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Title: Herbert Hoover - The Man and His Work
Author: Kellogg, Vernon L. (Vernon Lyman), 1867-1937
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Herbert Hoover - The Man and His Work" ***

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[Transcriber's Note:
The following inconsistent or typographical errors were corrected:

Page 27: to-day corrected to today
Page 63: type-writer corrected to typewriter
Page 67: Hooved corrected to Hoover
Page 85: Pekin corrected to Peking
Page 150: praccally corrected to practically
Page 169: frans corrected to francs
Page 331: progresively corrected to progressively
Page 364: necessary corrected to necessity






C. R. B.


No man can have reached the position in the public eye, can have had
such influence in the councils of our own government and in the fate of
other governments, can have been so conspicuously effective in public
service as has Herbert Hoover, without exciting a wide public interest
in his personality, his fundamental attitude toward his great problems
and his methods of solving them. This American, who has had to live in
the whole world and yet has remained more truly and representatively
American than many of us who have never crossed an ocean or national
boundary line, is an object of absorbing interest today among the people
of his native land. He is hardly less interesting to millions in other
lands. He has carried the American point of view, the American manner,
the American qualities of heart and mind to the far corners of the
earth. He has no less revealed again, as other great Americans have done
before him, these American attributes to America itself.

Many questions are being asked about the life and experiences of this
man before he entered upon his outstanding public service and about the
details of his personal participation in the work of the great wartime
private and governmental organizations under his direction.

This book is the attempt of an observer, associate and friend to tell,
simply and straightforwardly, the personal story of the man and his work
up to the present.

V. K.













      OF EXPORTS 199




        APPENDIX I 283

        APPENDIX II 291

        APPENDIX III 311

        APPENDIX IV 334



It was a great day for the children of Warsaw. It was a great day for
their parents, too, and for all the people and for the Polish
Government. But it was especially the great day of the children. The man
whose name they all knew as well as their own, but whose face they had
never seen, and whose voice they had never heard, had come to Warsaw.
And they were all to see him and he was to see them.

He had not announced his coming, which was a strange and upsetting thing
for the government and military and city officials whose business it is
to arrange all the grand receptions and the brilliant parades for
visiting guests to whom the Government and all the people wish to do
honor. And there was no man in the world to whom the Poles could wish to
do more honor than to this uncrowned simple American citizen whose name
was for them the synonym of savior.

For what was their new freedom worth if they could not be alive to enjoy
it? And their being alive was to them all so plainly due to the heart
and brain and energy and achievement of this extraordinary American, who
sat always somewhere far away in Paris, and pulled the strings that
moved the diplomats and the money and the ships and the men who helped
him manage the details, and converted all of the activities of these men
and all of these things into food for Warsaw--and for all Poland. It was
food that the people of Warsaw and all Poland simply had to have to keep
alive, and it was food that they simply could not get for themselves.
They all knew that. The name of another great American spelled freedom
for them; the name Herbert Hoover spelled life to them.

So it was no wonder that the high officials of the Polish Government and
capital city were in a state of great excitement when the news suddenly
came that the man whom they had so often urged to come to Poland was
really moving swiftly on from Prague to Warsaw.

Ever since soon after Armistice Day he had sat in Paris, directing with
unremitting effort and absolute devotion the task of getting food to the
mouths of the hungry people of all the newly liberated but helpless
countries of Eastern Europe, and above all, to the children of these
countries, so that the coming generation, on whom the future of these
struggling peoples depended, should be kept alive and strong. And now he
was preparing to return to his own country and his own children to take
up again the course of his life as a simple American citizen at home.

But before going he wanted to see for himself, if only by the most
fleeting of glimpses, that the people of Poland and Bohemia and Servia
and all the rest were really being fed. And especially did he want to
see that the children were alive and strong.

When he came to Paris in November, 1918, at the request of the President
of the United States, to organize the relief of the newly liberated
peoples of Eastern Europe, terrible tales were brought to him of the
suffering and wholesale deaths of the children of these ravaged lands.
And when those of us who went to Poland for him in January, 1919, to
find out the exact condition and the actual food needs of the
twenty-five million freed people there, made our report to him, a single
unpremeditated sentence in this report seemed most to catch his eyes and
hold his attention. It did more: it wetted his eyes and led to a special
concentration of his efforts on behalf of the suffering children. This
sentence was: "We see very few children playing in the streets of
Warsaw." Why were they not playing? The answer was simple and
sufficient: The children of Warsaw were not strong enough to play in the
streets. They could not run; many could not walk; some could not even
stand up. Their weak little bodies were bones clothed with skin, but not
muscles. They simply could not play.

So in all the excitement of the few hours possible to the citizens of
Warsaw and the Government officials of Poland to make hurried
preparation to honor their guest and show him their gratitude, one thing
they decided to do, which was the best thing for the happiness of their
guest they could possibly have done. They decided to show him that the
children of Warsaw could now walk!

So seventy thousand boys and girls were summoned hastily from the
schools. They came with the very tin cups and pannikins from which they
had just had their special meal of the day, served at noon in all the
schools and special children's canteens, thanks to the charity of
America, as organized and directed by Hoover, and they carried their
little paper napkins, stamped with the flag of the United States, which
they could wave over their heads. And on an old race-track of Warsaw,
these thousands of restored children marched from mid-afternoon till
dark in happy, never-ending files past the grand stand where sat the man
who had saved them, surrounded by the heads of Government and the
notables of Warsaw.

They marched and marched and cheered and cheered, and waved their little
pans and cups and napkins. And all went by as decorously and in as
orderly a fashion as many thousands of happy cheering children could be
expected to, until suddenly from the grass an astonished rabbit leaped
out and started down the track. And then five thousand of these children
broke from the ranks and dashed madly after him, shouting and laughing.
And they caught him and brought him in triumph as a gift to their guest.
But they were astonished to see as they gave him their gift, that this
great strong man did just what you or I or any other human sort of human
being could not have helped doing under like circumstances. They saw him
cry. And they would not have understood, if he had tried to explain to
them that he cried because they had proved to him that they could run
and play. So he did not try. But the children of Warsaw had no need to
be sorry for him. For he cried because he was glad.

But the children of Warsaw were not the only children of Poland that
Hoover was interested in and wanted to see. His Polish family was a
large and scattered one; there were nearly a million children in it
altogether, and some of them were in Lodz and some in Cracow and others
in Brest-Litovsk and Bielostok and even in towns far out on the Eastern
frontier near the Polish-Bolshevist fighting lines. But of course he
could not visit all of them, and much less could he hope to visit all
the rest of his whole family in Eastern Europe. For while an especially
large part of it was in Poland, other parts were in Finland, Esthonia,
Latvia and Lithuania, and some of it was in Czecho-Slovakia and Austria,
and other parts were in Hungary, Roumania, and Jugo-Slavia. Altogether
this large and diverse family of Mr. Hoover's in Eastern Europe numbered
at least two and a half million hungry children. And it only asked for
his permission to be still larger. For at least a million more babies
and boys and girls thought they were unfairly excluded from it, because
they were sure that they were poor and weak and hungry enough to be
admitted, and being very hungry, and not being able to get enough food
any other way, was the test of admission to Mr. Hoover's family.

When the American Relief Administration, which was the organization
called into being under Hoover's direction in response to President
Wilson's appeal to Congress soon after the armistice, saw that its
general assistance to the new nations could probably be dispensed with
by the end of the summer of 1919, the director realized that some
special help for the children would still be needed. The task of seeing
that the underfed and weak children in all these countries of Eastern
Europe, extending from the Baltic to the Black Sea, received their
supplementary daily meals of specially fit and specially prepared food,
could not be suddenly dropped by the American workers. There could be no
confidence that the still unstable and struggling governments would be
able to carry it on successfully. But with the abolition of the blockade
and the incoming of the year's harvest, and with the growing possibility
of adequate financial help through government and bank loans, the
various new nations of Eastern Europe could be expected to arrange for
an adequate general supply of food for themselves without further
assistance from the American Relief Administration.

Just what the nature and methods of this assistance were, and how the
one hundred million dollars put into the hands of the Relief
Administration by Congress were made to serve as the basis for the
purchase and distribution to the hungry countries of over seven hundred
million dollars' worth of food, with the final return of almost all of
the original hundred million to the United States Government (if not in
actual cash, at least in the form of government obligations), will be
told in a later chapter. Also how it was arranged, without calling on
the United States Government for further advances, that the feeding of
the millions of hungry children of Eastern Europe could go on as it is
now actually going on every day under Hoover's direction, until the time
arrives, some time this summer, when it can be wholly taken over by the
new governments.

But just now I want to tell another story.



The account of Mr. Hoover's sympathetic interest in the child sufferers
from the Great War, and of his active and effective work on their
behalf, makes one wonder about his own childhood. He is not so old that
his childhood days could have been darkened by the one war which did
mean suffering to many American children, especially those of the South.
He was not born in the South, nor of parents actually afflicted by
poverty, and did not spend his early days in any of the comparatively
few places in America, such as the congested great city quarters and
industrial agglomerations of poor and ignorant foreign working-people,
where real child distress is common; so he certainly did not, as a
growing child, have his ears filled with tales of child suffering, or
with the actual crying of hungry children.

There was one outstanding fact, however, in his relations as a child to
the world and to the people most closely about him, which may have had
its influence in making him especially susceptible to the sight of child
misfortune. This is the fact that he, like many of his later wards in
Europe, was orphaned at an early age. But he was by no means a neglected
orphan. So I hardly think that his own personal experience as an orphan
is a sufficient explanation of the passionate interest in the special
fate of the children, which he displayed from the beginning of the war
to its end.

Nor can the explanation lie in the coldly reasoned conclusion that the
most valuable relief to a people so stricken by catastrophe that its
very existence as a human group is threatened, is to let whatever
mortality is unavoidable fall chiefly to the old and the adult infirm
for the sake of saving the next generation on which alone the future
existence of the group depends. This actual fact Hoover always clearly
saw; but the thing that those close to him saw quite as clearly was that
this alone accounted for but a small part of his intensive attention to
the children.

It is, then, neither any sad experience in his own life, nor any
sociologic or biologic understanding of the hard facts of human
existence and racial persistence, that does much to explain his
particular devotion to the health and comfort of the millions of
suffering children in Europe. The explanation lies simply, although
mysteriously, in his own personality. I say mysteriously, for, despite
all the wonderful new knowledge of heredity that we have gained since
the beginning of the twentieth century, the way by which any of us comes
to be just the sort of man he is is still mostly mystery. Herbert Hoover
is simply a kind of man who, when brought by circumstances face to face
with the distress of a people, is especially deeply touched by the
distress of the children, and is impelled by this to use all of his
intelligence and energy to relieve this distress. What we can know of
his inheritance and early environment may indeed reveal a little
something of why he is this kind of man. But it certainly will not
reveal the whole explanation.

Herbert Hoover, or, to give him for once his full name, Herbert Clark
Hoover, was born on August 10, 1874, in a small Quaker community of
Iowa which composed, at the time of his birth, most of the village of
West Branch in that state. That is, he usually says that he was born on
August 10, but sometimes he says that this important day was August 11.
He seems to slide his birthday back and forth to suit the convenience of
his family when they wish to celebrate it. He does this on the basis of
the fact that when, in the midst of the general family excitement in the
middle of the night of August 10-11, one of the busy Quaker aunts
present bethought herself, for the sake of getting things straight in
the family Bible, to say: "Oh, doctor, just how long ago was it that
baby was born?" she got the following answer, "Just as near an hour ago
as I can guess it." Thereupon she looked at the clock on the wall, and
the doctor looked at his watch, and both found it exactly one o'clock of
an important new morning!

Herbert's Quaker father, Jesse Clark Hoover, died in 1880, and his
Quaker mother, Hulda Minthorn, in 1884. The father had had the simple
education of a small Quaker college and was, at the time of Herbert's
birth, the "village blacksmith," to give him the convenient title used
by the town and country people about. But really he was of that
ambitious type of blacksmith, not uncommon in the Middle West, whose
shop not only does the repairing of the farm machines and household
appliances, but manufactures various homely metal things, and does a
little selling of agricultural implements on the side. Jesse Hoover's
mind was rather full of ideas about possible "improvements" on the
machines he repaired and sold. And his two sons, Herbert and Theodore,
and Herbert's two sons, Herbert, Jr., and Allan, are all rather given to
the same "inventiveness" about the home.

Hulda Randall Minthorn Hoover, Herbert's mother, was a woman of unusual
mental gifts. After her husband's death she gave much attention to
church work, and became a recognized "preacher" at Quaker meetings. In
this capacity she revealed so much power of expression and exhortation
that she was in much demand. Her death, in 1884, came from typhoid
fever. Those who knew her speak of her "personality." They say that she
had color and attractiveness, although she was unusually shy and
reserved. One can say exactly the same things of her son Herbert.

The immediate Hoover ancestry is Quaker. The more remote is Quaker mixed
with Dutch and French Huguenot. The Dutch name was spelled with an _e_
instead of the second _o_. All of Herbert's grandparents were Quakers,
and the Quaker records run back a long time. One of the family branches
runs into Canada, with the story of a migration there of a group of
refugees from the American colonies during the Revolution. These
emigrants came from prosperous farms in Pennsylvania, but while they
wanted to be free from England's control, they could not, as Quakers,
agree to fight for this freedom. So as the neighbors were inclined to be
a little "unpleasant" about this, and as Canada was just then offering
free farms to colonists, they packed up their movables and _trekked_

Another Canadian branch, French Huguenot in origin, has traditions of
hurried removals from France into Holland before St. Bartholomew's
Night, and of later escapes into the same country. But all finally
decided that Europe anywhere was impossible, and hence they determined
on a wholesale emigration to Canada. Here by chance they settled down
side by side with the little Quaker group which had come from
Pennsylvania. Close association and intermarrying resulted in the
Quakerizing of the European Huguenots--their beliefs were essentially
similar, anyway--so in time all the descendants of this double Canadian
line were Quakers.

There were two other children in Jesse and Hulda Hoover's family: one a
boy, Theodore, three and a half years older than Herbert, and the other
a girl, Mary, who was very much younger. Theodore, like his younger
brother, became a mining engineer, and after a dozen years of
professional and business experience with mines all over the world--part
of the time in connection with mining interests directed by his
brother--is now the head of the graduate department of mining
engineering in Stanford University.

After the father's and mother's death, the three Hoover orphans came
under the kindly care of various Quaker aunts and uncles, and especially
at first of Grandmother Minthorn. This good grandmother took special
charge of little Mary, and pretty soon carried her with her out to
Oregon, where she had a son and daughter living. There had been a little
property left when the father died, enough to provide a very slender
income for each child. But if the dollars were few the kind relatives
were not, and the little Hoovers never suffered from hunger.

These relatives were not limited to Iowa, and the boy Herbert soon found
himself in a new and strange environment, surrounded by a different race
of human beings, whose red-brown skin and fantastic trappings greatly
excited his boyish wonder and imagination. For he was sent to live with
his Uncle Laban Miles, U. S. Government Indian Agent for the Osage tribe
in the Indian Territory, who was one of the many Quakers who had
dedicated their lives to the cause of the Indians at that time. Here
Herbert spent a happy six or eight months, playing with some little
cousins and learning to know the original Americans. For when other
pastimes palled there were always the strange and wonderful red people
to watch and wonder about.

But his life among the original Americans was interrupted by the
solicitous aunts and uncles, who, realizing that an abundance of
barbarians and a paucity of schools might not be the best of
surroundings for a child coming to its first years of understanding,
decided on bringing him back into a more civilized and Quakerish
environment; at least one less marked by tomahawks, bows and arrows, and
other tangible suggestions of a most un-Quakerish manner of life.

So he was sent back to Iowa, where he lived for two very happy years in
the home of Uncle Allan Hoover. To this uncle, and to his wife, Aunt
Millie, the impressionable boy became strongly attached. And there were
some energetic young cousins always on hand to play with. The older
brother Theodore, or Tad, was living at this time with another uncle, a
prosperous Iowa farmer, also much loved by both of the boys. He lived
near enough to permit frequent playings together of the two, and on
another farm, with Grandmother Minthorn, was still the baby sister Mary,
who was, however, too young to be much of a playmate for the brothers.
Indeed, the country all around bristled with the kindly uncles and aunts
and other relatives and playmates, all interested in making life
comfortable and happy for the little orphans.

There was also an especially attractive little black-eyed girl, Mildred
Brook, who lived on a near-by farm, who later went to the same Quaker
academy at Oskaloosa as Theodore, and is now Mrs. Theodore Hoover. In
those days she was known as "Mildred of the berry-patches," as all the
children for miles around associated her in their minds with the
luxuriant vines on the farm of her Uncle Bransome with whom she lived.
Her home was the children's Mecca in the berry season.

Herbert Hoover's memories of those days are filled with lively incidents
and boyish farm adventure. There was the young calf, mutual property of
himself and a cousin of like age, which was fitted out with a boy-made
harness and trained to work, eventually getting out of hand in a corn
field and dragging the single-shovel cultivator wildly across and along
rows of tender growing grain. Later the calf was restored to favor when
it was triumphantly attached to a boy-made sorghum mill, which actually
worked, and pressed out the sweet juice from the sorghum cane.

Winter had its special joys of skates and sled; spring came with
maple-sugaring, and summer with its long days filled with a thousand
enterprises. There were fish in the creek which you might catch if you
could sit still long enough, without too violent wiggling of the hook
when the float gave its first faint indications of a bite. It was two
miles to school, and most of the time the children had to walk. But that
was only good for them, and there was, of course, a good deal of
churchgoing and daily family prayers, but there were always convenient
laps for tired little heads--being in church was the necessary thing,
not being awake in church.

It was a joyous and wholesome two years, the kind that thousands of
Mississippi Valley farms have given to hundreds of thousands of American
little boys; the kind that gives them a good start in health and
happiness towards a sturdy and simple adolescent life. But the time had
come for young Herbert to learn new surroundings. For some reason,
apparently not clearly remembered now, it was decided by the consulting
uncles and aunts that young Herbert should go to Oregon, and join the
Hoover and Minthorn relatives there. Perhaps, even probably, it was
because of the presumably superior educational advantages of Oregon in
the existence of the Newberg Pacific Academy that led to the decision.
We may imagine that Herbert uttered no affirmative vote in the conclave
that decided on his departure from the Iowa farm, and when he once got
out to the superior place, he was less than ever in favor of the
proceeding. But the conscientious uncles and aunts were inexorable as
the Fates.

They meant to be the kindest of Fates, of course. They knew that they
knew so much better than the little boy what was best for him. And
probably they did. But this little pawn on the chessboard of life, moved
about with ever so excellent intention by firm and confident hands, must
have thought sometimes that he would have liked to have some little part
in deciding these moves. But if one starts as pawn, one must find the
way as pawn clear across the board to the king row before one can come
to the higher estate of the nobler pieces.

The actual going from Iowa to far-away Oregon was not so unbearable,
because of the excitement of the tremendous journey and the actual fun
of it. It was not made, to be sure, as Herbert would have preferred it,
in a long train of picturesque prairie schooners, drawn up in a circle
each night to repel attacking Indians, as his storybooks described all
transcontinental journeys; but in an overfull tourist-car on the
railroad. Herbert's most vivid memories of the week's journey are of the
wonderful lunch baskets and boxes filled with fried chicken, boiled
hams, roast meats, countless pies and layer-cakes, caraway-seed cookies,
and great red apples. Herbert Hoover had no food troubles in those

Arrived in Oregon he found himself in the family of Uncle John Minthorn,
his mother's brother, a country doctor of Newberg, and the principal of
the superior educational institution. Uncle John did not live on a farm,
but on the edge of a small town, which was a mistake, according to
Herbert's way of looking at it. And the Pacific Academy of Newberg,
Oregon, could not be compared in interest with the district village
school of West Branch, Iowa.

After two or three years of life with Dr. John, young Herbert was handed
over to the care of a Grandfather Miles, for Dr. John decided to give up
country doctoring in order to go into the land business "down in Salem,"
the capital city. Therefore, as little Herbert's schooling in the
academy which he was attending all the time he was living with Dr. John,
could not be interrupted, he was placed in the home of this Grandfather
Miles on a farm just on the edge of the academy town.

Herbert's life with Grandfather Miles does not seem to have been a very
happy one, for the old gentleman did not believe in spoiling little
boys by too much kindness. There were many chores to do before and after
school, and little time for playing. And the chores just had to be done,
and not be forgotten as they sometimes were. Probably this strictness of
discipline was a good thing for the small boy. But, like other small
boys, he did not like it. So, also, like many other small boys, he
decided to run away.

Running away may not be the exclusive prerogative of young Americans,
but some way it is hard for me to picture European boys of fourteen
going off on their own. And yet perhaps they do. At any rate it is such
a favorite procedure with us that hardly one of us--I mean by us,
American males--has not had a try at it or connived at some neighbor's
son trying it. My own experience was only that of a conniver. A
schoolmate of thirteen, whose father believed in a more vigorous method
of correcting wayward sons than my father did, ran away from his house
to as far as our house. There my brother and I secreted him in a
clothes-closet for the nearly three hours of freedom that he enjoyed in
half-smothered state. Then the stern father came over, discovered him
and haled him away to proper discipline. I shall never forget the howls
of the captured fugitive, nor the triumphant and accusing remark to us,
shouted by the terrible capturer as he dragged off his victim: "Now ye
see what liars ye are!" For, of course, we had done our impotent best to
throw the hunter off the track. It was several days before I could lie
again without a violent trembling.

But Herbert Hoover ran away for keeps. He did not run away to ship
before the mast or to kill Indians. Nor did he run very far, only to
Portland and to Salem, which his geography had already taught him were
the principal city and capital, respectively, of the state of Oregon.
And he ran away with the full knowledge and even tolerance of his
relatives. But he went away to be independent, and to fit himself for
the special kind of college to which he had already decided to go. In
Salem he lived again with his Uncle John, helping in the real estate
business, but in Portland he lived entirely on his own.

That part of his reason for running away which was connected with
preparing for a college of his own choosing seems to have come about
because of a difference of opinion that had arisen between young Herbert
and his Quaker relatives with regard to the future course of his
education. They had taken it quite as a matter of course that from the
little Quaker academy in Newberg he would go to one of the reputable
Quaker colleges of the country. But Herbert had come to a different idea
about this matter of further education, and, as is characteristic of
him, this idea had led to a decision, and the decision was on the rapid
way to lead to action. In other words, Herbert had made up his mind that
he wanted to study science, and for that purpose wanted to fit himself
for and go to a modern scientific university. Also, he wanted to be,
just as soon as he possibly could, on an independent financial footing.
He probably did not express these wishes, in his boy's vocabulary, by
any such large mouthful of phrases; he probably said to himself, "I want
to earn my own living, and go to a university where I can learn

Just what led him to the decision about the modern university and
science is not easy for the grown-up Herbert Hoover of today to tell.
But he is pretty sure that a large part of this determination came from
the casual visit of a man whom he had never seen before and has never
seen or heard of since, but who was an old friend of his father.

