Herbert Hoover as Secretary of Commerce

Herbert Hoover as Secretary of Commerce transformed that department from a scattering of independent agencies into a vital cabinet position to advance the nation’s economy. He got the department involved in many new infant industries. A favorite anecdote in Washington was that Hoover was the Secretary of Commerce and Under Secretary of everything else. He wanted the Department and the entire administration to set policies for the new social order that emerged after World War I.

When he become the Secretary in 1921 the Department had 13,005 employees and a annual budget of $24.5 M By 1928 there 15,850 employees for $37.8M He first called an Economic Conference in 1921 to discuss and formulate full employment, the elimination of waste, to market goods abroad, and to level out boom and bust periods. By early 1923, the economy had begun to improve.

-Programs for the elimination of waste included the anticipation of pending strikes to prevent them for adversely effecting corporations, labor unions, and the public at large. His department investigated unsafe labor conditions before they came national problems;
-Better coordination of freight railway schedules with the packing, crating at handling at plants. This prevented excessive inventory and less down time for railroad cars;
–A program for the standardization and simplification of spare parts, materials, supplies and equipment. This lowered production costs, made replacement easier, and reduced the size of technical data packages. They was less variety but parts came together easier. This involved large items but also small supplies such as baby bottles, screws, nails, nuts, and pipes;
–started a department of Fish and Wildlife to protect animals, their feeding areas, and ensure clean water for fishing;
–increased funding for both pure and applied science; in other words new discoveries and ideas and their applications to everyday life;
–established at the Stanford University a research institute to investigate food and nutrition; this included the processing and distribution of food; nutritional questions; existing regulations; and legislative proposals;
–though not completely successful, insisted that loans to other countries be used for peaceful purposes and in accordance with agreements, including some flexibility, for repayment;
–instituted a Better Housing program which steadily increased the construction of single family units. The nation established a standard building codes; methods of financing purchases; zoning to protect residences from business and factories; and the standardization of materials to reduce costs;
–consolidated various scattered activities into the American Child Health Association; the activities involved public assistance and educating parents and children on the fundamentals of nutrition and public health; there were hundreds of separate and distinct problems which Hoover later addressed in greater detail during his administration. Nevertheless, these studies during his period revealed many substandard conditions for the care and protection of children across the country;
— Hoover tried with no success in getting the federal government to initiate Unemployment Compensation and and constitutional amendment to eliminate Child Labor. He and other like minded jawboned corporate leaders to gradually reduce the workweek from 12 hours/6 days to 40 hours/ 5 days;
–found exports markets for surplus agricultural commodities and started the farm cooperative movement;
–Herbert Hoover was a firm believer in the development of water resources for transportation, electricity, flood and drought control, and recreation. Accordingly, he implemented plans for development of Colorado River Basin; the Great Valley of the San Joaquin and Sacramento; the Columbia River Basin in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington; a system of dikes, levees, and ports on the Mississippi; the future Tennessee Valley Authority; and the St. Lawrence Seaway. Hoover’s vision was a unified system of transportation covering both rivers, harbors, and rails.
–Secretary Hoover personally took charge of flood relief of the Mississippi Valley in 1927 coordinating the work of several agencies. This greatly enhanced his already strong reputation;
–set regulations for programming, wave lengths, and operations for the beginnings of the radio industry;
–gave directions for pilot licensing, airplane, airport and runway construction for aviation, another infant industry
–brought the Merchant Marine up-to-date
–Hoover was an active participant in the Washington Disarmament Conference in 1921-22. He helped negotiate reductions by limiting the number and tonnage of battleships and a policy of noninterference in the affairs of China. China, Hoover believed, should be open to trade and commerce with all nations;

These activities assured him the Republican President Nomination in 1928. Though a dull public speaker, Hoover was a good conversationalist and a real master of the press, at least during this period. A closer look at the 1928 Presidential Election later.


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