10 Things You May Not Know About Herbert Hoover

10 Things You May Not Know About Herbert Hoover

1. He was the first president born west of the Mississippi River.
Herbert Clark Hoover was born on August 10, 1874, in a two-room, whitewashed cottage built by his father in West Branch, Iowa, a small prairie town of just 265 people. The future president did not cross east of the Mississippi River until he was 22 years old.

2. Hoover became an orphan at age 9.
When Hoover was 6 years old, his father died of a heart attack while suffering a bout of pneumonia. A little more than three years later, Hoover’s mother, Hulda, died from pneumonia and typhoid fever, which left young “Bertie” and his older brother and younger sister parentless. The three children were separated to live with Hulda’s various relatives. When Hoover was 11, he was put on a westbound Union Pacific train to live with Hulda’s brother John Minthorn in Newburg, Oregon.

3. He was a member of Stanford University’s inaugural class.
In 1891, Hoover enrolled in the new West Coast university founded by industrialist Leland Stanford. While the future president failed Stanford’s entrance examination, the professor who administered the test admired his “remarkable keenness” and admitted him conditionally. Hoover had so little money that at times he lived in the barracks housing construction workers building the university. Hoover served as financial manager for Stanford’s football and baseball teams, won election as treasurer, and met his future wife, Lou Henry, in geology class.

4. He was a self-made multi-millionaire.
“If a man has not made a million dollars by the time he is forty, he is not worth much,” said Hoover, who rose from his humble origins to become a millionaire several times over. After graduating from Stanford in 1895 with a geology degree, Hoover took an engineering job with the British mining firm of Bewick, Moreing and Company. He traveled the world locating lucrative mineral deposits, and by the age of 27, he had become one of the firm’s four partners. He left the company in 1908 and soon had profitable business interests on every continent except for Antarctica. The wealthy Hoover donated his presidential salary to charity.

5. Hoover helped save millions from starvation after two world wars.
Although accused by some of reacting callously to the millions of Americans forced onto bread lines during the Great Depression, Hoover was recognized around the world as such a great humanitarian that he was nominated five times for the Nobel Peace Prize. After Hoover spearheaded a private effort to ensure the safe return of 120,000 American tourists stranded in Europe at the outbreak of World War I, the United States government recruited him to deliver food to neutral Belgium, where 7 million people faced starvation. Later Hoover headed the American Relief Administration, which delivered food to tens of millions of people in more than 20 war-torn countries. Between 1921 and 1923, the aid he directed to the famine-stricken Soviet Union fed more than 15 million people daily. “Whatever their politics, they shall be fed!” he declared to opponents who accused him of aiding communism. After World War II, Democratic President Harry Truman asked the Republican Hoover to circle the globe to coordinate efforts to avert a global famine. “He fed more people and saved more lives than any other man in history,” said Hoover associate Neil MacNeil.

6. Franklin D. Roosevelt once wished Hoover would become president.
Public opinion of Hoover was so high following his humanitarian work during World War I that both Republicans and Democrats courted him as a presidential candidate in 1920. “He is certainly a wonder, and I wish we could make him President of the United States,” wrote Roosevelt, assistant secretary of the Navy at the time. “There could not be a better one.” Twelve years later, the two men became bitter foes for the presidency as Roosevelt defeated Hoover in a landslide.

7. Before Hoover became president, he starred in the first television broadcast in American history.
While serving as secretary of commerce under President Calvin Coolidge, Hoover’s voice and image were transmitted live over telephone wires in the first American demonstration of television on April 7, 1927. “Today we have, in a sense, the transmission of sight for the first time in the world’s history,” Hoover told a gathering of newspaper reporters and dignitaries in New York City from 200 miles away in Washington, D.C. “Human genius has now destroyed the impediment of distance.”

8. He won the presidency in his first-ever election campaign.
Hoover never held elective office until he won the 1928 presidential campaign. Before becoming the 31st president, Hoover had been appointed to his previous government positions.

9. There is a sport that bears Hoover’s name.
To keep Hoover physically fit, White House physician Admiral Joel T. Boone developed a game played by the president and his staff each morning on the south lawn of the White House in which teams of two to four players threw a 6-pound medicine ball over an 8-foot-high net. Dubbed “Hooverball” by a New York Times reporter in 1931, the sport was played on a court similar to tennis and scored the same with the exception being that the ball was thrown instead of hit with a racket. “It required less skill than tennis, was faster and more vigorous, and therefore gave more exercise in a short time,” Hoover wrote in his memoirs. A national Hooverball championship is held in Hoover’s birthplace of West Branch, Iowa, each year.

10. He was not invited to the dedication of Hoover Dam.
The massive dam on the Colorado River that now bears Hoover’s name was approved when he was secretary of commerce and was under construction while he was president. While the engineering marvel was originally proposed to be called Hoover Dam, Roosevelt’s Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes claimed “Hoover had very little to do with the dam” and changed its official name to Boulder Dam. When Roosevelt dedicated the dam on September 30, 1935, the administration did not invite Hoover to the ceremony and the president did not even mention his predecessor in his speech. In 1947, President Harry Truman signed a law that restored the original name—Hoover Dam.

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The Empire State Building: 10 Things You Didn't Know About The New York City Landmark

New York City is always a great time, and you definitely have to visit The Empire State Building. We've got some cool facts about the landmark.

The Empire State Building is a recognizable icon in New York City's skyline. It holds so much history within its walls and has been around as long as we can remember. It's one of the seven wonders of the modern world. and for good reason. Its unique style and architectural significance are embedded in our minds for a lifetime.

We've created this list to share some facts that you probably didn't know about this epic building. The history surrounding this building will blow your mind as you see how it was intertwined with so many other factors. Keep reading to learn ten things you didn't know about the Empire State Building in New York City!

When White replaced Susan Stafford as Wheel&aposs letter turner, she was a down-on-her-luck actress, trying to make it in Hollywood. It was in November 1982, two years after she moved to Los Angeles from her home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina that she got the audition. She recalls, "I was so nervous because I wanted this job so badly. My knees were shaking my mouth was quivering I could hardly talk." Still, Wheel creator and business tycoon Merv Griffin saw something special in White, and on Thanksgiving Eve 1982, she was hired, giving her something for which to be thankful. 

White has worn more than 6,500 ensembles with no repeats during her tenure on the show. But her home closet is full of jeans and sweaters, which she says is "the real me." Every couple of weeks, White meets with the show&aposs costume designer and tries on in the neighborhood of 50 outfits and gowns. From those, she picks her favorites.

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Herbert Hoover was the first president who was a millionaire. In fact, he donated every penny he made from all of his government jobs to charity.

He was a very well-respected, successful businessman. Sadly, he is credited with pulling the stopper that sent the country's financial situation whirling down the drain!

How could a millionaire cause the financial downfall of a nation?

In this lesson, you will see why Herbert Hoover was blamed for ushering in the era known as the "Great Depression" in American history.

Herbert Hoover was orphaned at the age of nine and was raised by his aunt and uncle. He was extremely poor and failed the entrance exam to Stanford University, but a professor was so impressed with him, he admitted Herbert conditionally.

He lived in the housing meant for the builders during the construction of the college because he had no money for rent. He struggled financially for many years. When he graduated from Stanford with a degree in geology, he traveled the world seeking land where minerals could be mined, and from this, he created quite a financial empire.

It is quite ironic that the sitting president was a millionaire while the country lost over $30 billion in the Great Depression. Since he was a brilliant businessman, you wonder why he couldn't help figure out the country's financial woes.

The Great Depression was a time in U.S. history when the stock market crashed and most people went to the bank to withdraw their money. When this happened, the banks went out of business because they had no money to keep running. This was a major issue for the American people because many lost everything they had.

  • Create a fictional story about Hoover and why his wealth and business sense were not carried over into his presidency. Maybe he wanted all the money for himself, or maybe he liked to see the American people stand in food lines and lose everything while he danced around piles of money.
  • Why do you think he couldn't save the people of the United States from financial ruin during this time in history? Be creative and write a story about his inability to create an economically stable country (maybe aliens took over his body and he couldn't run the country the way he intended). Share your creative story with your teacher or parent.

Writing fiction can be a great way to be creative with history. Historical fiction is a genre (category) of literature that helps create interest in history by creating a story to go with it. You just did something along those lines! Nice work. Now, let's move back to the facts of Herbert Hoover's presidency.

Take note of at least seven facts about Herbert Hoover while you watch Herbert Hoover (American Presidents):

You will compare your list with the list in the next section. Make sure you got your facts straight you never know when you may stumble upon a quiz!

#3 Herbert Hoover served as the 31st President of the United States

After the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, the governors of six states along the Mississippi asked specifically for the help of Herbert Hoover. This led to President Coolidge appointing Hoover to coordinate the response to the flood. Hoover’s efficient leadership during the crisis made his reputation with the American people reach its peak. Thus when Calvin Coolidge decided to not seek reelection, Hoover became the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. In the presidential election of 1928, Hoover defeated the Democratic nominee, Governor Al Smith of New York. He won the election with 58.2% percent popular vote and 444 electoral votes out of 531. Herbert Hoover served as the 31st President of the United States from March 4, 1929 to March 4, 1933. He sought re-election but was defeated by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1932 election.


