The Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930

President Herbert Hoover, 1930.

In any discussion of President Hoover’s economic policies, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff often takes center stage.  What’s typically omitted, however, is the context in which the bill emerged.

From the earliest days of the republic, a protective tariff was one of the bedrock principles of U.S. economic policy.    In the late 19th and early 20th century, tariff policy became one of the defining political issues; generally, the Republican Party favored high tariffs to protect domestic manufacturing and agriculture from low-cost foreign competition, while the Democratic Party favored low tariffs to promote trade and boost exports.  As the Republican Party largely dominated at the national level following the Civil War, high tariffs were the norm.

When Theodore Roosevelt’s “Bull Moose” campaign in 1912 split the Republican Party, Democrats took control of Congress and the White House.   The Underwood Tariff of 1913 rolled tariff rates back to levels not seen since the 1850s, and imposed an income tax to make up for the lost revenue.  After World War I, Republicans returned to power and in 1922 passed the Fordney-McCumber Tariff, which restored high rates and pushed some to record levels.

In 1928, the major issue of the campaign, by far, was Prohibition, but the tariff was important too.  The Republican platform promised to retain the existing high industrial tariffs and to boost tariffs for agricultural commodities.  Agricultural prices had been depressed since the end of the War, and farmers clamored for relief.  Most American farmers faced little competition from imports, but thought they should have the same level of protection as industry.  (In fact, some farm groups also wanted to see reductions in industrial tariffs, to reduce the price of manufactured goods and thereby increase farmers’ purchasing power.) During the 1920s Congress had repeatedly passed bills to subsidize dumping American farm surpluses overseas, which President Coolidge vetoed.  Herbert Hoover, as the Republican nominee for President, pledged to support tariffs for agriculture, and also proposed an innovative plan for a Federal Farm Board that would help farmers organize co-ops to stabilize prices.

Immediately after his inauguration, Hoover called a special session of Congress.  Within weeks they passed a bill creating Hoover’s Farm Board, to great fanfare.  Then they turned to the tariff.  Weeks turned into months as the bill bogged down in the Senate; the stock market crash in October 1929 had little effect on the debate.  The Smoot-Hawley tariff bill finally passed in June 1930; it raised rates on over 20,000 items, but as a whole, pleased no one.  Over 1000 economists signed an open letter to President Hoover, begging him to veto the bill.

President Hoover was not happy with the Smoot-Hawley bill, especially the increased tariffs on many manufactured goods.  In private, he described it as “vicious, extortionate and obnoxious,” but because it included increased tariffs on agricultural products, he felt compelled to sign it.  Furthermore, Hoover had successfully engineered a provision in the bill that allowed the Tariff Commission to make modest adjustments to tariffs without Congressional approval, which he believed would allow him to fix some of the most egregious industrial tariffs.

Today, there continues to be considerable disagreement concerning the causes of the Great Depression, and the relative roles of those causes.  A number of historians and economists, for example, have downplayed the traditional interpretation of the disastrous effect of the Smoot Hawley Tariff, pointing out that the existing Fordney-McCumber Tariff rates were already dangerously high and that the Smoot-Hawley bill was really just a continuation of business as usual under Republican administrations.  Foreign trade, both imports and exports, was only a small part of the total U.S. economy.   The Smoot-Hawley Tariff was clearly harmful to trade and diplomacy, but it is uncertain how damaging it was relative to other economic forces.

In his memoirs, written in the 1950s, Hoover argued that “later statements implying that the passage of the Smoot-Hawley bill was the cause of the depression seem somewhat overdrawn, as it was not passed until nine months after the crash.  Moreover it was not, as later statements suggested, the beginning of a world movement to increase tariffs.  In fact, the American increase took place only after nearly thirty other countries had imposed higher tariffs.”  He also noted, “But I may say here that raising the tariff from its sleep was a political liability despite the virtues of its reform.” (The Memoirs of Herbert Hoover:  The Cabinet and the Presidency 1920-1933, p. 291, 299.)