This man, on his way through the town to look at a mine he owned
somewhere in eastern Oregon, dropped off at Newberg so that he might see
the little son of his Iowa friend. He was a "mining man," and, from the
impression that Mr. Hoover still has of him, probably a mining engineer.
He stayed at the local hotel for two or three days, and saw what he
could of young Herbert between school-hours and chore-times. His
conversation was apparently mostly about the difference in the work and
achievements in the world of the man who had a profession and the one
who had not. It was illustrated, because the speaker was a miner, by
examples in the field of mining. The talk also was much about
engineering in general and about just what training it was necessary for
a boy to have in order to become a good engineer, with much emphasis
put on the part in this training which was to be got from a university.
He also explained the difference between a university and a small

And then the man went on to his mine. He invited the fascinated boy to
go with him for a little visit, but permission for this was not
obtained. The trails of this man and Herbert Hoover have never touched
again, and yet this stray mining engineer, whose name, even, we do not
know, almost certainly was more responsible than any other external
influence in determining Hoover's later education and adopted

In Portland Herbert got a job in a real estate office as useful
boy-of-all-work, including particularly the driving of prospective
purchasers about to see various alluring corner lots in town and
inviting farmsteads in the surrounding country. For his work he received
sufficient wages to pay for all of his very modest living. He had hoped
to go to the high school to prepare himself for college, but found that
he could not do this and earn his full wages at the same time. So as
the wages were a first necessity, he gave up his high-school plans and
devoted himself to study at nights and odd hours of the day. He
discovered a little back room in the real-estate office half filled with
old boxes and bags, of which no one else seemed to be aware, and this he
fitted up with a bed, a little table and a lamp, and made of it, with a
boy's enthusiasm--especially the enthusiasm of a boy who had known
Indians--a secret cave in which he lived in a mysterious and exciting
way. He slipped out to little restaurants and cheap boarding-places for
his meals.

He remembers once standing fascinated before a sign that read: "Table
d'hôte, 75 cents"; but after thinking twice of indulging in a single
great eating orgy, he decided that no human stomach, much less his own
small one, could possibly hold all the food that seventy-five cents
would pay for, and that therefore he could not get all of his money's
worth. So he went on to some fairer bargain.

There was a bank-vault just across the alley from his secret back room
in the real estate office, and many a night did young Herbert lie awake
in his cave hearing his imaginary bank-robbers mining their way into the
vault and escaping with much rich treasure. But mostly young Herbert
studied in that secret cave of his, and that he studied hard and to good
purpose is proved by the fact that in little more than two years he felt
himself ready to attempt the entrance examinations for college.



For some time the newspapers had been full of accounts of the founding
and approaching opening of Stanford University at Palo Alto, California.
Soon after Leland Stanford, Jr., the only child of Senator and Mrs.
Leland Stanford, died in Rome in 1884, the Stanfords announced their
intention to found and endow with their great wealth a new university in
California. The romantic character of the founding and the picturesque
setting of the new university in the middle of a great ranch on the
shores of lower San Francisco Bay, with the foothills of the Santa Cruz
Mountains rising from its very campus, its generous provision for
students unable to meet the expenses of the older institutions of the
East, and the radical academic innovations and freedom of selection of
studies decided on by the Stanfords and David Starr Jordan, the eminent
scientific man selected to be the first president of the new
university--all this, together with the evident strong leaning of the
institution toward science, as revealed by the character of the
president, faculty and curriculum, combined to assure young Hoover that
this was the modern scientific university of his dream, just made to
order for him. It was exactly the place where he could become a mining
engineer like the wonderful man he had always remembered.

So when it was announced in the Portland papers that a professor from
Stanford would visit the city in the early summer of 1891, to hold
entrance examinations for the university, which was to open in the
autumn, Herbert decided to try the examinations. But when he came to
compare thoughtfully his store of knowledge with the published
requirements he would have to meet, he found that his self-preparation
had been rather one-sided. For in this preparation he had followed his
inclinations more than the prescribed schedules of college entrance
requirements. Why should one waste a lot of time, he had thought, and
be bored during the wasting, by studying grammar if one could already
talk intelligibly to people? And why should one not revel in complicated
problems of figures and geometrical designs that really took some hard
thinking to work out, if hard thinking was just what one liked to do?

So, much to his distress he found out, as the examinations went on, that
he was decidedly unprepared in some of the required lines such as
grammar, rhetoric, etc. And even in mathematics, his favorite study and
the one in which he made his best showing, he had not been able to
cover, in his limited time for study, the whole ground required for
college entrance. He seemed doomed to be refused the coveted certificate
of admission.

But the Fates worked for him. In the first place, Professor Swain, the
examining professor--now president of Swarthmore College--was the head
of Stanford's department of mathematics. In the second place, he was a
Quaker, and a man who liked the right sort of boys. And so a candidate
who was a little weak in the languages, but was strong in arithmetic
and geometry--and was a brave Quaker boy, besides--was not to be too
summarily turned down.

This kind and wise examiner has described to me, recently, how he was
first attracted to the young Quaker in the group of candidates before
him by his evident strength of will. "I observed," said President Swain,
"that he put his teeth together with great decision, and his whole face
and posture showed his determination to pass the examination at any
cost. He was evidently summoning every pound of energy he possessed to
answer correctly the questions before him. I was naturally interested in
him. On inquiry I learned that he had studied only two books of Plane
Geometry, and was trying to solve an original problem based on the
fourth book. While he was unable to do this, he did much better; for the
intelligence and superior will he revealed in the attempt convinced me
that such a boy needed only to be given a chance. So although he could
not pass all of the tests, I told him to come to my rooms at the hotel
after the examinations, as I would like to talk with him. He came
promptly at the appointed hour with a friend of his, the son of a banker
in Salem, Oregon. The two boys invited me and Mrs. Swain to stop at
Salem to visit them, which we did. I learned there that Herbert Hoover,
for that was the boy's name, was an industrious, thoughtful, ambitious
boy earning his own living while he studied."

All this was enough for the wise teacher. And an arrangement was
mutually agreed on between examiner and examined to the effect that if
young Hoover would work diligently for the rest of the summer on the
literary necessities of the situation, and come on early to Stanford for
a little special coaching, he might consider his probabilities for
admission to the university so high as to be reckoned a sure thing.

Well, it all turned out as desired by both candidate and examiner. And
Herbert Hoover was enrolled the following October among the first
students, the "pioneer class" of Stanford University, and was actually
the first Stanford student to inhabit the beautiful great new dormitory
called Encina Hall. It was not only his university of dreams come true,
but it was really to be the university of his graduation, the _alma
mater_ of a boy without any other mother. And it was the university of
which he was to become, in later successful years, a patron and trustee.
Stanford did much for Herbert Hoover; but so has he done much for

Any university means many things, for all their lives, to those who have
come timidly and wonderingly to its doors as boys and girls, and have
gone out on that final day of happy reward and tearful good-byes as men
and women eager to try themselves against the world outside of sheltered
school-rooms. And most of these things are to most persons who have
known them, things of pleasant and loving memory.

Stanford is like any other university in this relation to its graduates.
But there seems to be something unusually strong and yet at the same
time unusually intangible in the ties that bind its former students to
it. Perhaps the explanation lies as much in the special character of its
students, at least its pioneer ones, as in the special character of the
institution itself. The students who came to Stanford in its earlier
years came because it was different from other colleges, and because
they did this it is likely that they themselves were different from
other students. Like the restless, seeking pioneers that came over the
desert and mountains to the Pacific Coast to find a different life from
that of worn tradition and old ways, their descendants and the later
coming youth, who had mixed with them and been infected by their seeking
spirit, flocked to this institution that offered a different kind of
college atmosphere.

Its low-arcaded quadrangle of mission buildings of yellow stone and
heavy red tiles, nestling under high hills that run back to mountains,
surrounded by wide grain fields flecked with rounded live-oaks and tall
strange eucalyptus trees, and neighbored by great barns and well-kept
paddocks and exercising tracks in which sleek trotting horses of famous
Palo Alto breeding lounged or trained, was a strange new setting for
studying Greek and Latin and mathematics and science.

"_Die Luft der Freiheit weht_" is the Stanford motto; and there was
truly no more likely place for the winds of freedom to blow than over
and through this college on a California ranch. And its founders did
well to find for its first head a man than whom no other American
scholar had given clearer indications of being anxious to break with
clogging scholastic tradition.

The university itself, so tenderly conceived as a memorial to a boy lost
to his parents, and so generously established as an opportunity for
other boys, some of whom, like the hero of our story, might have had
their parents lost to them, is an almost unique example of a great
educational institution maintained by the fortune of a single family.
All of the Stanford millions are returned today to the country in which
they were accumulated in the form of a great endowment and of the
beautiful halls in which thousands of students have found a free
training for independent existence and right citizenship. These students
wear the Stanford cardinal as a red badge of obligation, not anarchy. No
other college in the country had more of its sons and daughters, in
proportion to their total number, devoting themselves to their country's
service during the Great War. If Herbert Hoover was the most
distinguished of the serving sons of Stanford he was not more eager and
devoted than many others.

But we leave Our Hero waiting too long upon the threshold of his dream
university come true. It had been agreed, you remember, between young
Hoover and his friendly examiner in Portland that the candidate for
admission should come to the Stanford Farm--which is the students' name
for the campus, and which literally described it in those beginning
days--before the time of the opening of the university to be coached in
the two or three studies in which his preparation was deficient.

So he came down from the North a month before the announced time for
opening, a lonesome boy without any friends at Stanford except the good
Quaker professor of mathematics, and with all of his savings from the
"real estate business" tucked away in an inside pocket. They amounted
in grand total to about two hundred dollars.

It was less simple getting to Stanford in those first days than it is
now. There was not even a beginning then of the beautiful thriving town
of Palo Alto that stands today with convenient railway station, just at
the entrance to the long palm-lined avenue that runs straight up to the
main university quadrangle. It was all grain field then, part of the
great Hopkins estate, where now the college town welcomes the annually
incoming Freshmen, and offers them convenient lodging places of all
grades of comfort and quick trams and motor busses to the university.

Young Hoover had to get off at Menlo Park, the station for a few great
country houses of California railway and bonanza kings, which offered no
welcome for small boys with a few saved dollars in their inside pockets.
He had to find a casual hackman to carry him and his bag and trunk to
the university a couple of miles away. But even there he found no place
yet ready to house him. So someone advised him to go to Adelanta Villa,
a mile or more back from the university, in the hills, where a number
of the early arrivals among the men of the new faculty were living. And
there he did go, and found a warm and simple welcome and hospitality. He
was soon ensconced in the old mansion and doing odd jobs about the
establishment to help pay for his board and lodging.

Between jobs he was feverishly at work on the finishing touches for his
final entrance tests, and probably quite as feverishly worrying about
them. He felt pretty safe on everything but the requirements in English
composition. As a matter of fact, when he came to that fearful test he
ignominiously failed in it, and, indeed, did not finally get the
required credit in it until nearly ready to graduate! But he was passed
in enough of the entrance requirements to be given Freshman standing,
"conditioned in English," a phrase not unfamiliar to other college
students. He had, however, added something to his score by a Hooverian
_tour de force_.

Noting that a credit was offered in physiology, about which he knew
nothing technically, he reasoned that as everyone, of course, knew
already a little something about his insides and how they worked, one
ought to be able to find out a little more from some textbook, and that
the two littles might make enough for passing purposes. Thereupon with
that prompt and positive reaction to stimulus which has been
conspicuously characteristic of him all his life, he got a book, read it
hard all of the day and night before the examination--and passed in

The story of Herbert Hoover's college life reveals no startling features
to distinguish it from the college careers of other thousands of boys,
endowed with intelligence, energy, and ambition, but not with money, and
hence forced to earn their living as they went along. Nevertheless it
does reveal many of the main characteristics that we know so well today.
For he did things all through those four years in the same way that he
does them today, promptly, positively, and quietly. They were mostly
already done before it was generally recognized that he was doing them.

His two hundred dollars could not last long even in a college of no
tuition fees and an unusually simple student life. He had to earn his
way all the time, and he earned it by hard work, directed, however, by
good brains. Many a story, most interesting but, unfortunately, mostly
untrue, has been told of his various expedients to earn the money
necessary for his board and lodging, clothes, and books. Not a few of
these stress his expertness as waiter in student dining-rooms.
Undoubtedly he would have been an expert waiter if he had been a waiter
at all. But he was not. A famous San Francisco chef has often been
quoted in interesting detail as to the "hash-slinging" cleverness of the
future American food controller in the dining-room which this chef
managed--by the way, just _after_ Hoover left college--in the great
Stanford dormitory in those early days. But, though interesting, these
details are mythical. As are also the accounts of the care he took of
professorial gardens, although that would have been an excellent
substitute for the outdoor exercise and play which he found little time
for in college except in geological field excursions and camps. Nor was
he ever nurse to the professorial babies, which also has been often
placed to his credit by imaginative story-tellers.

For at the very beginning of his college life Herbert Hoover and another
distinguished son of Stanford, known to the early students as Rex Wilbur
and to the present ones as Prex Wilbur--for he is now the university's
president--put their heads together and decided that if they had any
brains at all in those heads they would make them count in this little
matter of earning their way through college. And both of them did.

In most of the things that Herbert Hoover did as a college boy to earn
his needed money he revealed an unusual faculty for "organizing" and
"administering" which is precisely a faculty that as a man he has
revealed to the world in highest degree. He organized, at some profit to
himself, the system of collecting and distributing the laundry of the
college boys which had been done casually and unsatisfactorily by
various San José and San Francisco establishments. He acted also as
impresario, at a modest commission, for various lecturers and
musicians, developing an arrangement for bringing visiting stars from
San Francisco to the near-by university.

More important in its permanent influence on student activities was his
work in reorganizing the system of conducting general student body
affairs, especially the financial side of these affairs. In his Senior
year he had been made treasurer of the student body and on taking office
found little treasure and much confusion. Each of the many student
activities had its own separate being, its own officers and own
funds--or debts--and a dangerous freedom from general student control.
Hoover worked out a system by which all control was vested in the
officers of the general student body, and all funds passed into and out
of a general treasury. The Hoover system of student affairs management
prevails, in its essential features, in the university today.

In later years, as trustee of the university, he was the initiating
figure in reorganizing the handling of all the institution's many
million dollars worth of properties, and so his organizing genius is
evidenced today at Stanford both in the management of student
activities and in the handling of the financial affairs of the whole

But the work that he did in his student days that paid him best, because
it brought him more than money, was that which he did partly for, and
partly at the recommendation of his "major" professor, Dr. John Casper
Branner, a great geologist and remarkable developer of geological

Dr. Branner has been one of Stanford's greatest assets from the day of
its opening in all his successive capacities as professor,
vice-president, and president, and he still wields a benign influence on
the institution as resident professor and president emeritus. It was the
particular good fortune of young Hoover to find that his early decision
to become a mining engineer, like the wonderful man who had visited him
in Newberg, led him, when he came to the university, into the
class-rooms and laboratories of this kind and discerning scholar. Dr.
Branner quickly discovered "good material," something that he was always
looking for, in this industrious, intelligent, and ambitious Quaker
boy; and Herbert Hoover found in his major professor not only a teacher
but a friend, who, in both relations, has had a great influence, all for
the best, in his life. It is an interesting illumination of the
democracy of American education to note that while the professor became
the university's president the student became one of its trustees.

The first money-earning work that student Hoover did for Dr. Branner,
except for various little jobs about the laboratory or office, was a
summer's work on a large topographic model of Arkansas which that state
was having prepared by Dr. Branner after a new method devised by him.
Part of this summer was spent in the field in Arkansas and the rest of
it wrestling with the model in the basement of the professor's house.

Two summers were spent in work with the U. S. Geological Survey in the
California Sierras around Lake Tahoe and the American River under
Waldemar Lindgren, one of the greatest of American scientific mining
engineers. This work was on the relations of the famous Sierra placer
gold deposits to the original gold-bearing veins and lodes, and
resulted in tracing those comparatively recent placers back to the old
mountain slopes and valleys. It was a fascinating problem successfully
carried through. The young geologist's association with Lindgren, whose
standards of personal character and regard for the dignity and ethics of
his profession were of the highest, was a source of much valuable

All this summer activity was of value to young Hoover not only for the
help it afforded him in his struggle for existence, and for the outdoor
exercise it involved, but for the practical experience in geological
work which it gave him to mix in with his lecture room and laboratory
acquisitions and to test them by. He seemed to have no difficulty in
getting all of this kind of work he had time to do. In fact, some of the
other students used to speak a little enviously and suggestively about
"Hoover's luck" in this connection. Dr. Branner happened to overhear
some remarks of this kind from a group around a laboratory table one day
and promptly broke out on them in his forcible manner.

"What do you mean," he said, "by talking about Hoover's luck? He has not
had luck; he has had reward. If you would work half as hard and half as
intelligently as he does you would have half his luck. If I tell any one
of you to go and do a thing for me I have to come around in half an hour
to see if you have done it. But I can tell Hoover to do a thing, and
never think of it again. I know it will be done. And he doesn't ask me
how to do it, either. If I told him to start to Kamchatka tomorrow to
bring me back a walrus tooth, I'd never hear of it again until he came
back with the tooth. And then I'd ask him how he had done it."

Dr. Branner was as kind to his boys as he was stern when sternness was
needed. Hoover came down with typhoid in his Junior year, just at a time
when his finances could not afford such an expensive luxury. So Dr.
Branner sent him to a hospital and saw that he was cared for by the best
of physicians and nurses and told him to forget about paying for it all
until after he had graduated. And that probably meant that the good
professor had to go for some time without buying books, which was what
he usually did with his extra money.

Another unfortunate illness was announced to the busy student by an
outbreak of little red spots on his body which were declared by the
college physician to be the result of poison oak. But they were not;
they meant measles, and measles needs prompt attention. Unfortunately
young Hoover's neglected case affected his eyes to such an extent that
for several years afterward he had to wear glasses. And out of this grew
the familiar Stanford tradition that Herbert Hoover ruined his eyes
while in college by over-much night work on his studies!

As a matter of fact Hoover was no college grind. He studied hard enough
at what he liked or thought important for his fitting to be a mining
engineer, but he did not dodge getting a few credits from well-known
"snap" courses, and he got through other required, but, to his mind,
superfluous ones without doing much more work on them than necessary. He
had a disconcerting habit of starting in on a course and then if he
found it uninteresting or unpromising as a contributor to the special
education he was interested in, of simply dropping out of the class
without consultation or permission. But he did dig hard into what he
thought really counted; his record in the geology department was an
unusually high one.

But with all his work and study he found time for some other kinds of
activity. At least the two Irwin boys, Will and Wallace, who were
Stanford's most ingenious disturbers of the peace in pioneer days, claim
that Hoover, in his quiet effective way, made a few contributions of his
own to the troubles of the faculty. But such contributions from others
were generally credited--or rather debited--to the more notorious
offenders, so that they had to suffer not alone for their own brilliant
inspirations but for those of other less conspicuous collaborators.
Wallace, for what seemed to the faculty sufficient reasons, was, as he
has himself phrased it, "graduated by request," while Will had his
Senior year encored by the faculty, so that it took him five years,
instead of the more conventional four, to graduate. In fact, I remember
that even as this fifth year was drawing near its close, the faculty
committee of discipline, of which I was a reluctant member, seriously
considered letting Will go in the same way that Wallace had gone. But
some of us argued that if we should let Will graduate in the more usual
way we should be rid of him soon anyway and without risking the bare
possibilities of doing him an injustice. President Jordan always
maintained that Will had good stuff in him, and he used his ameliorating
influence with the faculty committee. So Will Irwin is today one of
Stanford's best-known alumni.

Herbert Hoover's haunting trouble all through his college course was
that unpassed entrance requirement in English composition. Indeed, he
did not pass in it until about a week before he graduated, although he
tried it regularly every semester all through his four years. How he
finally got his passing mark has been told me by Mrs. Hoover. She knows
because she was there through most of the long agony.

After failing regularly at each semester's trial principally, he thinks
(and Mrs. Hoover is inclined to agree), because he always had to take
it under a particularly meticulous instructor, his predicament began to
worry even his professors in the geology department. It looked as if
their star student might not be allowed to graduate. Finally a date was
set by the English department for a last trial before the end of his
Senior year.

A day or two before this date the professor of paleontology, J. P.
Smith, famed not only for his erudition but for his especial kindness to
all geology students--especially if they did well in paleontology--came
to the worrying Senior with a paper that Hoover had written sometime
before on a paleontological subject, and said to him: "Look here, you
will never pass that examination in the state you are in. Take this
paper; it's fine. Copy it in your best hand; remember that handwriting
goes a long way with professors of English; look up every word in the
dictionary to be sure you have got the right one; then put in all the
punctuation marks you ever saw, and bring it back to me." Hoover did it.

Then Professor Smith disappeared with the paper in his study, but soon
came out with it, abundantly blue-penciled. "Now take it and re-copy it
with all these indicated changes, and bring it back again." Again the
interested Senior obeyed his mentor. Then the professor left the
laboratory with the paper in his hand. Hoover awaited his return with
ever-increasing interest. Pretty soon he came back with a cheerful
smile, handed Hoover the paper, and said: "Well, you've passed; although
you probably don't deserve it."

Professor Smith, it seems, had carried the paper, not to the fatal
instructor, but to the head of the English department and had said to
him: "See here; your instructor is holding up the best man we have from
graduating. Now look at this paper of Hoover's. Is there anything the
matter with it? Doesn't it make good sense? Isn't it well written? Isn't
it well punctuated?"

The English head glanced over it impatiently--he was translating Dante,
his dearest recreation, at the moment--and then roared out: "Well, it
looks all right. I suppose Instructor X has to live up to the rules, but
if the boy can do this well for you it's good enough for us." And with
his Dante pencil he wrote a large "Passed" across the paper.

Someway all this does not sound like an account of life at the
conventional university. Nor does Professor J. P. Smith, who used to
interrupt his lecture to wake up a dozing student with a sharp but
kindly "Here, Jack, wake up, this is an important point and I will
surely ask about it in examination," seem to be of the conventional type
of professor. And most Freshmen coming to Yale or Harvard would hesitate
a little before taking the advice of some workman about the campus to
go, with bag and trunk, in search of board and lodging to a house full
of professors.