Herbert Hoover was born on August 10, 1874, in West Branch, Iowa. [a] His father, Jesse Hoover, was a blacksmith and farm implement store owner of German, Swiss, and English ancestry. [2] Hoover's mother, Hulda Randall Minthorn, was raised in Norwich, Ontario, Canada, before moving to Iowa in 1859. Like most other citizens of West Branch, Jesse and Hulda were Quakers. [3] Around age two "Bertie", as he was called during that time, contracted a serious bout of croup, and was momentarily thought to have died until resuscitated by his uncle, John Minthorn. [4] As a young child he was often referred to by his father as "my little stick in the mud" when he repeatedly got trapped in the mud crossing the unpaved street. [5] Herbert's family figured prominently in the town's public prayer life, due almost entirely to mother Hulda's role in the church. [6] As a child, Hoover consistently attended schools, but he did little reading on his own aside from the Bible. [7] Hoover's father, noted by the local paper for his "pleasant, sunshiny disposition", died in 1880 at the age of 34. [8] Hoover's mother died in 1884, leaving Hoover, his older brother, Theodore, and his younger sister, May, as orphans. [9]

After a brief stay with one of his grandmothers in Kingsley, Iowa, Hoover lived the next 18 months with his uncle Allen Hoover in West Branch at a nearby farm. [10] [11] In November 1885, Hoover was sent to Newberg, Oregon, to live with his uncle John Minthorn, a Quaker physician and businessman whose own son had died the year before. [12] The Minthorn household was considered cultured and educational, and imparted a strong work ethic. [13] Much like West Branch, Newberg was a frontier town settled largely by Midwestern Quakers. [14] Minthorn ensured that Hoover received an education, but Hoover disliked the many chores assigned to him and often resented Minthorn. One observer described Hoover as "an orphan [who] seemed to be neglected in many ways". [15] Hoover attended Friends Pacific Academy (now George Fox University), but dropped out at the age of thirteen to become an office assistant for his uncle's real estate office (Oregon Land Company) [16] in Salem, Oregon. Though he did not attend high school, Hoover learned bookkeeping, typing, and mathematics at a night school. [17]

Hoover was a member of the inaugural "Pioneer Class" of Stanford University, entering in 1891 despite failing all the entrance exams except mathematics. [18] [b] During his freshman year, he switched his major from mechanical engineering to geology after working for John Casper Branner, the chair of Stanford's geology department. During his sophomore year, to reduce his costs, Hoover co-founded the first student housing cooperative at Stanford, "Romero Hall". [20] Hoover was a mediocre student, and he spent much of his time working in various part-time jobs or participating in campus activities. [21] Though he was initially shy among fellow students, Hoover won election as student treasurer and became known for his distaste for fraternities and sororities. [22] He served as student manager of both the baseball and football teams, and helped organize the inaugural Big Game versus the University of California. [23] During the summers before and after his senior year, Hoover interned under economic geologist Waldemar Lindgren of the United States Geological Survey these experiences convinced Hoover to pursue a career as a mining geologist. [24]

Bewick, Moreing

When Hoover graduated from Stanford in 1895, the country was in the midst of the Panic of 1893, and he initially struggled to find a job. [22] He worked in various low-level mining jobs in the Sierra Nevada mountain range until he convinced prominent mining engineer Louis Janin to hire him. [25] After working as a mine scout for a year, Hoover was hired by Bewick, Moreing & Co., a London-based company that operated gold mines in Western Australia. [26] Hoover first went to Coolgardie, then the center of the Eastern Goldfields. Though Hoover received a $5,000 salary (equivalent to $155,540 in 2020), conditions were harsh in the goldfields. [27] Hoover described the Coolgardie and Murchison rangelands on the edge of the Great Victoria Desert as a land of "black flies, red dust and white heat". [28]

Hoover traveled constantly across the Outback to evaluate and manage the company's mines. [29] He convinced Bewick, Moreing to purchase the Sons of Gwalia gold mine, which proved to be one of the most successful mines in the region. [30] Partly due to Hoover's efforts, the company eventually controlled approximately 50 percent of gold production in Western Australia. [31] Hoover brought in many Italian immigrants to cut costs and counter the labour movement of the Australian miners. [32] [33] During his time with the mining company, Hoover became opposed to measures such as a minimum wage and workers' compensation, feeling that they were unfair to owners. Hoover's work impressed his employers, and in 1898 he was promoted to junior partner. [34] An open feud developed between Hoover and his boss, Ernest Williams, but company leaders defused the situation by offering Hoover a compelling position in China. [35]

Upon arriving in China, Hoover developed gold mines near Tianjin on behalf of Bewick, Moreing and the Chinese-owned Chinese Engineering and Mining Company. [36] He became deeply interested in Chinese history, but quickly gave up on learning the language. He publicly warned that Chinese workers were inefficient and racially inferior. [37] He made recommendations to improve the lot of the Chinese worker, seeking to end the practice of imposing long-term servitude contracts and to institute reforms for workers based on merit. [38] The Boxer Rebellion broke out shortly after Hoover arrived in China, trapping the Hoovers and numerous other foreign nationals until a multi-national military force defeated Boxer forces in the Battle of Tientsin. Fearing the imminent collapse of the Chinese government, the director of the Chinese Engineering and Mining Company agreed to establish a new Sino-British venture with Bewick, Moreing. After Hoover and Bewick, Moreing established effective control over the new Chinese mining company, Hoover became the operating partner of Bewick, Moreing in late 1901. [39]

As operating partner, Hoover continually traveled the world on behalf of Bewick, Moreing, visiting mines operated by the company on different continents. Beginning in December 1902, the company faced mounting legal and financial issues after one of the partners admitted to having fraudulently sold stock in a mine. More issues arose in 1904, after the British government formed two separate royal commissions to investigate Bewick, Moreing's labor practices and financial dealings in Western Australia. After the company lost a suit Hoover began looking for a way to get out of the partnership, and he sold his shares in mid-1908. [40]

Sole proprietor

After leaving Bewick, Moreing, Hoover worked as a London-based independent mining consultant and financier. Though he had risen to prominence as a geologist and mine operator, Hoover focused much of his attention on raising money, restructuring corporate organizations, and financing new ventures. [41] He specialized in rejuvenating troubled mining operations, taking a share of the profits in exchange for his technical and financial expertise. [42] Hoover thought of himself and his associates as "engineering doctors to sick concerns", and he earned a reputation as a "doctor of sick mines". [43] He made investments on every continent and had offices in San Francisco London New York City Paris Petrograd and Mandalay, British Burma. [44] By 1914, Hoover was a very wealthy man, with an estimated personal fortune of $4 million (equivalent to $103.35 million in 2020). [45]

He co-founded the Zinc Corporation to extract zinc near the Australian city of Broken Hill. [46] The Zinc Corporation developed the froth flotation process to extract zinc from lead-silver ore [47] and operated the world's first selective ore differential flotation plant. [48] Hoover worked with the Burma Corporation, a British firm that produced silver, lead, and zinc in large quantities at the Namtu Bawdwin Mine. [49] : 90–96,101–102 [50] He also helped increase copper production in Kyshtym, Russia, through the use of pyritic smelting. He also agreed to manage a separate mine in the Altai Mountains that, according to Hoover, "developed probably the greatest and richest single body of ore known in the world". [49] : 102–108 [51]

In his spare time, Hoover wrote. His lectures at Columbia and Stanford universities were published in 1909 as Principles of Mining, which became a standard textbook. The book reflects his move towards progressive ideals, as Hoover came to endorse eight-hour workdays and organized labor. [52] Hoover became deeply interested in the history of science, and he was especially drawn to the De re metallica, an influential 16th century work on mining and metallurgy. In 1912, Hoover and his wife published the first English translation of De re metallica. [53] Hoover also joined the board of trustees at Stanford, and led a successful campaign to appoint John Branner as the university's president. [54]

During his senior year at Stanford, Hoover became smitten with a classmate named Lou Henry, though his financial situation precluded marriage at that time. [22] The daughter of a banker from Monterey, California, Lou Henry decided to study geology at Stanford after attending a lecture delivered by John Branner. [55] Immediately after earning a promotion in 1898, Hoover cabled Lou Henry, asking her to marry him. After she cabled back her acceptance of the proposal, Hoover briefly returned to the United States for their wedding. [34] They would remain married until Lou Henry's death in 1944. [56] Though his Quaker upbringing strongly influenced his career, Hoover rarely attended Quaker meetings during his adult life. [57] [58] Hoover and his wife had two children: Herbert Hoover Jr. (born in 1903) and Allan Henry Hoover (born in 1907). [34] The Hoover family began living in London in 1902, though they frequently traveled as part of Hoover's career. [59] After 1916, the Hoovers began living in the United States, maintaining homes in Palo Alto, California, and Washington, D.C. [60]

Relief in Europe

World War I broke out in August 1914, pitting the Allied Powers (France, Russia, the British Empire, Belgium, and other countries) against the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and other countries). Hoover and other London-based American businessmen established a committee to organize the return of the roughly 100,000 Americans stranded in Europe. Hoover was appointed as the committee's chair and, with the assent of Congress and the executive branch, took charge of the distribution of relief to Americans in Europe. [61] Hoover later stated, "I did not realize it at the moment, but on August 3, 1914, my career was over forever. I was on the slippery road of public life." [62] By early October 1914, Hoover's organization had distributed relief to at least 40,000 Americans. [63]

The German invasion of Belgium in August 1914 set off a food crisis in Belgium, which relied heavily on food imports. The Germans refused to take responsibility for feeding Belgian citizens in captured territory, and the British refused to lift their blockade of German-occupied Belgium unless the U.S. government supervised Belgian food imports as a neutral party in the war. [64] With the cooperation of the Wilson administration and the CNSA, a Belgian relief organization, Hoover established the Commission for Relief in Belgium (CRB). [65] The CRB obtained and imported millions of tons of foodstuffs for the CNSA to distribute, and helped ensure that the German army did not appropriate the food. Private donations and government grants supplied the majority of its $11-million-a-month budget, and the CRB became a veritable independent republic of relief, with its own flag, navy, factories, mills, and railroads. [66] A British official described the CRB as a "piratical state organized for benevolence". [67]

Hoover worked 14-hour days from London, administering the distribution of over two million tons of food to nine million war victims. In an early form of shuttle diplomacy, he crossed the North Sea forty times to meet with German authorities and persuade them to allow food shipments. [68] He also convinced British Chancellor of the Exchequer David Lloyd George to allow individuals to send money to the people of Belgium, thereby lessening workload of the CRB. [69] At the request of the French government, the CRB began delivering supplies to the people of Northern France in 1915. [67] American diplomat Walter Page described Hoover as "probably the only man living who has privately (i.e., without holding office) negotiated understandings with the British, French, German, Dutch, and Belgian governments". [70] [71]

U.S. Food Administration

The United States declared war upon Germany in April 1917 after Germany engaged in unrestricted submarine warfare against American vessels in British waters. [72] With the U.S. mobilizing for war, President Woodrow Wilson appointed Hoover to head the U.S. Food Administration, which was charged with ensuring the nation's food needs during the war. [73] Hoover had hoped to join the administration in some capacity since at least 1916, and he obtained the position after lobbying several members of Congress and Wilson's confidant, Edward M. House. [74] Earning the appellation of "food czar", Hoover recruited a volunteer force of hundreds of thousands of women and deployed propaganda in movie theaters, schools, and churches. [75] He carefully selected men to assist in the agency leadership—Alonzo Taylor (technical abilities), Robert Taft (political associations), Gifford Pinchot (agricultural influence), and Julius Barnes (business acumen). [76]