When the Democrats returned to power in 1933, President Roosevelt’s policy was to lower tariffs on a country-by-country basis, which had little effect on foreign trade.  After World War II, the United States reversed course completely.  In a series of agreements over many years, the U.S. signed onto the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which reduced tariffs across the board with many nations and created the World Trade Organization to regulate international trade.  Economists now believe, almost without exception, that free trade and low tariffs promote economic growth.

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Preventing Tragedy and Statistics

By Thomas F. Schwartz

It is easy to overlook the significance of Herbert Hoover’s food relief efforts by looking merely at numbers.  The precise number of people Hoover saved from starvation remains murky but most scholars agree it is in the hundreds of millions.  Ironically, one of the most brutal leaders of modern times, Joseph Stalin, is credited with the following aphorism: “If only one man dies of hunger, that is a tragedy.  If millions die, that’s only statistics.”  Scholars have since discredited the attribution.  The quote, whomever said it, aptly applies to post-World War I era Europe.  Herbert Hoover, against the wisdom of world leaders, used the American Relief Administration to provide food to Russian people living in areas controlled by the Bolsheviks as well as areas controlled by White Russian forces.  Remaining above politics knowing that hunger is apolitical, Hoover provided food to roughly eighteen million Russians.  This good will was not lost on those who received food as continues to be evident in letters the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum staff receive from descendants.  It is important to highlight these letters because they focus on individual lives that were prevented from becoming both tragedies and statistics.  It places a human face on the food relief efforts and, more importantly, provides some sense of what drove Hoover in his tireless efforts to eradicate hunger.  The following account and images are provided by Natalia Sidorova and reproduced with her permission.

“I am writing you to celebrate the legacy that Herbert Hoover has earned in history by his compassion and care for millions of people in Russia and other countries who were on the brink of death by starvation.

Zinaida Tiablikova

About 97 years ago, my grandmother Zinaida Tiablikova moved to Moscow from her small town Klin, fifty miles to the north.  She lived alone while she studied chemistry at Moscow University.

At that time there was a terrible food shortage throughout all of Russia as a result of the chaos following the Bolshevik revolution and the civil war between White and Red Russians.  Many poor Russians from the Volga region came to Moscow in desperate hope of finding food in the city.

In 1920 a friend of my grandmother told her that the American Food Administration provided warm meals once a day for needy people, primarily children.  Although most of the food centers were in the Volga River region where starvation was an enormous problem, there also were a few food centers in Moscow.

Zinaida with two classmates, 1925.

My grandmother Zinaida went to one of these food centers on Miasnitskaya Street in Moscow.  Throughout most of 1920 she and many other persons received a delicious hot meal once a day.  She remembered on occasion receiving condensed milk and hot chocolate.  For the many poor Russians these were special treats because they had never had condensed milk or chocolate before.  Certainly these nutritious meals protected her and many other persons from death by starvation or other diseases caused by lack of food.

She told me that there was a photo of Herbert Hoover on display at the food center, even though Mr. Hoover himself did not want such public recognition.  The people of the community chose to display his photo as their own spontaneous expression of their gratitude to Mr. Hoover and to the American people.

I now have a daughter named Galina who goes to college here in America.  I have told her this story of my grandmother.  This story demonstrates to my daughter that the American and Russian people can be great friends to one another in times of need.

I doubt that Mr. Hoover himself then was supportive to the Bolshevik ideology which in recent years has fallen into disrepute even among conservative Russians.  However, Mr. Hoover put aside his own personal beliefs about politics and economics so that he could help other persons.

My grandmother always spoke with great appreciation of the generosity of the American people as expressed through the person of Herbert Hoover.  She was always amazed that Mr. Hoover possessed special administrative skills so that he could distribute food to remote regions where the food was in greatest demand.  She was delighted for the American people when she learned years later that Mr. Hoover was elected President.  She cherished the memory of his photo in the food center and she prayed for him throughout her life.

