Herbert Clark Hoover, 1874 - 1964

portrait of Herbert Hoover
White House portrait by Elmer Wesley Greene (1956)
Herbert Hoover signature
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Born: 10 August 1874, West Branch, Iowa
Died: 20 October 1964, New York City

Hoover's parents both died before he was ten years old, and young Herbert Clark Hoover moved to Oregon to live with an uncle in 1885. He attended Friends Pacific Academy (now George Fox University) for two and a half years, then worked as an office boy for his uncle and never attended high school. He signed up for Stanford University when that school first opened and earned a degree in geology in 1895. He became a mining engineer in Australia, married his college girlfriend Lou Henry in 1899. He worked in China during the Boxer Rebellion and was besieged for a month, he and Lou learned enough Mandarin to later use it in the White House to speak confidentially. As an independent consultant he worked around the world, although he lectured at both Stanford and Columbia during that time, and was at London when World War I broke out. He was asked to organize the evacuation of American tourists, students, and businessmen from Europe, a total of some 120,000. For two years he was in charge of feeding Belgium, operating factories, mills, and a railroad. When the US entered the war Hoover was head of the US Food Administration, after the war he supervised US relief efforts in Central Europe and Russia. He was US Secretary of Commerce under presidents Harding and Coolidge. The Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927 ravaged huge areas along the river, six state governors asked Coolidge to dispatch Hoover to organize all emergency response. He was elected president in 1928, just in time to be blamed for the Great Depression, his efforts at bringing about a recovery were ineffective. Hoover lost to Franklin Roosevelt in 1932's lopsided election. His reputation damaged, he took little part in politics until after WW II.

Biography from Wikipedia and White House

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