Skip to comments.Herbert Hoover, the "Independent progressive" in Woodrow Wilson's cabinet
Posted on 08/10/2012 9:26:40 AM PDT by ProgressingAmerica
In the "Mining and Scientific Press", March 20th, 1920 a section titled "Two Famous Letters From Mr. Hoover", this a paragraph from the second letter: (page 423)
First I am an independent progressive in the issues before us today. I think that at this time the issues before the country transcend partisanship. It is well known that I was a Progressive Republican before the war and, I think rightly, a non-partisan during my war service. The issues confronting us are new and the alignment upon them has not yet been made by the great parties. I still object as much to the reactionary group in the Republican party as I do to the radical group in the Democratic party.
The reactionary group? He means the conservatives, naturally. Progressives, communists, and socialists all use this word as a demonizing one. They do it to this day. Hoover also engaged in this. He wasn't just a progressive in name only.
And here he is:
Standing with his fellow progressives. There's a larger version, this comes from The National Archives.
The narrative that Hoover was a "do nothing" president (Unlike Coolidge, who absolutely was a "do nothing" president and look how good the economy was!) requires that information like this be forgotten.
There's probably a good argument to be made that post-New Deal/Great Depression, Hoover learned his lesson and did become the conservative that most modern progressives claim him to be. Because much of it is behind the scenes stuff, it becomes harder to track. But one can make reasonable assumptions by simply looking at the Hoover Institute. What Hoover Institute is today, it really didn't become that until the mid 50's. It had an evolution from a library to a center for research to a full blown think tank. The 1959 Mission Statement that's up on Wiki(which is repeated on the Institute's website) is only a clip, but it does sound remarkably different than the Hoover that was lamenting reactionaries, encouraging planning, and calling for government stimulus.
It is possible, even likely, that America could quit repeating the mistake of progressivism if the record would be allowed to be correct itself on it's own without revisionists claiming obvious falsehoods to be true.
It is only by God’s grace that the USA has survived the pathetic crop of leaders voted into office by our clueless citizens.
Now that we’ve kicked God out of our affairs and are not teaching the younger generation to follow Him, this country is truly on time borrowed from the Founders’ generation.
Some of the reactionary economists urged that we should allow the liquidation to take its course until it had found its own bottom.
Just by way of contrast, Hoover's Agricultural Marketing Act gave farmers $500 million of federal money. Coolidge's advice to angry farmers' delegations had been, "Take up religion."
Hoover was not in Wilson’s cabinet.
Edited into the posting. Thanks.
Head of US Food Administration and member of the War Council aren’t cabinet positions?
Herbert Hoover was a great man. But he should never have been president.
Alright. I changed the blog heading to ‘administration’.
My pleasure to make the tiny contribution; you’re most welcome
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One of the great men in all of history and responsible personally for saving thousands of lives. He lived at a time when the world first learned they could lift millions out of poverty through technolgical advances brought about with help from American entreprneurs. They were on the verge of the land of immeasurable plenty and they were soon to know nothing but war. He hated socialism as he saw it first hand in the Russian Revolution where he saved thousands from starvation by bringing food to them.
This is not the guy you want to be going around excoriating for progressivism.
Here’s the story.
Most people, including Russians and Americans, have little knowledge of this famine and the American relief effort that was extended to Russia, despite the hostility that existed between the two countries after the Communist Party toppled the Romanov dynasty. It is a little known fact that Herbert Hoover, head of the American Relief Administration (ARA) at that time, managed an emergency food program that saved more lives than any person in history.
The Story Now Told
Stanford University Professor Bertrand Patenaude did years of research to document this amazing feat by the American government coming right on the heels of the end of World War I. The author’s hero is Herbert Hoover, who is often criticized for his early Depression-era presidency. Hoover, a Stanford graduate who earned a degree in geology and later traveled the world as a mining engineer, was appointed by President Woodrow Wilson’s administration to help organize relief efforts for 7 million Belgians who were living under German occupation. Once the war ended, the United States was asked to feed millions of people in 21 war-torn countries and Hoover was invited to lead the newly created American Relief Administration.
In July 1921, Herbert Hoover received a plea for food aid from the Russian novelist, Maxim Gorky — a plea sent to other Western nations as well — and Hoover responded immediately with a promise of support. Hoover and his colleagues, however, were not prepared for what they discovered about the new Soviet Union. While the famine that began in 1921 resulted from the destruction from the First World War and the subsequent violence of the revolution and the civil war that followed, it was made worse when the Bolshevik leadership began a mass requisitioning of grain. As the rural areas were stripped of their grain, the death toll rapidly mounted and 100,000 people a week died. Soviet estimates from the 1920s claim that somewhere between 5-10 million people lost their lives in the famine.
The first American relief ships arrived in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) in September 1921, and the relief workers were some of the first foreigners to witness the devastation caused by the 1917 revolution and the civil war that followed. They were shocked to find a badly fractured railway system, a mistrustful Bolshevik government that spied on American relief workers, and famine that was threatening the lives of up to 16 million people by the winter of 1921.
The “Hoover Boys”
When Hoover realized the extent of the crisis and heard widespread reports of cannibalism, he convinced the U.S. Congress to approve the purchase of $20 million worth of corn and wheat to feed starving Russians. Over 300 relief workers, called the “Hoover Boys,” arrived in the Soviet Union to assess the food needs and logistical challenges, and to build storehouses for the millions of bushels of corn and tons of seed which began to arrive in early 1922 and were shipped across the Russian heartland.
By August 1922, the ARA and its “Hoover Boys” were feeding nearly 11 million Russians a day in 19,000 food kitchens. The ARA also hired 120,000 Soviet citizens to help distribute the food. One survivor said: “People used to call that food ‘America,’ so we were handed out ‘America’ . . . My father used to say, ‘See, the Americans did the right thing, sent us help.’”
In July 1922, Maxim Gorky wrote Hoover to praise him for this remarkable relief effort. He wrote: “Your help will enter history as a unique, gigantic achievement, worthy of the greatest glory, which will long remain in the memory of millions of Russians who you have saved from death.” But that, of course, did not happen. Soviet leaders wanted to forget this tragic episode in their history and subsequently accused the Americans of sending spies into Russia to commit sabotage under the guise of kindness.
Professor Patenaude spent 14 years researching this forgotten piece of Russian-American history and his book, The Big Show in Bololand (which is what the “Hoover Boys” liked to call Bolshevik Russia), lays out this remarkable humanitarian effort, a relief mission largely unknown to the people of both countries.
* PBS has a 60-minute DVD entitled “The Great Famine” that tells the story of the ARA relief effort in Russia with graphic film footage.
** For a story of a related rescue mission to save hundreds of Russian children during this time, see my “Reflection on Russia” posted on January 26, 2012, and entitled “The Story of a Secret Rescue Mission.”
NOS, thanks for the great post on Hoover! Have you read the most recent book by Hoover?
NOS, thanks for the great post on Hoover! Have you read the most recent book by Hoover?
Glad you liked it and you’re welcome.
I assume you mean “Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover’s Secret History of the Second World War and Its Aftermath”:
No I haven’t but I feel sure that it would be well worthwhile and something tells me it would truly add something to what we think we know.