Iowa History Daily: On October 20, 1964, Herbert Hoover died. The first President of the United States from west of the Mississippi River, Hoover also stands as the only Iowan ever to hold America’s highest office.
Born to Jesse and Hulda Hoover, Herbert spent six idyllic years of childhood in late-19th century Iowa. Tragedy struck when his blacksmith father suffered a heart-attack in 1880, and again when his mother died of pneumonia in 1883. The orphaned Hoover headed west to spend the rest of his youth with his Oregonian aunt and uncle. An inaugural member of Stanford University (as well as a member of the school’s first baseball and football teams), Hoover pursued a degree in geology before finding his way to the mines. Truly starting at the bottom, he worked his way up to become an exceptional mining engineer and businessman.
With over $4 million in the bank by 1900, Hoover lived his Quaker beliefs of public service while serving as the head of the Commission for Relief in Belgium during World War I, as Woodrow Wilson’s U.S. Food Administrator, as head of the American Relief Administration, and as Secretary of Commerce under Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge. Nominated to run for President in 1928, Hoover rode to the White House on 21 million popular votes and a massive 444-87 electoral majority. However, only a year later the stock market crashed in October of 1929 forever tainting Hoover’s presidential legacy. Viewed as doing too little to offset the Depression, Hoover ultimately left the White House after only a single term.