World War I had created a global food crisis that dramatically increased food prices and caused food riots and starvation in the countries at war. Hoover's chief goal as food czar was to provide supplies to the Allied Powers, but he also sought to stabilize domestic prices and to prevent domestic shortages. [77] Under the broad powers granted by the Food and Fuel Control Act, the Food Administration supervised food production throughout the United States, and the administration made use of its authority to buy, import, store, and sell food. [78] Determined to avoid rationing, Hoover established set days for people to avoid eating specified foods and save them for soldiers' rations: meatless Mondays, wheatless Wednesdays, and "when in doubt, eat potatoes". These policies were dubbed "Hooverizing" by government publicists, in spite of Hoover's continual orders that publicity should not mention him by name. [79] The Food Administration shipped 23 million metric tons of food to the Allied Powers, preventing their collapse and earning Hoover great acclaim. [80] As head of the Food Administration, Hoover gained a following in the United States, especially among progressives who saw in Hoover an expert administrator and symbol of efficiency. [81]

Post-war relief

World War I came to an end in November 1918, but Europe continued to face a critical food situation Hoover estimated that as many as 400 million people faced the possibility of starvation. [82] The United States Food Administration became the American Relief Administration (ARA), and Hoover was charged with providing food to Central and Eastern Europe. [83] In addition to providing relief, the ARA rebuilt infrastructure in an effort to rejuvenate the economy of Europe. [84] Throughout the Paris Peace Conference, Hoover served as a close adviser to President Wilson, and he largely shared Wilson's goals of establishing the League of Nations, settling borders on the basis of self-determination, and refraining from inflicting a harsh punishment on the defeated Central Powers. [85] The following year, famed British economist John Maynard Keynes wrote in The Economic Consequences of the Peace that if Hoover's realism, "knowledge, magnanimity and disinterestedness" had found wider play in the councils of Paris, the world would have had "the Good Peace". [86] After U.S. government funding for the ARA expired in mid-1919, Hoover transformed the ARA into a private organization, raising millions of dollars from private donors. [83] He also established the European Children's Fund, which provided relief to fifteen million children across fourteen countries. [87]

Despite the opposition of Senator Henry Cabot Lodge and other Republicans, Hoover provided aid to the defeated German nation after the war, as well as relief to famine-stricken Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. [83] Hoover condemned the Bolsheviks, but warned President Wilson against an intervention in the Russian Civil War, as he viewed the White Russian forces as little better than the Bolsheviks and feared the possibility of a protracted U.S. involvement. [88] The Russian famine of 1921–22 claimed six million people, but the intervention of the ARA likely saved millions of lives. [89] When asked if he was not helping Bolshevism by providing relief, Hoover stated, "twenty million people are starving. Whatever their politics, they shall be fed!" [83] Reflecting the gratitude of many Europeans, in July 1922, Soviet author Maxim Gorky told Hoover that "your help will enter history as a unique, gigantic achievement, worthy of the greatest glory, which will long remain in the memory of millions of Russians whom you have saved from death". [90]

In 1919, Hoover established the Hoover War Collection at Stanford University. He donated all the files of the Commission for Relief in Belgium, the U.S. Food Administration, and the American Relief Administration, and pledged $50,000 as an endowment (equivalent to $746,353 in 2020). Scholars were sent to Europe to collect pamphlets, society publications, government documents, newspapers, posters, proclamations, and other ephemeral materials related to the war and the revolutions that followed it. The collection was renamed the Hoover War Library in 1922 and is now known as the Hoover Institution Library and Archives. [91] During the post-war period, Hoover also served as the president of the Federated American Engineering Societies. [92] [93]

1920 election

Hoover had been little known among the American public before 1914, but his service in the Wilson administration established him as a contender in the 1920 presidential election. Hoover's wartime push for higher taxes, criticism of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer's actions during the First Red Scare, and his advocacy for measures such as the minimum wage, forty-eight-hour workweek, and elimination of child labor made him appealing to progressives of both parties. [94] Despite his service in the Democratic administration of Woodrow Wilson, Hoover had never been closely affiliated with either the Democrats or the Republicans. He initially sought to avoid committing to any party in the 1920 election, hoping that either of the two major parties would draft him for president at their respective national convention. [95] In March 1920, he changed his strategy and declared himself to be a Republican he was motivated in large part by the belief that the Democratic candidate would have little chance of winning the 1920 presidential election. [96] Despite his national renown, Hoover's service in the Wilson administration had alienated farmers and the conservative Old Guard of the GOP, and his presidential candidacy fizzled out after his defeat in the California primary by favorite son Hiram Johnson. At the 1920 Republican National Convention, Warren G. Harding emerged as a compromise candidate after the convention became deadlocked between supporters of Johnson, Leonard Wood, and Frank Orren Lowden. [94] Hoover backed Harding's successful campaign in the general election, and he began laying the groundwork for a future presidential run by building up a base of strong supporters in the Republican Party. [97]

After his election as president in 1920, Harding rewarded Hoover for his support, offering to appoint him as either Secretary of the Interior or Secretary of Commerce. Secretary of Commerce was considered a minor Cabinet post, with limited and vaguely defined responsibilities, but Hoover decided to accept the position. [98] Hoover's progressive stances, continuing support for the League of Nations, and recent conversion to the Republican Party aroused opposition to his appointment from many Senate Republicans. [99] To overcome this opposition, Harding paired Hoover's nomination with that of conservative favorite Andrew Mellon as Secretary of the Treasury, and the nominations of both Hoover and Mellon were confirmed by the Senate. Hoover would serve as Secretary of Commerce from 1921 to 1929, serving under Harding and, after Harding's death in 1923, President Calvin Coolidge. [98] While some of the most prominent members of the Harding administration, including Attorney General Harry M. Daugherty and Secretary of Interior Albert B. Fall, were implicated in major scandals, Hoover emerged largely unscathed from investigations into the Harding administration. [100]

Hoover envisioned the Commerce Department as the hub of the nation's growth and stability. [101] His experience mobilizing the war-time economy convinced him that the federal government could promote efficiency by eliminating waste, increasing production, encouraging the adoption of data-based practices, investing in infrastructure, and conserving natural resources. Contemporaries described Hoover's approach as a "third alternative" between "unrestrained capitalism" and socialism, which was becoming increasingly popular in Europe. [102] Hoover sought to foster a balance among labor, capital, and the government, and for this he has been variously labeled a corporatist or an associationalist. [103]

Hoover demanded, and received, authority to coordinate economic affairs throughout the government. He created many sub-departments and committees, overseeing and regulating everything from manufacturing statistics to air travel. In some instances he "seized" control of responsibilities from other Cabinet departments when he deemed that they were not carrying out their responsibilities well some began referring to him as the "Secretary of Commerce and Under-Secretary of all other departments". [101] In response to the Depression of 1920–21, he convinced Harding to assemble a presidential commission on unemployment, which encouraged local governments to engage in countercyclical infrastructure spending. [104] He endorsed much of Mellon's tax reduction program, but favored a more progressive tax system and opposed the treasury secretary's efforts to eliminate the estate tax. [105]

Radio and travel

Between 1923 and 1929, the number of families with radios grew from 300,000 to 10 million, [106] and Hoover's tenure as Secretary of Commerce heavily influenced radio use in the United States. In the early and mid-1920s, Hoover's radio conferences played a key role in the organization, development, and regulation of radio broadcasting. Hoover also helped pass the Radio Act of 1927, which allowed the government to intervene and abolish radio stations that were deemed "non-useful" to the public. Hoover's attempts at regulating radio were not supported by all congressmen, and he received much opposition from the Senate and from radio station owners. [107] [108] [109]

Hoover was also influential in the early development of air travel, and he sought to create a thriving private industry boosted by indirect government subsidies. He encouraged the development of emergency landing fields, required all runways to be equipped with lights and radio beams, and encouraged farmers to make use of planes for crop dusting. [110] He also established the federal government's power to inspect planes and license pilots, setting a precedent for the later Federal Aviation Administration. [111]

As Commerce Secretary, Hoover hosted national conferences on street traffic collectively known as the National Conference on Street and Highway Safety. Hoover's chief objective was to address the growing casualty toll of traffic accidents, but the scope of the conferences grew and soon embraced motor vehicle standards, rules of the road, and urban traffic control. He left the invited interest groups to negotiate agreements among themselves, which were then presented for adoption by states and localities. Because automotive trade associations were the best organized, many of the positions taken by the conferences reflected their interests. The conferences issued a model Uniform Vehicle Code for adoption by the states, and a Model Municipal Traffic Ordinance for adoption by cities. Both were widely influential, promoting greater uniformity between jurisdictions and tending to promote the automobile's priority in city streets. [112]

Hoover's image building

Phillips Payson O'Brien argues that Hoover had a Britain problem. He had spent so many years living in Britain and Australia, as an employee of British companies, there was a risk that he would be labeled a British tool. There were three solutions, all of which he tried in close collaboration with the media, which greatly admired him. [113] First came the image of the dispassionate scientist, emotionally uninvolved but always committed to finding and implementing the best possible solution. The second solution was to gain the reputation of a humanitarian, deeply concerned with the world's troubles, such as famine in Belgium, as well as specific American problems which he had solved as food commissioner during the world war. The third solution to was to fall back on that old tactic of twisting the British tail. He employed that solution in 1925–1926 in the worldwide rubber crisis. The American auto industry consumed 70% of the world's output, but British investors controlled much of the supply. Their plan was to drastically cut back on output from British Malaya, which had the effect of tripling rubber prices. Hoover energetically gave a series of speeches and interviews denouncing the monopolistic practice, and demanding that it be ended. The American State Department wanted no such crisis and compromised the issue in 1926. By then Hoover had solved his image problem, and during his 1928 campaign he successfully squelched attacks that alleged he was too close to British interests. [114]

Other initiatives

With the goal of encouraging wise business investments, Hoover made the Commerce Department a clearinghouse of information. He recruited numerous academics from various fields and tasked them with publishing reports on different aspects of the economy, including steel production and films. To eliminate waste, he encouraged standardization of products like automobile tires and baby bottle nipples. [115] Other efforts at eliminating waste included reducing labor losses from trade disputes and seasonal fluctuations, reducing industrial losses from accident and injury, and reducing the amount of crude oil spilled during extraction and shipping. He promoted international trade by opening overseas offices to advise businessmen. Hoover was especially eager to promote Hollywood films overseas. [116] His "Own Your Own Home" campaign was a collaboration to promote ownership of single-family dwellings, with groups such as the Better Houses in America movement, the Architects' Small House Service Bureau, and the Home Modernizing Bureau. He worked with bankers and the savings and loan industry to promote the new long-term home mortgage, which dramatically stimulated home construction. [117] Other accomplishments included winning the agreement of U.S. Steel to adopt an eight-hour workday, and the fostering of the Colorado River Compact, a water rights compact among Southwestern states. [118]