But as I said at the beginning, Stanford was different. It is precisely
because it was, that Hoover's particular college experiences and
acquisitions were what I have tried to suggest, and not what you might
think they would be from your knowledge of other universities. And while
Stanford has converged somewhat with years toward the more usual
university type--colleges get more alike as they get older--it has still
an atmosphere peculiarly its own. But it was in the first days that
this atmosphere was so very distinctive. Its president and faculty and
students, all living closely together in the middle of a great ranch of
seven thousand acres of grain fields, horse paddocks, and hills where
jack rabbits roamed and coyotes howled, were thrown together into one
great family, whose members depended almost entirely on one another for
social life. And each department was a special smaller family within the
great one. Life was simple and direct and democratic. Real things
counted first and most; there was little sophistication. Work was the
order of the day; recreations were wholesome.

The geology family was an especially close and happy one. Some of Dr.
Branner's former assistants and students had followed him out to
California. They were the older members of the family. Almost all of
them are now well-known geologists and mining engineers. So also are
many of his younger ones. The family went on long tramps and camps
together. The region about Stanford is singularly interesting from a
geologist's point of view; and in those days it was a _terra_ more or
less _incognita_. Everybody was discovering things. It was real live
geology. Lectures and recitations were illustrated, not by lantern
slides, but by views out of the window and revelations in the field.

And at the same time these young geologists learned real life; they had
come to know intimately real men and women, all fired with the
enthusiasm of a new venture, new opportunities, and a high ideal. With
all this, Herbert Hoover learned, in particular, one additional very
important thing. He learned that a certain unusual girl, beautiful,
intelligent, and unspoiled, a lover of outdoors, and, as proof of her
unusualness, a "major" student in geology, was the girl for him. Having
learned this he decided to marry her. And later, she decided that he had
decided right.

And so with all his experience at earning his living by organizing
anything needing organizing, and with his stores of geological lore
gained from lecture room and textbook and field work and close personal
association with his able and friendly professors, and, finally, with
the knowledge that he had already found exactly the right girl for him,
Herbert Hoover went out from Stanford, in 1895, with his Pioneer Class,
ready to open his oyster. But he had only himself to rely on in doing



Herbert Hoover began his mining career very simply and practically by
taking his place as a real workman in a real mine, with no favors shown,
following in this the emphatic advice given by Dr. Branner to every
student graduating from his department. He went up into the mining
region near Grass Valley in the Sierras where he had already studied
with Waldemar Lindgren, and became a regular miner, a boy-man with pick
and shovel working long hours underground or sometimes on the surface
about the plant. But always he had his eyes wide open and always he was
learning. He preferred the underground work because he wanted first to
know more about the actual occurrence of the ore in the earth than about
the mill processes of extracting the mineral from it.

Here he worked for several months, and gradually rose to the position of
night shift-boss or gang foreman. But he began to realize that he was
exhausting the learning opportunities of this particular place and kind
of work, and so one night deep down in the mine, when for sudden lack of
ore-cars or power or some other essential, work was held up for the last
half hour of his shift, he went off into a warm corner, curled himself
up in a nice clean wheelbarrow and slept away the last half hour of his
pick and shovel experience.

He had decided to get into association, some way, with the best mining
engineer on the Coast. There was no question about who this was at that
time. It was Louis Janin in San Francisco. So he appeared at Mr. Janin's
office as a candidate for a job, any job so that it was a job under
Louis Janin.

But the famous engineer, well disposed as he was toward giving
intelligent, earnest young men who wanted to become mining engineers, a
chance, had to explain that not only was there no vacant place in his
staff but that a long waiting list would have to be gone through before
Hoover's turn could come. He added, as a joke, that he needed an
additional typist in his office, but of course----. The candidate for a
job interrupted. "All right, I'll take it. I can't come for a few days,
but I'll come next Tuesday, say." Janin was a little breathless at the
rapidity with which things seemed to get settled by this boyish, very
boyish, young man, but as they were apparently really settled he could
only say, "All right."

Now the reason that the new typewriter boy could not begin until next
Tuesday--this was on a Friday--was that he had in the meantime to learn
to write on a typewriter! Trivial matter, of course, in connection with
becoming a mining engineer, but apparently necessary. So learning what
make of machine he would have to use in the office, he stopped, on his
way to his room, at a typewriter shop, rented a machine of proper make,
and by Tuesday had learned to use it--after a fashion.

That kind of boy could not remain for long a typist in the office of a
discerning man like Louis. Perhaps certain idiosyncrasies of spelling
and a certain originality of execution on the machine helped bring about
a change of duties. But chiefly it was because of a better reason. This
reason was made especially clear by an incident connected with an
important mining case in which Janin was serving as expert for the side
represented by Judge Curtis Lindley, famous mining lawyer of San
Francisco. The papers which indicated the line of argument which Judge
Lindley and Mr. Janin were intending to follow came to Hoover's desk to
be copied. As he wrote he read with interest. The mine was in the Grass
Valley region that he knew so well. He not only copied but he remembered
and thought. The result was that when the typewriter boy delivered the
papers to the mining engineer they were accompanied by the casual
statement that the great expert and the learned attorney were all wrong
in the line of procedure they were preparing to take! And he proceeded
to explain why, first to Mr. Janin's indignant surprise but next to his
great interest, because the explanation involved the elucidation of
certain geologic facts not yet published to the world, which the
typewriter boy had himself helped to discover during his work in the
Grass Valley region.

The outcome was that Janin and his new boy went around together to Judge
Lindley's office where after due deliberation the line of argument was
altered. The further result was that the boy parted from his typewriter,
first to begin acting as assistant to various older staff men on trips
to various parts of the Coast for mine examinations, then to make minor
examinations alone, and finally to handle bigger ones. The letters from
the young mining engineer to the girl of the geology department, still
at Stanford, came now in swift succession from Nevada, Wyoming, and
Idaho, and then very soon after from Arizona and New Mexico. Little
mines did not require much time for examination and reports signed
"Hoover" came into Janin's office with bewildering rapidity. Janin liked
these reports; they not only showed geological and mining knowledge, but
they showed a shrewd business sense. The reporter seemed never to lose
the perspective of cost and organization possibilities in relation to
the probable mineral richness of the prospects. And the reports said
everything they had to say in very few and very clear words.

Herbert Hoover was not only moving fast; he was learning fast, and he
was rising fast in Janin's estimation. He had a regular salary or
guarantee now with a certain percentage of all the fees collected by
Janin's office from the properties he examined. What he was earning now
I do not know, but we may be sure it was considerably more than the
forty-five dollars a month which he had begun with as typewriter boy, a
few months before.

The work was not entirely limited to the examination of prospects and
mines. In one case at least it included actual mine development and
management. Mr. Janin had in some way taken over, temporarily--for such
work was not much to his liking: he preferred to be an expert consultant
rather than a mine manager--a small mine of much value but much
complication near Carlisle, New Mexico. This he turned over to his
enterprising assistant to look after.

It was Hoover's first experience of the kind, and it was made a rather
hectic one by conditions not technically a regular part of mining. The
town, or "camp," was a wild one with drunken Mexicans having
shooting-bees every pay day and the local jail established at the bottom
of an abandoned shaft, not too deep, into which the prisoners were let
down by windlass and bucket. It was an operation fairly safe if the
sheriff and his assistants were not too exhilarated to manage the
windlass properly, or the malefactors, too drunk to hang on to the
bucket. Otherwise, more or less regrettable incidents happened. Also, it
led to a rather puzzling situation when the sheriff had to take care of
his first woman prisoner, a negro lady of generous dimensions and much

But the mine was well managed and Hoover acquired more merit with his
employer. And soon came the new chance which led to much bigger things.
It was now the spring of 1897, two years after Hoover's graduation, and
the time of the great West Australia mining boom. English companies were
sending out many engineers, old and young, to investigate and handle
mining properties in the new field, and were looking everywhere for
competent men. Janin was asked by one of these London firms to recommend
someone to them. He talked it over with Hoover, telling him that it
might be a great opportunity. It might, of course, not be; it would
depend on the prospect--and the man who handled it. Janin expressed his
entire confidence in the young man before him, and his belief that the
opportunity was greater than any the Pacific Coast then had to offer. He
would be more than glad to keep Hoover with him, but he wanted to be
fair to him and his future. The young man was all for giving hostages to
fortune, and so the recommendation, the offer, and the acceptance flew
by cable between San Francisco and London, and Hoover prepared to start
at once to England for instructions, as had been stipulated in the

Just before he started, however, Janin caused him some uneasiness by
saying, "Now look here, Hoover, I have cabled London swearing to your
full technical qualifications, and I am not afraid of your letting me
down on that. But these conservative Londoners have stipulated that you
should be thirty-five years old. I have wired that I was sorry to have
to tell them that you are not quite thirty-three. Don't forget that my
reputation depends on your looking thirty-three by the time you get to
London!" And Hoover had not yet reached his twenty-third birthday, and
looked at least two years younger even than that. He began growing a
beard on his way across the continent.

The London firm had stipulated, too, that their new man should be
unmarried. Hoover was still that, although he had begun to get impatient
about what seemed to him an unnecessary delay in carrying out his
decision already made in college. As a matter of fact, there was still
no definite engagement between him and the girl of the geology
department, but there was an informal understanding that some day there
might be a formal one. So Hoover appeared before the head of the great London house--perhaps
the greatest mining firm in the world at that time--without encumbering
wife and with the highest of recommendations, but with a singularly
youthful appearance for an experienced mining engineer of thirty-five.
In fact, the great man after staring hard at his new acquisition burst
out with English directness, "How remarkable you Americans are. You have
not yet learned to grow old, either individually or as a nation. Now
you, for example, do not look a day over twenty-five. How the devil do
you do it?"

The days were days of wonder for the homegrown young Quaker engineer.
Across America, across the ocean, then the stupendous metropolis of the
world and the great business men of the "city," with week-ends under the
wing of the big mining financier at beautiful English country houses
with people whose names spelled history. And then the P. and O. boat to
Marseilles, Naples, Port Said, Aden, and Colombo, and finally to be put
ashore in a basket on a rope cable over a very rough sea at Albany in
West Australia. There he was consigned, with the dozen other first-class
passengers, mining adventurers like himself, to quarantine in a tent
hospital on a sand spit out in the harbor with the thermometer never
registering below three figures, even at night.

And then he came to the Australian mine fields themselves in a desert
where the temperature can keep above one hundred degrees day and night
for three weeks together. Also there is wind, scorching wind carrying
scorching dust. And surface water discoverable only every fifty or sixty
miles. Of course one expects a desert to be hot and dry--that's why it
is a desert--but the West Australian desert rather overemphasizes the
necessities of the case. It is a deadly monotonous country although not
wholly bare; there is much low brush just high enough to hide you from
others only half a mile away; a place easy to get lost in, and hard to
get found in when once lost.

All of this desert was being prospected by thousands of men of a dozen
nationalities, all seeking and suffering, for gold. The railroad had got
in only as far as Coolgardie, but the prospectors were far beyond the
rail head. They carried their water bags with enough in them to keep
themselves and their horses alive between water holes. In the real "back
blocks" they could not carry enough for horses, so they used camels
with jangling bells and gaudy trappings of gay greens, orange, scarlet,
and vivid blues, making strange contrasts with the blue-gray bush. Along
the few main roads moved dusty stages, light, low, almost spring-less
three-seated vehicles, with thin sun-tops overhead and boxes and bags in
front, behind and underneath, and all swarmed about by pestilential
flies, millions of flies, sprung from nowhere to harass the thirsty,
weary travelers.

But only the agents and engineers rode in the stages; it cost too much
for the little prospectors, the "dry-washers," who carried their few
provisions and scanty outfit in packs on their backs, and tramped the
trails, stopping here and there to toss the dry soil into the air and
watch for the gold flakes to fall into the pan while the lighter earth
blew off in the wind.

In the camp were gathered a motley crew, mostly hard, reckless men, who
drank and bet their gold dust away as fast as they found it. But
everywhere they were finding gold, and all the time came new reports and
rumors of more farther on. The headquarters of Hoover's employers were
in Coolgardie when he arrived, but were soon moved on to Kalgoorlie,
following the railroad. The offices were in one of the three or four
stone, two-story buildings, which lifted themselves proudly above the
ruck of sweltering little toy-like houses of corrugated iron. Forty
thousand people were supposed to be living in this "camp" at one time,
buying water at two shillings six pence the gallon, which was
cheap--they were paying seven shillings in some other camps. At first it
was all brought by rail from the coastal plains four hundred miles away,
but when the mines began to get down they struck water at a few hundred
feet. But it was salt, and expensive condensing plants had to be set up,
which kept the price still high. Coolgardie once boasted of having the
"biggest condensing plant in the world," with rows on rows of enormous
cylindrical corrugated iron tanks lying on their sides, over acres of
ground, with all the pumps and boilers and steam pipes to keep these
tanks supplied. Water was cheap there, only twelve or fifteen shillings
the hundred gallons.

But out in the prospects and on the trails there was no such aqueous
luxury. There was no water for washing and little to drink. And that
little was mostly drunk as a terrible black tea, like lye, heated and
re-heated, with now a little more water added, now another handful of
leaves. I have a well-vouched-for story of an Australian girl who went
into this gold-paradise with her husband who was manager, at a large
salary, of one of the first mines. She used to take a cupful of water
and carefully wash the baby and afterward the little girl, and then
herself. After that it was saved for the husband to rinse the worst off
when he came home from the mine. But he could have an additional half
cup to finish with because he was so dirty. And they tried not to use
soap with it so that finally, after letting it settle, it could be added
to the horses' drinking water. It was not that the family could not
afford to pay for water, but there was simply no water to buy.

Into this cheerful hell came the young Quaker engineer, from the heaven
of California and the "city" offices of London where sat the big men
who were intent on having their share of the big things in West
Australia. He was to do his best for his particular big men, but how he
was to do it was mostly for him to find out. His firm had already
acquired interests in several promising properties. He was to help
develop these mines and perhaps to find new ones to be taken on. A
junior member of his firm was already on the ground when Hoover arrived,
but he remained only a few months. It was a long way to London and
Hoover could get few instructions. It was up to him. It was a hard life
with many opportunities to go wrong in any of many ways. But he kept his
brain clear, his body and soul clean, and just everlastingly worked.

There were all kinds of work to do, and all sorts of new things to learn
about mines and mining. The ore occurred in the rock in a manner
different from that in any other known gold field, so finding it and
getting it out, and then getting the mineral out of the strange new kind
of ore, required resourcefulness, "original research," as the scientists
say, and constructive imagination. And the technical problems of
discovering and manipulation once solved, there was still needed
organization, system, and administration to make the mine a paying one.

But all these things were exactly the young engineer's specialties. He
was from the beginning, as we already know, and conspicuously is today,
resourceful, original, capable of prompt decision, an organizer and
administrator. Although there were many trained engineers in West
Australia, there was no one to equal him in these specialties of his.
And very soon his firm's mines, which had so far had little benefit of
executive ability coupled with technical knowledge and originality,
began to pay and their stocks went up on the London market--which was
the criterion of success in the eyes of the men in the "city." About the
stock ratings Hoover knew little and perhaps cared less. He did care,
however, about making good mines out of bad ones. And that was exactly
what he was doing.

And very soon he did the other successful thing that the big men in
London hoped for and that he kept always working for. He uncovered the
big new mine. He had turned up several promising leads but their
development proved disappointing. But the "Sons of Gwalia" realized his
hopes from the beginning. It was out from Kalgoorlie four or five days
hard riding, near a smaller camp called Leonora. He went out and took
personal charge of the opening up and equipping of the whole mine and
plant, living in a little "tin" house and gathering about him a staff of
the best of the firm's assistants collected from all over the Colony. It
was hot, although the climbing mercury usually stopped at about one
hundred degrees. But that only further inflamed the enthusiasm of the
group. They had the real thing, and they had a real leader--a very
boyish looking boy of scant twenty-five. They forgot to watch the
thermometer. They were more interested in water and transportation and
labor and all the other things that are as necessary to a good mine as
the gold in the ore-veins.

Occasionally, however, they had some relaxation. For one thing, they
thought sometimes about food. One of the men had his wife with him, and
she imported chickens and later even ducks which never, however, set
web-foot in water. And they had a garden because they decided they were
so in need of green vegetables. They turned a little priceless water
from the condenser into the garden; but not enough for the vegetables
and too much for the accountant's books. After estimating that the one
undersized cabbage they raised cost them £65 worth of water, he
discouraged further gardening.

They had also a pet emu. So did the wife of the manager of another mine
near-by. They used to arrange to have the emus meet occasionally and
there was always a glorious fight. Once when they had got the lady's emu
over for a visit, one of the Australian boys thought it would look
amusing in trousers. So he took off his overalls and after immense
exertion got them on the legs of the creature, with the straps securely
fastened over its neck and back. But the great bird became so enraged
that the men could not safely get near enough to it to get off its
clothing, and even its mistress feared ever to approach it again. There
was also a pet goat named Sydney that ate several boxes of matches and
had to have its internal fires extinguished by the only available
liquid, which was the tinned butter that had yielded to the one hundred
and ten degrees. Sydney lived through the experience but had always
after that a delicate interior and was petted more than ever in
consequence. And there was a tennis court occasionally wetted down with
the beer that always went stale while they were saving it for state
occasions. It was all a happy, glorious time--because they had
discovered and were making one of the great mines of West Australia.

Hoover was now twenty-four, and a man of large reputation in mining
circles in Australia and London, with a salary to correspond. He had
spent about twenty-four months in West Australia, although they ran over
all of one and parts of two other years, so that he is generally
credited with having remained there three years. And he could have gone
on among the Australian mines for as many years as he liked, for the big
men in London now fully realized that they had in this young American
engineer the unusual man, and that his only limit in Australia would be
the limit of the possible. But the new opportunity and the new
experience were calling.

Just about this time a young Chinaman of royal family in Peking had made
a successful _coup d'état_ and had formed a cabinet for the first time
in the history of China, and this cabinet decided, naturally also for
the first time in the history of China, to effect a coördinated control
of all the mines of the Empire. There was, therefore, established a
Department of Mines, with a wily old Chinaman, named Chang Yen Mow, at
its head. He understood that Chinamen knew little about mining, and
hence decided to find a foreigner to help him manage the mines of the
Empire. He also thought that a foreigner, thus attached as an official
to his department, could be of particular help to him in dealing with
other foreigners inclined to exploit Chinese mines more for their own
benefit than China's. This official was to be in a position much like
that of an undersecretary in a cabinet department, and was to be given
the title, in the Chinese equivalent, of "Director-General of Mines."
He was to have a salary appropriate to such a large title. With all this
decided, it only remained to find the proper foreigner, who should be a
man who knew much about mines and was honest. There was, as we know,
just such a man in Western Australia.



When Chang Yen Mow, the new head of the new Department of Mines of the
new Chinese Government, began to look about for the foreigner who should
know much about mines and be honest, and who would therefore be a fit
man to occupy the new post of Director-General of Mines, he bethought
himself of an English group of mining men with whom he had once had some
business relations. The principal expert advisor of this group had been
the man who was now the head of the great London mining firm for which
Herbert Hoover was working, and working very successfully, in West
Australia. Chang applied to this group for a recommendation of a
suitable man for him. And this group in turn applied to the head of
Hoover's firm. Or, perhaps, Chang applied directly to the great London
mining man. The exact procedure, which is not very important, anyway, by
which the head of Hoover's firm came to have the opportunity of making
the recommendation, is a little obscure today. The important points in
the whole matter, however, which are not at all uncertain, are that he
did have it, and that he recommended Herbert Hoover, and that Chang Yen
Mow, acting on the recommendation, offered the place, through him, to
the youthful Quaker engineer, and, finally, that the competent and
confident boy of twenty-four, always ready for the newer, bigger thing,
promptly accepted it.

In two weeks after the cable offer and answer, a feverish fortnight
devoted to a rapid clearing up of things in Australia, Hoover was on his
way to London, to report personally to his employers about their own
affairs as well as to get some information about the new undertaking. He
wanted to find out before he got to China, if he could, something of
what would be expected of a Director-General of Mines of the Chinese
Empire. Perhaps he had in mind the possible necessity of "getting up" a
little special knowledge about Chinese mines and mining ways before he
tackled his new job, just as he had got up enough physiology in
thirty-six hours to help get him into Stanford University, and enough
typewriting in a week-end to fit him for entrance into Louis Janin's
office in San Francisco.

However, after two weeks in the metropolis, eight or nine days on the
Atlantic, two or three in New York, and five on the transcontinental
trains, he found himself again in California and ready to make from
there his second start to the far-away lands from which his loudest
calls seemed to come--ready, that is, except for one thing. He was now,
let us remember, at this beginning of the year 1899, not yet twenty-five
years old, not that by half a year, indeed, and a half year could mean,
as we have already seen, a great deal in his life. And he was a boy-man
with a record already behind him of achievement and a position already
in his hands of much responsibility and large salary. So he declared
that the time had now come for the carrying out of the decision he had
made in his college days of four years before. It was the little
matter, you will promptly guess, and guess correctly, of marrying the
girl of the geology department. He arrived in San Francisco the first of
February, 1899. He spent the next few days in Monterey, "the old Pacific
capital" of Stevenson's charming sketch, but of chief interest to Hoover
as the place where Lou Henry--that was her name--lived. And here they
were married at noon of Friday, February 10. At two o'clock they left
for San Francisco, and at noon the next day sailed for the empire of

Into the sleepy, half Mexican, historic town on the curving sands of the
shores of the blue Bay of Monterey this swift, breathlessly swift, boy
engineer had come from distant Australia, by way of Marseilles and
London, had clutched up the beautiful daughter of the respected town
banker, and was now carrying her off to distant China, where she was to
live in all the state becoming the wife of the Director-General of Mines
of the Celestial Empire. It was a bit too much for the old Pacific
capital, which did not know--for it was not told--that the sudden
appearance of the meteor bridegroom had been preceded by many
astronomical warnings in the way of electric messages that came to the
prospective bride from Australia and London and New York. Anyway, it
wasn't quite fair to the town, which tries to maintain old Mexican
traditions, that go back to Spain, of a full assortment of festivities
incident to any proper marrying. But Monterey has long been reconciled
to this missed opportunity, and now reveals a just pride as the home
town of the woman who has played such an active rôle in the career of
her distinguished husband.

The hurrying couple, at least, had time for breath-taking--and
honeymoon--when once on board ship. For it is a month's voyaging from
San Francisco to China--or, at least, was then. They had for seat-mates
at table Frederick Palmer, the war correspondent, and wife, which was
the beginning of a friendship that still endures. And there were for
other interesting companions a secretary of our legation at Peking and
his wife, and a missionary pair who may or may not have survived the
Boxer massacres.

