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A shorter day with an interesting stop at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum

semi-overcast 70 °F


We are on a push to get to Minneapolis/St.Paul for Pat's granddaughter's birthday on Thursday. So aside from sightseeing along the Interstate highways there have not been many side trips. One, however, is a stop that I missed a couple of years ago when I traveled this way. The Herbert Hoover birthplace, museum, and library is just off I-80 about 10 miles east of Iowa City. It is located in a small town named West Branch, Iowa.
Herbert Hoover, our 31st President, became an orphan at an early age with the untimely deaths of his father & mother but 6 yrs. apart. He and his two siblings were separated as orphans, young Herbert being sent alone by train to Oregon where we was raised by an aunt & uncle. The uncle, Dr. Henry Minthorn, a stern schoolmaster gave him an education and as an achiever, young Herbert was accepted into Stanford University in California. As the youngest member of the freshman class at age 17 he excelled. He graduated as a mining engineer in 1895 and went to work in the California gold mines. Subsequently, he got a job in Australia with a British mining company and at the age of 23 as mining superintendant had 175,000 men under him. He married his college sweetheart in 1899 and left immediately for China. In 1900 they survived the Boxer Rebellion, an uprising of Chinese Nationalist. Leaving China due to the political unrest, Hoover became a partner in a British mining company, and became known as the 'doctor of sick mines'. He and his young family circled the globe several times and in 1908 he retired with a fortune. He then established an engineering consulting firm based in London. The childhood principles of honesty, hard work (he worked 16 hr. days his entire life), simplicity, and generosity were instilled by his Quaker parents.

He was called upon following WWI to lead a relief effort in Belgium to feed the starving populus. In very short order food supplies from many nations were flowing into the country due to Hoover's organizational efforts. Under President Wilson he was appointed US Food Administrator and then Director General of American Relief Administration, which fed 350 million people in 21 countries. In 1919 he founded the Hoover Institute at Stanford University. In 1921 he was named US Sectretary of Commerce for presidents Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge, a position he held until 1928. During that period he warned President Coolidge of the dangerous financial situation in the banking and financial industries. Coolidge ignored the signs. Hoover was elected 31st president of the US in 1929 shortly before Black Tuesday, the infamous market crash which sent our country into depression. He, essentially, was a victim of circumstances created by conditions over which he had little control coming into presidental power so late in the game. During his one term in office he reformed federal courts, created Federal Farm Board, the Veterans Administration, regulated stocks and securities, expanded the National Park System, among others. In 1936 he founded and became the first chairman of the Boy's Clubs of America, (now called Boy's & Girl's Clubs) a position he held until 1964. He helped found UNICEF in 1947. Following WWII President Harry Truman, aware of Hoover's talent for organization and simplicity appointed him Chairman of the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of Government. During WWII the federal government became bloated and needed to be re-organized. Hoover made recommendations in short order, many of which were adopted and are in place today. While the Stock Market Crash was blamed on his administration his humanitarian contributions earned him a status of a revered elder statesman. He died in his 90th year in 1964. This visit shed a new light on this brilliant man, someone who I never thought much about. Only in America can men (women) of humble origins, i.e., Hoover, Eisenhower, Carter, etc. rise to the pinnacle of the Presidency of the United States.

Posted by dixter 06:47 Archived in USA Tagged at a west branch stop iowa

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