Mississippi flood

The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 broke the banks and levees of the lower Mississippi River in early 1927, resulting in the flooding of millions of acres and leaving 1.5 million people displaced from their homes. Although disaster response did not fall under the duties of the Commerce Department, the governors of six states along the Mississippi River specifically asked President Coolidge to appoint Hoover to coordinate the response to the flood. [119] Believing that disaster response was not the domain of the federal government, Coolidge initially refused to become involved, but he eventually acceded to political pressure and appointed Hoover to chair a special committee to help the region. [120] Hoover established over one hundred tent cities and a fleet of more than six hundred vessels, and raised $17 million (equivalent to $253.27 million in 2020). In large part due to his leadership during the flood crisis, by 1928, Hoover had begun to overshadow President Coolidge himself. [119] Though Hoover received wide acclaim for his role in the crisis, he ordered the suppression of reports of mistreatment of African Americans in refugee camps. [121] He did so with the cooperation of African-American leader Robert Russa Moton, who was promised unprecedented influence once Hoover became president. [122]

Presidential election of 1928

Hoover quietly built up support for a future presidential bid throughout the 1920s, but he carefully avoided alienating Coolidge, who was eligible to run for another term in the 1928 presidential election. [123] Along with the rest of the nation, he was surprised when Coolidge announced in August 1927 that he would not seek another term. With the impending retirement of Coolidge, Hoover immediately emerged as the front-runner for the 1928 Republican nomination, and he quickly put together a strong campaign team led by Hubert Work, Will H. Hays, and Reed Smoot. [124] Coolidge was unwilling to anoint Hoover as his successor on one occasion he remarked that, "for six years that man has given me unsolicited advice—all of it bad". [125] Despite his lukewarm feelings towards Hoover, Coolidge had no desire to split the party by publicly opposing the popular Commerce Secretary's candidacy. [126]

Many wary Republican leaders cast about for an alternative candidate, such as Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon or former Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes. [127] However, Hughes and Mellon declined to run, and other potential contenders like Frank Orren Lowden and Vice President Charles G. Dawes failed to garner widespread support. [128] Hoover won the presidential nomination on the first ballot of the 1928 Republican National Convention. Convention delegates considered re-nominating Vice President Charles Dawes to be Hoover's running mate, but Coolidge, who hated Dawes, remarked that this would be "a personal affront" to him. The convention instead selected Senator Charles Curtis of Kansas. [129] Hoover accepted the nomination at Stanford Stadium, telling a huge crowd that he would continue the policies of the Harding and Coolidge administrations. [130] The Democrats nominated New York governor Al Smith, who became the first Catholic major party nominee for president. [131]

Hoover centered his campaign around the Republican record of peace and prosperity, as well as his own reputation as a successful engineer and public official. Averse to giving political speeches, Hoover largely stayed out of the fray and left the campaigning to Curtis and other Republicans. [132] Smith was more charismatic and gregarious than Hoover, but his campaign was damaged by anti-Catholicism and his overt opposition to Prohibition. Hoover had never been a strong proponent of Prohibition, but he accepted the Republican Party's plank in favor of it and issued an ambivalent statement calling Prohibition "a great social and economic experiment, noble in motive and far-reaching in purpose". [133] In the South, Hoover and the national party pursued a "lily-white" strategy, removing black Republicans from leadership positions in an attempt to curry favor with white Southerners. [134]

Hoover maintained polling leads throughout the 1928 campaign, and he decisively defeated Smith on election day, taking 58 percent of the popular vote and 444 of the 531 electoral votes. [135] Historians agree that Hoover's national reputation and the booming economy, combined with deep splits in the Democratic Party over religion and Prohibition, guaranteed his landslide victory. [136] Hoover's appeal to Southern white voters succeeded in cracking the "Solid South", and he won five Southern states. [137] Hoover's victory was positively received by newspapers one wrote that Hoover would "drive so forcefully at the tasks now before the nation that the end of his eight years as president will find us looking back on an era of prodigious achievement". [138]

Hoover's detractors wondered why he did not do anything to reapportion congress after the 1920 United States Census which saw an increase in urban and immigrant populations. The 1920 Census was the first and only Decennial Census where the results were not used to reapportion Congress, which ultimately influenced the 1928 Electoral College and impacted the Presidential Election. [139] [140]

Hoover saw the presidency as a vehicle for improving the conditions of all Americans by encouraging public-private cooperation—what he termed "volunteerism". He tended to oppose governmental coercion or intervention, as he thought they infringed on American ideals of individualism and self-reliance. [141] The first major bill that he signed, the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1929, established the Federal Farm Board in order to stabilize farm prices. [142] Hoover made extensive use of commissions to study issues and propose solutions, and many of those commissions were sponsored by private donors rather than by the government. One of the commissions started by Hoover, the Research Committee on Social Trends, was tasked with surveying the entirety of American society. [143] He appointed a Cabinet consisting largely of wealthy, business-oriented conservatives, [144] including Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon. [145] Lou Henry Hoover was an activist First Lady. She typified the new woman of the post–World War I era: intelligent, robust, and aware of multiple female possibilities. [146]

Great Depression

On taking office, Hoover said that "given the chance to go forward with the policies of the last eight years, we shall soon with the help of God, be in sight of the day when poverty will be banished from this nation". [147] Having seen the fruits of prosperity brought by technological progress, many shared Hoover's optimism, and the already bullish stock market climbed even higher on Hoover's accession. [148] This optimism concealed several threats to sustained U.S. economic growth, including a persistent farm crisis, a saturation of consumer goods like automobiles, and growing income inequality. [149] Most dangerous of all to the economy was excessive speculation that had raised stock prices far beyond their value. [150] Some regulators and bankers had warned Coolidge and Hoover that a failure to curb speculation would lead to "one of the greatest financial catastrophes that this country has ever seen," but both presidents were reluctant to become involved with the workings of the Federal Reserve System, which regulated banks. [151]

In late October 1929, the Stock Market Crash of 1929 occurred, and the worldwide economy began to spiral downward into the Great Depression. [152] The causes of the Great Depression remain a matter of debate, [153] but Hoover viewed a lack of confidence in the financial system as the fundamental economic problem facing the nation. [154] He sought to avoid direct federal intervention, believing that the best way to bolster the economy was through the strengthening of businesses such as banks and railroads. He also feared that allowing individuals on the "dole" would permanently weaken the country. [155] Instead, Hoover strongly believed that local governments and private giving should address the needs of individuals. [156]

Early policies

Though he attempted to put a positive spin on Black Tuesday, Hoover moved quickly to address the stock market collapse. [157] In the days following Black Tuesday, Hoover gathered business and labor leaders, asking them to avoid wage cuts and work stoppages while the country faced what he believed would be a short recession similar to the Depression of 1920–21. [158] Hoover also convinced railroads and public utilities to increase spending on construction and maintenance, and the Federal Reserve announced that it would cut interest rates. [159] In early 1930, Hoover acquired from Congress an additional $100 million to continue the Federal Farm Board lending and purchasing policies. [160] These actions were collectively designed to prevent a cycle of deflation and provide a fiscal stimulus. [159] At the same time, Hoover opposed congressional proposals to provide federal relief to the unemployed, as he believed that such programs were the responsibility of state and local governments and philanthropic organizations. [161]

Hoover had taken office hoping to raise agricultural tariffs in order to help farmers reeling from the farm crisis of the 1920s, but his attempt to raise agricultural tariffs became connected with a bill that broadly raised tariffs. [162] Hoover refused to become closely involved in the congressional debate over the tariff, and Congress produced a tariff bill that raised rates for many goods. [163] Despite the widespread unpopularity of the bill, Hoover felt that he could not reject the main legislative accomplishment of the Republican-controlled 71st Congress. Over the objection of many economists, Hoover signed the Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act into law in June 1930. [164] Canada, France, and other nations retaliated by raising tariffs, resulting in a contraction of international trade and a worsening of the economy. [165] Progressive Republicans such as Senator William E. Borah of Idaho were outraged when Hoover signed the tariff act, and Hoover's relations with that wing of the party never recovered. [166]

Later policies

By the end of 1930, the national unemployment rate had reached 11.9 percent, but it was not yet clear to most Americans that the economic downturn would be worse than the Depression of 1920–21. [167] A series of bank failures in late 1930 heralded a larger collapse of the economy in 1931. [168] While other countries left the gold standard, Hoover refused to abandon it [169] he derided any other monetary system as "collectivism". [170] Hoover viewed the weak European economy as a major cause of economic troubles in the United States. [171] In response to the collapse of the German economy, Hoover marshaled congressional support behind a one-year moratorium on European war debts. [172] The Hoover Moratorium was warmly received in Europe and the United States, but Germany remained on the brink of defaulting on its loans. [173] As the worldwide economy worsened, democratic governments fell in Germany, Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler assumed power. [174]

By mid-1931, the unemployment rate had reached 15 percent, giving rise to growing fears that the country was experiencing a depression far worse than recent economic downturns. [175] A reserved man with a fear of public speaking, Hoover allowed his opponents in the Democratic Party to define him as cold, incompetent, reactionary, and out-of-touch. [176] Hoover's opponents developed defamatory epithets to discredit him, such as "Hooverville" (the shanty towns and homeless encampments), "Hoover leather" (cardboard used to cover holes in the soles of shoes), and "Hoover blanket" (old newspaper used to cover oneself from the cold). [177] While Hoover continued to resist direct federal relief efforts, Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt of New York launched the Temporary Emergency Relief Administration to provide aid to the unemployed. Democrats positioned the program as a kinder alternative to Hoover's alleged apathy towards the unemployed. [178]

The economy continued to worsen, with unemployment rates nearing 23 percent in early 1932, [179] and Hoover finally heeded calls for more direct federal intervention. [180] In January 1932, he convinced Congress to authorize the establishment of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC), which would provide government-secured loans to financial institutions, railroads, and local governments. [181] The RFC saved numerous businesses from failure, but it failed to stimulate commercial lending as much as Hoover had hoped, partly because it was run by conservative bankers unwilling to make riskier loans. [182] The same month the RFC was established, Hoover signed the Federal Home Loan Bank Act, establishing 12 district banks overseen by a Federal Home Loan Bank Board in a manner similar to the Federal Reserve System. [183] He also helped arrange passage of the Glass–Steagall Act of 1932, emergency banking legislation designed to expand banking credit by expanding the collateral on which Federal Reserve banks were authorized to lend. [184] As these measures failed to stem the economic crisis, Hoover signed the Emergency Relief and Construction Act, a $2 billion public works bill, in July 1932. [179]