The work in China was at first rather simple. Mines, of course, there
were and had been for uncounted centuries. But what was needed by the
new Department was some sort of survey of the mineral resources and
mining possibilities of the Empire, and a tentative framing of a code of
mining laws, so that the new development of the mines of the country
which Chang hoped to initiate could be carried on to best advantage, and
in such a way that private enterprise could participate in it. For
centuries the mines had been Crown property and the ruler had simply let
them out directly, or through the viceroys, for either a stipulated
annual rental or for as much "squeeze" as could be wrung from the
lessees in any of several various ways. And there had to be some rental
or "squeeze" for each of the many officials that could get within arm's
length of the mining business. The tenure of the use of the mines by the
lessees was usually simply the period of the continued satisfaction of
the lessor.

All this had not made for any extensive new opening up of the country's
mineral resources, or for the scientific development of the mines
already long known. One could not afford to put much capital into
prospecting or into modernizing the mining methods when each improvement
simply meant either more rent or "squeeze," or the giving up of the
mine. So the ores were mined and the metals extracted from them by the
miners according to the methods of their ancestors as far back as
history or tradition went, and it was all done under a set of mining
laws as primitive as the mining methods themselves. There were enormous
possibilities of improvement. It would have been hard for any mining
engineer to do anything at all to the situation without improving it.
For Hoover, with his technical education in metallurgical processes, his
experience in handling various and difficult mining situations, and his
genius for organizing and systematizing, the opportunity was simply
unique. He plunged into the work of examining and planning and codifying
with the zest of a naturalist in an unexplored jungle. In the day time
he made his examination; at nights he studied the mining laws of all
time and all the world.

He built up a staff as rapidly as it could be put together and
correlated with the tasks before it. He had sent in advance for two or
three men he had worked with in America and for some of his most able
and dependable associates in West Australia, including Agnew, a mill
expert, and Newbery, a metallurgist, son of a famous geologist, both of
them devoted to "the Chief." That was Hoover's _sobriquet_ among his
early mining associates; just as it was later among the members of his
successive great war-time organizations. He has just naturally--not
artificially--always been "the Chief" among his co-workers and

His Caucasian staff of perhaps a dozen was greatly overshadowed in
number by his Chinese staff, composed chiefly of semitechnical
assistants, draftsmen, surveyors' assistants, interpreters, etc. A few
of the Chinese helpers had had foreign training; there was one from
Yale, for example, and another from Rose Polytechnic; the latter so
devoted to American baseball that he was greatly disappointed in the new
Director of Mines when he found he was not a baseball player. But he
thought better of him when he learned that he had at least managed his
college team. The staff had its headquarters in Tientsin, where were
also the principal laboratories for the mineralogists, assayers, and
chemists. Some of the men gave their time to the technical work, and
others were engaged in collecting and correlating everything that had
been published in the foreign languages about the geology and mines' of
China, while Chinese scholars hunted down and translated into English
all that had been printed in Chinese literature. But the Director and
most of his immediate experienced assistants were chiefly occupied with
the exploring expeditions into the interior and the examination of the
old mines and new prospects. Especially did some immediate attention
have to be given to the mines already being actually worked, for the
Minister let it be known that he expected the new Director to pay the
way of the Department as soon as possible from the increased proceeds of
the mines which were to arise from the magic touch of the foreign

These expeditions were elaborate affairs, contrasting strangely with
Hoover's earlier experiences in America and Australia. The Chinese
major-domo in charge insisted that the make-up and appearance of the
outfit should reflect the high estate of the Director of Mines, so that
every movement involved the organization of a veritable caravan of
ponies, mules, carts, men on foot, and sedan chairs carried by coolies.
These chairs were for the Director and his wife, who, however, would not
use them, preferring saddle horses. But the proud manager of the
expedition insisted that they be carried along, empty, to show the
admiring populace that even if the strange foreign potentates amazingly
preferred to ride in a rather common way on horseback they could at
least afford to have sedan chairs. Imagine a prospecting outfit in the
California Sierra or the West Australian bush with sedan chairs! And
there were cooks and valets and cot beds and folding chairs and mosquito
bed curtains and charcoal stoves and an array of pans and pots like
Oscar's in the Waldorf kitchens, and often a cavalry guard of
twenty-five or fifty men, superfluous but insistent and always hungry.
Whether the expedition found any mines or not it was at least an
impressive object lesson to the Celestial myriads that the new Imperial
Department of Mines knew how to hunt for them in proper style. When Mrs.
Hoover once remonstrated with one of the interpreters of the cavalcade
about such an unnecessary outfit, the answer was: "Mr. Hoover is such
expensive man to my country we cannot afford to let him die for want of
small things."

A similar state had to be lived up to in the Director's home in
Tientsin. The house was a large, four-square, wide-veranded affair, in
which a dozen to fifteen servants, carefully distinguished as "No. 1
Boy," "No. 2 Boy" and so on down the line, waited, according to their
own immemorial traditions, on the Director and his wife. These servants
had curious ways, and a curious language in the odd pidgin English that
enabled the door boy to announce that "the number one topside foreign
devil joss man have makee come," when the English Bishop called, and the
table boy to announce a dish of duckling as "one piecee duck pups," or
of chicken as "one piecee looster." The social scale among the few
foreign residents was very precisely defined, and the social life of the
foreign colony highly conventionalized, so that the unassuming,
practical-minded young engineer of the high title and social position
who was terribly bored--as he is today--by social rigmarole, and who was
thought rather queer by the conventional-minded small diplomats and
miscellaneous foreign residents because, as one of them put it, "he
always seems to be _thinking_," was glad to be out of all this as much
as possible and on the road, even if it had to be with the ludicrous
caravan of state. Sometimes even all the attempted comfort and
superfluous luxury of the caravan did not prevent the expedition from
having serious hardships and running into real danger. An expedition
across the great Gobi desert that lasted for thirty-nine days was
successfully accomplished only after hard battling with heat, hunger and
thirst, and even with hostile natives.

Some of the results expected from this imported miner were rather
startling. For instance, age-long rumor had it that the Emperor's
hunting park at Jehol overlay immensely valuable gold deposits. The
Minister intimated to the Director that he would like to know the real
facts about this as soon as possible. As the park lay in a
little-explored region of southern Manchuria and was a place of much
historical as well as geological interest, the Director decided to make
a personal examination of it. After the expedition had been out several
days, he was told that on the next they would come in sight of the Great
Royal Park. Accordingly on the next day the guide of the caravan took
him, with one or two of the Caucasian members of his staff and an
interpreter, off from the road the grand retinue was following, and by
winding paths up to a hill top which commanded a superb prospect.

"There," said the interpreter, with a wave of his hand toward the
stretching prospect of beautiful valleys, low broad hills and mountain
side, "there is the Hunting Park of Jehol." Then, turning complacently
to the Director of Mines, he asked, simply: "Is there gold beneath it?"
And interpreter and guide, and later, even more important officials,
were stupefied to learn that the wonderful imported man who knew all
about gold could not say offhand, from his vantage point, miles away,
whether there was gold under the Park or not. And, more disturbing
still, that he probably could not say anything about it at all without
actually tramping over the sacred soil and perhaps sacrilegiously
digging into it.

Such occasionally necessary confessions of incompetence made a little
trouble, but only a little. However much the under men lacked knowledge
about minerals and mines and how to find out about them, the head of the
Department, Chang, knew enough to know that if his young Director
confessed inability to meet certain demands it was because there was
more wrong with the demands than with the engineer. But the real fly in
the ointment soon began to make itself visible. It was not a
disillusionment on the part of the Chinese officials in connection with
their foreign expert, but a disillusionment on his part in regard to his
real position and opportunities for accomplishing something for China.
He began more and more clearly to realize that he could investigate and
advise as much as he liked but that he could really do, in his
understanding of doing, comparatively little. The modern West cannot
make over the immemorial East in a day or even a year.

Gradually the young engineer came to realize that while his examinations
and reports were all very welcome, and whatever he could suggest for
improvement in technical detail, resulting in immediate greater output
of the mines already working, was gladly accepted, there was no
willingness to accept advice leading to changes in administrative and
general organization matters. And to the modern engineer efficiency in
these matters is as much a part of successful mining as skilled digging
and good metallurgy. Suggestions looking toward getting more work out of
the men, or cutting down the payrolls by removing the thirty per cent of
the names on them that seemed to have no bodily attachments, were
frowned on. These things interfered with "squeeze," and "squeeze" was a
traditional part of Chinese mining. Foreign advisors and helpers were
all very well when they found gold, but not so well when they found
graft. A crisis was visible in the offing. But this particular crisis
did not arrive, for another larger and more serious one came more
swiftly on and arrived almost unheralded. It was the Boxer Uprising.

The outbreak found Hoover at Tientsin having but recently returned from
Pekin with Mrs. Hoover, and both just recovering from severe attacks of
influenza. If opportunity for thorough organizing of the mines of China
had failed him he now had full scope for organizing a military defense
of his home and wife and his many employees, foreign and native, for
Tientsin, for a month, was the scene of hot fighting. It was a besieged
household in a beleaguered city. Hoover could have gotten out with his
wife and few Caucasian assistants at the beginning of the trouble, but
he would not desert his few hundred Chinese helpers and their
families--and his wife would not desert him. So they staid on together
through all the rifle and shell fire and conflagrations of the Tientsin
siege, building and defending barricades of rice and sugar sacks,
organizing food and water supplies, and cheerfully "carrying on" in the
face of certain death, and worse, if the outnumbering fanatic Boxers
happened to win.

But there were occasional lighter incidents amid the many grave ones of
the fighting weeks. Mrs. Hoover tells one, her favorite story of those
days, in something like the following words. "We had a cow, famous and
influential in the community, which cow was the mother of a promising
calf. One day the cow was stolen and Mr. Hoover set out to find her.
With three or four friends and half a dozen attendant Chinese boys he
took out the tiny calf one night and by the light of a lantern led the
little orphan, bleating for its mother, about the streets of the town.
Finally, as they passed in front of the barracks of the German
contingent of the international defending army, there came, from within,
an answering moo, and Mr. Hoover, addressing the sentry, demanded his
cow. The sentry made no move to comply, but, summoning all his
_Wörterbuch_ English, countered with the inquiry: 'Is that the calf of
the cow inside?' Upon receiving an affirmative reply to his Ollendorff
question, he calmly declared, 'Also, then, calf outside must join itself
to cow inside.' And thereupon by aid of a suggestive manipulation of his
bayonet, he confiscated the calf, and sent Mr. Hoover home

As one of the precursors of the Boxer affair Chang Yen Mow got into the
bad graces of the government, gave up his position and was forced to
flee from Pekin and take refuge in Tientsin. Even here he was dragged
out of his palace and stood up before a firing squad, and escaped with
his life only through vigorous interference by his Director of Mines.
Because he thought that he might save from probable confiscation a
valuable coal mining property at Tongshan about eighty miles from
Tientsin, he desired to transfer this property outright to Hoover's name
for the protection of the foreign title. Hoover refused this, but did
undertake to go to Europe on a contract with Chang to enlist the aid of
the Belgian and British bondholders of the Company to protect the
property. These men rescued and reorganized the Company, dispatched
their own financial agents to China, and appointed Hoover chief engineer
to superintend the real development of the great property.

The wily old Celestial finding, after all, that China was not to be
partitioned by the powers that had defended it against the Boxers, and
that private property was not to be confiscated, now proposed to break
his contract so eagerly made. And there seemed to be no hope that the
curious course of Chinese law would ever compel him to recognize his
previous agreements. But there was something in the persistent,
indomitable pressure of the quiet but firm young Belgian agent, named de
Wouters, who had come back with Hoover, and of the young American, which
did finally compel the old Chinaman, after much trouble and delay, to
live up to his contract.

Years later the situation, with kaleidoscopic picturesqueness, took on
another hue, and Hoover found himself defending Chang's interests from
the overzealous attempts of some of the foreign owners to get more out
of the mines than was their fair share. In making the original
contracts it had been agreed to have a Chinese board with a Chinese
chairman, as well as a foreign board. This led to much difficulty and
some of the Europeans declared that the young American had been much at
fault in consenting to an arrangement which left so much share in the
control to the Chinese, and they repudiated this arrangement. Hoover and
de Wouters had a long hard struggle in getting justice for old Chang,
but just as their persistence had earlier held Chang up to his
agreements for the sake of the European owners of the undertaking, so
now, directed in the opposite direction, it succeeded in getting justice
for Chang and his Chinese group.

The affair brought him into business relations with another Belgian
named Emile Francqui, of keen mind and great personal force, who, with
de Wouters, were, strangely enough, later to be chief and first
assistant executives, respectively, of the Great Belgian Comité National
during the long hard days of the German Occupation. It was with these
men among all the Belgians that Hoover was to have most to do in
connection with his work as initiator and director of the Commission for
Relief in Belgium.

But we are now, in the story of Herbert Hoover, only in the year 1900,
and the Belgian Relief did not begin until 1914. And Hoover was still to
have many experiences as engineer and man of affairs, before he was to
meet his Belgian acquaintances again under the dramatic conditions
produced by the World War.

He had now his opportunity really to do something in China in line with
his own ideas of doing things in connection with mines, and not with
those of Chinese mining tradition. As consulting engineer, and later
general manager of the "Chinese Engineering and Mining Company" he
attacked the job of making Chang's great Tongshan coal properties a
going concern. This job involved building railways, handling a fleet of
ocean-going steamers, developing large cement works, and superintending
altogether the work of about 20,000 employees. A special one among the
undertakings of the twelve months or more given to this enterprise was
the building of Ching Wang Tow harbor to give his coal a proper sea
outlet. Altogether it was a "mining" job of all the variety and hugeness
of extent that the twenty-seven-year-old miner and organizer found most
to his liking. And despite obstacles and complications due both to his
Chinese and Caucasian company associates he did it successfully, enjoyed
it immensely, and got from it much education and experience. But he was
ready after about a year of it to turn his attention to the rest of the



In 1902, now twenty-eight years old, Herbert Hoover returned to London
as a junior partner in the great English firm with which he had been
earlier associated as its star field man in West Australia. But, though
with an actual headquarters office in London, he was mostly anywhere
else in the world but there. He was still the firm's chief engineer and
principal field expert and upon him fell much of the responsibility of
the firm's actual mining operations in the field as distinguished from
its financial operations in the "city." He probably spent little more
than a tenth of his time in London, and this was also true in his later
career when he had given up his connection with the firm and was wholly
"on his own" as independent consulting engineer and mine-organizer. And
this explains what has often puzzled many of the people who came to know
him and his household in London. He and it were so little "English."
His home in London seemed always to be a bit of transplanted America,
and, in particular, a bit of transplanted California. As a matter of
fact, in all his years of London connections there was hardly one that
did not see him and his family in America including an inevitable stay
in California. He maintained offices in New York and San Francisco and
had no slightest temptation, much less desire, ever to become an

But this is getting ahead of the story. There is one outstanding
happening in his London experience that insistently demands telling. It
is the happening that meant for him the greatest setback in his
otherwise almost monotonously successful career. And yet, although this
happening meant temporary financial ruin for him, it was, in its way,
only another success, a success of revealing significance to those who
would like to know the real man that Herbert Hoover is.

After one of his returns to London, and in the absence of the head of
the firm in China, he discovered a defalcation of staggering
proportions. A man connected with the firm had lost in speculation over
a million dollars obtained from friends and clients of the firm, by the
issuance and sale of false stock. Technically the operations of the
defaulter were of such a character that the firm could not be held
legally liable. But the junior partner swept the technicalities aside
with a single gesture. He announced that they would make good all of the
obligations incurred by the defaulter. This meant the immediate loss of
his own personal fortune, and it meant a serious difference of opinion
with the absent head of the firm, whose frantic cables came, however,
too late to overrule the decision of the junior partner.

There ensued a long bitter struggle, most of it falling on the junior
partner with the Quaker conscience, to make good the losses without
actually putting the firm out of business. For going on with the
business was essential to the making good. It was a gruelling four
years' struggle, but with success at the end of it. And then the
American engineer, now grown forever out of youth to the man who had
experienced the down as well as the up in life, gave up his connection
with the firm and launched on that career of independent and
self-responsible activity which has been his ever since. This was in
1908. Hoover was now thirty-four years old and probably the leading
consulting mining engineer in the world.

His work soon took him back to Australia, the land of his first notable
success, but this time into South Australia instead of West Australia.
Here he took personal charge of a large constructive undertaking in
connection with the rehabilitation of the famous Broken Hill Mines.
These mines were in the inhospitable wastes of the Great Stony Desert,
four or five hundred miles north of Adelaide, the port city. The living
and working conditions in the desert were a little worse than awful, but
by his technical and organizing ability he brought to life the two or
three abandoned mines which constituted the Broken Hills properties,
and, adding to them some adjoining lower grade mines, converted the
whole group from a state of great but unrealized possibilities into one
of highly profitable actualities. An important factor in this
achievement was his origination and successful development of a process
for extracting the zinc from ores that had already been treated for the
other metals and then cast aside as worthless residues. There were
fourteen million tons of these residues on the Broken Hills dumps and
from them he derived large returns for the company that he had organized
to purchase the property.

He also introduced new metallurgical processes for the profitable
handling of the low-grade sulphide ores that constituted most of the
mineral body of the mines. Indeed, this work in South Australia did much
to help prove to him what has long been one of his cardinal beliefs,
namely, that the safe backbone of mining lies in the handling of large
bodies of low-grade ores. When such great ore-bodies are given the
benefit of proper metallurgical processes and large organizing and
intelligent building up of exterior plants, mining leaves the realms of
speculation and becomes a certain and stable business operation.

All this successful work in South Australia occupied but seven months.
Back in London again he gathered about him a remarkable staff of skilled
young mining engineers, mostly Americans. There were thirty-five or
forty of them, indeed, not on salary or fixed appointment, but men eager
to attach themselves to him for the sake of working with him or for him
in connection with the ever-increasing number of his large enterprises
in the way of reorganization and rehabilitation of mines scattered all
over the world. He became the managing director or chief consulting
engineer of a score of mining companies, and the simple association of
his name with a mining enterprise gave investors and other engineers a
perfect confidence in its success and its honest handling.

Two of his largest undertakings were in Russia, one at Kyshtim, in the
Urals, the other at Irtish on the Siberian plains near Manchuria. The
Kyshtim property was a great but run-down historic establishment, on an
estate of an area almost equal to that of all Belgium. One hundred and
seventy thousand people lived on the estate, all dependent on the
mining establishment for their support. The ores were of iron and
copper, but the mines were so far from anywhere that not only did these
ores have to be smelted at the mine mouths, but factories had to be
erected to manufacture the metal into products capable of compact
transportation. When Hoover took over the bankrupt properties he found
himself not only with mining and manufacturing problems to solve, but
with what was practically a relief problem to face. For the underpaid
workmen and their unfortunate families were in a state of great misery.
He succeeded not only in modernizing and rehabilitating the material
part of the great establishment, but at the same time in rescuing and
revivifying a suffering laboring population of helpless Russians.

The Irtish properties were near the Manchurian border, a thousand miles
up the Irtish River from Omsk, a mere remote bleak spot on the wild,
bare Siberian steppes. But at this spot lay extensive deposits of zinc,
iron, lead, copper and coal, all together. He had first of all to build
350 miles of railroad to make the spot at all accessible. And the actual
"mining" operations included everything from digging out and smelting
the ores to manufacturing all sorts of things from metal door-knobs to
steel rails and even steamboats to ply on the Irtish River. He put a
large sum of English, Canadian and American money--including much of his
own--into the work of building up a great establishment which was just
on a paying basis when the war broke out. It is all now in the hands of
the Bolsheviki, with a most dubious outlook for the recovery of any of
the money put into it.

Other large operations under his direction were in Colorado, Mexico,
Korea, the Malay Straits Settlement, South Africa, and India (Burma).
The Burma undertaking has been, in its outcome at least, and, indeed, in
many other respects, Hoover's greatest victory in mining engineering and
organization. It is today the greatest silver-lead mine in the world,
although it started from as near to nothing as a mine could be and yet
be called a mine. It took him and his associates five years to
transform some deserted works in the heart of a jungle into the foremost
producer of its kind in all the world. This mine is far away in the
north of Burma, almost on the Chinese border. They had first to build
eighty miles of railroad through the jungle and over two ranges of
mountains, a sufficient feat of engineering in itself, and then to
create and organize at the end of this line everything pertaining to a
great mining plant. Thirty thousand men were employed in establishing
the mine.

Altogether Hoover and his associates had in their employment, in the
various mining undertakings under way in 1914, about 175,000 men, and
the annual mineral output of the mines being handled by them was worth
as much as the total annual output of all the mines in California. And
practically all of these successful mines had been made out of
unsuccessful ones. For Hoover really developed a new profession in
connection with mining; a profession of making good mines out of bad
ones, of making bankrupt mining concerns solvent, not by manipulation on
the stock exchange but by work in the earth, in the mills, in the mine
offices. He works with materials, not pieces of paper. It takes him from
three to five years to bring a dead mine to life; the mine must have
mineral in it, to be sure, to start with, but he does all the rest. That
little matter of having mineral in it is the whole thing, you may think.
But if you do, you must think again. The history of mining is more a
history of how mines with mineral in them have not succeeded in becoming
mines where the mineral could be profitably got out of them, than of how
such mines have succeeded. A successful mine is infinitely more than a
hole in the ground with mineral at its bottom. It is railroads and
steamers, mills, housing for men, men themselves, organization, system,
skill, brains, all-around human capacity. Herbert Hoover is a great
miner because he is--I say it bluntly and not from any blind
hero-worship--a great man.

If he is, he can do more than mine greatly; he can do other things
greatly. Well, he can, and he has done them. We come to that part of his
story now, the part that begins when the World War began, when the
world saw with amazement that grew into ever greater amazement an
unknown miner, that is, unknown except to other miners, calmly do things
that only great men can do. But we who know now the story of the boy and
the man of the years before the war are not so much amazed. We know that
he is the kind of man, who had had the kind of experience, the kind of
world education, who with opportunity can do things the world calls
great and be the great man. But just for a few minutes before we begin
with August, 1914, the time when Herbert Hoover began a new chapter in
his work because the world had begun a new epoch in its history, let us
have a glimpse of this man outside of his mines and his offices. Let us
see him in his home, with his family, with his books if he has any, and
with his friends of whom he has many.

His two children, Herbert and Allan, were born in 1903 and 1907
respectively. Living first in apartments, the Hoovers felt that they and
the boys and the dog Rags needed more room, or perhaps, better,
different kind of room, room for an energetic family of Americans to
grow up in Western American fashion, as far as this could be compassed
in London. And so they found, farther west, in a short street just off
Kensington High Street and close to Kensington Gardens, a roomy old
house with a garden with real trees in it and some grass and
flower-beds. It had been built long before by somebody who liked room,
and then rebuilt, or at least made over and added to, by Montin Conway,
the Alpinist and author. For generations it had been called "The Red
House," a name that became in the succeeding years more and more widely
known to Americans living in, coming to, or passing through London, for
it became a well-known house of American foregathering.

