Herbert Clark Hoover

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Hoover, Herbert Clark,

1874–1964, 31st President of the United States (1929–33), b. West Branch, Iowa.

Wartime Relief Efforts

After graduating (1895) from Stanford, he worked as a mining engineer in many parts of the world. He became an independent mining consultant and established offices in New York City, San Francisco, and London. When World War I broke out in 1914, Hoover, then in London, was made chairman of the American Relief Commission. In this post he arranged the return to the United States of some 150,000 Americans stranded in Europe. As chairman (1915–19) of the Commission for Relief in Belgium, he secured food and clothing for civilians of war-devastated Belgium and N France. After the United States entered the war, he became U.S. Food Administrator, a member of the War Trade Council, and chairman of the Interallied Food Council.

Appointed a chairman of the Supreme Economic Council and director of the European Relief and Reconstruction Commission at the Paris Peace Conference, he coordinated the work of the various relief agencies; he was given direct authority over the transportation systems of Eastern Europe in order to ensure efficient distribution of supplies. After the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, Hoover returned (1919) to the United States, although he continued to direct the American Relief Administration, which was to feed millions in the 1921–23 famine in the USSR.


As Secretary of Commerce (1921–29) under Presidents Harding and Coolidge, Hoover reorganized and expanded the department, sponsored conferences on unemployment, fostered trade associations, and gave his support to such engineering projects as the St. Lawrence Waterway and the Hoover Dam. Hoover gained great popular approval, and he easily won the Republican nomination for President in 1928 and defeated Democratic candidate Alfred E. SmithSmith, Alfred Emanuel,
1873–1944, American political leader, b. New York City. Reared in poor surroundings, he had no formal education beyond grade school and took various jobs—including work in the Fulton fish market—to help support his family.
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In the first year of his administration Hoover established the Federal Farm Board, pressed for tariff revision (which resulted in the Hawley-Smoot Tariff ActHawley-Smoot Tariff Act,
1930, passed by the U.S. Congress; it brought the U.S. tariff to the highest protective level yet in the history of the United States. President Hoover desired a limited upward revision of tariff rates with general increases on farm products and
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), and appointed the National Commission on Law Observance and Law Enforcement, with George W. WickershamWickersham, George Woodward,
1858–1936, American lawyer and government official, b. Pittsburgh. He began law practice in Philadelphia, and after moving (1882) to New York City, he became a prominent corporation lawyer. As U.S.
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 as chairman, to study the problem of enforcing prohibitionprohibition,
legal prevention of the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages, the extreme of the regulatory liquor laws. The modern movement for prohibition had its main growth in the United States and developed largely as a result of the agitation of
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. The rest of his administration was dominated by the major economic depression ushered in by the stock market crash of Oct., 1929. Ironically, as early as 1923 Hoover warned that unsound banking practices would inevitably lead the booming economy to some sort of collapse, a warning that basically went unheeded.

Hoover, believing nonetheless in the basic soundness of the economy, felt that it would regenerate spontaneously and was reluctant to extend federal activities. He did ultimately recommend, and Congress appropriated the funds for, a public works program of unprecedented size, and the Reconstruction Finance CorporationReconstruction Finance Corporation
(RFC), former U.S. government agency, created in 1932 by the administration of Herbert Hoover. Its purpose was to facilitate economic activity by lending money in the depression.
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 was created (1932) to stimulate industry by supplying government loans unobtainable elsewhere. He also proposed a number of other ideas that later formed key parts of the New DealNew Deal,
in U.S. history, term for the domestic reform program of the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt; it was first used by Roosevelt in his speech accepting the Democratic party nomination for President in 1932.
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. These included deposit insurance, a government-run home mortgage agency, separation of commercial and investment banking, and agricultural loans. Congress, which had a Democratic majority after the 1930 elections, passed the Emergency Relief Act and created the federal home loan banks. As the Great Depression deepened, veterans demanded immediate payment of bonus certificates (issued to them in 1924 for redemption in 1945). In 1932 some 15,000 ex-servicemen, known as the Bonus MarchersBonus Marchers,
in U.S. history, more than 20,000 veterans, most of them unemployed and in desperate financial straits, who, in the spring of 1932, spontaneously made their way to Washington, D.C.
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, marched on Washington; Hoover ordered federal troops to oust them from federal property.

