Herbert Hoover

Herbert Hoover (President)
Birth and death
1874 - 1964
Profession details
Twenty-first American President
Related place
Jonathan Seal and Joanna Tapp

Life in Elmbridge

Hoover came to England in 1897, when he was taken on by the mining firm of Bewick, Moreing & Co. For the next four years he was mainly abroad, working in mines in western Australia and China.

However, in the spring of 1902 he returned to England. Hoover's memoirs (1952) state that: 'My wife searched out a small country house at Walton-on-Thames'. In a footnote he added the ironic twist: 'curiously it was known as The White House'.

'The White House' was built in 1768, and appears on local maps from 1812. The property still stands today, on West Grove.

Hoover lived there for only a short time, and was soon called away oversees. Mrs Hoover stayed there a little longer, but by the birth of her child in 1903 she was living in London, overlooking Hyde Park.

Life outside of Elmbridge

Hoover began as a mining engineer. He graduated from Stamford University in the mid-1890s and in 1897 became an employee of Bewick, Moering & Co., a London based mining company. His natural aptitude for mining and man-management led to his promotion to mine manager by the age of 23. By 1901 he was one of four partners in the company, with some biographers, such as George H. Nash, asserting that with his combined skills in both mining and administration he was at the heart of much of the company's work, not just in Western Australia, but globally.

Within twenty years Hoover had amassed a large fortune through his commercial interests, spending a lot of time out of America; in China, Australia, Russia, and England. What his time away did, however, was cement in his mind American superiority - economic, cultural and political. It was not for about 25 years after he first left for Australia that Hoover was to have a permanent residence in America. Even more astonishing is that despite his ascent to the Presidency in the late 1920's, and with it the fulfilment of his desire for a career in public life, he failed to vote in a single American election between 1896 and 1920!

Much of his motivation for a career in the public sphere came from his humanitarian endeavours during World War One. As head of the 'Committee for Relief in Belgium", Hoover oversaw the Belgium food crisis; distributing food, clothes, and other necessities. This persuaded President Wilson to appoint him head of the U.S Food Administration on America' s entry into the war in 1917. It was at this point that Hoover acknowledged: "my career was over forever. I was on the slippery road of public life".

This slippery road however took a couple of turns before its final stop at the presidential White House. From 1921 to 1928 Hoover held the office of Secretary of Commerce before becoming twenty-first Preisdent of the United States. He survived just one term. The Wall Street Crash occurred just eight months into his tenure and despite his efforts of reviving the economy, the Great Depression cemented Hoover's position as one of the less popular Presidents.

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