When World War I began in 1914, Hoover left the mining business and began working with the relief efforts in various European countries to aid war victims. When the U.S. entered the war in 1917, Hoover was appointed head of the U.S. Food Administration. Through creative marketing, he was able to reduce the amount of meat and wheat that was being eaten by the American public so it could be sent overseas to the soldiers.
When President Harding was elected in 1921, he appointed Hoover Secretary of Commerce. In 1927, President Coolidge announced that he would not be seeking re-election, and party leaders began to look to Hoover as the leading Republican candidate. Thanks to his already strong reputation across the country, Hoover easily won the election. On November 6, 1928, Herbert Hoover became president, receiving 58% of the popular vote and 444 electoral votes.
"Who But Hoover" - 1928 Campaign Slogan
He fought for laws that would keep workers safe and income at a livable level. As a last ditch effort before leaving office, the Hoover Administration crafted the Emergency Relief and Construction Act. The bill allowed more money for public works projects and created the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, an institution that provided government backed loans to banks, farmers and railroad companies.
In addition to these relief efforts, Hoover also called for an in-depth investigation into the workings of the stock exchange, to ensure nothing like this ever happened again. Many of the programs Hoover started laid the groundwork and provided the inspiration for Roosevelt’s New Deal a few years later.
The President was against submitting budgets that were unbalanced, and he was unwilling to raise the country’s deficit to fund welfare programs, so despite public outcry for more federal assistance, little was given. Shanty towns called “Hoovervilles” began to sprout up across the country, with thousands of Americans losing their homes each year.
To make matters worse, the 1930s also brought an extreme drought to the Midwest, which made farming nearly impossible. Fields lay empty and the soil dried out rapidly, effectively creating a dust bowl in the middle of the country. Thousands of people were forced to relocate as their farms became less and less profitable. President Hoover did little to aid these people, and his public approval fell rapidly across the country.
When they, along with their two sons, moved back to the United States, Lou became involved with the Girl Scouts of America, serving as president of the organization from 1922 to 1925, and again after she left the White House from 1935 to 1937. As First Lady, Lou advocated for volunteerism like her husband, and continued her work with the Girl Scouts of America. She was also the first First Lady to be broadcast on the radio on a regular basis, appearing on several radio shows each week.
Herbert Hoover, a Republican from Iowa, was President from 1929-1933. Hoover believed that the government was filled with inefficiency, and he worked to change this during his time in office. He also placed great value on volunteer work and the power of the individual to create change.
By Lena Tomaszek,
Museum Intern, University Minnesota Undergrad
This panel is part of our 2014 exhibit on U.S. Presidents Between the World Wars. For educational purposes, we have made the document available as a pdf. -->