Hoover as Secretary of Commerce

Between 1921 and 1928, Herbert Hoover served as Secretary of Commerce in the Cabinets of two presidents: Harding and Coolidge. His position focused on promoting and developing foreign and domestic trade. For Hoover, the son of a Quaker blacksmith who believed in the value of personal initiative and the freedom of opportunity, it was a perfect fit.

Hoover’s work as head of the Belgian Relief Commission during World War I had given the humanitarian from West Branch world-wide recognition and credibility. His career as a mining engineer on four different continents gave the Stanford graduate a unique perspective on the future of global trade.

With the war’s end in 1919, Hoover worked hard during his first appointment as Secretary of Commerce to help the economies of war-torn Europe recover in an effort to promote stability and international trade, which he believed would ultimately benefit the United States. When the 1920’s brought about new technological advances such as radio broadcasting and aviation, Hoover gathered those involved, and challenged the top business and labor leaders in each group to come up with self-imposed operating guidelines and safety regulations that would benefit both business and society.

Perhaps Herbert “Bertie” Hoover was recalling the time when his father, Jesse came up with an innovative process for dipping barbed wire in tar to seal it against corrosion, so livestock were protected from being scratched and infected by the rusty wire. Timothy Walch, director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum believes it made an impact on the future President.

“And that's not unlike Herbert Hoover as he applied these same principles during the time he was Secretary of Commerce; he didn't make the product, but he made the product better. So there's a line there from Jesse Hoover to his son in terms of making life better for individuals, and products better and more efficient.”


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