[00:05.52]VOA Learning English presents America’s Presidents.
[00:11.43]Today we are talking about Herbert Hoover.
[00:15.96]He took office in 1929.
[00:19.49]Hoover was president for the early years of what Americans call the Great Depression.
[00:28.49]During those years, the United States economy slid into a severe recession.
[00:35.92]Many banks and businesses failed.
[00:39.73]At times, nearly one in four people in the U.S. workforce were unemployed.
[00:47.29]Millions of people lost their homes and savings.
[00:52.59]Hoover did not cause the depression.
[00:56.03]The conditions had been in place before he took office.
[01:01.04]But many Americans blamed Hoover for their suffering.
[01:05.68]They believed he permitted the economic crisis to continue – and even deepen – during his time in office.
[01:29.90]Herbert Hoover was born in a small house in the state of Iowa.
[01:35.72]His parents were Quakers.
[01:38.21]Their religion valued simplicity, hard work, equality among people, and peaceful resolution of conflict.
[01:47.97]Hoover and his brother and sister were influenced by these beliefs, even after their parents died.
[01:57.19]By the time young Herbert Hoover was nine, he was an orphan.
[02:01.59]He moved to the state of Oregon, in the Pacific Northwest, and lived with an uncle.
[02:08.52]Hoover did not thrive in that situation.
[02:12.66]Reports say that he usually kept to himself.
[02:16.09]And he did not do particularly well in school.
[02:20.44]Yet one official from Stanford University liked what he saw in the young man – hard work and a desire to learn new things.
[02:31.02]At the time, Stanford University was just getting established.
[02:35.30]It admitted Hoover into its first class.
[02:39.88]Hoover had to work hard at Stanford, both in class and to earn money to pay tuition.
[02:47.89]But the experience brought many benefits.
[02:51.71]Hoover studied geology, and went on to work as a mining engineer.
[02:57.09]The job led to positions in Australia, China and other parts of the world.
[03:03.59]He became an internationally-known expert on mining.
[03:08.16]He also wrote a leading textbook on mining.
[03:11.62]These experiences, along with good business investments, led to great wealth for Hoover.
[03:20.42]At Stanford, he also met the woman who would become his wife.
[03:25.84]Her name was Lou Henry.
[03:28.90]She was the first woman from Stanford to complete a study program with a degree in geology.
[03:36.42]The Hoovers went on to have two sons.
[03:52.71]During World War I, the Hoovers’ lives changed dramatically.
[03:58.84]The family was living in London when the war began. U.S. government officials asked Hoover to organize an evacuation effort for American tourists who were in Europe.
[04:12.16]In only a few weeks, Hoover’s committee succeeded.
[04:17.21]Later, he helped get food and supplies to people in Belgium.
[04:22.30]As a result, Hoover earned a public image as a smart, skilled humanitarian.
[04:29.77]When the United States entered World War I, President Woodrow Wilson asked Hoover to lead the government’s Food Administration.
[04:40.28]In that position, Hoover led an effort to change Americans’ behavior in order to support the war effort.
[04:47.89]He asked them to limit the kinds of food they ate and goods they bought.
[04:54.20]The effort was, for the most part, successful. Americans called their moves to limit their consumption “to Hooverize.”
[05:04.81]Hoover went on to organize programs to aid other countries, including Russia.
[05:10.88]He also helped parts of the U.S. recover after terrible flooding.
[05:16.65]And, as secretary of commerce, he pushed businesses, researchers, and government officials to work together.
[05:25.21]Hoover aimed to reduce “boom and bust” cycles and keep the U.S. economy healthy.
[05:31.68]In all his efforts, Hoover urged Americans to choose to participate.
[05:38.49]He did not believe in using government requirements to force cooperation.
[05:44.96]Instead, he supported “individualism” – the idea that Americans must protect the qualities of creativity, equal opportunity, and service to others.
[05:58.82]Hoover’s beliefs were popular with many Americans at the time – and with many Americans today.
[06:07.03]In the election of 1928, Hoover easily won the presidency.
[06:11.78]He promised to continue leading the country down the path of prosperity.
[06:42.78]When Hoover took office in 1929, he said, “I have no fears for the future of our country. It is bright with hope.”
[06:53.66]That was in March.
[06:55.83]In October, the U.S. stock market crashed. Thousands of investors lost their savings.
[07:03.72]The event was part of a sharp downturn in the economies of the United States and of many other countries.
[07:12.11]At first, Hoover believed the downturn would pass.
[07:16.69]But as time went on, the situation grew worse.
[07:20.94]Businesses could not expand their workforce.
[07:25.20]Farmers could not afford to harvest their crops.
[07:28.67]Everyday people had too little money to pay for housing costs and, in some cases, food.
[07:36.40]And then banks across the country began to fail.
[07:40.62]President Hoover worked hard to fix the problems.
[07:45.29]He tried many approaches: creating government agencies, urging private and public groups to cooperate, and working to balance the federal budget.
[07:56.77]But Hoover did not want to use federal money to provide direct aid to Americans.
[08:03.06]He worried that such actions would make people dependent on the government, and reduce people’s individual power and morale.
[08:13.85]Nor did he want to use the federal government to try to control the economy.
[08:18.53]Government intervention, he said, would lead to socialism, and eventually destroy the country’s founding beliefs.
[08:28.50]Instead, Hoover tried to support states and businesses indirectly and urged people to find ways to help one another.
[08:37.75]Yet many lawmakers and members of the public rejected Hoover’s measures as insufficient, and even cruel.
[08:46.62]Some used his name differently than they had before he took office.
[08:51.03]Now, they called the dirty shelters where hungry and homeless people lived “Hoovervilles.”
[08:58.56]And they called men’s empty pockets “Hoover flags.”
[09:03.39]Although Hoover tried to persuade Americans that he was protecting their interests in the long run, voters refused to elect him for a second term.
[09:13.54]Instead, they overwhelming chose a president who promised an activist federal government and a hopeful “new deal” for Americans.
[09:42.41]After they left the White House, the Hoovers retired to their home in Palo Alto, California.
[09:49.81]Lou Henry Hoover died in 1944.
[09:54.03]But Hoover lived 20 more years, many of them working for the public good.
[09:59.68]He helped international relief efforts, advised the U.S. government, and led committees to reform the presidency.
[10:09.32]Hoover also commented on later presidents and their policy decisions.
[10:15.51]He was especially critical of government programs set up to provide aid and intervention in Americans’ lives.
[10:24.22]Until his death from cancer at the age of 90, Hoover remained committed to his beliefs.
[10:32.19]He spoke for limiting the power of the federal government and for supporting freedom of opportunity for individuals.
[10:40.32]But in the eyes of many Americans, Hoover is linked to the failure of the federal government to lessen the Great Depression.
[10:55.60]I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.