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Herbert Hoover

— 31st President of the United States —

View full portraits at:
National Portrait Gallery or the White House Presidential Portrait Gallery


ELECTED FROM: California
March 4, 1929 to March 3, 1933

BORN: August 10, 1874
West Branch, Iowa
October 20, 1964, New York, New York
Lou Henry, 1899
Herbert Jr., Allan

Herbert Hoover's parents died when he was young, so he went to live with his uncle, Dr. John Minthorn, a Quaker. He once instructed young Hoover, "Turn your cheek once, but if he smites you again, then punch him."

Hoover worked his way through Stanford University, where he earned a degree in geology. He decided to become a mining engineer and made a fortune by developing silver mines. In 1914, he was worth an estimated $14 million.

Hoover used his managerial skills during World War I in heading up an effort to ration goods and supplies. In fact, a new verb was coined when to "hooverize" meant to voluntarily ration one's goods.

After supporting Warren Harding in 1920, Hoover was appointed Secretary of Commerce and stayed on in the Coolidge administration. When Coolidge chose not to run, Hoover immediately moved to the front and won the Republican nomination.

That was the good news. The bad news was that soon after Hoover's election came the "Great Crash" of 1929. Stock prices bottomed out and sent the country into an economic panic and depression that would outlast Hoover well into the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt.

Hoover failed to recognize the enormity of the problem and continued to tell the American people that "the worst has passed."His name again took on new meaning when homeless people were forced to live in cardboard and scrap structures that came to be called "Hoovervilles," and newspapers came to be known as "Hoover blankets."

The biggest mistake of his presidency, however, might have been when he used federal troops to oust a group of veterans who had come to receive a bonus that had been promised them. Although the bonus wasn't actually due until years later, the use of force, which resulted in injury and death to some veterans and their family members, drew widespread criticism.

Franklin Roosevelt defeated Hoover in 1932. Hoover died at the age of 90 in New York City.

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