In foreign affairs Hoover was confronted with the problems of disarmament, reparations and war debts, and Japanese aggression in East Asia. The United States participated in the London Conference of 1930 (see naval conferencesnaval conferences,
series of international assemblies, meeting to consider limitation of naval armaments, settlement of the rules of naval war, and allied issues. The London Naval Conference
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) and signed the resulting treaty; it also took part in the abortive Disarmament ConferenceDisarmament Conference,
1932–37, meeting for the discussion of general disarmament. The first systematic efforts to limit armaments on an international scale, in either a quantitative or a qualitative sense, occurred at the Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907.
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. In 1931, Hoover proposed a one-year moratorium on reparations and war debts to ease the financial situation in Europe. The administration's reaction to the Japanese invasion (1931) of Manchuria was expressed by Secretary of State Henry L. StimsonStimson, Henry Lewis,
1867–1950, American statesman, b. New York City. A graduate of Yale and of Harvard, he became associated with Elihu Root in law practice in New York City. Stimson was (1906–9) U.S.
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, who declared that the United States would not recognize territorial changes achieved by force or by infringement of American treaty rights. Hoover ran for reelection in 1932 but was overwhelmingly defeated by Franklin Delano RooseveltRoosevelt, Franklin Delano
, 1882–1945, 32d President of the United States (1933–45), b. Hyde Park, N.Y. Early Life

Through both his father, James Roosevelt, and his mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, he came of old, wealthy families.
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Post-Presidency and the Hoover Commissions

Except for major speeches before the Republican conventions and a 1938 European tour, Hoover largely retired from public life until the close of World War II. He was publicly critical of Roosevelt's New DealNew Deal,
in U.S. history, term for the domestic reform program of the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt; it was first used by Roosevelt in his speech accepting the Democratic party nomination for President in 1932.
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. Though he was not an isolationist, he opposed intervention in European affairs, and believed Hitler would make war with the Soviet Union, leaving Great Britain and continental Europe alone. He later also strongly disagreed with Roosevelt's alliance with Stalin. After the war he undertook (1946) the coordination of food supplies to countries badly affected by the fighting. He then headed (1947–49) the Hoover Commission, a committee empowered by Congress to study the executive branch of government. Many of its recommendations were adopted, including establishment of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Under President Eisenhower he headed the second Hoover Commission (1953–55), which made recommendations on policy as well as organization. The Herbert Hoover Library was dedicated at West Branch, Iowa, in 1962. Hoover died on Oct. 20, 1964, in New York City.


Among Hoover's writings are Principles of Mining (1909), The Challenge to Liberty (1934), The Ordeal of Woodrow Wilson (1958), and An American Epic (3 vol., 1959–61). With his wife, Lou Henry Hoover (1875–1944), he translated Agricola's De re metallica (1912).

See his memoirs (3 vol., 1951–52); biographies by E. Lyons (1948, repr. 1964), H. Wolfe (1956), C. Wilson (1968), R. N. Smith (1984), W. E. Leuchtenburg (2009), and K. Whyte (2017); H. G. Warren, Herbert Hoover and the Great Depression (1959); A. U. Romasco, Poverty of Abundance (1965, repr. 1968); J. Hoff, Herbert Hoover: Forgotten Progressive (1975).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Hoover, Herbert Clark


Born Aug. 10, 1874, in West Branch, Iowa; died Oct. 20, 1964, in New York. US statesman; important industrialist. By profession a mining engineer.

Hoover was a shareholder and manager of enterprises in many countries, including tsarist Russia. From 1919 to 1923 he was head of the American Relief Administration, and from 1921 to 1928 he was secretary of commerce. A member of the Republican Party, Hoover was president of the United States from 1929 to 1933, his term of office coinciding with the world depression, which was particularly severe in the US. During the depression the Hoover government aided “big business” but did not act to ease the condition of the working people. Hoover’s foreign policy contributed to the restoration of Germany’s military-industrial potential and encouraged Japanese aggression in the Far East, with the aim of later turning Germany and Japan against the USSR. In 1938, Hoover visited fascist Germany and met with Hitler. He hailed the Munich Pact of 1938. After World War II, Hoover went abroad several times on special missions at the request of the government.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.