Herbert Hoover was born on August 10, 1874, in Iowa. He was the first president to be born west of the Mississippi River. His family were Quakers, followers of a form of religion that valued simplicity.
Most presidents before Hoover studied law, but Hoover got a degree in geology and became a mining engineer. When World War I started, Hoover helped 120,000 Americans stranded in Europe get home. He also coordinated food and supplies to be delivered to Belgium.
In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson appointed Hoover the head of the Food Administration. After the war, Hoover sent shipments of food to Europe and earned worldwide gratitude and acclaim for his efforts. Those who benefited from the free meals called them “Hoover lunches.”
In 1928, Hoover ran as the Republican Party’s nominee for the presidential election, carrying 40 states and winning by a record margin of 444-87 electoral votes. In his inaugural address, the newly elected president said, “I have no fears for the future of our country. It is bright with hope.”
Unfortunately, just seven months after taking office, on October 24, 1929, the Great Depression started. Hoover didn’t believe more government intervention was the answer to the Great Depression, so he refused address it by spending more tax money. By the 1932 presidential election, Hoover was very unpopular and even hated by many. Instead of the 40 states he carried four years earlier, he only managed to get six states for his re-election. After leaving the Oval Office, the former president wrote books and magazines on his conservative political views while warning that too much power in the government was dangerous.
Hoover was 90 years old when he died and by that time people realized that he was not as bad as they’d thought. The depression lasted another eight years after he left the White House, despite efforts from President Franklin Roosevelt.