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Word of the Every So Often

February 20, 2024

ruffianism:  (noun)  violent, lawless behaviour; improper, immoral, or wicked behaviour.  Ruffianism was running amok after the elections.

Cartoon of the Week

29 coprophagous simper.jpg

A Coprophagous Simper

STUFF

Once again it's Presidents' Day, and once again all of us here at the Press are amazed at how nobody apparently knows how to use an apostrophe, especially when it comes to President's Day.  Because nobody can decide if it's one president (singular possessive), or many presidents (plural possessive), or just don't even bother with an apostrophe at all, as far as we're concerned, that means we get to choose which president to honour.  And mind you, it's not always easy to honour people who are not very honourable.   So for the 18th year in a row, we here at the Holy Grail Press are featuring our President of the Year...

Herbert Clark Hoover – A Man of Mixed Reviews

 

Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States (1929-1933),  was born in Iowa in 1874.  His father, Jessie Clark Hoover, a blacksmith, died when he was six from a heart attack, and his mother, Huldah Minthorn Clark, died three years later from pneumonia, leaving Herbet, his older brother, Theodore, and his younger sister, Mary, orphans.  (Herbert Hoover:  Presidential Library and Museum)  It also (eventually) would make Hoover the only president who was an orphan.  Herbert, but apparently not his brother or sister, moved to Newberg, Oregon, of all places, to live with his aunt and uncle.  When Hoover was 20 he went off to college at the newly opened Stanford University, which is pretty much between San Francisco and San Jose, for those of you who are geographically disinclined.  There he got a degree in Engineering.  (“President Herbert Hoover”)

 

After graduating in 1895, he took that degree and became an international mining engineer, and was quite successful.  It was that career that took him and his wife to China in 1900.  (“President Herbert Hoover”)  There, Hoover and his wife, Lou Henry (who was his college sweetheart), were trapped under heavy fire for a month in Tientsin during the Boxer Rebellion.  His wife worked in the hospital, and Hoover used his engineering knowledge to build barricades.  He even risked his life at one point to rescue children.  (“Herbert Hoover:  The 31st President of the United States”)  This is good stuff.

 

A few years later, Hoover happened to be in London when Germany declared war on just about everybody as part of WWI.  He ended up helping over 120,000 tourists get home, and then turned his attention to feeding Belgium, which had been overrun by Germany.  When he returned home, President Wilson appointed Hoover head of the Food Administration, where he managed to keep sending food overseas while not having to ration at home.  Quite a feat.  (“Herbert Hoover:  The 31st President of the United States”)

 

After WWI ended, Hoover was instrumental in supplying food to Europe, including Bolshevik Russia, which many saw as questionable, but not Hoover.  He is quoted as saying, “Twenty million people are starving.  Whatever their politics, they shall be fed!”  Ya gotta love this guy.  (“Herbert Hoover:  The 31st President of the United States”)

 

Hoover was so admired in the United States for his humanitarian efforts that both parties wanted him for their candidate in 1920.  Wow.  What a thought.  Wanting a man for President who is a decent, capable individual, regardless of his politics.  Hoover, in what can be seen as perhaps the world’s second best example of bad timing, didn’t run then.  Instead he went on to serve, and serve well, as Secretary of Commerce under both Presidents Harding and Coolidge.  (“President Herbert Hoover”) 

 

Hoover, in the uncontested best example of bad timing, did accept the Republican nomination for president in 1928 when Coolidge decided not to run again.  Hoover won in a landslide, even though he never held an elected office before (or after, as far as that goes).  (“President Herbert Hoover”)  Hoover had done such a great job feeding the world before he was president, that everybody was sure poverty would become a thing of the past in America with Hoover in the White House.  (“Herbert Hoover:  The 31st President of the United States”)

 

Then everything went to hell just six months after he was inaugurated when the stock market took a head dive in September, 1929, and the entire world followed shortly thereafter.  Try as he might, Hoover didn’t stand a chance, and he became the scapegoat for the Great Depression.  (“Herbert Hoover:  The 31st President of the United States”)  It has been commented that Hoover sucked so bad at being president that a vacuum cleaner was named after him. 

 

Whereas that would be great if it were true... it’s not.  The vacuum in question was invented by James Spangler, who sold the invention to William H. “Boss” Hoover in 1908. (Hoovering for the Masses)  William Hoover is no relation to Herbert.  As far as that goes, Herbert isn’t related to J. Edgar Hoover, either. (Howard)  What is true, though, is that Hoover (Herb, not Bill or John) went from being universally loved to universally despised pretty much overnight.