I knew it first in 1912 when I was doing some work in the British Museum
Library. The bedroom to which my wife and I were shown was inhabited
already by a happy and very vocal family of little Javanese seed birds
and green parrakeets, a part of the boys' menagerie which had to find
refuge from the other animals already housed in their adjoining rooms.
Out in the garden there were pigeons fluttering in and out of a cote,
and hens solemnly inspecting the newly-seeded flower-beds. A big silver
Persian cat, and a smaller yellow Siamese one regularly attended
breakfasts, and Rags irregularly attended everything. The cats were Mr.
Hoover's favorites. He liked to have one on his lap as he talked.

There were bookshelves in all of the rooms, and I noted that the owner,
however many the guests had been, or long the evening, never went up to
bed without a book in his hand. I came later to know how fixed this
night-reading habit had become, for in the Belgian relief years when we
had frequently to cross the perilous North Sea together on our way from
Thames-mouth to Holland or back in one of the little Dutch boats which
used to run across twice a week until most of the boats had been blown
up by floating mines, Hoover used always to fix an electric pocket lamp
or a stub of a candle to the edge of his bunk and read for a while after
turning in. He has had little time for reading in daytime, but yet he
has read enormously. It is this night-reading that explains it.

The shelves in "The Red House" contained many books about geology and
mining and metallurgy. But they contained many others as well.
Especially were they burdened with books on economics and political
science. And they bore lighter loads of stories. Sherlock Holmes was
there _in extenso_. The books on civics and economics and theories of
finance were well thumbed and some of them margined with roughly
penciled notes. I should say they had been studied. A frequent evening
visitor, who came by preference when there had been no guests at dinner,
was a well-known brilliant student of finance and economics, formerly
editor of the best-known English financial weekly and now editor of a
very liberal, not to say radical, weekly of his own. He and Hoover held
long disquisition together, each having clear-cut ideas of his own and
glad to try them out on the keen intelligence of the other. As a mere
biologist, whose little knowledge was more of the domestic economy of
the four and six-footed inhabitants of earth than of the social science
and politics of the bipedal lords of creation, my rôle was chiefly that
of fascinated listener.

Although he likes books and even likes writing, Hoover makes no claims
to authorship himself. Nevertheless he has found time to put something
of his knowledge, based on firsthand experience of the fundamentals and
details of mining geology, and mining methods and organization, into a
book which, under the title of _Principles of Mining_, has been a
well-known text for students of mining engineering since its appearance
in 1909. The book is a condensation of a course of lectures given by the
author partly in Stanford and partly in Columbia University. Although it
contains an unusual amount of original matter and old knowledge
originally treated for the kind of book it professes to be, namely a
compact manual of approved mining practice, the author's preface is a
model of modest appraisement of his work. One of its paragraphs simply
demands quotation:

     "The bulk of the material presented [in this book] is the common
     heritage of the profession, and if any may think there is
     insufficient reference to previous writers, let him endeavor to
     find to whom the origin of our methods should be credited. The
     science has grown by small contributions of experience since, or
     before, those unnamed Egyptian engineers, whose works prove their
     knowledge of many fundamentals of mine engineering six thousand
     eight hundred years ago. If I have contributed one sentence to the
     accumulated knowledge of a thousand generations of engineers or
     have thrown one new ray of light on the work, I shall have done my

In the latter chapters of the book Hoover, having devoted the earlier
chapters to technical methods, treats of the administrative and
financial phases of mining. The last chapter is devoted to the
"character, training, and obligations of the mining engineering
profession" in which he sets up a standard of professional ethics for
the engineer of the very highest degree and reveals clearly his own
genuinely philanthropic attitude toward his fellow men. In the
discussion of mining administration there is a concise but illuminating
treatment of the subject of labor unions. After discussing contract work
and bonus systems he says:

     "There is another phase of the labor question which must be
     considered, and that is the general relations of employer and
     employed. As corporations have grown, so likewise have the labor
     unions. In general, they are normal and proper antidotes for
     unlimited capitalistic organization.

     "Labor unions usually pass through two phases. First, the inertia
     of the unorganized labor is too often stirred only by demagogic
     means. After organization through these and other agencies, the
     lack of balance in the leaders often makes for injustice in
     demands, and for violence to obtain them and disregard of
     agreements entered upon. As time goes on, men become educated in
     regard to the rights of their employers and to the reflection of
     these rights in ultimate benefit to labor itself. Then the men, as
     well as the intelligent employer, endeavor to safeguard both
     interests. When this stage arrives, violence disappears in favor of
     negotiation on economic principles, and the unions achieve their
     greatest real gains. Given a union with leaders who can control the
     members, and who are disposed to approach differences in a
     business spirit, there are few sounder positions for the employer,
     for agreements honorably carried out dismiss the constant
     harassments of possible strikes. Such unions exist in dozens of
     trades in this country, and they are entitled to greater
     recognition. The time when the employer could ride roughshod over
     his labor is disappearing with the doctrine of _laissez faire_ on
     which it was founded. The sooner the fact is recognized, the better
     for the employer. The sooner some miners' unions develop from the
     first into the second stage, the more speedily will their
     organizations secure general respect and influence.

     "The crying need of labor unions, and of some employers as well, is
     education on a fundamental of economics too long disregarded by all
     classes and especially by the academic economist. When the latter
     abandon the theory that wages are the result of supply and demand,
     and recognize that in these days of international flow of labor,
     commodities and capital, the real controlling factor in wages is
     efficiency, then such an educational campaign may become possible.
     Then will the employer and employee find a common ground on which
     each can benefit. There lives no engineer who has not seen
     insensate dispute as to wages where the real difficulty was
     inefficiency. No administrator begrudges a division with his men
     of the increased profit arising from increased efficiency. But
     every administrator begrudges the wage level demanded by labor
     unions whose policy is decreased efficiency in the false belief
     that they are providing for more labor."

Three years before publishing the _Principles of Mining_ Hoover had
collaborated with a a group of authors in the production of a book
called _Economics of Mining_. And three years later, that is in 1912, he
privately published, in sumptuous form, with scrupulously exact
reproduction of all of its many curious old woodcuts, an English
translation of Agricola's "De Re Metallica," the first great treatise on
mining and metallurgy, originally published in Latin in 1556, only one
hundred years after Gutenberg had printed his first book. "De Re
Metallica" was the standard manual of mining and metallurgy for 180
years. Georgius Agricola, the author, was really one Georg Bauer, a
German of Saxony, who, following the custom of his time used for
pen-name the literal Latin equivalents of the words of his German name.

This translation, with its copious added notes of editorial commentary,
was the joint work of Hoover and his wife--it was Mrs. Hoover, indeed,
who began it--and occupied most of their spare time, especially their
evenings--and sometimes nights!--and Sundays, through nearly five years.
They had been for some time collecting and delving in old books on China
and the Far East and ancient treatises on early mining and metallurgical
processes, and had accumulated an unusual collection of such books,
ransacking the old bookshops of the world in their quest. In 1902, Mrs.
Hoover while looking up some geology in the British Museum Library,
stumbled again on Agricola, which she had forgotten since the days she
was in Dr. Branner's laboratory. By invoking the services of one of
their friends among the old book dealers the Hoovers soon owned a copy.
Caught especially by the many curious and only half understandable
pictures in it they began to translate bits from it here and there,
especially the explanations of the pictures, and in a little while they
were lost. Nothing would satisfy them short of making a complete
translation. It became an obsession; it was at first their recreation;
then because it went very slowly it seemed likely to become their life

They found an early German translation, which, however, helped them
little. The translator had apparently known little of mining and not too
much of Latin. They went to Saxony, to the home of Agricola, hoping to
get clues to the difficult things in the book by seeing the region and
mines which had been under his eyes while writing it, and finding
traditions of the mining methods of his time. But it was as if a sponge
had been passed over Agricola and his days. Fire had swept over the
towns he had known and all the ancient records were gone. The towns,
rebuilt, and the mines of which he had written were there, but of him
and of the ancient methods he wrote about there was hardly record or
even tradition. They went to Freiberg, where has long existed the
greatest German school of mines, the greatest mining school in the
world, indeed, until the American schools were developed--probably the
Germans would not admit even this qualification--and there they found no
more to help them than in Agricola's own towns. In fact, the Freiberg
professors seemed rather irritated by the advent of these searchers for
ancient mining history, for, as the savants explained, the Freiberg
methods and machines were all the most modern in the world; there were
"no left-overs, no worn-out rubbish of those inefficient ages" around
Germany's great school of mines.

So the Hoovers were little rewarded by their pilgrimage to Germany for
help in their attempt to resuscitate the Saxon Agricola. But they kept
on mining in the big tome and finally, in the fifth year of their
devoted spare-time labors they had before them a completed translation.



From the first day of the World War Herbert Hoover has been a world
figure. But much of what he has done and how he has done it is still
only hazily known, for all the general public familiarity with his name
as head of the Belgian relief work, American food administrator, and,
finally, director-general of the American and Allied relief work in
Europe after the armistice. The public knows of him as the initiator and
head of great organizations with heart in them, which were successfully
managed on sound business principles. But it does not yet know the
special character of Hoover's own personal participation in them, his
original and resourceful contributions to their success, and the
formidable obstacles which he had constantly to overcome in making this
success possible. There was little that "just happened" which
contributed to this success; that which did just happen usually happened
wrong. Things came off because ideals were realized by practical method,
decision, and driving power. I should like to be able to give the people
of America a revealing glimpse, by outline and incident, of all this.
And I should like, too, to be able to make clear the pure Americanism of
this man; to disclose the basis of belief in the soundness of the
American heart and the practical possibilities of American democracy on
which Hoover banked in determining his methods and daring his decisions.
This belief was the easier to hold inasmuch as he has himself the
soundness of character, the fundamental conviction of democracy, and the
true philanthropy that he attributes to the average American. He is his
own American model.

To call Herbert Hoover "English" as a cheap form of derogation, is to
reveal a surprising paucity of invention in criticism. It is also unfair
to about as American an American as can be found. The translation of
Agricola, an account of which closed our last chapter, stretched over
the long time that it did, not alone because Mr. and Mrs. Hoover could
give only their spare hours to it, but also because they could turn to
it only while they were in London where the needed reference books were
available. And their presence in London was so discontinuous that their
translating work was much more marked by interruption than continuity.
The constant returns to America where there were the New York and San
Francisco offices to be looked after personally, and the many trips to
the mining properties scattered over the world, limited Hoover's London
days to a comparatively small number in each year. A London office was,
to be sure, necessary between 1902 and 1914 because of the advantage to
a world miner of being close to affairs in the world's center of mining
interests. And it was also necessary during Belgian relief days because
of its unequaled accessibility, by persons or cable, from all the vital
points in the complex international structure of the relief
organization. But in all this period of London connection, except in the
Belgian relief period, Hoover was a familiar figure in mining circles
in both New York and San Francisco, and although rarely able to cast his
vote in America he maintained a lively interest in American major
governmental affairs.

Hoover kept up, too, an active interest in the development of his _alma
mater_, Stanford University, and especially in its geology and mining
engineering department. In 1908 he was asked to join its faculty, and
delivered a course of lectures on the principles of mining, which
attracted such favorable comment that he repeated it shortly after in
condensed form in Columbia University. On the basis of his experience as
a university student of mining, and as a successful mine expert and
operator, and as an employer of many other university graduates from
universities and technical schools Hoover has formed definite
conclusions as to what the distinctive character of professional
university training for prospective mining engineers should be. It
differs from a widely held view.

He believes that the collegiate training should be less practical than
fundamental. The attempts, more common a decade ago than now perhaps,
to convert schools of mining and departments of mining geology into
shops and artificial mines, do not meet with favor in his eyes.
Vocational, or professional, training in universities should leave most
of the actual practice to be gained in actual experience and work after
graduation. If the student is well-grounded in the fundamental science
of mining and metallurgy, in geology and chemistry and physics and
mechanics, he can quickly pick up the routine methods of practice. And
he can do more. He can understand their _raison d'être_, and he can
modify and adapt them to the varying conditions under which they must be
applied. He can, in addition, if he has any originality of mind at all,
devise new methods, discover new facts of mining geology--the interior
of the earth is by no means a read book as yet--and add not only his
normal quota of additional wealth to the world, as a routine worker, but
an increment of as yet unrealized possibilities, as an original
investigator. In Hoover's own choice of assistants he has selected among
men fresh from the universities or technical schools those who have had
thoroughly scientific, as contrasted with much technical, or so-called
practical, training.

His interest in universities and university administration and methods
has always been intense. It has been reciprocated, if his honorary
degrees from a dozen American colleges and universities can be assumed
to be evidence of this. In 1912 he was made a trustee of Stanford and
from the beginning of this trusteeship until now he has taken an active
part in the university management, giving it the full benefit of his
constructive service. His most recent activity in this connection has
concerned itself with the needed increase and standardization of faculty
salaries so that for each grade of faculty position there is assured at
least a living minimum of salary. He was the originating figure and
principal donor of the Stanford Union, a general club-house for students
and faculty, which adds materially to the comfort of home-wandering
alumni and to the democratic life of the University. In all the great
University plant there was no place for a common social meeting-ground
for faculty, alumni, and undergraduates. The Union provided it. If
Stanford did much for Hoover in the days when he was one of its
students, he has loyally repaid his obligation.

But all of these accounts of Hoover's various activities still leave
unanswered many questions concerning the more intimate personal
characteristics of the man to whom the World War came in August, 1914,
with its special call for service. He was then just forty years old,
known to mining engineers everywhere and to the alumni and faculty and
friends of Stanford University and to a limited group of business
acquaintances and personal friends, but with a name then unknown to the
world at large. Today no name is more widely known. Today millions of
Europeans call him blessed; millions of Americans call him great. My own
belief is that he and his work did more to save Europe from complete
anarchy after the war than any other influence exerted on its people
from the outside, and that without it there was no other sufficient
influence either outside or inside which would have prevented this

Hoover's kinds of work are many, but his recreations are few. His chief
form of exercise--if it is exercise--is motoring. He does not play
outdoor games; no golf, tennis, but little walking. He has no system of
kicking his legs about in bed or going through calisthenics on rising.
And yet he keeps in very good physical condition, at least he keeps in
sufficiently good condition to do several men's days' work every day. He
has a theory about this which he practices, and which he occasionally
explains briefly to those who remonstrate with him about his neglect of
exercise. "You have to take exercise," he says, "because you overeat. I
do not overeat, and therefore I do not need exercise." It sounds very
simple and conclusive; and it seems to work--in his case.

He likes social life, but not society life. He enjoys company but he
wants it to mean something. He has little small talk but plenty of
significant talk. He saves time by cutting out frills, both business and
social. His directness of mental approach to any subject is expressed in
his whole manner: his immediate attack in conversation on the essence
of the matter, his few words, his quick decisions. He can make these
decisions quickly because he has clear policies to guide him. I recall
being asked by him to come to breakfast one morning at Stanford after he
had been elected trustee, to talk over the matter of faculty standards.
His first question to the two or three of us who were there was: What is
the figure below which a professor of a given grade (assistant,
associate, or full professor) cannot maintain himself here on a basis
which will not lower his efficiency in his work or his dignity in the
community? We finally agreed on certain figures. "Well," said Hoover,
"that must be the minimum salary of the grade."

He knows what he wants to do, and goes straight forward toward doing it;
but if difficulty too great intervenes--it really has to be very
great--he withdraws for a fresh start and tries another path. I always
think of him as outside of a circle in the center of which is his goal.
He strikes the circle at one spot; if he can get through, well and good.
If not he draws away, moves a little around the circumference and
strikes again. This resourcefulness and fertility of method are
conspicuous characteristics of him. To that degree he is "diplomatic."
But if there is only one way he fights to the extreme along that way.
And those of us who have lived through the difficult, the almost
impossible, days of Belgian relief, food administration, and general
European after-the-war relief, with him, have come to an almost
superstitious belief in his capacity to do anything possible to human

He has a great gift of lucid exposition. His successful argument with
Lloyd George, who began a conference with him on the Belgian relief work
strongly opposed to it on grounds of its alleged military disadvantages
to the Allies, and closed it by the abrupt statement: "I am convinced;
you have my permission," is a conspicuous example, among many, of his
way of winning adherence to his plans, on a basis of good grounds and
lucid and effective presentation of them. He has no voice for speaking
to great audiences, no flowers of rhetoric or familiar platitudes for
professional oratory, but there is no more effective living speaker to
small groups or conferences around the council table. He is clear and
convincing in speech because he is clear and precise in thinking. He is
fertile in plan and constructive in method because he has creative

The first of his war calls to service came just as he was preparing to
return to America from London where he had brought his family from
California to spend the school vacation of 1914. Their return passage
was engaged for the middle of August. But the war came on, and with it
his first relief undertaking. It was only the trivial matter--trivial in
comparison with his later undertakings--of helping seventy thousand
American travelers, stranded at the outbreak of the war, to get home.
These people, rich and poor alike, found themselves penniless and
helpless because of the sudden moratorium. Letters of credit, travelers'
checks, drafts, all were mere printed paper. They needed real money,
hotel rooms, steamer passages, and advice. And there was nobody in
London, not even the benevolent and most willing but in this respect
powerless American ambassador who could help them. At least there
seemed none until Hoover transferred the "relief" which had
automatically congested about his private offices in the "city" during
the first two days to larger headquarters in the Hotel Savoy. He
gathered together all his available money and that of American friends
and opened a unique bank which had no depositors and took in no money,
but continuously gave it out against personal checks signed by unknown
but American-looking people on unknown banks in Walla Walla and Fresno
and Grand Rapids and Dubuque and Emporia and New Bedford. And he found
rooms in hotels and passage on steamers, first-class, second-class or
steerage, as happened to be possible. Now on all these checks and
promises to pay, just $250 failed to be realized by the man who took a
risk on American honesty to the extent of several hundred thousand

Some of the incidents of this "relief" were pathetic, and some were
comic. One day the banker and his staff, which was composed of his wife
and their friends, were startled by the apparition in the front office
of a group of American plains Indians, Blackfeet and Sioux, all in the
most Fenimore Cooperish of full Indian dress, feathers and skins,
war-paint and tomahawks. They had been part of a Wild West show and
menagerie caught by the war's outbreak in Austria, and had, after
incredible experiences, made their way out, dropping animals and baggage
as they progressed, until they had with them only what they had on,
which in order to save the most valuable part of their portable
furniture, was their most elaborate costumes. They had got to London,
but to do it they had used up the last penny and the last thing they
could sell or pawn except their clothes, which they had to wear to cover
their red skins. Hoover's American bank saw these original Americans
off, with joyful whoopings of gratitude, for Wyoming.

But the work was not limited to lending the barely necessary funds to
those who wished to borrow. He raised a charitable fund among these same
friends for caring for the really destitute ones until other relief
could come. This came in the shape of the American Government's "ship of
gold," the battle-ship _Tennessee_, sent over to the rescue. Hoover was
then asked by Ambassador Page and the Army officers in charge of the
London consignment of this gold to persuade his volunteer committee to
continue their labors during its distribution. With this money available
all who were able to produce proof of American citizenship could be
given whatever was necessary to enable them to reach their own country.

And then came the next insistent call for help. And in listening to it,
and, with swift decision, undertaking to respond to it, Herbert Hoover
launched himself, without in any degree realizing it, on a career of
public service and corresponding abnegation of private business and
self-interest, that was to last all through the war and through the
armistice period, and is today still going on. In all this period of war
and after-war service he has received no salary from government or
relief organizations but, on the contrary, has given up a large income
as expert mining engineer and director of mining companies. In addition,
he has paid out a large sum for personal expenses incurred in
connection with the work.

The call was for the relief of Belgium. I know the story of Hoover in
his relation to the relief of Belgium very well because I became one of
his helpers in it soon after the war began and remained in it until the
end. But it is a hard story to tell; there is too much of it. My special
duties were of a kind to keep me constantly in touch with "the Chief,"
and I was able to realize, as only a few others were, the load of
nerve-racking responsibility and herculean labor carried by him behind
the more open scene of the public money-gathering, food-buying and
transporting, and daily feeding of the ten million imprisoned people of
occupied Belgium and France. In the relief of these helpless peoples
Hoover put, perhaps for the first time, certainly for the first time on
any such enormous scale and with such outstanding success, philanthropy
on a basis of what dear old Horace Fletcher, shut up with us in Belgium
during the Occupation, would permit to be referred to by no other phrase
than the somewhat hackneyed one of "engineering efficiency," unless we
would use a new word for it which he coined. In fact he used the new
word "Hooverizing" as a synonym for efficiency with a heart in it, two
years before it became familiar in America with another meaning. And I
prefer his meaning of the word to that of the food-saving meaning with
which we became familiar in Food Administration days.



Despite the general popular knowledge that there was a relief of Belgium
and that Hoover was its organizer and directing head, there still seems
to be, if I may judge by the questions often asked me, no very wide
knowledge of just why there had to be such relief of Belgium and how
Herbert Hoover came to undertake it. A fairly full answer to these
queries makes a proper introduction to any account, however brief, of
his participation in this extraordinary part of the history of the war.

The World War began, as we all most vividly remember, with the
successful, although briefly but most importantly delayed invasion of
Belgium. And this invasion resulted in producing very promptly not only
a situation appalling in its immediate realization, but one of even
more terrifying possibilities for the near future. For through the haze
of the smoke-clouds from burning towns and above the rattle of the
machine guns in Dinant and Louvain could be seen the hovering specter of
starvation and heard the wailing of hungry children. And how the specter
was to be made to pass and the children to hush their cries was soon the
problem of all problems for Belgium.

Within ten weeks after the first shots of the War all of Belgium except
that dreary little stretch of sand and swamp in the northwestern corner
of it that for over four years was all of the Kingdom of Belgium under
the rule of King Albert, was not only in the hands of a brutal enemy but
was enclosed and shut away from the rest of the world by a rigid ring of
steel. Not only did the Germans maintain a ring of bayonets and
electrified wire fence--this latter along the Belgian-Dutch
frontier--around it, but the Allies, recognizing that for all practical
purposes, Occupied Belgium was now German territory, had to include it
in their blockade of the German coast. Thus no persons or supplies could
pass in or out of Belgium except under extraordinary circumstances,
such as a special permission from both Germany and Allies or a daring
and almost impossible blockade-running.

Now Belgium is not, as America is, self-sustaining as to food. If an
enemy could completely blockade us, we could go on living indefinitely
on the food we produce. But Belgium could not; nor could England or
France or Italy. Belgium is not primarily an agricultural country,
despite the fact that what agriculture it does have is the most
intensive and highly developed in Europe. It is an industrial country,
the most highly industrialized in Europe, with only one sixth of its
people supporting themselves by agriculture. It depends upon constant
importations for fifty per cent of its general food needs and
seventy-five per cent of its needed food-grains.