My grandmother is not with us any more to express her own gratitude to Mr. Hoover.  As her grand-daughter I accept that task with full enthusiasm.  As an American citizen who was born in Moscow, I thank Mr. Hoover and I thank all the people of America for their generosity and compassion to millions of poor Russians in one of the darkest hours in our history.  The legacy of Mr. Hoover’s goodness and the goodness of the American people is inscribed in the hearts of millions of Russian people.

Mr. Hoover’s legacy is also a beacon of hope for future generations.  In a world that continues to be torn apart by conflict of all types, Mr. Hoover’s example reminds us that the best response to a crisis is compassion.”

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Lou Henry Hoover Plants a Girl Scout Metaphor

On February 26, 1936, Lou Henry Hoover offered some observations on Girl Scouting to leaders and council members at the Pacific Palisades meeting.  She was careful to explain that she was not there to deliver a speech or to lay down dictates, asserting: ‘I am just working on a problem like everyone else here.’

The problem facing the Girl Scouts and their leaders was the relationship between the local troops and the national leadership.  To Lou Hoover, the ‘national organization’ was a misnomer, for Girl Scouting was, at heart, a movement.  She recognized that if a national organization must be acknowledged, it should be seen as a vehicle to advance the movement by cultivating the interests of local troops.

In a well-conceived metaphor, Lou Henry Hoover cast the national organization as a plant: “It must constantly grow—put out new leaves, new buds, new flowers and produce new fruit….  Our plant, under human watchfulness, needs [someone] cultivating, watering, feeding needed chemicals and pruning unpromising shoots.”  Warming to the image, Lou concluded that individual Girl Scout troops could best be seen as individual plants, blooming in the garden created by the national leadership.

Lou Henry Hoover, the new president of the Girl Scouts, buys the first box of cookies, New York, NY
Cleveland Press

It is nice to see such a carefully cultivated metaphor bear fruit—in the form of annual Girl Scout Cookies Sales.  Snap me off a bud of that thin mint branch, and we’ll go on from here….

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Desegregating the Commerce Department


Herbert Hoover, ca 1928.

In 1928, Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover took action for the civil rights of African Americans that was both momentous and trivial – he desegregated the Commerce Department.

As his assistant, George Akerson pointed out, the official policy of the Coolidge Administration was that segregation was prohibited in Federal employment.  In reality, an “unwritten rule” had held sway for decades, especially in southern cities like Washington DC, whereby African Americans were relegated to the most menial jobs, and whenever possible, were physically segregated from white employees.

In March 1928, Hoover was approached by a group of prominent African American leaders led by Neval Thomas of the NAACP, with a number of suggestions for how the Commerce Department could assist African American communities.  One issue they raised were complaints of segregation in the Census Bureau, a division of the Commerce Department.  As a Quaker, Hoover believed in the fundamental equality of all people, and was uncomfortable with the racial attitudes of the time.  He immediately requested a full report on the matter.

At that time, there were some 3800 employees in the Department of whom 900 were African American, mostly scattered in low-ranking positions throughout the various divisions.  The report Hoover received explained, “The Bureau of the Census in the course of its work developed a division dealing with statistics, particularly affecting colored people, and in a desire to extend employment to colored members of the staff it placed this division in their control, and naturally the whole division was concentrated in one room.”

Further investigation revealed there were actually two segregated offices in the Census Bureau, totaling 23 employees, both tucked away in a basement.  Hoover ordered that the two offices be broken up;  the employees retained their same jobs, but were given workspaces among the white clerks.