Budget policy

After a decade of budget surpluses, the federal government experienced a budget deficit in 1931. [185] Though some economists, like William Trufant Foster, favored deficit spending to address the Great Depression, most politicians and economists believed in the necessity of keeping a balanced budget. [186] In late 1931, Hoover proposed a tax plan to increase tax revenue by 30 percent, resulting in the passage of the Revenue Act of 1932. [187] The act increased taxes across the board, rolling back much of the tax cut reduction program Mellon had presided over during the 1920s. Top earners were taxed at 63 percent on their net income, the highest rate since the early 1920s. The act also doubled the top estate tax rate, cut personal income tax exemptions, eliminated the corporate income tax exemption, and raised corporate tax rates. [188] Despite the passage of the Revenue Act, the federal government continued to run a budget deficit. [189]

Civil rights and Mexican Repatriation

Hoover seldom mentioned civil rights while he was president. He believed that African Americans and other races could improve themselves with education and individual initiative. [190] [ page needed ] Hoover appointed more African Americans to federal positions than Harding and Coolidge had combined, but many African-American leaders condemned various aspects of the Hoover administration, including Hoover's unwillingness to push for a federal anti-lynching law. [191] Hoover also continued to pursue the lily-white strategy, removing African Americans from positions of leadership in the Republican Party in an attempt to end the Democratic Party's dominance in the South. [192] Though Robert Moton and some other black leaders accepted the lily-white strategy as a temporary measure, most African-American leaders were outraged. [193] Hoover further alienated black leaders by nominating conservative Southern judge John J. Parker to the Supreme Court Parker's nomination ultimately failed in the Senate due to opposition from the NAACP and organized labor. [194] Many black voters switched to the Democratic Party in the 1932 election, and African Americans would later become an important part of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal coalition. [195]

As part of his efforts to limit unemployment, Hoover sought to cut immigration to the United States, and in 1930 he promulgated an executive order requiring individuals to have employment before migrating to the United States. [196]


On taking office, Hoover urged Americans to obey the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act, which had established Prohibition across the United States. [197] To make public policy recommendations regarding Prohibition, he created the Wickersham Commission. [198] Hoover had hoped that the commission's public report would buttress his stance in favor of Prohibition, but the report criticized the enforcement of the Volstead Act and noted the growing public opposition to Prohibition. After the Wickersham Report was published in 1931, Hoover rejected the advice of some of his closest allies and refused to endorse any revision of the Volstead Act or the Eighteenth Amendment, as he feared doing so would undermine his support among Prohibition advocates. [199] As public opinion increasingly turned against Prohibition, more and more people flouted the law, and a grassroots movement began working in earnest for Prohibition's repeal. [200] In January 1933, a constitutional amendment repealing the Eighteenth Amendment was approved by Congress and submitted to the states for ratification. By December 1933, it had been ratified by the requisite number of states to become the Twenty-first Amendment. [201]

Foreign relations

According to Leuchtenburg, Hoover was "the last American president to take office with no conspicuous need to pay attention to the rest of the world". Nevertheless, during Hoover's term, the world order established in the immediate aftermath of World War I began to crumble. [202] As president, Hoover largely made good on his pledge made prior to assuming office not to interfere in Latin America's internal affairs. In 1930, he released the Clark Memorandum, a rejection of the Roosevelt Corollary and a move towards non-interventionism in Latin America. Hoover did not completely refrain from the use of the military in Latin American affairs he thrice threatened intervention in the Dominican Republic, and he sent warships to El Salvador to support the government against a left-wing revolution. [203] Notwithstanding those actions, he wound down the Banana Wars, ending the occupation of Nicaragua and nearly bringing an end to the occupation of Haiti. [204]

Hoover placed a priority on disarmament, which he hoped would allow the United States to shift money from the military to domestic needs. [205] Hoover and Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson focused on extending the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty, which sought to prevent a naval arms race. [206] As a result of Hoover's efforts, the United States and other major naval powers signed the 1930 London Naval Treaty. [207] The treaty represented the first time that the naval powers had agreed to cap their tonnage of auxiliary vessels, as previous agreements had only affected capital ships. [208]

At the 1932 World Disarmament Conference, Hoover urged further cutbacks in armaments and the outlawing of tanks and bombers, but his proposals were not adopted. [208]

In 1931, Japan invaded Manchuria, defeating the Republic of China's military forces and establishing Manchukuo, a puppet state. The Hoover administration deplored the invasion, but also sought to avoid antagonizing the Japanese, fearing that taking too strong a stand would weaken the moderate forces in the Japanese government and alienate a potential ally against the Soviet Union, which he saw as a much greater threat. [209] In response to the Japanese invasion, Hoover and Secretary of State Stimson outlined the Stimson Doctrine, which held that the United States would not recognize territories gained by force. [210]

Bonus Army

Thousands of World War I veterans and their families demonstrated and camped out in Washington, DC, during June 1932, calling for immediate payment of bonuses that had been promised by the World War Adjusted Compensation Act in 1924 the terms of the act called for payment of the bonuses in 1945. Although offered money by Congress to return home, some members of the "Bonus Army" remained. Washington police attempted to disperse the demonstrators, but they were outnumbered and unsuccessful. Shots were fired by the police in a futile attempt to attain order, and two protesters were killed while many officers were injured. Hoover sent U.S. Army forces led by General Douglas MacArthur to the protests. MacArthur, believing he was fighting a Communist revolution, chose to clear out the camp with military force. Though Hoover had not ordered MacArthur's clearing out of the protesters, he endorsed it after the fact. [211] The incident proved embarrassing for the Hoover administration, and destroyed any remaining chance he had of winning re-election. [212]

1932 re-election campaign

By mid-1931 few observers thought that Hoover had much hope of winning a second term in the midst of the ongoing economic crisis. [213] The Republican expectations were so bleak that Hoover faced no serious opposition for re-nomination at the 1932 Republican National Convention. Coolidge and other prominent Republicans all passed on the opportunity to challenge Hoover. [214] Franklin D. Roosevelt won the presidential nomination on the fourth ballot of the 1932 Democratic National Convention, defeating the 1928 Democratic nominee, Al Smith. The Democrats attacked Hoover as the cause of the Great Depression, and for being indifferent to the suffering of millions. [215] As Governor of New York, Roosevelt had called on the New York legislature to provide aid for the needy, establishing Roosevelt's reputation for being more favorable toward government interventionism during the economic crisis. [216] The Democratic Party, including Al Smith and other national leaders, coalesced behind Roosevelt, while progressive Republicans like George Norris and Robert La Follette Jr. deserted Hoover. [217] Prohibition was increasingly unpopular, and wets offered the argument that states and localities needed the tax money. Hoover proposed a new constitutional amendment that was vague on particulars. Roosevelt's platform promised repeal of the 18th Amendment. [218] [219]

Hoover originally planned to make only one or two major speeches, and to leave the rest of the campaigning to proxies, as sitting presidents had traditionally done. However, encouraged by Republican pleas and outraged by Democratic claims, Hoover entered the public fray. In his nine major radio addresses Hoover primarily defended his administration and his philosophy of government, urging voters to hold to the "foundations of experience" and reject the notion that government interventionism could save the country from the Depression. [220] In his campaign trips around the country, Hoover was faced with perhaps the most hostile crowds ever seen by a sitting president. Besides having his train and motorcades pelted with eggs and rotten fruit, he was often heckled while speaking, and on several occasions, the Secret Service halted attempts to hurt Hoover, including capturing one man nearing Hoover carrying sticks of dynamite, and another already having removed several spikes from the rails in front of the president's train. [221]

Hoover's attempts to vindicate his administration fell on deaf ears, as much of the public blamed his administration for the depression. [222] In the electoral vote, Hoover lost 59–472, carrying six states. [223] Hoover won 39.7 percent of the popular vote, a plunge of 26 percentage points from his result in the 1928 election. [224]

Roosevelt administration

Opposition to New Deal

Hoover departed from Washington in March 1933, bitter at his election loss and continuing unpopularity. [225] As Coolidge, Harding, Wilson, and Taft had all died during the 1920s or early 1930s and Roosevelt died in office, Hoover was the sole living ex-president from 1933 to 1953. Hoover and his wife lived in Palo Alto until her death in 1944, at which point Hoover began to live permanently at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City. [226] During the 1930s, Hoover increasingly self-identified as a conservative. [227] He closely followed national events after leaving public office, becoming a constant critic of Franklin Roosevelt. In response to continued attacks on his character and presidency, Hoover wrote more than two dozen books, including The Challenge to Liberty (1934), which harshly criticized Roosevelt's New Deal. Hoover described the New Deal's National Recovery Administration and Agricultural Adjustment Administration as "fascistic", and he called the 1933 Banking Act a "move to gigantic socialism". [228]

Only 58 when he left office, Hoover held out hope for another term as president throughout the 1930s. At the 1936 Republican National Convention, Hoover's speech attacking the New Deal was well received, but the nomination went to Kansas Governor Alf Landon. [229] In the general election, Hoover delivered numerous well-publicized speeches on behalf of Landon, but Landon was defeated by Roosevelt. [230] Though Hoover was eager to oppose Roosevelt at every turn, Senator Arthur Vandenberg and other Republicans urged the still-unpopular Hoover to remain out of the fray during the debate over Roosevelt's proposed Judiciary Reorganization Bill of 1937. At the 1940 Republican National Convention, Hoover again hoped for the presidential nomination, but it went to the internationalist Wendell Willkie, who lost to Roosevelt in the general election. [231]

World War II

During a 1938 trip to Europe, Hoover met with Adolf Hitler and stayed at Hermann Göring's hunting lodge. [232] He expressed dismay at the persecution of Jews in Germany and believed that Hitler was mad, but did not present a threat to the U.S. Instead, Hoover believed that Roosevelt posed the biggest threat to peace, holding that Roosevelt's policies provoked Japan and discouraged France and the United Kingdom from reaching an "accommodation" with Germany. [233] After the September 1939 invasion of Poland by Germany, Hoover opposed U.S. involvement in World War II, including the Lend-Lease policy. [234] He rejected Roosevelt's offers to help coordinate relief in Europe, [235] but, with the help of old friends from the CRB, helped establish the Commission for Polish Relief. [236] After the beginning of the occupation of Belgium in 1940, Hoover provided aid for Belgian civilians, though this aid was described as unnecessary by German broadcasts. [237] [238]

In December 1939, sympathetic Americans led by Hoover formed the Finnish Relief Fund to donate money to aid Finnish civilians and refugees after the Soviet Union had started the Winter War by attacking Finland, which had outraged Americans. [239] By the end of January, it had already sent more than two million dollars to the Finns. [240]

