A millionaire businessman becomes President in his first try at an elected office. That’s one of 10 fascinating facts about Herbert Hoover, one of the most interesting occupants of the White House.
Today, President Hoover is known mostly as the leader in Washington who had the misfortune to be President as the Great Depression started. But Hoover had a long, distinguished career in public service, as well as the private sector.
1. Herbert Hoover was an orphan. The son of a Quaker blacksmith in Iowa, Hoover was an orphan at the age of 9. He worked hard to get into Stanford University as a Geology major.
2. Hoover was caught in the Boxer Rebellion in China. Hoover and his new wife, Lou Henry Hoover, were in Tientsin where Herbert was working as a mining engineer. They survived a siege of their compound during the fighting.
3. Herbert and Lou Hoover spoke Chinese. In fact, Lou Hoover spoke eight languages, and the Hoovers reportedly spoke Chinese in the White House when they wanted a private conversation.
4. Herbert Hoover became rich as a leading mining engineer and expert. His net worth was $75 million in current dollars, according to news reports.
5. Hoover, a Republican, worked with President Wilson, a Democrat, on war relief efforts. Hoover organized food supply efforts for the government and several private food-relief efforts in Europe. He also was at the Versailles Treaty talks.
6. Hoover was a key member of the Harding and Coolidge administrations. Serving as Secretary of Commerce, Hoover had a high public profile in the Republican administrations. He quickly became a leading presidential candidate after Coolidge declined to run in 1928.
7. Hoover had a dominating win in the 1928 election against Democrat Al Smith. Hoover earned 58 percent of the popular vote and a 444 to 87 margin in the Electoral College. He also had one of the most famous campaign slogans: “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” He also campaigned with a dog named King Tut in an effort to boost his appeal.
8. Hoover understood the dangers of the risky stock market. On taking office in March 1929, President Hoover warned people about speculative investing, but by the end of the year, the stock exchanges were in tatters, and the Great Depression started.
9. Hoover was soundly beaten in the 1932 election. Although he made great efforts to battle overwhelming economic odds, Hoover quickly lost his popularity as the Great Depression worsened. His 1932 loss to Franklin Roosevelt was as big as his 1928 win.
10. Hoover is remembered as the “Great Humanitarian.” Hoover was credited with saving 10 million lives during World War I as the leader of U.S. government efforts to send food supplies to war-torn areas of Europe. Later, the former President put aside his differences with Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman to lead relief efforts.