Observers on both sides of the issue saw Hoover’s action as a significant departure from the status quo.  Neval Thomas wrote to Hoover, “The colored people of the country are deeply sensible of the highminded statesmanship you showed in your abolition of the humiliation they suffered in the Census Bureau.”  The Washington Eagle, a black newspaper, commented, “Unlike Ogden Mills, under secretary of the Treasury and Hubert Work, secretary of the Interior Department, Mr. Hoover did not vehemently deny the existence of segregation.  He promised to investigate in a few days, which he did with the result that he quickly abolished the segregated area and the clerks who were jim-crowed were assimilated in the bureau among the other clerks.  What Mr. Hoover has done in his department all of the other Cabinet officer could do were they so minded.  The only difference between them and Mr. Hoover is that he has the necessary backbone to do the right things.”

Southern newspapers and politicians were quick to condemn Hoover.  Senator Cole Blease of South Carolina accused Hoover of issuing the order for political purposes, to attract the vote of African Americans in the upcoming Presidential election in which Hoover was the leading Republican candidate.

Hoover sought to downplay his order as a small matter of simple fairness.  When confronted with the laudatory comments published in the African American press, Hoover demurred, “The articles which you mention are in large degree foolish untruths.  If such action as was taken is against the interest of either the white or colored employees, they have a full right to protest the matter to me.  I have received no complaint from either group.”

Senator H. D. Stephens of Mississippi replied, “”…You may have received ‘no complaint’, but your knowledge of human nature and your sense of decency and propriety must cause you to know that the breasts of many of the employees in the bureau are seething with unuttered protests against the condition that you have brought about…  This criticism is not a political one.  It is made in the interest of decency and of the welfare of the Government.  History can not be trifled with.  Whenever there has been a step toward social equality between the races, dire results have followed, and both races have suffered.”

In the end, Hoover’s action did nothing to change the culture of segregation in Washington, and any good will he gained in the African American community soon evaporated.  In the ensuing Presidential campaign, Hoover’s clumsy efforts to attract Southern whites to the Republican Party were widely interpreted as an attempt to sideline blacks.  Even Neval Thomas became disillusioned with Hoover, and suggested that African American voters might be better off in the Democratic Party.  Hoover’s honest desire for a color-blind political system was no match for the realities of Jim Crow.

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Valentine’s Day Cards

Like many men [thousands? millions?], I approach Valentine’s Day with a measure of trepidation.  The weight of choosing the appropriate card grows heavier each year. Perhaps I’m losing strength to carry on the tradition.   Despite the thousands [millions?] of commercially available options, I struggle to find the card with the words that have the right amount of letters and just the right sound to convey my feelings.

Not for the first time, I wonder: ‘What would Herbert Hoover do?’  The archival record here is mute.  We have no evidence that Hoover ever sent a Valentine card to express his thoughts.  On the other hand, we have four folders of Valentine’s cards sent to Hoover while he was President.  These are in box 145 of the Presidential Papers Personal Files.  They are adorable.  Hundreds of Americans, primarily children, felt no compunction in sending cards to the President asking that he be their Valentine.  While we do not know whether these cards comprise the entirety of Valentines sent to Hoover, we do know that all cards in the collection earned a response from Hoover’s secretaries.

A valentine sent to Herbert Hoover, from the archival collection at the Hoover Library.

A valentine sent to Herbert Hoover, from the archival collection at the Hoover Library.

The Valentines sent to President Hoover were varied.  They included home-made cards accompanied by explanatory letters, commercial cards wreaking havoc on the language with tortured puns [fishing being a recurring theme], mass-produced cards almost cloying in the sweetness of their sentiment, and commercial cards of such intricacy and grace that one wonders at the cost.  One such card is shown here.  The photograph only begins to reveal the subtlety of the mechanics which result in the pop-up three dimensionality—all done without damaging the lace or embossing.  Surely Hoover must have appreciated the engineering of such a card.

I wonder if this tradition of sending Valentines to the President continues.  I hope so.  It would be sad to think that such a sincere, innocent enterprise should be consigned to the ash heap of history.

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Assessing Presidents at One Year

March 3, 1930 cartoon from Washington Daily News.

