowa, and served one term as president from 1929-1933. He was also known as "the great humanitarian" and served as the Secretary of Commerce under both Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge. His presidential museum is located in West Branch, and includes his birthplace cottage. President Hoover was a member of the first graduating class of Stanford College in 1895, graduating with a degree in mining engineering. A public-policy research center named the "Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace" is now located at Stanford.

Before turning to politics and civil service, he was a successful businessman and engineer in Australia and China. He has been widely credited with preventing starvation in war-torn Europe during World War I while serving as the head of the U.S. Food Administration and the American Relief Administration. He took office of the president in 1929 and was held accountable for the stock market crash and great depression, and was defeated for a second term by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932 



Mamie Eisenhower
Mamie Eisenhower | Source

MAMIE EISENHOWER

Although not a politician herself, Mamie Eisenhower as the wife of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, belongs in this section of the Hub about famous politicians born in Iowa. She was born in Boone, Iowa, on November 14, 1896, the daughter of a wealthy meatpacker, but grew up in Colorado. During her White House years she was considered the apron-and-pearl image of the 1950's American housewife and was a very popular hostess. Elizabeth Arden, a stylist from Paris, was credited with giving Mamie her signature hairdo--a modest cut with bangs.

Henry A. Wallace
Henry A. Wallace | Source

HENRY A. WALLACE

The 33rd Vice-President of the United States was born on a farm in Adair County, Iowa, near the town of Orient. He graduated from Iowa State College (now Iowa State University) in Ames and graduated with a degree in animal husbandry. Before becoming vice-president, he also served as Secretary of Agriculture from 1933-1940, and Secretary of Commerce from 1945-1946.

In 1926, Wallace found the Hi-Bred Corn company, which later became Pioneer Hi-Bred, and was acquired in 1999 by the Dupont Corporation for approximately $10 bilion.

Wallace was an unsuccessful candidate for the presidency in 1948 as a nominee of the Progressive Party.

THOMAS R. HARKIN

A current Senator and former Representative from Iowa, Tom Harkin was born in Cumming, Iowa on November 19, 1939. He graduated from Iowa State University, Ames, in 1962 and from the Catholic University of American Law in Washington, DC in 1972, and was admitted to the Iowa bar in 1972.

Harkin was elected as a Democrat to the House of Representatives in 1974 and four succeeding terms. Then in 1984 he was elected to the Senate of the United States, which office he still holds. He was Chair of the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry from 2001 to 2003, and served on the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions from 2009 to 2011.

Mr. Harkin served in the United States Navy from 1962-1967, and in the Naval Reserve from 1968-1974

CHARLES E. GRASSLEY

Charles E. Grassley, Democratic Senator from Iowa, was born September 17, 1933, in New Hartford, Iowa. He graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in 1955 and went on to pursue a graduate degree in 1956. In 1957-1958 he attended the University of Iowa, graduating in agriculture. From 1959-1974 he was a member of the Iowa House of Representatives. In 1974 he was elected as a Republican to the House of Representatives and served there from 1974 to 1981. In 1980 he was elected to the Senate of the United States, and for five more successive terms. He chaired the Special Committee on Aging and has also served on the Committee on Finance.

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