The ring of steel about Belgium, then, if not promptly broken, plainly
meant starvation. The imprisoned Belgians saw, with the passing days,
their little piles of stored food supplies get lower. They had
immediately begun rationing themselves. The Government and cities had
taken possession of such small food stocks as had not been seized by the
Germans for their armies, and were treating them as a common supply for
all the people. They distributed this food as well as they could during
a reign of terror with all railways and motors controlled by their
conquerors. They lived in those first weeks on little food but much
hope. For were not their powerful protectors, the French and English,
very quickly going to drive the invaders back and out of their country?
But it soon became apparent that it was the Allied armies that were
being driven not only out of Belgium but farther and farther back into
France. So the Allies could do nothing, and the Germans would do nothing
to help them. Indeed, everything the Germans did was to make matters
worse. There was only one hope; they must have food from outside
sources, and to do this they must have recourse to some powerful neutral

Belgium, and particularly Brussels, has always had its American colony.
And it was to these Americans that Belgium turned for help. Many members
of the colony left as soon after the war began as they could, but some,
headed by Minister Brand Whitlock, remained. When the Belgian court left
Brussels for Antwerp, and later for Le Havre, part of the diplomatic
corps followed it, but a smaller part stayed in Brussels to occupy for
the rest of the war a most peculiar position. Mr. Whitlock elected to
stay. It was a fortunate election for the Belgians. Also it meant many
things, most of them interesting, for the sympathetic Minister.

When the American expatriates in Belgium who wished to leave after the
war began, applied to Minister Whitlock for help to become repatriates,
he called to his assistance certain American engineers and business men
then resident in Brussels, notably Messrs. Daniel Heineman, Millard
Shaler, and William Hulse. He also had the very effective help of his
First Secretary of Legation, Mr. Hugh Gibson, now our Minister to
Poland. These men were able to arrange the financial difficulties of the
fleeing Americans despite closed banks, disappearing currency, and
general financial paralysis. When this was finished they readily turned
to the work of helping the Belgians, the more readily because they were
the right sort of Americans.

Their first effort, in coöperation with the burgomaster of Brussels and
a group of Brussels business men, was the formation of a Central
Committee of Assistance and Provisioning, under the patronage of the
Ministers of the United States and Spain (Mr. Whitlock and the Marques
de Villalobar). This committee was first active in the internal measures
for relief already referred to, but soon finding that the shipping about
over the land of the rapidly disappearing food stocks of the country and
the special assistance of the destitute and out-of-work--the destruction
of factories and the cessation of the incoming of raw materials had
already thrown tens of thousands of men out of employment--must be
replaced by a more radical relief, this committee resolved to approach
the Germans for permission to attempt to bring in food supplies from
outside the country.

Burgomaster Max had already written on September 7 to Major General
Luettwitz, the German Military Governor of Brussels, asking for
permission to import foodstuffs through the Holland-Belgium border, and
the city authorities of Charleroi had also begun negotiation with the
German authorities in their province (Hainaut) to the same end, but
little attention had been paid to these requests. Therefore the
Americans of the committee decided, as neutrals, to take up personally
with the German military authorities the matter of arranging imports.

A general permission for the importation of foodstuffs into Belgium by
way of the Dutch frontier was finally obtained from the German
authorities in Belgium, together with their guarantee that all such
imported food would be entirely free from requisition by the German
army. Also, a special permission was accorded to Mr. Shaler to go to
Holland, and, if necessary, to England to try to arrange for obtaining
and transporting to Belgium certain kinds and quantities of foodstuffs.
But no money could be sent out of Belgium to pay for them, except a
first small amount which Mr. Shaler was allowed to take with him.

In Holland, Mr. Shaler found the Dutch government quite willing to allow
foodstuffs to pass through Holland for Belgium, but it asked him to try
to arrange to find the supplies in England. Holland already saw that she
would need to hold all of her food supplies for her own people. So
Shaler went on to England. Here he tried to interest influential
Americans in Belgium's great need, and, through Edgar Rickard, an
American engineer, he was introduced to Herbert Hoover.

This brings us to Hoover's connection with the relief of Belgium. But
there was necessary certain official governmental interest on the part
of America and the Allies before anybody could really do much of
anything. Hoover therefore introduced Shaler to Dr. Page, the American
Ambassador, a man of heart, decision, and prompt action. This was on
October 7. A few days before, on September 29, to be exact, Shaler
together with Hugh Gibson, the Secretary of the American Legation in
Brussels who had followed Shaler to London, had seen Count Lalaing, the
Belgian minister to England, and explained to him the situation inside
of Belgium. They also handed him a memorandum pointing out that there
was needed a permit from the British Government allowing the immediate
exportation of about 2,500 tons of wheat, rice, beans, and peas to
Belgium. Mr. Shaler had brought with him from Brussels money provided by
the Belgian _Comité Central_ sufficient to purchase about half this
amount of foodstuffs.

The Belgian Minister transmitted the request for a permit to the British
Government on October 1. On October 6 he received a reply which he, in
turn, transmitted to the American Ambassador in London, Mr. Page. This
reply from the British Government gave permission to export foodstuffs
from England through Holland into Belgium, under the German guarantees
that had previously been obtained by Mr. Heineman's committee, on the
condition that the American Ambassador in London, or Americans
representing him, would ship the foodstuffs from England, consigned to
the American Minister in Brussels; that each sack of grain should be
plainly marked accordingly, and that the foodstuffs should be
distributed under American control solely to the Belgian civil

On October 7, the day that Hoover had taken Shaler to the American
Embassy and they had talked matters over with Mr. Page, the Ambassador
cabled to Washington outlining the British Government's authorization
and suggesting that, if the American Government was in accord with the
whole matter as far as it had gone, it should secure the approval of the
German Government. After a lapse of four or five days, Ambassador Page
received a reply from Washington in which it was stated that the
American Government had taken the matter up with Berlin on October 8.

After an exchange of telegrams between Brussels, London, Washington, and
Berlin, Ambassador Page was informed on October 18 by Ambassador Gerard,
then American Ambassador in Berlin, that the German Government agreed to
the arrangement, and the following day confirmation of this was received
from Washington.

Sometime during the course of these negotiations Ambassador Page and the
Belgian authorities formally asked Hoover to take on the task of
organizing the relief work, if the diplomatic arrangements came to a
satisfactory conclusion. His sympathetic and successful work in looking
after the stranded Americans, all done under the appreciative eyes of
the American Ambassador, had recommended him as the logical head of the
new and larger humanitarian effort. Hoover had agreed, and his first
formal step, taken on October 10, in organizing the work, was to enlist
the existing American Relief Committee, whose work was then practically
over, in the new undertaking. He amalgamated its principal membership
with the Americans in Brussels, and on October 13, issued in the name of
this committee an appeal to the American people to consolidate all
Belgian relief funds and place them in the hands of the committee for
disposal. At the same time Minister Whitlock cabled an appeal to
President Wilson to call on America for aid in the relief of Belgium.

Between October 10 and 16 it was determined by Ambassador Page and Mr.
Hoover that it was desirable to set up a wholly new neutral
organization. Hoover enlisted the support of Messrs. John B. White,
Millard Hunsiker, Edgar Rickard, J. F. Lucey, and Clarence Graff, all
American engineers and business men then in London, and these men,
together with Messrs. Shaler and Hugh Gibson, thereupon organized, and
on October 22 formally launched, "The American Commission for Relief in
Belgium," with Hoover as its active head, with the title of chairman,
Ambassador Page and Ministers Van Dyke and Whitlock, in The Hague and
Brussels, respectively, were the organization's honorary chairmen. A few
days afterward, at the suggestion of Minister Whitlock, Señor Don Merry
del Val, the Spanish Ambassador in London, and Marques de Villalobar,
the Spanish Minister in Brussels, both of whom had been consulted in the
arrangements in Belgium and London, were added to the list of honorary
chairmen. And, a little later, there were added the names of Mr. Gerard,
the American Ambassador at Berlin, Mr. Sharp, our Ambassador at Paris,
and Jongkeer de Weede, the Dutch Minister to the Belgian Government at
Le Havre where it had taken refuge. At the same time the name of the
Commission was modified by dropping from it the word "American" in
deference to the official connection of the Spanish diplomats with it.
The new organization thus became styled "The Commission for Relief in
Belgium," which remained its official title through its existence. This
name was promptly reduced, in practical use by its members, with
characteristic American brevity, to "C. R. B.," which, pronounced
"tsay-er-bay," was also soon the one most widely used in Belgium and
Occupied France by Belgian, French, and Germans alike.

I have given this account of the organization and status of the
Commission in so much detail because it reveals its imposing official
appearance which was of inestimable value to it in carrying on its
running diplomatic difficulties all through the war. The official
patronage of the three neutral governments, American, Spanish and Dutch,
gave us great strength in facing the repeated assaults on our existence
and the constant interference with our work by German officials and
officers. I have earlier used the phrase "satisfactory conclusion of
diplomatic arrangements." There never was, in the whole history of the
Commission, any satisfactory conclusion of such arrangements; there were
sufficiently satisfactory conditions to enable the work to go on
effectively but there was always serious diplomatic difficulty.
Ministers Whitlock and Villalobar, our "protecting Ministers" in
Brussels, had to bear much of the brunt of the difficulties, but the
Commission itself grew to have almost the diplomatic standing of an
independent nation, its chairman and the successive resident directors
in Brussels acting constantly as unofficial but accepted intermediaries
between the Allies and the Germans.

The "C. R. B." was organized. It had its imposing list of diplomatic
personages. It had a chairman and secretary and treasurer and all the
rest. But to feed the clamoring Belgians it had to have food. To have
food it had to have money, much money, and with this money food in large
quantity had to be obtained in a world already being ransacked by the
purchasing agents of France and England seeking the stocks that these
countries knew would soon be necessary to meet the growing demands of
their armies and civilians drawn from production into the great game of
destruction. Once obtained, the food had to be transported overseas and
through the mine-strewn Channel to Rotterdam, the nearest open port of
Belgium, and thence by canals and railways into the starving country and
its use there absolutely restricted to the civil population. Finally,
the feeding of Belgium had to begin immediately and arrangements had to
be made to keep it up indefinitely. The war was not to be a short one;
that was already plain. It was up to Hoover to get busy, very busy.

The first officials of the C. R. B. and all the men who came into it
later, agree on one thing. We relied confidently on our chairman to
organize, to drive, to make the impossible things possible. We did our
best to carry out what it was our task to do. If we had ideas and
suggestions they were welcomed by him. If good they were adopted. But
principally we worked as we were told for a man who worked harder than
any of us, and who planned most of the work for himself and all of us.

He had the vision. He saw from the first that the relief of Belgium
would be a large job; it proved to be a gigantic one. He saw that all
America would have to be behind us; indeed that the whole humanitarian
world would have to back us up, not merely in funds but in moral
support. For the military logic of the situation was only half with us;
it was half against us. The British Admiralty, trying to blockade
Germany completely, saw in the feeding of ten million Belgians and
French in German-occupied territory a relief to the occupiers who would,
by the accepted rules of the game, have to feed these people from their
own food supplies. The fact that the Germans declared from the first
that they never would do this and in every test proved that they would
not, was hard to drive home to the Admiralty and to many amateur English
strategists safely far from the sufferings of the hungering Belgians.

On the other hand other influential governmental officials, notably the
Prime Minister and the heads of the Foreign Office, saw in the Allied
help for these people the only means to prevent them from saving their
lives in the one other way possible to them, that is, by working for the
Germans. Fathers of families, however patriotic, cannot see their wives
and children starve to death when rescue is possible. And the Germans
offered this rescue to them all the time. Never a day in all the four
years when German placards offering food and money for their work did
not stare in the faces the five hundred thousand idle skilled Belgian
workmen and the other hundreds of thousands of unskilled ones shut up in
the country.

Germany, also, had two opinions about Belgian relief. There were zu
Reventlow and his great party of jingoes who cried from beginning to
end: Kick out these American spies; make an end of this
soft-heartedness. Here we have ten million Allied hostages in our hands.
Let us say to England and France and the refugee Belgian cabinet at Le
Havre: Your people may eat what they now have; it will last them a month
or two; then they shall not have a mouthful from Germany or anywhere
else unless you give up the blockade and open the ports of Belgium and
Germany alike to incoming foods.

On the other side were von Bissing and his German governing staff in
Belgium, together with most of the men of the military General Staff at
Great Headquarters. Von Bissing tried, in his heavy, stupid way, to
placate the Belgians; that was part of his policy. So he would offer
them food--always for work--with one hand, while he gave them a slap
with the other. He wanted Belgium to be tranquil. He did not want to
have openly to machine-gun starving mobs in the cities, however many
unfortunates he allowed to be quietly carried out to the _Tir National_
at gray dawn to stand for one terrible moment before the ruthless firing
squad. And the hard-headed men of the General Staff knew that starving
people do not lie down quietly and die. All the northern lines of
communication between the west front and Germany ran through the
countries of these ten million imprisoned French and Belgians. Even
without arms they could make much trouble for the guards of bridges and
railways in their dying struggles. At least it would require many
soldiers to kill them fast enough to prevent it. And the soldiers, all
of them, were needed in the trenches. In addition the German General
Staff earnestly desired and hoped up to the very last that America would
keep out of the war. And these extraordinary Americans in Belgium seemed
to have all of America behind them; that is what the great relief
propaganda and the imposing list of diplomatic personages on the C. R.
B. list were partly for. Hoover had realized from the beginning what
this would mean. "No," said the higher German officials, "it will not do
to interfere too much with these quixotic Americans."

But the Germans, most of them at least, never really understood us. One
day as Hoover was finishing a conversation with the head of the German
Pass-Zentral in Brussels, trying to arrange for a less vexing and
delaying method of granting passes for the movements of our men, the
German officer said: "Well, now tell me, Herr Hoover, as man to man,
what do you get out of all this? You are not doing all this for
nothing, surely." And a little later, at a dinner at the Great
Headquarters to which I had been invited by one of the chief officers of
the General Staff, he said to me, as we took our seats: "Well, how's
business?" I could only tell him that it was going as well as any
business could that made no profits for anybody in it.

It was impressive to see Hoover in the crises. We expected a major
crisis once a month and a minor one every week. We were rarely
disappointed in our expectations. I may describe, for illustration, such
a major crisis, a very major one, which came in August, 1916. The
Commission had been making a hard fight all summer for two imperatively
needed concessions from the Germans. We wanted the General Staff to turn
over to us for the civil population a larger proportion of the 1916
native crop of Occupied France than we had had from the 1915 crop. And
we wanted some special food for the 600,000 French children in addition
to the regular program imported from overseas. We sorely needed fresh
meat, butter, milk and eggs for them and we had discovered that Holland
would sell us certain quantities of these foods. But we had to have the
special permission of both the Allies and Germany to bring them in.

Hoover, working in London, obtained the Allied consent. But the Germans
were holding back. I was pressing the General Staff at Great
Headquarters at Charleville and von Bissing's government at Brussels.
Their reasons for holding back finally appeared. Germany looked on
Holland as a storehouse of food which might some time, in some way,
despite Allied pressure on the Dutch Government, become available to
Germany. Although the French children were suffering terribly, and
ceasing all growth and development for lack of the tissue-building
foods, the Germans preferred not to let us help them with the Dutch food
but to cling to their long chance of sometime getting it for themselves.

Hoover came over to Brussels and, together, we started for Berlin. We
discovered von Bissing's chief political adviser, Baron von der Lancken
and his principal assistant, Dr. Rieth, on the same train. These were
the two men who, after the armistice, proposed to Hoover by wire
through our Rotterdam office, to arrange with him for getting food into
Germany and received by prompt return wire through the same
intermediary: "Mr. Hoover's personal compliments and request to go to
hell. If Mr. Hoover has to deal with Germany for the Allies it will at
least not be with such a precious pair of scoundrels."

When these gentlemen, who had helped greatly in making our work and life
in Belgium very difficult, saw us, they were somewhat confused but
finally told us they were called to Berlin for a great conference on the
relief work. When we reached Berlin we found three important officers
from Great Headquarters in the Hotel Adlon. Two of them we knew well;
they had always been fairly friendly to us. The third was General von
Sauberzweig, military governor of Brussels at the time of Miss Cavell's
execution, and the man of final responsibility for her death. As a
result of the excitement in Berlin because of the world-wide indignation
over the Cavell affair he had been removed from Brussels _by promotion_
to the Quartermaster Generalship at Great Headquarters!

The Berlin conference of important representatives of all the government
departments and the General Staff had been called as a result of the
influence of zu Reventlow and the jingoes who wished to break down the
Belgian relief. We were not invited; we just happened to be there. We
could not attend the conference, but we could work on the outside. We
went to Ambassador Gerard for advice. The Allies were pressing the
Commission to get the concessions on the 1916 native crop. Our effort to
get the food for the children was entirely our own affair. Mr. Gerard
advised Hoover to rely entirely on the Commission's reputation for
humanity and neutrality; to keep the position of the Allies wholly out
of the discussion. But this was indeed only the confirmation by a wise
diplomat of the idea of the situation that Hoover already had.

Most of the conference members were against the relief. At the end of
the first session Lancken and one of the Headquarters officers told us
that things were almost certainly going wrong. They advised Hoover to
give up. What he did was to work harder. He forced the officials of the
Foreign Office and Interior to hear him. He pictured the horrible
consequences to the entire population of Belgium and Occupied France of
breaking off the relief, and painted vividly what the effect would be on
the neutral world, America, Spain, and Holland in very sight and sound
of the catastrophe. He pleaded and reasoned--and won! It was harder than
his earlier struggle with Lloyd-George, already entirely well inclined
by feelings of humanity, but in each case he had saved the relief. Not
only did the conference not destroy the work, but by continued pressure
later at Brussels and Great Headquarters we obtained the agreements for
an increase of the civilian allotment out of the 1916 French crop and
for the importation of some of the Dutch food for the 600,000 suffering
children. It was a characteristic Hooverian achievement in the face of
imminent disaster.

Hoover and the C. R. B. were in Belgium and France for but one purpose,
to feed the people, to save a whole nation from starvation. To them the
political aspects of the work were wholly incidental, but they could
not be overlooked. So with the Germans disagreeing among themselves, it
was the impossibility of France's letting the two and a half million
people of her own shut up in the occupied territory starve under any
circumstances possible to prevent, and the humanitarian feeling of Great
Britain and America, which Hoover, by vivid propaganda, never allowed to
cool, and the strength of which he never let the diplomats and army and
navy officials lose sight of, that turned the scale and enabled the
Commission for Relief in Belgium to continue its work despite all
assault and interference. Over and over again it looked like the end,
and none of us, even the sanguine Chief, was sure that the next day
would not be the last. But the last day did not come until the last day
of need had passed, and never from beginning to end did a single commune
of all the five thousand of Occupied Belgium and France fail of its
daily bread. It was poor bread sometimes, even for war bread, and there
were many tomorrows that promised to be breadless, but no one of those
tomorrows ever came.



I have dropped the thread of my tale. Our narrative of the organization
of the Commission for Relief in Belgium had brought us only to the time
when the Commission was actually ready to work, and we have leaped to
the very end of those bitter hard four years. We must make a fresh

First, then, as to money. And to understand about the money it is
necessary to understand the two-phased character of the relief of
Belgium. There was the phase of _ravitaillement_, the constant
provisioning of the whole land; and the phase of _secours_, the special
care of the destitute and the ill and the children.

The ring of steel did not immediately make beggars of all the Belgians
enclosed within it. Many of them still had money. But, as I have already
said, the Germans would not allow any of this money to go out. It could
buy only what was in Belgium. And as Belgium could produce only about
half the food it needed to keep its people alive, and only one fourth of
the particular kind of foodstuffs that were necessary for bread, and as
it was arranged, by control of the mills and bakeries, that these
bread-grains should be evenly distributed among all the people, it meant
that even though banker this or baron that might have money to buy much
more, he could really buy, with all his money, only one fourth as much
bread as he needed. There had to be, in other words, a constant bringing
in of enough wheat and flour to supply three fourths of the bread-needs
of the whole country, and another large fraction of the necessary fats
and milk and rice and beans and other staples. This was the

But even with the food thus brought in there were many persons, and as
the days and months and years passed they increased to very many, who
had no money to buy this food. They were the destitute, the families of
the hundreds of thousands of men thrown out of work by the destruction
of the factories and the cessation of all manufacturing and commerce.
And there were the Government employees, the artists, the lace-making
women and girls, and a whole series of special kinds of wage-earners,
with all wages suddenly stopped. To all these the food had to be given
without pay. This was the _secours_.

To obtain the food from America and Argentina and India and wherever
else it could be found a constant supply of money in huge amounts was
necessary. Hoover realized from the beginning that no income from
charity alone could provide it. His first great problem was to assure
the Commission of means for the general _ravitaillement_. He solved the
problem but it took time. In the meanwhile the pressure for immediate
relief was strong. He began to buy on the credit of a philanthropic
organization which had so far no other assets than the private means of
its chairman and his friends.

The money, as finally arranged for, came from government subventions
about equally divided between England and France, in the form of loans
to the Belgian Government, put into the hands of the Commission. Later
when the United States came into the war, this country made all the
advances. Altogether nearly a billion dollars were spent by the C. R. B.
for supplies and their transportation, at an overhead expense of a
little more than one half of one per cent. This low overhead is a record
in the annals of large philanthropic undertaking, and is a measure of
the voluntary service of the organization and of its able management.

For the _secours_, fifty million dollars worth of gifts in money, food
and clothing were collected by the Commission from the charitable people
of America and Great Britain. The Belgians themselves inside the
country, the provinces, cities, and well-to-do individuals, added, under
the stimulus of the tragic situation and under the direction of the
great Belgian National Committee, hundreds of millions of francs to the
_secours_ funds. Also the Commission and the Belgian National Committee
arranged that a small profit should be charged on all the food sold to
the Belgians who could pay for it, and this profit, which ran into
millions of dollars, was turned into the funds for benevolence. All
this created an enormous sum for the _secours_, which was the real
"relief," as benevolence. And this enormous sum was needed, for by the
end of the war nearly one-half of all the imprisoned population of over
seven million Belgians and two and a half million French were receiving
their daily bread wholly or partly on charity. Actually one half of the
inhabitants of the great city of Antwerp were at one time in the daily
soup and bread lines.

Of the money and goods for benevolence that came from outside sources
more than one third came from England and the British Dominions--New
Zealand gave more money per capita for Belgian relief than any other
country--while the rest came chiefly from the United States, a small
fraction coming from other countries. The relief collections in Great
Britain were made by a single great benevolent organization called the
"National Committee for Relief in Belgium." This Committee, under the
chairmanship of the Lord Mayor of London and the active management of
Sir William Goode as secretary and Sir Arthur Shirley Benn as
treasurer, conducted an impressive continuous campaign of propaganda and
solicitation of funds with the result of obtaining about $16,000,000
with which to purchase food and clothing for the Belgian destitute.