History serves as a reminder that all political times are tempestuous.  Ardent advocates champion their side of the cause no matter the year or the context.  The President’s recent State of the Union message ballyhooed the accomplishments of the first year of his administration—emphasizing successes and downplaying disappointments.  This is par for the course, drawn from chapter one of the playbook.

Not surprisingly, critics of the President focus on the administration’s shortcomings—highlighting areas where actions have fallen short of promises and emphasizing problems which remain unsolved.   Again, this comes as no surprise.  It is the standard response for those out of power, drawn from chapter two of the partisan playbook.  The ensuing political argument seems so strident, so contentious, so incredibly loud and annoyingly close that we forget this behavior has a long history.

I was reminded of this when I came across this political cartoon by H. M. Talburt.  It is a commentary on the woes facing Hoover on March 3, 1930, after his first year in office.  Hoover sits, disconsolate, in his chair beset by troubles near and far.  Hoover looks to be at the end of his rope. It is interesting to note that the woes assailing Hoover include issues that have long since faded into historical obscurity–prohibition, naval arms limitation, business speculation, the farm crisis, tariffs and the red bogey at the Department of Justice—while eliding the Great Depression.  Somehow the roiling turmoil of March 1930 pictured in this cartoon missed the economic crisis that defined a generation.  This leaves one wondering whether the same fate awaits future historians assessing political cartoon commentary on the recent State of the Union message.

Time will tell.

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The Nomadic Henry Family

Lou Henry Hoover’ birthplace, Waterloo, Iowa.

Lou Henry Hoover was born in Waterloo, Iowa in 1874 and lived there for much of her childhood.  Over the years there has been considerable interest in marking or memorializing her childhood home, which has been complicated by the fact that the Henry family lived in a number of different homes.  In many, if not all cases, they rented their accommodations, and very little documentation has survived.

The 1880 Federal census lists the Henry family as boarders residing with a landlord named Samuel J. Sweet.  The address is listed as “Commercial Street between 5th and 6th Street.”  To date, no other public records have been found that document any of the family’s addresses in Waterloo.

When Mr. Hoover was campaigning for President in 1928, Mrs. Hoover made a brief visit to her hometown on August 22, 1928.  Press coverage at the time indicated that she was born in a house at 426 West Fourth Street, which was the northwest corner of the intersection of Fourth and Washington.  The source of this information is not clear, but there were certainly many people alive at the time who remembered the Henry family, and there is no evidence that the fact was disputed.  Subsequently, historical markers and more recently two different statues have been installed near this intersection to commemorate Lou Henry Hoover’s birthplace.

Beginning as early as World War I, when the Hoovers became famous for their relief work in Europe, Mrs. Hoover received letters from people in Waterloo who remembered her from her childhood.  Many of these letters are preserved in our collection of Lou Henry Hoover’s personal papers at the Hoover Library.  The letters and Lou’s replies often refer to places she lived, or provide helpful clues.

Apparently, shortly after Lou was born, the Henry family moved to the East side of the river.  In a 1930 letter to her Aunt Jessie, Lou mentions receiving a letter from a woman who knew the family “when I was a baby and we lived on the East side of the river in Waterloo.”  A 1936 letter from a Mrs. Edith Fancher notes that when Lou was a baby, the Fancher family “had a home on the opposite side of the street — a street that no longer exists,” but does not specify what street that was.  Mrs. Hoover noted in her reply, “I remember the name of your family… In fact, I remember Waterloo very well from the other side of the river but, of course, my memory does not go back far enough for me to know the group in that neighborhood when I was a baby.”  Other letters suggest that the Henrys may have lived in more than one home on the East side of the river.

The homes Lou remembered were all on the West side of the river.  One letter, dated March 20, 1929 from a Mrs. Hila Allbee Clark asks, “Do you remember when you lived on the corner of Commercial and Sixth Streets in Waterloo?”  Another letter, dated March 15, 1930 from a Miss Sophie Wiley, notes that they were neighbors and playmates “on Commercial Street, Waterloo Iowa,” and recounts some of her memories of the young Lou Henry.  Mrs. Hoover’s replies acknowledged that she remembered both women, but did not add any details.  This is undoubtedly the address recorded in the census.