During a radio broadcast on June 29, 1941, one week after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Hoover disparaged any "tacit alliance" between the U.S. and the USSR, stating, "if we join the war and Stalin wins, we have aided him to impose more communism on Europe and the world. War alongside Stalin to impose freedom is more than a travesty. It is a tragedy." [241] Much to his frustration, Hoover was not called upon to serve after the United States entered World War II due to his differences with Roosevelt and his continuing unpopularity. [226] He did not pursue the presidential nomination at the 1944 Republican National Convention, and, at the request of Republican nominee Thomas E. Dewey, refrained from campaigning during the general election. [242] In 1945, Hoover advised President Harry S. Truman to drop the United States' demand for the unconditional surrender of Japan because of the high projected casualties of the planned invasion of Japan, although Hoover was unaware of the Manhattan Project and the atomic bomb. [243]

Post–World War II

Following World War II, Hoover befriended President Harry S. Truman despite their ideological differences. [244] Because of Hoover's experience with Germany at the end of World War I, in 1946 Truman selected the former president to tour Allied-occupied Germany and Rome, Italy to ascertain the food needs of the occupied nations. After touring Germany, Hoover produced a number of reports critical of U.S. occupation policy. [245] He stated in one report that "there is the illusion that the New Germany left after the annexations can be reduced to a 'pastoral state.' It cannot be done unless we exterminate or move 25,000,000 people out of it." [246] On Hoover's initiative, a school meals program in the American and British occupation zones of Germany was begun on April 14, 1947 the program served 3,500,000 children. [247]

External audio
National Press Club Luncheon Speakers, Herbert Hoover, March 10, 1954, 37:23, Hoover speaks starting at 7:25 about the second reorganization commission, Library of Congress [248]

In 1947, Truman appointed Hoover to a commission to reorganize the executive departments the commission elected Hoover as chairman and became known as the Hoover Commission. The commission recommended changes designed to strengthen the president's ability to manage the federal government. Though Hoover had opposed Roosevelt's concentration of power in the 1930s, he believed that a stronger presidency was required with the advent of the Atomic Age. [249] During the 1948 presidential election, Hoover supported Republican nominee Thomas Dewey's unsuccessful campaign against Truman, but he remained on good terms with Truman. [250] Hoover favored the United Nations in principle, but he opposed granting membership to the Soviet Union and other Communist states. He viewed the Soviet Union to be as morally repugnant as Nazi Germany and supported the efforts of Richard Nixon and others to expose Communists in the United States. [251]

In 1949, New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey offered Hoover the Senate seat vacated by Robert F. Wagner. He declined. [ citation needed ]

Hoover backed conservative leader Robert A. Taft at the 1952 Republican National Convention, but the party's presidential nomination instead went to Dwight D. Eisenhower, who went on to win the 1952 election. [252] Though Eisenhower appointed Hoover to another presidential commission, Hoover disliked Eisenhower, faulting the latter's failure to roll back the New Deal. [249] Hoover's public work helped to rehabilitate his reputation, as did his use of self-deprecating humor he occasionally remarked that "I am the only person of distinction who's ever had a depression named after him." [253] In 1958, Congress passed the Former Presidents Act, offering a $25,000 yearly pension (equivalent to $224,250 in 2020) to each former president. [254] Hoover took the pension even though he did not need the money, possibly to avoid embarrassing Truman, whose precarious financial status played a role in the law's enactment. [255] In the early 1960s, President John F. Kennedy offered Hoover various positions Hoover declined the offers but defended Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs invasion and was personally distraught by Kennedy's assassination in 1963. [256]

Hoover wrote several books during his retirement, including The Ordeal of Woodrow Wilson, in which he strongly defended Wilson's actions at the Paris Peace Conference. [257] In 1944, he began working on Freedom Betrayed, which he often referred to as his "magnum opus". In Freedom Betrayed, Hoover strongly critiques Roosevelt's foreign policy, especially Roosevelt's decision to recognize the Soviet Union in order to provide aid to that country during World War II. [258] The book was published in 2012 after being edited by historian George H. Nash. [259]


Hoover faced three major illnesses during the last two years of his life, including an August 1962 operation in which a growth on his large intestine was removed. [260] [261] He died on October 20, 1964, in New York City following massive internal bleeding. [262] Though Hoover's last spoken words are unknown, his last known written words were a get well message to his friend Harry Truman, six days before his death, after he heard that Truman had sustained injuries from slipping in a bathroom: "Bathtubs are a menace to ex-presidents for as you may recall a bathtub rose up and fractured my vertebrae when I was in Venezuela on your world famine mission in 1946. My warmest sympathy and best wishes for your recovery." [263] Two months earlier, on August 10, Hoover reached the age of 90, only the second U.S. president (after John Adams) to do so. When asked how he felt on reaching the milestone, Hoover replied, "Too old." [261] At the time of his death, Hoover had been out of office for over 31 years (11,553 days all together). This was the longest retirement in presidential history until Jimmy Carter broke that record in September 2012. [264]

Hoover was honored with a state funeral in which he lay in state in the United States Capitol rotunda. [265] Then, on October 25, he was buried in West Branch, Iowa, near his presidential library and birthplace on the grounds of the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site. Afterwards, Hoover's wife, Lou Henry, who had been buried in Palo Alto, California, following her death in 1944, was re-interred beside him. [266]

Historical reputation

Hoover was extremely unpopular when he left office after the 1932 election, and his historical reputation would not begin to recover until the 1970s. According to Professor David E. Hamilton, historians have credited Hoover for his genuine belief in voluntarism and cooperation, as well as the innovation of some of his programs. However, Hamilton also notes that Hoover was politically inept and failed to recognize the severity of the Great Depression. [267] Nicholas Lemann writes that Hoover has been remembered "as the man who was too rigidly conservative to react adeptly to the Depression, as the hapless foil to the great Franklin Roosevelt, and as the politician who managed to turn a Republican country into a Democratic one". [268] Polls of historians and political scientists have generally ranked Hoover in the bottom third of presidents. A 2018 poll of the American Political Science Association's Presidents and Executive Politics section ranked Hoover as the 36th best president. [269] A 2017 C-Span poll of historians also ranked Hoover as the 36th best president. [270]

Although Hoover is generally regarded as having had a failed presidency, he has also received praise for his actions as a humanitarian and public official. [268] Biographer Glen Jeansonne writes that Hoover was "one of the most extraordinary Americans of modern times," adding that Hoover "led a life that was a prototypical Horatio Alger story, except that Horatio Alger stories stop at the pinnacle of success". [271] Biographer Kenneth Whyte writes that, "the question of where Hoover belongs in the American political tradition remains a loaded one to this day. While he clearly played important roles in the development of both the progressive and conservative traditions, neither side will embrace him for fear of contamination with the other." [272]

Views of race

Hoover was known to hold racist attitudes towards black and mixed-race people. Many of his black contemporaries considered him a racist with W. E. B. Du Bois charging him as an "undemocratic racist who saw blacks as a species of 'sub-men'". [273]


The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum is located in West Branch, Iowa next to the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site. The library is one of thirteen presidential libraries run by the National Archives and Records Administration. The Hoover–Minthorn House, where Hoover lived from 1885 to 1891, is located in Newberg, Oregon. His Rapidan fishing camp in Virginia, which he donated to the government in 1933, is now a National Historic Landmark within the Shenandoah National Park. The Lou Henry and Herbert Hoover House, built in 1919 in Stanford, California, is now the official residence of the president of Stanford University, and a National Historic Landmark. Also located at Stanford is the Hoover Institution, a think tank and research institution started by Hoover.

Hoover has been memorialized in the names of several things, including the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River and numerous elementary, middle, and high schools across the United States. Two minor planets, 932 Hooveria [274] and 1363 Herberta, are named in his honor. [275] The Polish capital of Warsaw has a square named after Hoover, [276] and the historic townsite of Gwalia, Western Australia contains the Hoover House Bed and Breakfast, where Hoover resided while managing and visiting the mine during the first decade of the twentieth century. [277] A medicine ball game known as Hooverball is named for Hoover it was invented by White House physician Admiral Joel T. Boone to help Hoover keep fit while serving as president. [278]

6 Open-Door Policy

During World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was adamant on creating an easier way for reporters to gain meaningful news. Therefore, Roosevelt instructed his press secretary, Stephen Early, to adopt an &ldquoopen-door policy with all correspondents.&rdquo Understanding the newspaper business, given that his chosen career was journalism, Early strived for the presence of African American reporters during presidential press conferences. [5]

Prior to this, black correspondents were prohibited from attending the administration&rsquos news briefings. Nevertheless, Early tirelessly made countless attempts to persuade the White House Correspondence Association to issue press credentials. Due to Early&rsquos efforts, Harry McAlpin of the National Negro Publishers Association became the first African American reporter to be part of the White House press corps in 1944.

In 2016, President Obama honored McAlpin, quoting President Roosevelt&rsquos words to the young reporter. &ldquoI&rsquom glad to see you, McAlpin,&rdquo said Roosevelt as he flashed his famous smile and stuck out his hand to the correspondent. &ldquoAnd very happy to have you here.&rdquo

10 Things You May Not Know About Herbert Hoover - HISTORY

Bio. "Mini Bio: F. Scott Fitzgerald." YouTube. Google, 21 Sept. 2012. Web. 11 Apr. 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PL05VV040Ls>.

"Black Tuesday." Little Miss Medic. Blogger, 22 Nov. 2011. Web. 11 Apr. 2014. <http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-QUp-el0g3VE/TstvN0sahrI/AAAAAAAAAeM/hn1xq0Ah_NY/s1600/black_tuesday_journal28.jpg>.

"File:F Scott Fitzgerald 1921.jpg." Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 11 Apr. 2014. Web. 11 Apr. 2014. <http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5c/F_Scott_Fitzgerald_1921.jpg>.

"File:Gatsby 1925 jacket.gif." Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundations, 11 Apr. 2014. Web. 11 Apr. 2014. <http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/b/b0/Gatsby_1925_jacket.gif/200px-Gatsby_1925_jacket.gif>.

"File:Zelda Fitzgerald portrait.jpg." Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2014. <http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/23/Zelda_Fitzgerald_portrait.jpg>.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. 1925. New York: Scribner, 2004. Print.

"Great Gatsby Cover Spray Painted." Deviant Art. deviantART, 2014. Web. 11 Apr. 2014. <http://fc07.deviantart.net/fs71/f/2012/003/a/e/great_gatsby_cover_spray_painted_by_tier317-d4l7ma0.jpg>.

"Herbert Hoover." History. A&E Television Networks, 2014. Web. 11 Apr. 2014. <http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/herbert-hoover>.

