You would think that Herbert Hoover’s Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa, would have been the 1st to open, but it was the 4th. Those of 3 presidents who served after him opened before Hoover’s. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s in Hyde Park, NY was #1, opening in 1941. #2 was Harry Truman’s in Independence, MO, opening in 1957. #3 was Dwight Eisenhower’s in Abilene, KS–May, 1962.. Herbert Hoover’s opened 3 months later.
I don’t know why this happened, but I do know that Herbert Hoover was the only 1 of the 4 above who served one complete Presidential term and was not re-elected. He did run for re-election, but with 6 million out of work due to the Great Depression and an unemployment rate of 23. 6%, he carried only 6 states. “He was jeered outside a Detroit arena and hooted at in Oakland. After tomatoes were thrown at his train in Kansas, he said dejectedly, “I can’t go on with this anymore.” I read this in Hoover’s Presidential Library/Museum on my 3rd visit to it in 2014.
Hoover’s rise to The Presidency was a genuine American success story. Because both of his parents died by the time he was 10, he went to live with an aunt and uncle in Newberg, Oregon. He earned a geology degree from Stanford University and was in its 1st graduating class in 1895. Over the next few years he and his wife Lou, an Iowa girl whom he met at Stanford, lived in Australia and China. During World War I he became known for humanitarian work when he lived in London for 2 years. His American Relief Administration got more than 10 million people fed per day. In 1921 he became chairman of the Colorado River Commission. Hoover Dam eventually resulted. He was a ham operator and media pioneer. President Harding appointed him Secretary of Commerce. He was elected the 31st President, one of only 2 up to that time elected without previous electoral experience, in 1928. He carried 40 states. But then the Great Depression happened on his watch.
This time in his Presidential Museum I learned that he spent the Roosevelt years, which stretched to 4 terms, writing books, giving speeches, raising money for good causes, and generally defending himself. In 1940 he and Lou moved into New York’s Waldorf Towers where he died 25 years later at the age of 90. When he was 86, he traveled 14,000 miles, gave 20 speeches, and added to his 468 awards and citations. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 5 times. When asked how he survived all the criticism, he replied, “I outlived the bastards.”
In addition to seeing the Museum in West Branch, which is about 15 miles east of Iowa City, visitors can take a walking tour that includes Hoover’s birthplace cottage, the Quaker meeting-house turned into a school that he attended, his gravesite, etc. The complex now includes a fine Visitor Center that opened in November, 2013.
In my opinion, no President in American History rose so high and sank so fast as Herbert Hoover. So far.