The Commercial Street address was not their only home on the West side.  In 1931, Lou received a letter from Ada Townsend, who noted, “I spent my little girlhood in a house on Fifth Street in Waterloo Iowa, a house afterward occupied by a family named Henry.”  Lou replied, “How interesting to hear that we lived in your house in Waterloo!  It was a nice house to live in, and I remember my years there very happily.  I even had a delightly [sic] little baby sister come to live with us while we were there!  And we always referred to it afterward as the ‘Townsend house.'”  If Lou’s memory was correct, that would mean they were living on Fifth Street in 1882, when her sister Jean was born.

A long letter from Mrs. Carrie Hanover Hill, dated August 12, 1928, recounted, “When your family lived on Park Avenue in Waterloo, Iowa, our people owned #219 – the next house east… You and I were not acquainted, possibly because you did not live there long tho’ I remember you; but our mothers were friendly as neighbors.”

The picture that emerges is of a family that rarely stayed long in any one place.  The Henrys lived in the nearby town of Shell Rock from about 1875 to 1877, and briefly moved to Texas in 1879, but returned to Waterloo.  Concerns for the health of Lou’s mother, Florence, prompted the family to look for a drier climate;  in 1887, the Henrys left Waterloo for good, stopping for a few months in Kansas before settling in Whittier, California.  Like her husband, who was also born in Iowa, Lou would consider herself a Californian for the rest of her life.

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Herbert Hoover and Fishing


Herbert Hoover’s lifelong passion for fishing is well-known.  For no other President has a biographer written a 350-page book subtitled, The Fishing President, as Hal Elliott Wert has done for Hoover. In this book, Wert describes Hoover’s fishing exploits and expeditions from age 8 to age 88.  Young Bert Hoover pulled a ‘record’ twelve inch sucker out of the Wapsinonoc Creek that ran past his birthplace cottage.  At age fourteen, Bert had a memorable afternoon fishing with his uncle and a friend, pulling one hundred trout out of an Oregon stream.  He continued fishing into his 80s, enjoying hours on the waters of the Gulf fishing with guide Calvin Albury of the Key Largo Anglers Club.

On April 3, 1962 Hoover and Albury shared their last fishing trip.  At the end of the day, Hoover gave Albury his watch as a memento.  He then gave Albury his rod and reel saying: “If I ever get back, I use them; if I never get back, it’s yours.”  Hoover never got back to the Key Largo Anglers Club.  Decades later, the heirs of Calvin Albury donated the watch and rod and reel to the Hoover Museum.

Hoover never tired of the piscine pursuit, fishing for trout in freshwater streams, bone fish in saltwater flats, and any fish that would take the bait in deepwater oceans.  Hoover’s passion for fishing led him to wax lyrical in writing–not common for Hoover. As Secretary of Commerce Hoover championed conservation of natural resources, especially fresh water fishing.  His addresses to the Izaak Walton League in the 1920s led to Hoover being named honorary chairman of the league from 1926 to 1932.

As an ex-President Hoover addressed fishing, writing ‘Men are Equal before the Fish’ for a Florida magazine in 1951 and later regaling the Gridiron Club with tales of political auguries of fishing. He compiled his thoughts on fishing in Fishing for Fun–And to Wash Your Soul.  He opens this book with: ‘Fishing is a chance to wash one’s soul with pure air, with the rush of the brook, or with the shimmer of the sun on the blue water….  It is discipline in the equality of man–for all men are equal before fish.’  Hoover offers insights into the mentality of fishermen: he must be of contemplative mind, for it is often a long time between bites; he is by nature an optimist or he would not go fishing.

