Herbert Hoover-War and Famine Relief

When earlier talking about the Hoover-Philadelphia connection, I began with 1932. Philadelphia was the only major city that Hoover carried in that depression era election. Let me summarize his life prior to 1932 in segments.

After making a fortune mining in every continent, Hoover devoted the rest of his life to public service. This gave him national recognition. Perhaps Hoover was thinking of running for office in the future. He headed the Committee for the Relief of Belgium after the German occupation on their way to France in World War I. Many countries, especially England, did not want to aid Belgium; any assistance would ease the burden on Germany. Hoover and his aids did not want a neutral country to suffer. Through persistence, taking the high moral road, and numerous trips between Berlin and London, all sides agreed to let neutral ships into Belgian ports.

Herbert Hoover urged President Wilson to stay out of the war. He saw no real difference between the aggressive aims of each country. Wilson gradually gave more aid to the Allied Powers and, under dubious grounds, requested and received a Declaration of War on Germany and Austria-Hungary from Congress. After our entrance into the war, Herbert Hoover returned home to serve as Food Administrator and Special Adviser to the President. His first advice was to raise taxes rather than issue bonds to finance the war. Wilson once again did not take Hoover’s advice and the deficit hurt America in the post World War I era. Hoover did well in managing food supplies between domestic, military, and foreign needs. “To Hooverize” was a popular phrase during World War I. Hoover gave public support to President Wilson, even though he advised against both the war itself and method of financing it.

During the post war period, Herbert Hoover’s talents, already recognized, enhanced his reputation. He headed relief efforts in defeated countries, giving special attention Poland and Germany. Both countries honored him with honorary citizenship in his Post Presidential Years. The real problem came with aid to the Soviet Union after the Communists deposed the Czar. There was a “Red Scare” in this country just similar to the one in the early 50s. During the World War I, the United States unfairly curtailed the civil liberties of German and Irish Americans, organized labor, and war protestors. This, while never justified, continued after WWI. A. Mitchell Palmer, Wilson’s Attorney General, made a mockery of the constitution. Nevertheless through persistence, constant pressure, and appeals to basic humanitarian instincts, Herbert Hoover provided aid for Soviet famine relief. “Never mind their politics,” Hoover stated, “they shall be fed.”

Greater challenges would follow dealing with the Heads of State at Versailles, specifically President Wilson. More Later 

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