“Mrs. Herbert Hoover”: The Boxer Rebellion (Part II)

Lou Henry Hoover is seen resting her arm on a cannon during her time in China. This photo is dated from 1900.
Lou Henry Hoover is seen resting her arm on a cannon during her time in China. This photo is dated from 1900.

In a previous blog post, Lou Hoover provided corrections to an article by Ida Koverman about the Hoover marriage.

Ida Koverman
Ida Koverman

Lou’s letter to Koverman also corrected statements about her role in the Boxer Rebellion. Koverman wrote: “She [Lou] was always her father’s girl and a real athlete—she could ride, shoot and hunt. This early training prepared her from the dangers and hardships she shared later with her husband during the Boxer Rebellion in China. During the uprising there she stood day after day on a wall with a shotgun, helping to protect the foreign colony.”

While Herbert and Lou Hoover were caught up in the Boxer Rebellion during the siege of the Western compound at Tianjin, the newspaper accounts were dramatic, but inaccurate.

Lou provided the necessary corrective:

“Unfortunately, too, the matter of standing on a wall to protect the foreigners from the Chinese is a much favored tale, quite without foundation, that has gone round the world many times ever since its first appearance in the San Francisco papers of 1900. The fact that I should have been quite willing to have done my share of actual gun work, if any were necessary, does not alter the fact that my share of protection lay much more toward the region of a kitchen and dining room. Just as Mr. Hoover’s share was in building barricades, providing food, water, etc. and not in running a machine gun!

“I don’t think you did give us the children during the Boxer Rebellion. Most writers do! As a matter of fact, the earliest was not born until three years later.”

Lou graciously ends her letter to Koverman with her restating its purpose:

“I do think it was awfully nice of you to devote so much space to me and I am confident you understand why, with so many intimate friends who do know the truth of these episodes, I am rather particular that you are acquainted with the real facts in the situation. Hence this long letter.”

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