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Hoover’s November 5, 1938 Address Inspires A Political Cartoon

By Thomas F. Schwartz

In an address delivered to a joint Republican organizations in Spokane, Washington, November 5, 1938, former president Herbert Hoover rebutted President Franklin Roosevelt’s claim of “his success in creating economic stability, prosperity and security for the average man.”  Hoover pointed out that President Roosevelt failed to mention, “the 11,000,000 unemployed or farmers’ prices, and some other instabilities and insecurities.”  Hoover main complaint was a fear that New Deal policies were undermining free enterprise and leading America into a planned economy with all the attendant dangers. “With beguiling phrases,” argued Hoover, “Mr. Roosevelt has mixed some of the working parts of these coercive systems into American life.”     Whether it be “government forced monopolies in the N.R.A.” or government price fixing, restricting production, or government run enterprises such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, Hoover claimed these ideas mirror ones found “along the Berlin-Rome-Moscow axis.”  He ended his speech urging a return to unfettered free enterprise and “trust 130,000,000 free people in the United States to have more sense than a dozen starry-eyed boys in Washington.”


Cartoon drawn by Clarence Hillsmith, November 1938.

Seven days later, Hoover received a fan letter from Clarence Hillsmith commending Hoover on his fine speech of November 5.  The letter included a hand-drawn cartoon by Hilllsmith “suggested by your speech.”  The cartoon is entitled “This Number, The ‘12 Starry-Eyed Boys’ in their Alphabet New-Abun-Dance.”  As coins fall from the sky, figures representing the New Deal alphabet agencies perform a dance line while President Roosevelt serves as a conductor of the pit orchestra playing “silver threads among the gold.”  Applauding are figures representing the socialist/fascist leaders of Stalin, Mussoulini, and Hitler while John Q Public is unimpressed by the show and declares “Aw-Let’s Go Over to Herb Hoover’s and shoot some pool!”

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On the Passing of Lou Henry Hoover

Lou Henry Hoover passed away 01/07/1944 – funeral was held in St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York. Hoover, Herbert Jr., and Allan in the front row

Lou Henry Hoover died on Friday January 7, 1944 at the Waldorf-Astoria suite that she shared with her husband Herbert Hoover.  The following Monday more than 1500 mourners attended her memorial service at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church.  There was no eulogy.  After the service, the Hoover family took the mortal remains of Lou Henry Hoover to Palo Alto for internment near to her home overlooking the Stanford campus and close to the mountain trails that she loved to hike.

While the service for Mrs. Hoover included no eulogy, her lifetime of achievement was not allowed to pass without comment.  Many friends, colleagues, and strangers whose lives felt the impact of Lou Hoover offered testimonials.  Long-time Stanford friend Will Irwin noted that Lou had nearly unlimited tolerance for human frailties in others, but she did not tolerate them in herself.

Secretary and friend Dare Stark McMullin offered moving descriptions of Lou Henry Hoover’s willingness to help others in times of need—during the Boxer Rebellion, in London at the outset of World War I, assisting her husband’s food relief via the Commission for Relief in Belgium, and as First Lady.  Lou never sought public acknowledgment for this assistance, preferring clandestine acts of kindness.  McMullin concluded: ‘The person I’d like most to meet in the middle of an earthquake is Mrs. Hoover.’

Despite her frequent protestations that, ‘Goodness me, I wouldn’t know what to do with a daughter;’ Lou Henry Hoover had, in essence, 840,000 ‘daughters’ in the Girl Scouts at the time of her death.  Her deep involvement with Girl Scouts sparked troops and leaders across the nation to offer tributes and memorials.  One especially apt tribute was the dedication of the Azalea Trails in the San Jacinto Mountains in California.  This was appropriate given Lou’s lifelong habit of hiking California trails.  She kept a child’s love of the outdoors as a place to explore.  Because of this zest, one scout leader described Lou thusly: ‘She died the youngest woman of her years that I have ever known.’

Many more such tributes and testimonials can be found in boxes 138 and 139 of the Subject Files of the Lou Henry Hoover papers.

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