History Channel. "History The Crash of 1929 The Great Depression (PBS) 1 of 6 Documentary." YouTube. Google, 29 Dec. 2013. Web. 11 Apr. 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDEq6KZ_2NE>.

Lapsansky-Werner, Emma J. United States History: Modern America. Student ed. Upper Saddle River: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2010. Print.

10 Dinner Party Facts about “Der Chef” Herbert von Karajan

Firstly, he wasn’t a chef in the culinary sense, but rather “The Boss,” or “Der Chef” in his native German. Whilst his butler was whipping up the masetro’s favourite spaghetti aglio e olio, Karajan was busy being one of the most important and controversial musicians of the twentieth century. A conductor extraordinaire, The Boss lived in spectacular high-definition. But how much do we know about the man behind the camera? Here are 10 things you may or may not know about the maestro…

1) It was trademark Karajan to conduct entire symphonies with his eyes closed. He would regularly get up at 4 am to learn the scores of by heart. Here’s a 2-minute excerpt from Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique—10 points if you spot him opening his eyes! (Spoiler: he doesn’t.)

2) For a small man he had very big hands. According to his third wife Eliette Mouret he also had two left feet “the music was in his mind, not his body.”

3) Eliette and Karajan had two daughters. Karajan loved spending time with Arabel and Isabel, but had little time for his elder brother, the organist Wolfgang von Karajan. This was more than a simple case of sibling rivalry—Wolfgang took all the childhood plaudits with his organ playing, and it seems that Herbert never really forgave him.

4) Karajan was not only an honorary citizen of Salzburg, the city where he was born, but also of Berlin (as of 1973), and of Vienna (1978). When he succeeded Karl Böhm as director of the Vienna Staatsoper in 1957, having conducted the Berliner Philharmoniker since 1938, people started calling him “the Generalmusikdirektor of Europe!” He earned numerous other nicknames along the way to international fame, including “Le bon dieu,” “Wunder Karajan,” and “The Emperor of Legato,” a title for which he makes a strong case in the slow movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No.5:

5) The formidable conductor was a self-confessed introvert. His belief in the transformative power of concentration was bolstered by studying Zen Buddhism and practicing yoga. He would withdraw from the city to his country retreats at every opportunity, seeking peace and quiet in his private life in a way he couldn’t on the public stage.

6) Karajan’s fascination with technology by no means stopped with the latest recording techniques. He had a private pilot’s license and was a frequent flier of his own Cessna and Dassault Falcon 10. At Salzburg Airport, the Herbert-von-Karajan-General-Aviation-Terminal is even named after the airborne conductor! Karajan also enjoyed sailing his St Tropez yacht and driving fast cars, sometimes on private race-tracks—he was one of the few celebrities to own a Porsche 959, of which only 300 existed! When he wasn’t practising yoga he was a bit of a daredevil.

7) He loved Westerns. His friends recall how they would watch the same films over and over, and Karajan would say, “When I have a whisky glass in one hand and a cigarette in the other I feel like John Wayne.” He was, however, NOT a fan of Steven Spielberg’s film E.T. to the point that Karajan told his team to cancel the landmark meeting planned between him and the great director.

8) Karajan’s problematic membership of the National Socialist Party is well-documented, but less well-known are the moments where he fell foul of the Nazi regime. In June 1939, Hitler blamed a blemish in the State Opera’s production of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger on Karajan’s conducting without a score. Not only did Karajan ignore orders to use a score in future performances, but he also continued to program music by foreign and Jewish composers. In 1940 Goebbels proclaimed that “the Führer has a very low opinion of Karajan and his conducting.” Perpetually losing favor with the Nazis, Karajan was not clearly destined or willing to become Hitler’s cultural poster boy. At best, Karajan’s was a case of pragmatism, at worst of opportunism, but never of conviction.

9) Unlike Bernstein, his theatrical American contemporary, Karajan would never sweat on stage. In November 1958, Bernstein invited Karajan to conduct the New York Philharmonic. Their two styles could hardly have been more different/ whereas Bernstein’s conducting was passionately uninhibited and political, Karajan’s was disciplined and carefully primed, like the man himself. The maestro was not invincible, however. Evgeny Kissin’s 1988 performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in Salzburg brought him to rare tears. Kissin too was deeply moved, recalling how “Karajan’s presence opened some hidden potential in me.”

10) Despite being voted Vienna’s best dressed man in his lifetime, Karajan was buried in a tracksuit. Being constantly in the media spotlight required a perfect coiffure—Karajan made sure he had a personal stylist to help him keep up appearances. But when the end came, it was Karajan’s express wish to be buried in a tracksuit. The life-long aesthete told his butler Francesco Orsomando that the tracksuit: “makes me feel a freer man.”

There’s clearly a lot more to the maestro than meets the eye. If you haven’t been keeping up with our exclusive Karajan series, there’s still time to catch up. With 43 never-before-seen remastered Karajan videos, we can promise you many more unforgettable moments.

The Second Officer who survived Titanic and saved 130 lives at Dunkirk

Early in the morning on 15 April 1912, the unthinkable happened – R.M.S. Titanic, the largest and most luxurious liner that had ever sailed the Seven Seas found itself at the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean. The British liner was said to be unsinkable, one employee even boasted at its launch that ‘not even God himself could sink this ship.’ In the end, it was an iceberg that dealt the fatal blow to the ‘The Queen of the Ocean’ during its maiden voyage. Of the 2,224 souls on-board, over 1,500 would perish.

On 4 June 1940, the unthinkable happened again - 338,000 B.E.F. and Allied soldiers were successfully rescued from the beaches of Dunkirk during Operation Dynamo. Tragedy had been turned into triumph and Prime Minister Winston Churchill described the evacuation as a ‘miracle’.

Read more about: Mysteries

10 Things You May Not Know About the Titanic

To have witnessed one of these defining moments of the 20th-century first hand would be significant enough, to have witnessed both would be unthinkable, yet the unthinkable did happen during the eventful and often unbelievable life of Charles Herbert Lightoller.

Born in Lancashire in 1874, Lightoller had already experienced a lifetime’s worth of events by the time he took the position of Second Officer on board the Titanic in 1912. Not wanting to end up in a factory job, at age 13 Lightoller took a four-year seafaring apprenticeship instead. A short while later he found himself stuck in Rio de Janeiro whilst the boat he was on was undergoing repairs after it had sustained damage during a storm in the South Atlantic. At the time Rio was in the midst of two dangerous occurrences – a revolution and a smallpox outbreak.

It was a case of jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire once Lightoller’s ship left Rio as the now repaired vessel found itself run aground and shipwrecked on a small unhabituated island in the Indian Ocean called Île Saint-Paul. After fending for themselves for eight days, Lightoller and the rest of the crew were eventually rescued by sheer chance after a small sailing boat passed close by the island.

Read more about: Mystery Season

Titanic expert, Craig Sopin on 'Titanic's Lost Evidence'

Lightoller’s next voyage saw him sail to Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, India, where he survived a cyclone, a fire at sea and managed to keep all his fingers after a number of them became trapped inside the mouth of a captured shark. He then began a career on steamships and after three years of service on the West African coast, he almost died from a bad bout of Malaria. Writing in his book Titanic and Other Ships, Lightoller said of the event, ‘…my temperature soared to 106.2°. Down the coast, 105° is usually fatal, and on this day in particular, one of the crew passed out at 105°.’

After surviving the deadly disease he decided to put Africa and the sea behind him, setting off on an entirely new career path as a gold prospector. In 1898, he travelled to the Yukon in Canada to prospect for gold in the Klondike Gold Rush. The gold for Lightoller, however, would remain elusive and instead he became a cowboy in Alberta, Canada. A short while later he wished to return to England and so worked his way back as a cattle wrangler on board a cattle boat.

'I certainly did not make a fortune in fact, not only made nothing but lost all I had. But I had a grand time.’

A year after he’d gone in search of gold Lightoller found himself back in England without a penny to his name. He didn’t regret his decision to go gold digging, writing in his book, ‘I have never regretted the decision that took me out to the Canadian North-West, nor one single experience with which the days were filled. I certainly did not make a fortune in fact, not only made nothing but lost all I had. But I had a grand time.’

Read more about: Mystery Season

Mistakes that sank the Titanic

In 1900, he began his career with White Star Liner, the shipping company that operated and owned the Titanic. Twelve years later, Lightoller became the ill-fated liners Second Officer. On the night of 14 April 1912, Lightoller had returned to his cabin after handing over the bridge watch to First Officer Murdoch. Just before midnight he felt a small vibration and realised the ship had hit something. About ten minutes later he was informed that ‘water was up to the F deck in the Mail Room.’ He jumped into action.

Lightoller soon found himself in charge of lowering the lifeboats on the port side of the ship. Strictly interpreting Captain Smith’s order for the evacuation of women and children, Lightoller allowed just one man to board a port side lifeboat during the entire evacuation. That man was Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Peuchen, who was allowed to board a lifeboat to help command it in the absence of available Titanic crewmembers. This strict enforcement of the orders meant that some of the lifeboats launched by Lightoller were not filled to capacity.

Read more about: Battles

Operation Fortitude: the D-Day deception campaign that fooled the Nazis

In one instance he discovered that a number of men had occupied a lifeboat, he jumped aboard it and threatened them with the revolver he was carrying. Although this was a bluff, as the gun was not loaded, the men vacated the lifeboat and in this instance, Lightoller was able to fill it to capacity with women and children.

After the last of the lifeboats had been launched, Lightoller looked to get two collapsible canvas sided boats into the water. After the Chief Mate suggested he go with one of these boats, Lightoller turned to him and said, ‘Not damn likely.’

Read more about: Battles

Stanley Hollis: The only D-Day soldier awarded a Victoria Cross

As the first collapsible was being lowered, two men jumped into it from the lower decks. Writing in his book Lightoller said, ‘This, as far as I know was the only instance of men getting away in boats from the port side. I don’t blame them, the boat wasn’t full, for the simple reason that we couldn’t find sufficient women, and there was no time to wait—the water was then actually lapping round their feet on “A” deck, so they jumped for it and got away. Good luck to them.’

Lightoller then rushed to the starboard side to assist there but discovered that all boats had been launched. At that moment the Titanic took a bit plunge forward and realising that nothing more could be done, he dove into the ocean and attempted to swim away from the sinking vessel. The force of the suction created by the sinking ship meant that he soon found himself being dragged underwater and pinned against the grating on a ventilation shaft. In his own words, this is what next. ‘The pressure of the water just glued me there whilst the ship sank slowly below the surface. Although I struggled and kicked for all I was worth, it was impossible to get away, for as fast as I pushed myself off I was irresistibly dragged back. I was drowning, and a matter of another couple of minutes would have seen me through….when suddenly a terrific blast of hot air came up the shaft, and blew me right away from the airshaft and up to the surface.’

