August 10 - Happy Birthday, Herbert Hoover

Posted on August 10, 2017

When people talk about U.S. presidents, how good or even great some were, and how not-so-great others were...we tend to rate as really good or great the presidents who led the nation during a time of crisis. War and economic depression tend to be the big-time crises we focus on. George Washington led the nation in war before it was even a nation. Lincoln shepherded the nation through the Civil War but was tragically unable to see through his plan for reconciliation and healing. Franklin Delano Roosevelt led the nation through the Great Depression and most of World War II.

And those three presidents are generally ranked #1, 2, and 3 greatest presidents.

It is the presidents who were leading the nation when crises were building up that tend to get a lot lower ratings. For example, the presidents who were unable to prompt the sort of compromises or exert the kind of moral leadership that would have prevented the Civil War are almost uniformly ranked near the bottom of the barrel. We're talking Pierce, Fillmore, and Buchanan.

Another president who wasn't able to avert a disaster was Herbert Hoover. He was the president who was at the helm during the Great Depression. He didn't cause it - he was only in office eight months when the horrific Wall Street Crash of 1929 struck. But his policies didn't stop the economy from falling farther and farther.

And when he ran for a second term, he was trounced by FDR.

Actually, Hoover was not a bad guy - he wasn't uncaring, nor incompetent, nor corrupt. His list of professions, in addition to being the president (his only elected position), included being a successful mining engineer, a civil engineer, a humanitarian who led relief efforts in Belgium during WWI, head of the U.S. Food Administration, and Secretary of Commerce. 

Hoover tried hard to combat the Great Depression. He tried large-scale government public projects, like building Hoover Dam. Government-funded public projects worked to help the economy under FDR, but for some reason didn't help at all under Hoover. And, confusingly, Hoover spent some of his post-presidency life constantly criticizing FDR's ideas, his big government projects and spending - when it seems to me that he had himself tried those same ideas!

Even though a lot of Hoover's post-presidency writings and speeches seemed to be devoted to just grumbling about the guy who had beat him so badly in 1932 election, he was able to contribute healthier stuff to the nation after FDR died. He helped create U.S. policy in the occupation of Germany after World War II. He also helped government bureaucracies become more efficient under presidents Truman and Eisenhower. 
Above is a quote I like.
However, right now, people in the U.S. cannot
seem to have "honest debate," because there
has been so much propaganda and mis-information,
we don't start with many facts in common!
Above is a quote I do NOT like.
I think that this should be the aim, but
NOT ever boy and girl is given a chance.
Not back when Hoover was a kid, and not
today, either.

Hoover cared about people and worked to
make people's lives better. And that's very cool.
But unfortunately, some of the ideas he held and
wrote and spoke about, especially during FDR's
presidency, make it harder for people who are
born into poverty.
All told, Herbert Hoover gets middling-bad to fairly bad rankings as a president.

Here are some H.Hoover factoids:

The eastern border of Iowa is created
by the Mississippi River.

  • Hoover was the first president born west of the Mississippi River. (He was born only a little bit west of the Mississippi, in eastern Iowa.)

  • Hoover was the first Quaker president. Quakers (or Society of Friends) are Christians who don't believe in church hierarchy - everyone (or no one) is a priest, everyone has equal access to God. Historically, Quakers were associated with refusal to participate in war, opposition to slavery, and not drinking alcohol. Hoover was anti-alcohol, but the only other Quaker president in the U.S., Richard Nixon, reportedly drank a LOT. Nixon also participated in World War II by joining the Navy.

  • Hoover did not accept a salary as president, but instead donated it to charity.

  • Hoover's Vice President, Charles Curtis, was born in Kansas Territory to a mother of the Kaw Nation - and was therefore the first person with a large amount of Native American ancestry (or, actually, ANY non-European ancestry) to serve in one of the top two positions in the nation.


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