Ranked #26: Hoover was highly qualified to be president. He could get things done. He was able to help the stranded victims of World War 1 with supplies of food and clothing throughout Europe. However he was unlucky enough to take office just months before the Great Depression.
Summary: Hoover was a diligent, incorruptible, confident, consistent, self-reliant individual. In front of people, he was distant, shy and was really sensitive to criticism. He was also a fairly boring speaker. You could also say that Hoover was really short with his staff. He was a fine example of an energetic, productive taskmaster and expected the same level of productivity from people he worked with. He would spend most of his time grinding out details as opposed to looking at solving the big picture problems. I think Hoover was clearly qualified for the office. In fact there were probably few people as qualified as he was.
Bio: He stood about 5’ 11” and had a husky build. As a younger man, he wore a beard and mustache in an effort to look older than he was. He sort of had a round, flushed face with hazel eyes. He was a simple dresser. He never missed a day of work at the Whitehouse due to illness. His only exercise seemed to be tossing a medicine ball every morning before breakfast. He liked to fish and drank moderately. During Prohibition, he was known to stop off at the Belgian Embassy as Commerce Secretary because embassies we're technically foreign territory where drinking was legal.
He grew up in Iowa. At the age of two, his family thought he had died of the croup. In fact they had more or less placed a sheet over him until an uncle stopped by and resuscitated him. He worked in China for a few years where he and his wife learned Mandarin Chinese. In their later years, they would often speak to each other in Chinese in an effort to avoid having others eavesdrop on them.
During World War I, he became almost internationally famous for his efforts to supply food and supplies to war-strained Europe, particularly the roughly 120,000 Americans who were stranded in Europe at the time. This giant achievement involved shipping nearly 34 million tons of food, clothing and supplies valued at roughly $5.2 billion. The largely volunteer effort at the time gave birth to a new verb known as “Hooverizing.” He was mentioned as a potential presidential candidate as early as 1920 because of this charitable endeavor.
By the time he became President, the world was just months away from the stock market crash of 1929 which would then evolve into the Great Depression. Before that, his administration had started out with a lot of momentum. However, the economy eventually caught up with itself. Although the 1920’s were prosperous for Americans, the economic structure was at the same time fundamentally flawed. There were plenty of problems; namely structural weaknesses in in agriculture and industry. However the straw that broke the camel’s back was an overly speculative financial sector. I think Hoover wrongly took much of the blame for this but I believe where he really fell short was in his inability to solve the crisis.
After he lost the 1932 election, the American people really did not much appreciate him. It took nearly 40 years for scholars to remember Hoover’s faith in volunteerism and cooperation, which had made his pre-presidential days so wonderful. His refusal to authorize large scale relief programs during the Great Depression still haunts his legacy. At the age of 90, he suffered a severe gastrointestinal hemorrhage and simply refused hospitalization. He died in a coma following this event, in October, 1964.
Pros: Started the Hoover Dam project. Donated his presidential salary to charity. Established progressive reforms.
Cons: Did not fully understand the extent of the economical crisis he walked into when elected. He also didn't react fast enough to stop the effects of the Great Depression.
Born: August 10, 1874, West Branch, Iowa
Died: October 20, 1964 (aged 90) New York City, New York
Term: March 4, 1929 to March 3, 1933 (1 term)
Political Party: Republican
Education: Stanford University (graduated 1895)
Marriage: February 10, 1899, to Lou Henry (1875–1944)
Children: Herbert Clark (1903–1969), Allan Henry (1907–1993)