But in the United States the C. R. B. itself directly managed the
campaign for charity, using its New York office as organizing and
receiving headquarters. Part of the work was carried by definitely
organized state committees in thirty-seven states and by scattered local
committees in almost every county and large city in the country. Ohio,
for example, had some form of local organization in eighty out of the
eighty-eight counties in the state, and California had ninety local
county and city committees all reporting to the central committee.

The American campaign was different from the English one in that instead
of asking for money alone, the call was made, at first, chiefly for
outright gifts of food, the Commission offering to serve, in connection
with this benevolence, as a great collecting, transporting and
distributing agency. This resulted in the accumulation of large
quantities of foodstuffs of a wide variety of kinds, much of it in the
nature of delicacies and luxuries and most of it put up in small
packages. Tens of thousands of these packages were sent over to Belgium,
but the cry came back from the Commission's workers there that food in
this shape was very difficult to handle in any systematic way. It was
quickly evident that what was really needed was large consignments in
bulk of a few kinds of staple and concentrated foods, which could be
shipped in large lots to the various principal distribution centers in
Belgium and thence shipped in smaller lots to the secondary or local
centers, and there handed out on a definite ration plan.

A number of states very early concentrated their efforts on the loading
and sending of "state food ships." California sent the _Camino_ in
December, 1914, and in the same month Kansas sent the _Hannah_ loaded
with flour contributed by the millers of the state. In January and
March, 1915, two Massachusetts relief ships, the _Harpalyce_ (sunk by
torpedo or mine on a later relief voyage) and _Lynorta_, sailed. Oregon
and California together sent the _Cranley_ in January, 1915, loaded with
food and clothing, and several other similar state ships were sent at
later dates. A gift from the Rockefeller Foundation of a million dollars
was used to load wholly or in part five relief ships, and the "Millers'
Belgian Relief" movement organized and carried through by the editor of
the Northwestern Millers, Mr. W. C. Edgar, resulted in the contribution
of a full cargo of flour, valued at over $450,000, which left
Philadelphia for Rotterdam in February, 1915, in the steamer _South
Point_. The cargo was accompanied by the organizer of the charity, who
was able to see personally the working of the methods of the C. R. B.
inside of Belgium and the actual distribution of his own relief cargo.
His Good Samaritan ship was sunk by a German submarine on her return
trip, but fortunately the philanthropist was not on her. He returned by
a passenger liner, and was able to tell the people of America what was
needed in Belgium, and what America was doing and could further do to
help meet the need.

Later, when it became necessary to obtain food from other primary
markets in addition to those of America, appeal was specifically made
for gifts of money in place of goods. In response to this call various
large gifts from wealthy individual donors were made, among them one of
$210,000, another of $200,000, and several of $100,000 each, and various
large donations came from the efforts of special organizations, notably
the Daughters of the American Revolution, the New York Chamber of
Commerce, the Cardinal Gibbons' Fund from the Catholic children of
America, the Dollar Christmas Fund organized by Mr. Henry Clews, the
"Belgian Kiddies, Ltd.," fund, organized by Hoover's brother mining
engineers of the country, and, largest of all, the Literary Digest fund
of more than half a million dollars collected by the efforts of Mr. R.
J. Cuddihy, editor of the Digest, in sums ranging from a few pennies to
thousands of dollars from children and their parents all over the land.

By far the greater part of the money that came to the Commission through
state committees or through special organizations, or directly from
individuals to the New York office, was made up from small sums
representing millions of individual givers. And it was a beautiful and
an important thing that it was so. The giving not only helped to save
Belgium from starvation of the body, but it helped to save America from
starvation of the soul. The incidents, pathetic, inspiring, noble,
connected with the giving, gave us tears and smiles and heart thrills
and thanksgiving for the revelation of the human love of humanity in
those neutral days of a distressing pessimism.

But finding the money and food and clothing was but the first great
problem for the resourceful C. R. B. chairman to solve. Next came the
serious problem of transportation, both overseas and internal. Ships
were in pressing demand; they constantly grew fewer in number because of
the submarine sinkings, and yet the Commission had constant need of more
and more. Some way Hoover and his associates of the New York and London
offices got what it was necessary to have, but it was only by a
continuous and wearing struggle. Altogether the C. R. B. delivered seven
hundred and forty full ship cargoes and fifteen hundred part cargoes of
relief food and clothing into its landing port, Rotterdam. The seventy
ships under constant charter as a regular C. R. B. fleet crossed the
seas under guarantees from both the Allies and Germany of
non-molestation by sea raiders or submarines. A few accidents happened,
but not more than twenty cargoes were totally or partly lost at sea.
Most of the losses came from mines, but a few came from torpedoes fired
by German submarines which either did not or would not see the C. R. B.
markings on the ships. The signals were plain--conspicuous fifty-foot
pennants flying from the mast-heads, great cloth banners stretching
along the hull on either side, a large house flag, wide deck cloths, and
two huge red-and-white-striped signal balls eight feet in diameter at
the top of the masts. All these flags and cloths were white, carrying
the Commission's name or initials (C. R. B.) in great red letters.
Despite all these, a few too eager or too brutal submarine commanders
let fly their torpedoes at these ships of mercy.

Hoover's most serious time in connection with the overseas
transportation, and the most critical period as regards supplies in the
whole course of the relief was just after the putting into effect by the
Germans, in February, 1917, of the unrestricted submarining of all boats
found in the so-called prohibited ocean zones. These zones covered all
of the waters around the United Kingdom, including all of the English
Channel and North Sea. This cut us off entirely from any access to
Rotterdam from the West or North. But it also cut Holland off. And
between our pressure and that of Holland the German authorities finally
arranged for a narrow free, or "safe," north-about route extending from
the Dutch coast north to near the Norwegian coast, thence northwest to
the Faroe Islands, and thence west to the Atlantic beyond the barred
zone. At one point this "safe" zone was only twenty miles wide between
the German and English mine-fields in the North Sea and any ship getting
a few rods across the line either east or west was in great danger from
mines and was exposed to being torpedoed without warning. Imagine the
state of mind of a skipper who had not seen the sun for three or four
days in a North Sea fog, trying to make out his position accurately
enough by dead reckoning to keep his boat in that "safe" channel.

But even this generous concession to the Commission and Holland was not
arranged until March 15, and in the six weeks intervening between
February 1 and this time we did not land a single cargo in Rotterdam.
Belgium suffered in body and was nearly crazed in mind as we and the
Belgian relief heads scraped the very floors of our warehouses for the
last grains of wheat.

Another almost equally serious interruption in the food deliveries had
occurred in the preceding summer (July, 1916), when, without a whisper
of warning, Governor General von Bissing's government suddenly tied up
our whole canal-boat fleet by an order permitting no Belgian-owned canal
boat--although chartered by us--to pass out from Belgium into Holland
without depositing the full value of the boat in money before crossing
the frontier. The Governor General had reason to fear, he said, that
some of the boats that went out would not come back, and he was going to
lose no Belgian property subject to German seizure without full
compensation. As the boats were worth, roughly, about $5,000 each, and
we were using about 500 boats it would have tied up two and a half
million dollars of our money to meet this demand, and tied it up in
German hands! We simply could not do it. So we began negotiations.

Oh, the innumerable beginnings of negotiations, and oh, the interminable
enduring of negotiations, the struggling against form and "system,"
against obstinate and cruel delay--for delay in food matters in Belgium
was always cruel--and sometimes against sheer brutality! How often did
we long to say: Here, take these ten million people and feed them or
starve them as you will! We quit. We can't go on fighting your floating
mines and too eager submarines, your brutal soldiers and more brutal
bureaucrats. Live up to your agreements to help us, or at least do not
obstruct us; or, if you won't, then formally and officially and
publicly before the world kick us out as your arch-jingo, Reventlow,

But we could not say it; we could not risk it; it was too certain to be
starving rather than feeding. So we did not say it, but went on with the
negotiations. In this particular case of the canal boats we finally
compromised by putting up the value of five boats. If one did not come
back the Germans were to take out its value and we were to replace the
money so as to keep the pot full. Of course all the boats did come back,
and now the Belgians and not the Germans have them.

Thus, guarded by guarantees and recognition marks, there came regularly,
and mostly safely, across wide oceans and through the dangerous
mine-strewn Channel or around the Faroe Islands, the rice from Rangoon,
corn from Argentina, beans from Manchuria, and wheat and meat and fats
from America at the rate of a hundred thousand tons a month through all
the fifty months of the relief. At Rotterdam these precious cargoes were
swiftly transhipped into sealed canal boats--a fleet of 500 of them
with 35 tugs for towing was in service--and hurried on through the
canals of Holland and across the guarded border, and then on to the
great central depots in Belgium, and from there again by smaller canal
boats and railway cars and horse-drawn carts under all the difficulties
of carrying things anywhere in a land where anything and everything
available for transport was subject to requisition at any time by an
all-controlling military organization, to the local warehouses and
soup-kitchens of every one of the 5,000 Belgian and French communes in
the occupied territory. And always and ever through all the months and
despite all difficulties on water or land the food had to come _in
time_. This was the transportation undertaking of Hoover's C. R. B.

Finally when the food was brought to the end of its journeying it had to
be protected from hungry Germans and divided fairly among hungry
Belgians. Always the world asked: But don't the Germans get the food?
and it still asks: Yes, didn't they? Our truthful answer then and now
is: No. And you need not take our answer alone. Ask the British and
French foreign offices. They knew almost as much as we did of what was
going on inside of the steel ring around Belgium and occupied France.
Their intelligence services were wonderful. Remember the guarantees of
the German government to us and our protecting ministers and
ambassadors, the diplomatic representatives of neutral America and Spain
and Holland. The orders of von Bissing and the General Staff were
explicit. Official German placards forbidding seizure or interference by
German soldiers or officials were on all the canal boats and railway
cars and horse carts and on all the warehouses used by the Commission.

Of course there were always minor infractions but there were no great
ones. The Germans after the early days of wholesale seizure during the
invasion and first few months after it, got but a trifling amount of
food out of Belgium and almost none of it came from the imported
supplies. Every Belgian was a detective for us in this ceaseless watch
for German infractions and we had our own vigilant service of
"Inspection and Control" by keen-eyed young Americans moving
ceaselessly all over the country and ever checking up consumption and
stocks against records of importation.

And this brings us to the American organization inside of Belgium. The
New York and London and Rotterdam C. R. B. offices had their
hard-working American staffs and all important duties but it was those
of us inside the ring that really saw Belgian relief in its pathetic and
inspiring details. We were the ones who saw Belgian suffering and
bravery, and who were privileged to work side by side with the great
native relief organization with its complex of communal and regional and
provincial committees, and at its head, the great Comité National, most
ably directed by Emile Francqui, whom Hoover had known in China.
Thirty-five thousand organized Belgians gave their volunteer service to
their countrymen from beginning to end of the long occupation. And many
thousands more were similarly engaged in unofficial capacity. We saw the
splendid work of the women of Belgium in their great national
organizations, the "Little Bees," the "Drop of Milk," the "Discreet
Assistance," and all the rest. My wife, who was inside with us, has
tried to tell the story of the women of Belgium in another book, but as
she rightly says: "The story of Belgium will never be told. That is the
word that passes oftenest between us. No one will ever by word of mouth
or in writing give it to others in its entirety, or even tell what he
himself has seen and felt."

But the Americans inside know it. Its details will be their ineffaceable
memories. It is a misfortune that so few Americans could share this
experience. For we were never more than thirty-five or forty at a time;
the Germans tried to limit us to twenty-five. We were always, in their
eyes, potential spies. But we did no spying. We were too busy doing what
Herbert Hoover had us there to do. Also we had promised not to spy. But
it was a hard struggle to maintain the correctly neutral behavior which
we were under obligation to do. And when the end of this strain came,
which was when America entered the War, and the inside Americans had to
go out, they all, almost to a man, rushed to the trenches to make their
protest, with gun in hand, against German Kultur as it had been
exemplified under their eyes in Belgium.

Altogether about two hundred Americans represented the C. R. B. at
various times inside of Belgium. They were mostly young university men,
representing forty different American colleges and universities in their
allegiance. A group of twenty Rhodes Scholars whom Hoover hurriedly
recruited from Oxford at the beginning of the work was the pioneer lot.
All of these two hundred were selected for intelligence, honor,
discretion, and idealism. They had to be able, or quickly learn, to
speak French. They had to be adaptable and capable of carrying delicate
and large responsibility. They were a wonderful lot and they helped
prove the fact that either the American kind of university education, or
the American inheritance of mental and moral qualities, or the two
combined, can justly be a source of American self-congratulation.

They were patient and long-suffering under difficulties and provocation.
Ted Curtis, whose grandfather was George William, did, on the occasion
of his seventeenth unnecessary arrest by German guards, express his
opinion of his last captor in what he thought was such pure Americanese
as to be safely beyond German understanding. But when his captor dryly
responded in an equally pure argot: "Thanks, old man, the same to
youse," he resolved to take all the rest in silence. And it was only
after the third stripping to the skin in a cold sentry post that Robert
W., a college instructor, made a mild request to the C. R. B. director
in Brussels to ask von Bissing's staff to have their rough-handed
sleuths conduct their examinations in a warmer room.

The relation of the few Americans in Belgium to the many Belgian relief
workers was that of advisors, inspectors and final authorities as to the
control and distribution of the food. The Americans were all too few to
hand the food out personally to the hosts in the soup lines, at the
communal kitchens, and in the long queues with rations cards before the
doors of the bakeries and the communal warehouses. They could not
personally manage the children's canteens, the discreet assistance to
the "ashamed poor," who could not bring themselves to line up for the
daily soup and bread, nor the cheap restaurants where meals were served
at prices all the way from a fourth to three fourths of their cost. The
Belgians did all this, but the Americans were a seeing, helping,
advising, and when necessary, finally controlling part of it all.

The mills and bakeries were all under the close control of the
Commission and the Belgian National Committee. The sealed canal boats
were opened only under the eyes of the Americans. The records of every
distributing station were constantly checked by the Americans. They sat
at all the meetings of National and Provincial and Regional committees.
They raced about the country in all weathers and over all kinds of roads
in their much-worn open motor-cars, specially authorized and constantly
watched and frequently examined by the Germans, each car carrying the
little triangular white and red-lettered C. R. B. flag, that flapped
encouragement as it passed, to all the hat-doffing Belgians.

I am constantly asked: What were Hoover's personal duties and work in
the relief days? It is a question one cannot answer in two words. His
was all the responsibility, his the major planning, the resourceful
devising of ways out of difficulty, the generalship. But the details
were his also. He kept not only in closest touch with every least as
well as greatest phase of the work, but took a personal active part in
seeing everything through. Constant conferences with the Allied foreign
offices and treasuries, and personal inspection of the young men sent
over from America as helpers; swift movements between England and France
and Belgium and Germany and America, and trips in the little motor
launch about the harbor at Rotterdam examining the warehouses and food
ships and floating elevators and canal boats; these were some of his
contrasting activities through day following day in all the months and
years of the relief.

Hoover had to make his headquarters in London at the Commission's
central office. Here he could keep constantly in touch by cable and
post with the offices in New York, Rotterdam, and Brussels. The Brussels
office was allowed to send and receive German-censored mail three times
a week by way of Holland, and we could do a limited amount of censored
telegraphing to Rotterdam over the German and Dutch wires and thence to
London by English-censored cable. But Hoover came regularly every few
weeks to Brussels, taking his chances with mines and careless
submarines. These were no slight chances. A Dutch line was allowed by
England and Germany to run a boat, presumably unmolested, two or three
times a week between Flushing and Thamesmouth. These jumpy little boats,
which carried passengers only--the hold was filled with closed empty
barrels lashed together to act as a float when trouble came--were the
only means of bringing our young American relief workers to Belgium and
of Hoover's frequent crossings. After seven of the ten boats belonging
to the line had been lost or seriously damaged by mines the thrifty
Dutch company suspended operation. We had then to cross secretly by
English dispatch boats, protected by destroyers and specially hunted by
German submarines.

On the occasion of one of Hoover's crossings two German destroyers lying
outside of Flushing harbor ordered the little Dutch boat to accompany
them to Zeebrugge for examination. This happened occasionally and was
always exciting for the passengers, especially for the diplomatic
couriers, who promptly dropped overboard their letter pouches, specially
supplied with lead weights and holes to let in the water and thus insure
prompt sinking. As the boat and convoying destroyers drew near to
Zeebrugge, shells or bombs began to drop on the water around them.
Hoover thought at first they were coming from English destroyers aiming
at the Germans. But he could see no English boats. Suddenly an explosion
came from the water's surface near the boat and the man standing next to
him fell with his face smashed by a bomb fragment. Hoover seized him and
dragged him around the deck-house to the other side of the boat. Another
bomb burst on that side. He then heard the whir of an airplane and
looking up saw several English bombing planes. Their intention was
excellent, but their aim uncertain. The anti-aircraft guns of the German
destroyers soon drove them away, and the convoy came into Zeebrugge
harbor where the Dutch boat and passengers were inspected with German
thoroughness. On Hoover's identity being revealed by his papers, he was
treated with proper courtesy and after several of the passengers had
been taken off the boat it was allowed to go on its way to Tilbury.

Hoover enjoyed an extraordinary position in relation to the passport and
border regulations of all the countries in and out of which he had to
pass in his movements connected with the relief. He was given a freedom
in this respect enjoyed by no other man. He moved almost without
hindrance and undetained by formalities freely in and out of England,
France, Holland, occupied Belgium and France, and Germany itself, with
person and traveling bags unexamined. It was a concrete expression of
confidence in his integrity and perfect correctness of behavior, that
can only be fully understood by those who had to make any movements at
all across frontiers in the tense days of the war.

Governor General von Bissing once said to me in Brussels, apropos of
certain charges that had been brought to him by his intelligence staff
of a questionable behavior on the part of one of our men in
Belgium--charges easily proved to be unfounded: "I have entire
confidence in Mr. Hoover despite my full knowledge of his intimate
acquaintance and association with the British and French Government
officials and my conviction that his heart is with our enemies." As a
matter of fact Hoover always went to an unnecessary extreme in the way
of ridding himself of every scrap of writing each time he approached the
Holland-Belgium frontier. He preached absolute honesty, and gave a
continuous personal example of that honesty to all the C. R. B. men
inside the steel ring.

Each time he came to Brussels all of us came in from the provinces and
occupied France and gathered about him while he told us the news of the
outside world, and how things were going in the New York and London
offices. And then he would talk to us as a brother in the fraternity
and exhort us to forget our difficulties and our irritations and play
the game well and honestly for the sake of humanity and the honor of
America. After the group talks he would listen to the personal troubles,
and advise and help each man in his turn. People sometimes ask me why
Hoover has such a strong personal hold on all his helpers. The men of
the C. R. B. know why.

The Belgian relief and the American food administration and the later
and still continuing American relief of Eastern Europe have been called,
sometimes, in an apparently critical attitude, "one man" organizations.
If by that is meant that there was one man in each of them who was
looked up to with limitless admiration, relied on with absolute
confidence, and served with entire devotion by all the other men in
them, the attribution is correct. No man in any of these
organizations--and Hoover gathered about him the best he could get--but
recognized him as the natural leader. He was the "one man," not by
virtue of any official or artificial rank but by sheer personal
superiority in both constructive administrative capacity and effective
practical action.

Whenever Hoover came, he tried to keep his presence unknown except to us
and Minister Whitlock and the heads of the Belgian organization and the
German Government with whom he had to deal. He would not go, if he could
help it, to the soup lines and children's canteens. Like many another
man of great strength, he is a man of great sensitiveness. He cannot see
suffering without suffering himself. And he dislikes thanks. The
Belgians were often puzzled, sometimes hurt, by his avoidance of their
heart-felt expression of gratitude. Mr. Whitlock was always there and
had to be always accessible. So they could thank him and thank America
through him. But they rarely had opportunity to thank Hoover.

I remember, though, how their ingenuity baffled him once. He had slipped
in quietly, as usual, at dusk one evening by our courier automobile from
the Dutch border. But someone passed the word around that night. And all
the next day, and for the remaining few days of his stay there went on
a silent greeting and thanking of the Commission's chief by thousands
and thousands of visiting cards and messages that drifted like
snowflakes through the door of the Director's house; engraved cards with
warm words of thanks from the nobility and wealthy of Brussels; plainer,
printed ones from the middle class folk, and bits of writing paper with
pen or pencil-scrawled sentences on them of gratitude and blessing from
the "little people." My wife would heap the day's bringing on a table
before him each evening and he would finger them over curiously--and try
to smile.

When the Armistice had come the Belgian Government tried to thank him.
He would accept no decorations. But once again Belgian ingenuity
conquered. One day just after the cessation of the fighting he was
visiting the King and Queen at La Panne in their simple cottage in that
little bit of Belgium that the Germans never reached. After luncheon the
members of the Cabinet appeared; they had come by motors from Le Havre.
And before them all the King created a new order, without ribbon or
button or medal, and made Hoover its only member. He was simply but
solemnly ordained "Citizen of the Belgian Nation, and Friend of the
Belgian People."

I have spoken only of Belgium. But of the ten million in the occupied
regions for whom Hoover waged his fight against starvation, two and a
half million were in occupied France. Over in that territory things were
harder both for natives and Americans than in Belgium. Under the
rigorous control of a brutal and suspicious operating army both French
and Americans worked under the most difficult conditions that could be
imposed and yet allow the relief to go on at all.

The French population, too, was an especially helpless one, for all the
men of military age and qualifications had gone out as the Germans came
in. They had time and opportunity to do this; the Belgians had not. Each
American was under the special care--and eyes--of a German escort
officer. He could only move with him at his side, could only talk to the
French committees with his gray-uniformed companion in hearing. He had
his meals at the same table, slept in his quarters. The chief
representative of the Commission in occupied France had to live at the
Great German Headquarters at Charleville on the Meuse. I spent an
extraordinary four months there. It is all a dream now but it was, at
the time, a reality which no imagination could equal. The Kaiser on his
frequent visits, the gray-headed chiefs of the terrible great German
military machine, the _schneidige_ younger officers, were all so
confident and insolent and so regardless, in those early days of
success, of however much of the world might be against them. One night
my officer said at dinner: "Portugal came in today. Will it be the
United States tomorrow? Well, come on; it's all the same to us." When
the United States did come in we Americans were no longer at
Headquarters, so what my officer said then I do not know. But I am sure
that it was not all the same to him.

