Herbert Clark Hoover
Burial Location Visited President Grave #
West Branch, Iowa August 21, 2004 17th Visited

The fifth and final dead president my father
and I saw on our 2004 trip to the Midwest
was Herbert Hoover, buried on the grounds
of his presidential library in Iowa. At the
time of his death in 1964 at age ninety,
only John Adams had outlasted him in
terms of presidential longevity. His record
post-presidency, over thirty-one years in
length, was surpassed by Jimmy Carter in
September 2012.

President Hoover is interred alongside First
Lady Lou Henry Hoover, his wife of forty-
four years. The pair met as students at
Stanford University in the 1890s, where
they both studied geology.

Hoover was a Republican who also served
in the Harding and Coolidge administrations
as secretary of commerce. Before politics,
he was renowned for his humanitarian
efforts in Belgium during World War I.

The hilltop burial plot has an unimpeded
view of President Hoover's birth cottage
550 yards away, as was his wish. The
president's surviving kin worked with
Iowa architect William Wagner to design
the simple stone slabs, which align with
Hoover's Quaker beliefs. The monuments
were carved of Vermont marble and bear
only the couple's names and lifespans.

Fast Facts *

- First Lady: Lou Henry Hoover
- Spouse: Lou Henry Hoover (m. 1899-1944)

- Political Party: Republican Party

- Term: 1929-1933
- Vice President: Charles Curtis

- Born: August 10, 1874

- Died: October 20, 1964

- Age:

- Cause of Death: Gastrointestinal Bleeding; Strained Vascular System

 Cemetery: Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, West Branch, Iowa
- GPS Coordinates: 41°40'05.3"N 91°21'07.4"W

* * * Background on Herbert Hoover * * *

* Herbert Clark Hoover was born in a modest two-room cottage in West Branch, Iowa, on August 10, 1874. Bertie’s parents were Quakers, and his father Jesse earned a living as a store proprietor and blacksmith. Jesse died in 1880, followed by his wife Hulda in 1884, leaving Bertie an orphan at nine. He left his native Iowa for Oregon, where he lived with his late mother’s brother, Dr. John Minthorn. In 1891, when he was old enough to attend college, Hoover stayed on the west coast as one of Stanford University’s inaugural students. He studied geology, which during his senior year brought him into contact with Lou Hoover, the school’s first female geology major. After his graduation Herbert worked in Australia for a mining firm called Bewick, Moreing & Co. The company later reassigned Herbert to China, which he and Lou embarked to the day after their marriage in 1899. The newlyweds were soon caught in the middle of the Boxer Rebellion, a conflict in which a group of Chinese citizens called the Righteous Harmony Society -- also known as the Boxers -- attempted to rid the country of foreign influence. This included people from other nations that were living in China, such as the Hoovers. While the city where the couple was staying – Tianjin -- was under siege, Herbert oversaw the construction of barricades and regulated the distribution of food and other provisions while Lou used her bicycle to deliver supplies to the front lines.

* Herbert Hoover continued to work for Bewick, Moreing & Co. for several years after he and Lou departed China, but he eventually started his own business venture. By age forty, Hoover was a millionaire with mining firm offices in the U.S., Australia, and the United Kingdom. With the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Hoover put his Quaker virtues and the disaster relief skills he honed during the Boxer Rebellion to work. He organized the Committee of American Residents in London for Assistance to American Travelers, as well as the Commission for Relief in Belgium to benefit starving Belgian refugees. Headquartered in London, he worked tirelessly for two years to feed nine million citizens affected by the war. Now dubbed "the Great Humanitarian," Hoover returned to his native nation in 1917 as the U.S. was preparing to enter the global conflict. Hoover accepted President Woodrow Wilson's offer to become U.S. food administrator. Under his guidance, the government fostered public participation in voluntary food-rationing programs such as "Meatless Mondays" and "Wheatless Wednesdays," which conserved provisions to aid the war effort. When the time arose for peace negotiations in 1919, Hoover accompanied President Wilson to the Paris Peace Conference as an adviser, while he also served as director of the American Relief Administration.

