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Herbert Hoover: 31st President

Updated on February 7, 2017

Herbert Hoover: 1917


Herbert Hoover: the Millionaire

Herbert Clark Hoover was born on August 10, 1874 in West Branch, Iowa to a blacksmith, making him the first president to be born west of the Mississippi River. When he was six, his father died of a heart attack. Three years later, his mother also died, leaving them orphaned. He was then separated from his two siblings, a brother that was older and a sister that was younger. He was raised by his aunt and uncle in Newburg, Oregon.

In 1891, he took the entrance exam to attend Standford University. Although he failed the test, a professor admitted him conditionally because he saw potential. While there, he studied to become a mining engineer, majoring in geology. He was so poor that he occasionally lived in the barracks housing where the construction workers that were building the university stayed.

He also met his wife, a fellow geologist, Lou Henry who traveled with him as he became a successful engineer with Bewick, Moreing and Company. They traveled around the world together and he eventually became one of the four partners of the company. While in both Australia and China, he discovered rich deposits of gold and iron and had success on every continent except Antarctica. This success allowed him to become China's chief mining engineer and to be able to donate his entire presidential salary to charities. Despite his disadvantaged beginnings, he became a millionaire by the age of 40.

List of United States Presidents

1. George Washington

2. John Adams

3. Thomas Jefferson

4. James Madison

5. James Monroe

6. John Quincy Adams

7. Andrew Jackson

8. Martin Van Buren

9. William Henry Harrison

10. John Tyler

11. James K. Polk

12. Zachary Taylor

13. Millard Fillmore

14. Franklin Pierce

15. James Buchanan

16. Abraham Lincoln

17. Andrew Johnson

18. Ulysses S. Grant

19. Rutherford B. Hayes

20. James Garfield

21. Chester A. Arthur

22. Grover Cleveland

23. Benjamin Harrison

24. Grover Cleveland

25. William McKinley

26. Theodore Roosevelt

27. William Howard Taft

28. Woodrow Wilson

29. Warren G. Harding

30. Calvin Coolidge

31. Herbert Hoover

32. Franklin D. Roosevelt

33. Harry S. Truman

34. Dwight D. Eisenhower

35. John F. Kennedy

36. Lyndon B. Johnson

37. Richard M. Nixon

38. Gerald R. Ford

39. James Carter

40. Ronald Reagan

41. George H. W. Bush

42. William J. Clinton

43. George W. Bush

44. Barack Obama

45. Donald Trump

President Hoover: the Humanitarian

After his success in the mining business, he wanted to give back to people. So when the American Consul General asked his help after Germany declared war on France, only a week after his 40th birthday, Hoover was eager to help. He successfully ensured the safe arrival of 120,000 American tourists that were stranded in Europe.

The United States recruited him as head of the Food Administration, where he supervised and distributed food to millions of staving war refugees who were from Belgium and France. In Belgium alone, 7 million people were facing starvation.

He then headed the American Relief Administration, which focused its efforts on 20 countries that were affected by the war. This administration was responsible for delivering food to tens of millions of people. He managed to cut the consumption of food needed overseas and avoided rationing at home. All the meanwhile, the United States Allies were being fed.

Many criticized him for extending his services to the Soviet Union between 1921 and 1923, saying that he was supporting communism. He argued back that starving people shall be fed regardless of their political beliefs and he made good on that remark. He made sure 15 million people from Soviet Union were fed daily. He often served without pay and using some of his own fortune towards the cause.

Due to these great humanitarian efforts he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times. Neil MacNeil an associate of Hoover's was quoted saying, "He (Hoover) fed more people and saved more lives than any other man in history."

Many were impressed including President Harding and President Coolidge, they both appointed him Secretary of Commerce. Republicans and Democrats alike felt he would become a great president because of all that he did for those starving. Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1920 stated, "He is certainly a wonder, and I wish we could make him President of the United States. There could not be a better one." Roosevelt was the assistant secretary of the Navy at the time. Hoover's popularity eventually led him to become the 31st President in 1928. He won with a landslide, earning 444 electoral votes to 87.

Herbert Hoover's Presidency

Despite his own personal rags to riches story, his presidency did not bring American's the same success. In 1929 shortly after he became president, the United States had its largest economic crash our country has ever seen. This would eventually lead us to the Great Depression. 12 million Americans lost their jobs and thousands of businesses failed.

The people felt they needed a bold leader to get them out of the country's situation, but Hoover was very cautious. He did promise he would keep the Federal budget balanced and cut taxes. He also asked Congress for the creation of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, which would aid businesses, give additional help to farmers facing mortgage foreclosures, help banking reform, and loan money to states for feeding the unemployed.

Many felt his attempts were wrongly directed. They felt he should focus less on programs of public works and business financing and more on food for those in his country. Although he strongly felt that the people needed help, he felt that feeding the hungry in our country should come from the local level.

Those in Congress who did not like Hoover, painted him as a very cruel callous President, since he encouraged feeding being done at the local level. This resulted in him as being viewed as a cause for their suffering during the Depression, which his popularity suffered greatly before the next election.

Even Roosevelt, who praised him prior to his presidency disliked him so strongly he ran against himself in the next election. Roosevelt won with a landslide, since he was much more aggressive in the 1932 election.

After his presidency, he went back to his humanitarian efforts and was given the duty to supervise relief programs in Europe that fed starving victims of World War II. In 1947, President Truman gave Hoover the duty of coordinator of a committee to reorganize the executive branch of government. He was then elected chairman to reorganize the Executive Departments. He was elected to a similar position under President Eisenhower in 1953. He was successful in both these positions.

After retirement from politics, he wrote many articles and books. He was working on one when he died on October 20, 1964, at ninety-years-old in New York City.

Herbert Clark Hoover listening to a radio


Fun Facts

  • He was the first president to be born west of the Mississippi River, in fact he was 22 before he ever ventured east of the Mississippi River.
  • He was orphaned at age 11.
  • He met his wife in a geology class while attending Stanford and graduated with a geology degree.
  • He lived the American Dream and went from rags to riches. By the time he was 40, he was a millionaire, despite having grown up with barely any money.
  • Hoover starred in the first television broadcast in American history while serving as secretary of commerce under his predecessor Calvin Coolidge.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt, actually stated he wanted Hoover to become president; ironically, Roosevelt defeated Hoover when they ran for presidency.
  • Nominated five times for the Nobel Peace Prize due to his efforts in providing food to millions after two world wars.
  • Despite the Hoover Dam bearing his name, he ws not invited to the dedication ceremony.

Excerpt from the History Channel

Basic Facts

August 10, 1874 - Iowa
President Number
Military Service
Wars Served
Age at Beginning of Presidency
55 years old
Term of Office
March 4, 1929 - March 3, 1933
How Long President
4 years
Charles Curtis
Age and Year of Death
October 20, 1964 (aged 90)
Cause of Death
massive internal bleeding

Official Presidential Portrait



  • Freidel, F., & Sidey, H. (2009). Herbert Hoover. Retrieved April 22, 2016, from
  • Klein, C. (2014). 10 Things You May Not Know About Herbert Hoover. Retrieved April 28, 2016, from
  • Sullivan, G. (2001). Mr. President: A book of U.S. presidents. New York: Scholastic.


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    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 14 months ago from Auburn, WA

      He was probably one of the most qualified men to become President. But sadly, circumstances forever doomed his reputation. It was nice that JFK invited him to the inauguration, gaining him some well deserved recognition.


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