Read more about: Battles

The bagpiper of D-Day

That blast came from a boiler explosion from deep within the ship and when Lightoller surfaced he found himself next to one of the collapsible boats he’d just launched, although it was no longer the right way up. He grabbed hold of a rope dangling off the boat and just as he did one of the Titanic’s enormous funnels broke free, crashing into the water just inches from Lightoller’s position. The wave caused by the funnel pushed the collapsible some 50 yards away from the sinking liner. Lightoller scrambled on top of the collapsible and watched as ‘The Ship of Dreams’ sank into the depths below.

Thirty souls stood on top of that upturned collapsible until daybreak Lightoller constantly instructing everyone to shift their weight to ensure the vessel didn’t get swamped. If it wasn’t for his instructions it’s likely all those on top of the collapsible would have perished that night. In the end, all but three would eventually transfer into other lifeboats. The one that Lightoller found himself on was dangerously overloaded and was minutes away from sinking before the people on board were hoisted onto the Carpathia, a passenger steamship that had responded to the distress calls of the Titanic.

Read more about: Battles

The largest seaborne invasion in history: The story of D-Day

Amongst the 705 survivors rescued from the ocean, Lightoller was the most senior officer and so played a key role in both the subsequent American and British inquiries. Many of his suggestions for avoiding such a disaster in the future would later become common practice.

For many, this disaster would have been enough to ensure their feet remained on solid ground for the rest of their lives. Not for Lightoller though, who returned to the ocean within the year and soon found himself as a Lieutenant of the Royal Navy as Britain entered the First World War. The next few years were anything but quiet.

In 1914, the boat he served on, R.M.S. Oceanic ran aground and sank, Lightoller once again found himself managing the lowering of lifeboats. In 1915, he found himself on a seaplane carrier and flew on reconnaissance missions trying to locate enemy fleets. Later that year he was finally given his own command, taking charge of the torpedo boat HMTB 117. In 1916, the 117 attacked a German Zeppelin and for his actions, Lightoller was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and appointed the commander of H.M.S. Falcon, a torpedo boat destroyer.

Two years later the Falcon was sunk after accidently colliding with a trawler in heavy fog, Lightoller was off duty at the time of the collision. He was then given the command of the destroyer H.M.S. Garry and in June 1918 Lightoller and his crew successfully depth-charged rammed and sunk a German U-boat off the coast of Yorkshire. The resulting damage to the bows of the Garry meant that it had to go in reverse for some 100 miles until it could dock for repairs. For his actions, Lightoller was promoted to Lieutenant-Commander.

Read more about: Hitler

What if D-Day had failed?

The commander of the German U-boat would later claim in his memoirs that Lightoller had ordered his men to shoot the unarmed survivors of the U-boat as they came to the surface. In his own memoir, Lightoller made no mention of this event, instead saying that he left the rescue to his men and that 15 Germans were pulled from the wreckage. Without evidence to support the accusation, no charge was ever brought against Lightoller.

As the war came to an end, so did Lightoller’s time with White Star Liner after they passed him up for command of his own ship, the company wanting to forget the Titanic and all those associated with her. Instead, Lightoller and his wife set up a guesthouse and went into semi-retirement. In 1929, they purchased and did up a private 58ft motor yacht. They called it the Sundowner and it was because of this boat that Lightoller found himself taking part in another historical maritime event.

On 31 May 1940, 66-year-old Lightoller received a call from the Admiralty requesting that he sail the Sundowner to Ramsgate so that a Navy crew could use it as one of the ‘Little Ships of Dunkirk’ and sail to France to rescue the stranded B.E.F. and Allied forces. Lightoller agreed but on the condition that he would sail it with his son, Roger.

On 1 June, Lightoller, his son Roger and another young sailor set off for the beaches of Dunkirk. Twelve hours later the Sundowner, which had never carried more than 21 people before, returned to Ramsgate filled with 130 men crammed in. The motor yacht had picked up men from the destroyer H.M.S. Worcester as well as from other smaller stranded boats. Along the way, they’d taken fire from Luftwaffe fighters with Lightoller having to use evasive manoeuvres on countless occasions to avoid being hit. Not a single life was lost on board the Sundowner that day and Lightoller’s actions became the inspiration for Mark Rylance’s character in Christopher Nolan’s 2017 WWII epic Dunkirk.

After the war Lightoller ran a small boatyard in London, building boats for the river police. On 8 December 1952, at the age of 78, Lightoller passed away of chronic heart disease as London battled with the Great Smog of 1952. It seems that significant historical events were constantly intertwined with the eventful life of Charles Herbert Lightoller.

The 10 strangest things you’ll find on Stanford’s property

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As Santa Clara County’s biggest property owner, Stanford University boasts some remarkable sights within its borders — and some that are downright strange. Here are 10 highlights:

10. The Red Barn. Built between 1878 and 1880, the Red Barn is one of the few surviving remnants of the horse farm Leland Stanford originally operated here. That farm made history in 1878 when photographer Eadweard Muybridge, using brand-new photographic technology, sought to answer the question of the day: When a horse gallops, does it momentarily lift all four feet off the ground at once? The answer is yes, and Muybridge’s experiments in Stanford’s paddock set the stage for the invention of the motion picture 10 years later.

Today the historic barn houses the Stanford Equestrian Team.

The Red Barn served as the training stable for Leland Stanford’s horse farm until it closed in 1903. It reopened in 1946, and then underwent renovations from 1984 to 2005.

9. The Dish. It’s a local icon and a favorite destination for hikers, but what does it do? Built in 1961 on Stanford land in the foothills outside campus, the Dish is a giant radio telescope that has been used to research the Earth’s atmosphere and transmit signals to NASA space probes. It’s still in use.

Easter celebrants gather at sunrise near the Dish in the Stanford foothills in 2015. The university’s Episcopal Lutheran Campus Ministry holds a service there every year. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

8. Herbert Hoover’s house. President Herbert Hoover, who graduated with Stanford’s inaugural class in 1895, returned in 1919 with his wife, Lou Henry Hoover, and had a house built on campus. Today the house is the home of the president of Stanford.

A 1970s photo of Herbert Hoover’s house at Stanford University. (Courtesy of Palo Alto Historical Association)

7. Stanford Golf Course. The 18-hole course is open to members, as well as Stanford students, faculty, staff — and alumni such as Tom Watson, Michelle Wie and Tiger Woods.

A golfer tees off at the Stanford Golf Course in Palo Alto with Stanford’s Hoover Tower in the background. (Staff Archives/ Joanne Hoyoung Lee)

6. Frank Lloyd Wright house. The Hanna House was built by the famous architect in 1936 for Stanford Professor Paul Hanna and his wife. Today the house is a private residence, but it’s occasionally open to the public for limited tours. The next tour dates have not yet been announced.

An exterior view of the Hanna House at Stanford University, which was designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. (Courtesy Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service)

5. Mark Zuckerberg’s old house. Before the Facebook founder was such a big shot that he could drop $30 million to scoop up the four houses on either side of his Palo Alto home, Mark Zuckerberg rented a house in the College Terrace neighborhood a stone’s throw from Stanford. The university bought the house on Amherst Street for $3.65 million in 2016, according to MLSListings.

The house that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg rented in the College Terrace neighborhood, a stone’s throw from Stanford, before buying multiple homes in another Palo Alto neighborhood. (© 2019 Google)

4. The bridge to nowhere. More than 1,000 acres of what is now Stanford land once belonged to a Frenchman known as Peter Coutts — a political dissident whose real name was Jean-Baptiste Paulin Caperon. He bought the land surrounding Palo Alto’s College Terrace neighborhood in the 1870s to build a dairy farm. Today, his lasting imprint on the area includes two odd relics. In Frenchman’s Park, there’s a brick bridge that crosses nothing but grass but once likely spanned part of a reservoir. And there’s the Medieval-looking brick tower off Old Page Mill Road, which may have been used as part of an irrigation system, or a library. To make it even stranger: The tower has no doors.

A brick bridge is what is left from a time when more than 1,000 acres of Stanford land belonged to a Frenchman known as Peter Coutts in the late 1800s. This image from 1947 is labeled the Frenchman's Farm bridge. (Courtesy of the Palo Alto Historical Association)

The Peter Coutts bridge as it stands today in Frenchman's Park on Stanford's campus. (Randy Vazquez/Bay Area News Group)

A view of the tower built by Peter Coutts circa 1878. A note on the back of the photo indicates it was shot at 11:15 a.m., no date. (Courtesy of Palo Alto Historical Association)

The Peter Coutts tower as it stands today on Old Page Mill Road in Palo Alto on Stanford-owned land. (Randy Vazquez/Bay Area News Group)

3. Jail ruins. While researching how to make part of their lands more hospitable to the threatened California red-legged frog, Stanford biologists and archaeologists in 2017 came upon an unexpected find: the ruins of an old county jail. Built off what is now Old Page Mill Road in the early 1900s, the jail housed petty criminals who were forced to mine basalt from nearby quarries to pave El Camino Real and other local streets. Historians say it appears Jane Stanford leased the land to the county for the jail’s construction.

2. Ancient petroglyphs. The Muwekma Ohlone Native Americans lived on what is now Stanford land for 7,000 years. Archeologists have discovered eight ancient village sites on university property in unincorporated Santa Clara County, including petroglyphs and mortars carved into the bedrock. Good luck finding these ancient treasures. Their locations are confidential per federal and state law.

1. The remains of the Stanford family. The bodies of Stanford University founders Leland and Jane Stanford and their son, Leland Jr., are interred on campus. Their stone crypt, near Palm and Campus drives, was built in 1888 to house 15-year-old Leland Jr., who died of typhoid fever and inspired his parents to build a university in his name. His parents eventually were laid to rest there, too. Today, students visit the tomb both to engage in raucous Halloween festivities and to drop off prayers written on the back of class assignments.

A bicyclist rides by the Stanford Mausoleum on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. (Randy Vazquez/Bay Area News Group)

The royal family: Leland Stanford, Jane Stanford and son Leland DeWitt Stanford, who later changed his name to Leland Stanford Jr. (Courtesy of Stanford University)

The Stanford Mausoleum in Stanford, Calif., on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. (Randy Vazquez/Bay Area News Group)

This series was produced by The Mercury News, East Bay Times, NBC Bay Area, KQED, Renaissance Journalism, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, and Telemundo 48 Área de la Bahía.

Watch the video: 5 Depressing Things About Herbert Hoover