With Hoover's star on the rise, both major political parties sought to name him their presidential nominee for 1920. Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democrat, opined that there could be no finer president than Hoover. The food czar identified as a progressive Republican, however, and though he did not fare well at the G.O.P.'s national convention, in 1921 he joined the cabinet of the newly-elected chief executive, Republican Warren G. Harding. Commerce Secretary Hoover transformed his department, which was largely restricted to a focus on lighthouses and fisheries, into a key component of the Executive Branch. Hoover organized conferences to discuss the regulations for the burgeoning medium of radio, and he also worked to standardize the color codes for traffic lights. Although he was not a proponent of Hoover's activism, President Calvin Coolidge -- Harding's successor -- kept the "Wonder Boy" aboard when he assumed office in 1923. The laissez-faire-minded Coolidge even acquiesced and dispensed Hoover to head disaster relief efforts when the Mississippi River flooded in 1927. His success in leading recovery operations returned him to the spotlight in a timely fashion. That August, President Coolidge announced he would not seek to retain his office in the 1928 election, which opened the door for his commerce secretary to run for the White House. Hoover received the 1928 Republican nomination and defeated Democrat Al Smith in an electoral landslide of 444 to 87.

* In his March 1929 inaugural address, the incoming president hailed public cooperation and self-government for being instrumental in improving public welfare. "Through liberation of widespread poverty," Hoover crowed, "we have reached a higher degree of individual freedom than ever before." The Republican set an extensive domestic policy agenda, much of which was curtailed by an economic collapse. The stock market crash of October 29, 1929 signified the financial struggles that were to come. By December, the New York Stock Exchange lost $26 billion in value. Thousands of banks shuttered, and those which stayed open foreclosed on mortgages. Over 50,000 businesses failed by 1930, by which time the number of unemployed laborers jumped from 1.5 million to 4.3. million -- a figure which rose precipitously over the ensuing years. Hoover adhered to his tried-and-true philosophy of "cooperative individualism" and attempted to refrain from direct government intervention. This time, his ideals proved overmatched -- Americans were too destitute themselves to support relatives and neighbors, and inundated private charities swiftly were depleted of their funds. The promises Hoover obtained from business leaders to not reduce employee rosters or payrolls were broken as the Great Depression worsened. The congress-approved Smoot-Hawley Tariff, which Hoover signed, effectively halted international trade as foreign nations retaliated and raised their rates. The president's strategy of maintaining his routine to instill public confidence failed as well. Instead of viewing Hoover's unaltered behavior as a sign not to panic, the struggling populous was put off that he and the first lady ate daily seven course meals while they had starving constituents scrounging from garbage cans.

In an attempt to stem the worsening conditions, Hoover signed the 1932 Emergency Relief and Construction Act, which allocated $1.5 billion in federal funds to public works projects. Additionally, he eventually somewhat relaxed his opposition to direct government aid and allowed the Treasury to distribute loans to states for unemployment relief, but the move was insufficient. Blaming the president for their prolonged misfortune, Americans derisively nicknamed symbols of destitution after him: shantytowns were dubbed Hoovervilles; turned-out pants pockets were Hoover flags. With Hoover's once-stellar reputation diminished, he lost the 1932 presidential election to his onetime admirer, Franklin Roosevelt, who carried forty-two states. At the time Hoover left office in March 1933, 15 million laborers, on whom an estimated 19 million family members were dependent, were out of work. The economy eventually recovered, as did former President Hoover's standing -- to a degree. Experiencing one of the most active post-presidencies in U.S. history, the Republican wrote numerous books, traversed thousands of miles making speeches, concocted comprehensive government spending cut recommendations, and returned to his humanitarian roots. In 1946, at the behest of President Harry Truman, Hoover traveled to thirty-eight countries to assist in food relief for people still reeling from World War II. 

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