“When there is a lack of honor in the government, the morals of the whole people are poisoned.”
“Blessed are the young for they shall inherit the national debt.”
Although Herbert Hoover was a successful geologist, businessman, and civil servant, he had never held a political office before being elected our nation’s 31st President. Soon after he took office, the Great Depression began. Many businesses had borrowed too much money and couldn’t repay their debts. The businesses failed and people lost their jobs. Soon, more businesses failed and more people were unemployed. People couldn’t pay their mortgages and lost their homes.
The Great Depression was the most severe and longest lasting economic downturn the country had ever experienced. People were hungry, angry, and afraid. Hoover was leading a country that was very different than the one he had expected to lead. People blamed him for their problems, even though it wasn’t really his fault. People lived in makeshift communities called Hoovervilles, in houses thrown together from cardboard and tin.
- Herbert Hoover was born on August 10, 1874 in West Branch, Iowa.
- His father died when he was six. His mother died when Herbert was nine.
- Herbert went to live with an uncle in Oregon.
- Despite his difficult childhood, Herbert went on to graduate from Stanford University with a degree in Geology.
- He traveled all over the world opening mines and was wealthy by the time he was 30.
- Herbert married his college sweetheart, Lou Henry in 1899. They had two children.
- He was in London when World War 1 began. He helped evacuate 120,000 Americans from Europe, often paying their travel expenses out of his own pocket.
- Hoover delivered food to starving Belgiums during the war, saving millions of people.
- Because of Hoover’s efforts in Belgium, President Wilson asked him to be the food administrator. He encouraged Americans to use food wisely so more of it could be sent to the troops and Allies.
- Americans considered him a hero after World War I and he easily won the Presidential election.
- After his Presidency, he went back to private life briefly. When World War II began, he once again helped send food to Europe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Did Herbert Hoover cause the Great Depression?
Answer: No, the Great Depression was caused by many complicated factors. The economy grew too fast and both businesses and individuals were spending too much and not saving enough. Hoover actually worked hard to end the Depression, but his efforts failed. Hoover had a soft heart and was very generous. He wanted to help people. He refused to be paid for any of his work delivering food during the wars.