 

When the economy collapsed, Hoover refused to give federal aid to those suffering.  Instead, he went with indirect help through public work projects and loans to states, which didn’t help at all, causing Hoover – who was once known as a “master of emergencies” to lose all credibility with the public.  (“President Herbert Hoover”)

 

And that’s pretty much it for Hoover’s presidency.  Well, yeah.  During his term Prohibition was repealed, but it wasn’t Hoover’s fault.  Hoover wanted to keep the production and consumption of liquor illegal.  (“Herbert Hoover”)  Cheers!  Pretty much, Hoover floundered through the rest of his term, and even though he ran for re-election in 1932, he lost in landslide to Franklin Roosevelt.

 

It can be argued that Hoover wasn’t racist, or, perhaps, not as racist as he could’ve been, though saying that you could’ve been worse is generally not a compliment.  Hoover did not tolerate overt discrimination, and he appointed more African Americans to government positions than his predecessors.  Nevertheless, his Civil Rights record left a lot to be desired.  For instance, he didn’t push for an anti-lynching law.  And that leaves one wondering, “Good Lord!  Why in the world not?!”  I mean, what possible argument could there be for not wanting a law that prohibits lynching?  As well, he promoted the “lily white strategy,” which removed people of colour from positions of leadership in the Republican Party.  All of which resulted in many black voters, especially in the South, switching to the Democratic Party during his tenure.  (“Herbert Hoover”)

 

There’s not much argument when it comes to Hoover’s record with Mexican-Americans.  During the Great Depression, when nothing else worked, Hoover sought to put the blame on Mexican Immigrants.  Sound familiar?   In what some critics have stated meets the criteria for ethnic cleansing, over one million Mexican-Americans were deported back to Mexico under Hoover, the majority of whom were American citizens.  (“Herbert Hoover”)

 

Still, Hoover continued to help with humanitarian issues after WWII, helping President Truman feed war-torn Europe.  He also wrote over 40 books, and devoted a lot of his time to various social causes, such as the Boys Club.  (“President Herbert Hoover”)  Hoover died in 1964 at the age of 90, having outlived his wife by 20 years.  (“Herbert Hoover”)

 

Overall, Hoover gets mixed reviews.  As a humanitarian, he generally receives high marks... well, if you don’t add in the Mexican-Americans and the Black folk.  But ya kinda gotta, don’cha think?  And you really can’t get away with saying, “Well, everybody was prejudiced back then...” because they weren’t.

 

And then there’s his presidency.  As a president... I mean... wow.  Truly, it was just a case of bad timing.  Had Hoover been President from, say, 1924 to 1928, he probably would’ve done great.  As it were, any President who has ever served probably would’ve floundered in the Great Depression.  But then, the American Public has never been willing to give a president a pass on the mess he’s inherited.  Once he’s in office, whatever happens is on him. 

 

So in the end, perhaps the best you can say about Hoover is that he could’ve been worse.

 

 

Works Cited

 

“Herbert Hoover.”  29 Jan. 2024.  Wikipedia.  9 Feb. 2024.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Hoover

 

“Herbert Hoover:  Presidential Library and Museum.”  National Archives.  18 Feb. 2024.  https://hoover.archives.gov/exhibits/years-adventure-1874-1914

 

“Herbert Hoover:  The 31st President of the United States.”  The White House.  9 Feb. 2024.  https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/herbert-hoover/

 

“Hoovering for the Masses.”  Science Museum.  18 Feb. 2024.  https://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/objects-and-stories/everyday-wonders/invention-vacuum-cleaner#:~:text=Hoovering%20for%20the%20masses,-The%20British%20association&text=Asthmatic%20American%20inventor%20James%20Spangler,to%20William%20Hoover%20in%201908.&text=His%20invention%20proved%20to%20be,truly%20practicable%20domestic%20vacuum%20cleaner.

 

Howard, Spencer.  “Hoover Heads.”  18 May 2022.  National Archives.  18 Feb. 2024.  https://hoover.blogs.archives.gov/2022/05/18/do-you-know-your-hoovers-an-historical-field-guide/#:~:text=Boss%E2%80%9D%20Hoover-,William%20H.,Edgar%20Hoover).

 

“President Herbert Hoover.”  National Archives.  9 Feb. 2024.  https://hoover.archives.gov/hoovers/president-herbert-hoover

Hoover 02.jpg

Herbert Hoover's boyhood home in Newberg, Oregon, right across the street from the aptly named Herbert Hoover Park, which has a nice nine hole disc golf course in it.

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