The most under-appreciated president in history

By Bill Federer

Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover

Herbert Hoover was born Aug. 10, 1874. His Quaker mother taught Sunday School and spoke at Friend’s meetings before she died when he was only 10 years old.

Hoover lived for a time on an Indian Reservation in Oklahoma before moving to Oregon. He worked his way through Stanford University doing laundry, delivering papers, and working for the U.S. Geological Survey. Hoover graduated from Stanford in 1895 to pursue an engineering career in Australia.

In 1898, while overseas, he cabled a marriage proposal to Louis Henry, who he had fallen in love with at Stanford, and she wired back her acceptance. They were both 24 years old when they married on Feb. 10, 1899. Miss Henry was Episcopalian and Hoover was Quaker, but as there were no Quaker Meeting places in Monterey, California, they married in a civil ceremony performed by Roman Catholic priest Father Ramon Mestres of the Cathedral of San Carlos Borromeo.

Hoover went on to become a world-renowned engineer. Trapped in China when the Boxer Rebellion broke out in 1900, Herbert Hoover directed the building of barricades under heavy fire while his wife worked in the hospital. In World War I, at the request of the American Consul, Hoover helped 120,000 Americans stranded in Europe return home. He directed the feeding of Belgium after Kaiser Wilhelm II overran it and orchestrated feeding the Allied nations while avoiding rationing at home. After the war, Herbert Hoover arranged the feeding of millions starving in Central Europe and Russia. He served as Secretary of Commerce for Presidents Harding and Coolidge.

Hoover wrote of President Warren G. Harding in his memoirs, published 1952: “(Harding) had another side which was not good. His political associates had been men of the type of Albert B. Fall (Teapot Dome Scandal) … Harry Daugherty (bootlegging scandal) … Charles Forbes (embezzled from veterans over $2 million). … He enjoyed the company of these men (in) weekly White House poker parties … the play lasted most of the night. … It irked me to see it in the White House.”

In 1927, the Mississippi River flooded, leaving 1.5 million people displaced from their homes. Herbert Hoover mobilized state and local authorities, militia, army engineers, the Coast Guard, and the American Red Cross, and set up health units which stamped out malaria, pellagra and typhoid, gaining him national appreciation.

In 1928, Herbert Hoover was elected the 31st U.S. president. In his inaugural, March 4, 1929, President Herbert Hoover entreated: “Ill-considered remedies for our faults brings only penalties after them. But if we hold the faith of the men in our mighty past who created these ideals, we shall leave them heightened and strengthened for our children. … I ask the help of Almighty God in this service to my country.”

Less than eight months later, the Stock Market crashed due to domestic and international conditions. Though implementing a volunteerism plan of aid through the states, political opposition prolonged recovery, thereby sabotaging his re-election.

Hoover warned in a speech at Madison Square Garden, New York, Oct. 31, 1932, against his opponent’s collectivist “New Deal” plans of the government taking control of businesses: “To enter upon a series of deep changes … would be to undermine and destroy our American system. … No man who has not occupied my position in Washington can fully realize the constant battle which must be carried on against incompetence, corruption, tyranny of government expanded into business activities. … Free speech does not live many hours after free industry and free commerce die.”

In 1935, the Hoover Dam was dedicated.

Later that year, Sept. 17, 1935, Herbert Hoover stated in San Diego, California: “Our Constitution … is based upon certain inalienable freedoms and protections which in no event the government may infringe. … It does not require a lawyer to interpret those provisions. They are as clear as the Ten Commandments. … Behind them is the conception which is the highest development of the Christian faith-the conception of individual freedom with brotherhood.”

Herbert Hoover proposed a solution to the Middle East crisis which was reported in a Scripps-Howard Press interview, Nov. 19, 1945: “My own suggestion is that Iraq might be … the scene of resettlement of the Arabs from Palestine. This would clear Palestine completely for a large Jewish emigration and colonization. A suggestion of transfer of the Arab people of Palestine was made by the British Labor Party in December, 1944.”

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His entire life Hoover refused payment for public service. At a reception for his 80th birthday in West Branch, Iowa, Aug. 10, 1954, Herbert Hoover stated: “I have witnessed on the ground in 20 nations the workings of the philosophy of that anti-Christ, Karl Marx. … I want to say something … not in the tones of Jeremiah but in the spirit of Saint Paul. … Our Founding Fathers did not invent the priceless boon of individual freedom and respect for the dignity of men. That great gift to mankind sprang from the Creator and not from governments. … Today the Socialist virus and poison gas generated by Karl Marx and Friedreich Engels have spread into every nation on the earth. … Their dogma is absolute materialism which defies truth and religious faith. …”

Hoover continued: “A nation is strong or weak, it thrives or perishes upon what it believes to be true. If our youth are rightly instructed in the faith of our fathers … then our power will be stronger.”

Hoover concluded: “To this whole gamut of Socialist infections, I say to you … God has blessed us with … heritage. The great documents of that heritage are not from Karl Marx. They are from the Bible, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. Within them alone can the safeguards of freedom survive.”

In his Memorial Day Address at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, 1931, President Herbert Hoover stated: “If, by the grace of God, we stand steadfast in our great traditions through this time of stress, we shall insure that we and our sons and daughters shall see these fruits increased many fold.”

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