And so the untellable relief of Belgium and Northeast France went on
with its myriad of heart-breaks and heart-thrills following quickly on
each other's heels, its highly elaborated system of organization, its
successful machinery of control and distribution, and all, all
centering and depending primarily on one man's vision and heart and
genius. He had faithful helpers, capable coadjutors. One cannot make
comparisons among them, but one of these lieutenants was so long in the
work, so effective, so devoted, so regardless of personal sacrifice of
means and career and health, that we can mention his name without
hesitation as the one to whom, next to the Chief, the men of the C. R.
B. and the people of Belgium and France turned, and never in vain, for
the inspiration that never let hope die. This is William Babcock Poland,
like his chief an engineer of world-wide experience, who served first as
assistant director in Belgium, then as director there, and, finally,
after Hoover came to America to be its food administrator, director,
with headquarters in London, for all the work in Europe.

In April, 1917, America entered the war, and Minister Whitlock came out
of Belgium with his shepherded flock of American consuls and relief
workers, although a small group of C. R. B. men, with the director,
Prentis Gray, remained inside for several weeks longer. In the same
month Herbert Hoover heard his next call to war service. For almost
immediately after our entrance into the war President Wilson asked him
to come to Washington to consult about the food situation. This
consultation was the beginning of American food administration. It did
not end Belgian relief for Hoover, for the work had still to go on and
did go on through all the rest of the war and even for several months of
the Armistice period, with the C. R. B. and its Chief still in charge,
although Dutch and Spanish neutrals replaced the Americans inside the
occupied territory. But the new call was to place a new duty and
responsibility on Hoover's broad shoulders. Responding to it, he arrived
in New York on the morning of May 3, 1917, and reached Washington the
evening of the same day. On the following day he talked with the
President and began planning for the administration of American food.



Put yourself in Hoover's place when the President called him back from
the Belgian relief work to be the Food Administrator of the United
States. Here were a hundred million people unaccustomed to government
interference with their personal affairs, above all of their affairs of
stomach and pocketbook, their affairs of personal habit and private
business. What would you think of your chance to last long as a new kind
of government official, set up in defiance of all American precedent and
tradition of personal liberty, to say how much and what kinds of food
the people were to eat and how the business affairs of all millers and
bakers, all commission men and wholesale grocers and all food
manufacturers were to be run?

The stomach and private business of Americans are the seats of unusually
many and delicate nerve-endings. To hit the American household in the
stomach and the American business man in the pocketbook is to invite a
prompt, violent and painful reaction. Yet this is what President Wilson
asked Hoover to do and to face.

Hoover realized the full possibilities of the situation. He had seen the
rapid succession of the food dictators in each of the European
countries; their average duration of life--as food dictators--was a
little less than six months. "I don't want to be food dictator for the
American people," he said, plaintively, a few days after the President
had announced what he wanted him to do. "The man who accepts such a job
will lie on the barbed wire of the first line of intrenchments."

But besides trying to put yourself in Hoover's place, try also to put
yourself again in your own place in those great days of America's first
entry into the war, and you will get another, and a less terrifying,
view of the situation. Remember your feelings of those days as a
per-fervid patriotic American, not only ready but eager to play your
part in your country's cause. Some of you could carry arms; some could
lend sons to the khaki ranks and daughters to the Red Cross uniform.
Some could go to Washington for a dollar a year. Yet many could, for one
sufficient reason or another, do none of these things. But all could
help dig trenches at home right through the kitchen and dining-room. You
could help save food if food was to help win the war. You could help
remodel temporarily the whole food business and food use of the country
to the great advantage of America and the Allies in their struggle for

Well, Hoover put himself both in your place and in his own place. And he
thought that the food of America could be administered--not
dictated--successfully, if we would try to do it in a way consonant with
the genius of American people. Hoover had had in his Belgian relief work
an experience with the heart of America. He knew he could rely on it. He
also believed he could rely on the brain of America.

So he put the matter of food control fairly and squarely up to the
people. He asked them to make the fundamental decisions. He showed them
the need and the way to meet it, and asked them to follow him. He
depended on the reasoned mass consent and action of the nation, the
truly democratic decision of the country on a question put openly and
clearly before it. It could choose to do or not do. The deciding was
really with it. If it saw as he did it would act with him.

He was to be no food dictator, as the German food-minister was, nor even
a food controller as the English food-minister was officially named. He
was to be a food administrator for the people, in response to its needs
and desire for making wise food management help in winning the war. So
while the food controllers of the European countries relied chiefly on
government regulation to effect the necessary food conservation and
control, the American food administrator trusted chiefly to direct
appeal to the people and their voluntary response.

And the response came. Even where governmental regulation seemed
necessary, as it did especially in relation to trade and manufacturing
practices, he attempted to have it accepted by voluntary agreement of
the groups most immediately concerned before announcing or enforcing it.
To do this he held conference after conference in Washington with groups
of from a score to several hundreds of men representing personally, and
in addition sometimes by appointment from organized food-trade or
food-producing groups, the point of view of those most affected by the
proposed regulation. He explained to these men the needs of the nation,
and their special opportunities and duties to serve these needs. He put
their self-interest and the interests of their country side by side in
front of them. He showed them that the decision of the war did not rest
alone with the men in the trenches: that there were service and
sacrifice to render at home in shops and stores and counting rooms as
well as on the fighting lines. He debated methods and probable results
with them. He laid all his cards on the table and, almost always, he
won. He won their confidence in his fairness, their admiration for his
knowledge and resourcefulness and their respect for his devotion to the
national cause.

But he knew always that he was playing with dynamite. He could not see
or talk to everybody at once, and the news that ran swiftly over the
country about what the Food Administration was doing or going to do was
not always the truth, but it always got listened to. And the first
reaction to it was likely to be one of indignant opposition. This was
well expressed by the cartoon of black Matilda in the kitchen: "Mistah
Hoover goin' to show me how to cook cawn pone? Well, I reckin not." So
with the business man. But the second reaction, the one that came after
listening to Hoover and thinking about the matter overnight, was

I remember a group of large buyers and sellers of grain, men who dealt
on the grain exchanges of the Middle West, who came to Washington, not
at his request but on their own determination to have it out with this
man who was threatening to interfere seriously with their affairs;
indeed, who threatened to put many of them out of business for the
period of the war. They came with big sticks. They met in the morning
for conference with the object of their wrath. Then they went off and
met in the afternoon together. They came the next morning for another
conference. And they met again alone to pass some resolutions. The
resolutions commended the Food Administrator for the regulations he was
about to put into force, and recommended that they be made more drastic
than he had originally suggested!

But among the hundred million people of the United States there were
some who did not justify Hoover's belief in American patriotism and
American heart. Just as there were some among the seven million Belgians
who tried to cheat their benefactors and their countrymen by forging
extra ration cards. So when a measure to regulate some great food trade
or industry, as the wholesale grocery business or milling, was agreed to
and honestly lived up to by eighty-five or ninety per cent of the men
concerned, and for these could have been left on a wholly voluntary
basis, there were a few for whom the regulations had to be legally
formulated and energetically enforced. They were the ones who made the
reluctant gifts to the American Red Cross, which was the Food
Administrator's favorite form of penalization, when he did not have to
go to the extreme of putting persistent profiteers out of business.

The Food Control Law, passed by Congress in August, 1917, under which
the Food Administrator, acting for the President, derived his authority,
was a perfectly real law, but it left great gaps in the control. For
example, it exempted from its license regulations, which were the chief
means of direct legal control, all food producers (farmers,
stock-growers, et al.) and all retailers doing a business of less than
$100,000 a year. It did not give any authority for a direct fixing of
maximum prices. It carried comparatively few penalty provisions. But it
did provide authority for three primary agencies of control: First, the
licensing of all food manufacturers, jobbers, and wholesalers, and of
retailers doing business of more than $100,000 annually, with the
prescription of regulations which the licensees should observe; second,
the purchase and sale of foodstuffs by the Government; and, third, the
legal entering into agreements with food producers, manufacturers or
distributors, which if made only between the members of these groups
themselves would have been violations of the anti-trust laws. All of
these powers contributed their share to the success of what was one of
the most important features of the food control and one to which Hoover
devoted most determined and continuous effort, namely, the radical
cutting out, or at least, down, of speculative and middleman profits.
But with the limited authority of the Food Administrator it was only
through the voluntary coöperation of the people and food trades that
these three kinds of powers were made really effective.

The most conspicuous features of the voluntary coöperation which Hoover
was able to obtain from the people and the food-trades by his
conferences, his organization of the states, and his great popular
propaganda, were those connected with what was called "food
conservation," by which was meant a general economy in food use, an
elimination of waste, and an actual temporary modification of national
food habits by an increased use of fish and vegetable proteins and fats
and lessened use of meat and animal fats, a considerable substitution of
corn and other grains for wheat, and the general use of a wheat flour
containing in it much more of the total substance of the wheat grain
than is contained in the usual "patent" flour.

It was with the great campaign for food conservation, too, that the Food
Administration really started its work, beginning it as voluntary and
unofficial war service. For although consideration of the Food Control
Act began before the House Committee on Agriculture about April 21, it
was not until August 10 that the bill became a law. On the same day, the
President issued an Executive Order establishing a United States Food
Administration and appointing Herbert Hoover to be United States Food
Administrator. Hoover accepted the appointment with the proviso that he
should receive no salary and that he should be allowed to build up a
staff on the same volunteer basis.

But long before this, indeed immediately after the May consultation
with Hoover for which he had been asked to come from Europe to
Washington, President Wilson had announced a tentative program of
stimulation of food production and conservation of food supply. The need
was urgent, and the country could not wait for Congressional action.
There was really a war on and there was an imperative need of fighting,
and fighting immediately and hard in all the various and unusual ways in
which modern war is fought. One of these ways which the President
recognized and which Hoover, by virtue of his illuminating experience in
Europe, knew as no other American did, was the food way. The President
wanted something started. So again, just as at the beginning of the
Belgian relief work in October, 1914, Hoover found himself in the
position of being asked to begin work without the necessary support
behind him; in the Belgian case he lacked money, in the present case he
lacked authority. But in both cases action was needed at once and in
both cases Hoover got action. He is a devotee of action.

Thus, before there was an official food administration there was an
unofficial beginning of what became the food administration's most
characteristic and most widely known undertaking, its campaign for food
conservation. It was the most characteristic, for it depended for
success entirely on popular consent and patriotic response. It was the
most widely known, for it touched every home and housewife, every man
and child at the daily sitting down at table. In planning and beginning
it Hoover had the special assistance of his old-time college chum and
lifelong friend, President Ray Lyman Wilbur, of Stanford University, who
brought to this particular undertaking a far-reaching vision, a
convinced belief in democratic possibilities, and a constructive mind of
unusual order.

It is well not to forget that the first appeal for food-saving was made
primarily to the women of the land. And theirs was the first great
response. From the very first days, in May, of general discussion in the
press of the certain need of food-saving in America if the Allies were
to be provided with sufficient supplies to maintain their armies and
civilian populations in the health, strength, and confidence necessary
to the fullest development of their war strength, the voluntary offers
of assistance from women and women's organizations, and inquiries about
how best to give it, had been pouring into Hoover's temporary offices in
Washington. And through all of the Food Administration work the women of
America played a conspicuous part, both as heads of divisions in the
Washington and State offices and as uncounted official and unofficial
helpers in county and town organizations and in the households of the

The picturesque details of the great campaign for food conservation and
its results on the intimate habits of the people are too fresh in the
memories of us all to need repeating here. A whole-hearted coöperation
by the press of the country; an avalanche of public appeal and advice by
placards, posters, motion pictures, and speakers; an active support by
churches, fraternal organizations, colleges and schools; the remodeling
of the service of hotels, restaurants and dining-cars; and a pledging
of twelve out of the twenty million households of the country to follow
the requests and suggestions of the Food Administration, resulting in
wheatless and meatless meals, limited sugar and butter, the "clean
plate," and strict attention to reducing all household waste of
food--all these are the well-remembered happenings of yesterday. The
results gave the answer, Yes, to Hoover's oft-repeated questions to the
nation: Can we not do as a democracy what Germany is doing as an
autocracy? Can we not do it better?

These results are impossible to measure by mere statistics. Figures
cannot express the satisfied consciences, the education in wise and
economical food use, and the feeling of a daily participation by all of
the people in personally helping to win the war, which was a
psychological contribution of great importance to the Government's
efforts to put the whole strength of the nation into the struggle. Nor
can the results to the Allies be measured in figures. But their
significance can be suggested by the contents of a cablegram which Lord
Rhondda, the English Food Controller, sent to Hoover in January, 1918.
This cable, in part, was as follows:

     "Unless you are able to send the Allies at least 75,000,000 bushels
     of wheat over and above what you have exported up to January first,
     and in addition to the total exportable surplus from Canada, I
     cannot take the responsibility of assuring our people that there
     will be food enough to win the war. Imperative necessity compels me
     to cable you in this blunt way. No one knows better than I that the
     American people, regardless of national and individual sacrifice,
     have so far refused nothing that is needed for the war, but it now
     lies with America to decide whether or not the Allies in Europe
     shall have enough bread to hold out until the United States is able
     to throw its force into the field...."

I remember very well the thrill and the shock that ran through the Food
Administration staff when that cable came. It seemed as if no more could
be done than was already being done. The breathless question was: Could
Hoover do the impossible? I suppose his question to himself was: Could
the American people do it? He did not hesitate either in his belief or
his action. His prompt reply was:

     "We will export every grain that the American people save from
     their normal consumption. We believe our people will not fail to
     meet the emergency."

He then appealed to the people to intensify their conservation of wheat.
The President issued a special proclamation to the same end. The wheat
was saved and sent--and the threatened breakdown of the Allied war
effort was averted.

Hoover felt justified in July, 1918, in making an attempt to indicate
the results of food conservation during the preceding twelve months by
analyzing the statistics of food exports he had been able to make to the
Allies. It was, of course, primarily for the sake of providing this
indispensable food support to the Allies that food conservation was so
earnestly pushed. The control of these exports and the elimination of
speculative profits and the stabilization of prices in connection with
home purchases were the special features in the general program of food
administration that were pushed primarily for the sake of our own

In a formal report by letter to the President on July 18, 1918, Hoover
showed that the exports of meats, fats and dairy products in the past
twelve months had been about twice as much as the average for the years
just preceding the war, and fifty per cent more than in the year July,
1916--June, 1917. Of cereals and cereal products our shipments to the
Allies were a third more than in the year July, 1916--June, 1917.

     "It is interesting to note," writes the Food Administrator, "that
     since the urgent request of the Allied food controllers early in
     the year for a further shipment of 75,000,000 bushels from our 1917
     wheat than originally planned, we shall have shipped to Europe, or
     have _en route_, nearly 85,000,000 bushels. At the time of this
     request our surplus was more than exhausted. The accomplishment of
     our people in this matter stands out even more clearly if we bear
     in mind that we had available in the fiscal year 1916-17 from net
     carry-over and as surplus over our normal consumption about
     200,000,000 bushels of wheat which we were able to export that year
     without trenching on our home loaf. This last year, however, owing
     to the large failure of the 1917 wheat crop, we had available from
     net carry-over and production and imports only just about our
     normal consumption. Therefore our wheat shipments to allied
     destinations represent approximately savings from our own wheat

     "These figures, however, do not fully convey the volume of the
     effort and sacrifice made during the past year by the whole
     American people. Despite the magnificent effort of our agricultural
     population in planting a much increased acreage in 1917, not only
     was there a very large failure in wheat but also, the corn failed
     to mature properly and our corn is our dominant crop. We calculate
     that the total nutritional production of the country for the fiscal
     year just closed was between seven per cent and nine per cent below
     the average of the three previous years, our nutritional surplus
     for export in those years being about the same amount as the
     shrinkage last year. Therefore the consumption and waste of food
     have been greatly reduced in every direction during the war.

     "I am sure that all the millions of our people, agricultural as
     well as urban, who have contributed to these results should feel a
     very definite satisfaction that in a year of universal food
     shortages in the northern hemisphere all of those people joined
     together against Germany have come through into sight of the coming
     harvest not only with health and strength fully maintained, but
     with only temporary periods of hardship. The European allies have
     been compelled to sacrifice more than our own people but we have
     not failed to load every steamer since the delays of the storm
     months last winter. Our contributions to this end could not have
     been accomplished without effort and sacrifice, and it is a matter
     for further satisfaction that it has been accomplished voluntarily
     and individually. It is difficult to distinguish between various
     sections of our people--the homes, public-eating places, food
     trades, urban or agricultural populations--in assessing credit for
     these results; but no one will deny the dominant part played by the
     American women."

The conservation part of the Food Administration's work was picturesque,
conspicuous and important. But it was, of course, only one among the
many of the Administration's activities. On the day of his appointment
Hoover outlined his conception of the functions and aims of the Food
Administration, as follows:

     "The hopes of the Food Administration are three-fold. First, to so
     guide the trade in the fundamental food commodities as to eliminate
     vicious speculation, extortion and wasteful practices and to
     stabilize prices in the essential staples. Second, to guard our
     exports so that against the world's shortage, we retain sufficient
     supplies for our own people and to coöperate with the Allies to
     prevent inflation in prices. And, third, that we stimulate in every
     manner within our power the saving of our food in order that we may
     increase exports to our Allies to a point which will enable them to
     properly provision their armies and to feed their peoples during
     the coming winter.

     "The Food Administration is called into being to stabilize and not
     to disturb conditions and to defend honest enterprise against
     illegitimate competition. It has been devised to correct the
     abnormalities and abuses that have crept into trade by reason of
     the world disturbance and to restore business as far as may be to
     a reasonable basis.

     "The business men of this country, I am convinced, as a result of
     hundreds of conferences with representatives of the great forces of
     food supply, realize their own patriotic obligation and the
     solemnity of the situation, and will fairly and generously
     coöperate in meeting the national emergency. I do not believe that
     drastic force need be applied to maintain economic distribution and
     sane use of supplies by the great majority of American people, and
     I have learned a deep and abiding faith in the intelligence of the
     average American business man whose aid we anticipate and depend on
     to remedy the evils developed by the war which he admits and
     deplores as deeply as ourselves. But if there be those who expect
     to exploit this hour of sacrifice, if there are men or
     organizations scheming to increase the trials of this country, we
     shall not hesitate to apply to the full the drastic, coercive
     powers that Congress has conferred upon us in this instrument."

From the beginning of the war the food necessities of the Allies and
European neutrals had led them to make the most violent exertions to
meet their needs, and these exertions were intensified as the war went
on. Food was war material. It existed in America and was imperatively
demanded in Europe. By any means possible, without regard to price or
dangerous drainage away from us Europe meant to have it. Hoover early
saw the danger to America in this. Things had to be balanced. We were
ready to exert every effort to supply the Allies every pound of food we
could afford to let go out of the country, but there was a limit, a
danger-line. Hoover could not trust to appeal to the European countries
to regard this danger; they were in a state of panic. It required
recourse to legal regulation. There was necessary an effective control
of exports. Without such control the tremendous pressure of demand from
the European countries, with the sky-rocketing of prices incident to it
would have broken down the whole fabric of Hoover's measures for
guarding the food needs of our own people and of stabilizing prices and
preventing an actual food panic and consequent industrial break-down in
our country at a moment when we were calling on our industries and our
people as a whole for their greatest efforts.

The Food Law alone was not sufficient to give Hoover the strength he
needed for this control. But casting about for assistance he formed a
close working alliance between the Food Administration and the War Trade
and Shipping Boards to effect the needed regulation. The combination had
the power to establish an absolutely effective control of exports and
imports. Not a pound of food could be sent out of the country without
the consent of the Food Administration.

Growing out of this export control and really including it, was the
wider function of the centralization and coördination of purchases not
only for the Allies and Neutrals but in connection with the buying
agencies of our Army, Navy, Red Cross, and other large philanthropic
organizations. Under the pressure of the need for food control, the
foreign governments had taken over almost completely, early in the war,
the purchases of outside foodstuffs for their peoples, and the Allies
had so closely associated themselves in this undertaking that they had
it in their power, if they cared to use it, to dominate prices to the
American farmer. Hoover very early saw the advisability of an American
centralization of the purchases for foreign export as an offset to this
danger. He further recognized in such a coördinating centralization the
possibilities of much good in the stimulation of production and
stabilization of home prices. A Division of Coördination of Purchase was
therefore formally set up about November 1, 1917, under the efficient
direction of F. S. Snyder.

In a memorandum dated November 19, the Food Administrator stated that he
considered it vital to the general welfare that all large purchases of
certain commodities should be made by plans of allocation among food
suppliers at fair and just prices, "the efforts of the Federal Trade
Commission to be directed to see that costs are not inflated." The
memorandum further stated that all allotment plans between Allied
countries and the food industries should be entered into with the Allied
Provisions Export Commission through the Division of Coördination of
Purchase; and that all estimated and specific requirements of food
products of all characters for the Allied countries should be furnished
the Division of Coördination of Purchase by the Allied Provisions Export
Commission and that such requirements shall bear the approval of the
Allied Provisions Export Commission. Also, that on the question of
issuing licenses for the exporting of the purchases, the approval to
export will be arranged by the Food Administration's Division of
Coördination of Purchase, and the War Trade Board; and the final action
taken on each requirement shall have the approval of the head of the
Division of Coördination of Purchase.

The general plan outlined in this memorandum was the one followed. The
Allied Provisions Export Commission acted as the buying agency for the
Allies and informed the Division of Coördination of Purchase of the Food
Administration of the requirements of the Allies; the Food Purchase
Board acted as the recommending buying agency for the Army and Navy and
gave the Food Administration the necessary information as to the
requirements of these agencies. Grains and grain products were not
included in this scheme of buying for the Allies, as this buying was
done through the Food Administration Grain Corporation.

The Allied purchasing was therefore completely controlled. The license
to export was not issued by the War Trade Board until the application
for the same had been approved by the Food Administration, and this
approval would not be given if the rules of its Division of Coördination
of Purchase had not been followed. It should be noted that the Food
Administration did not actually complete the transaction of purchase and
sale for any of the commodities. Its function was completed when buyer
and seller had been brought together and the terms of sale agreed upon
and approved by it. The total volume of purchases of all supplies made
under the coördination of the various agencies set up by the Food
Administration aggregated over seven and a quarter billion dollars
during the course of its existence.



In attacking the problem of food control by enforced regulation Hoover
frankly repeatedly described his position as that of one who was
choosing the lesser of two evils; the other and greater one was that of
having no regulation at all. Political economists and others called his
attention constantly to the fact that the old reliable law of supply and
demand would take care of his troubles if he would but let it. If,
because of the great demand, high food prices prevailed, their
prevalence would automatically solve the problem of food shortage. They
would stimulate production and curtail consumption; our people would buy
less and there would be more of a surplus to send to the Allies.

Hoover's answer was that unrestricted sky-rocketing of prices would
certainly curtail consumption, but it would be the consumption by the
poor, the hosts of wage-earners and the small-salaried. It would not cut
down consumption by the rich, and it would promptly lead to sharp class
feeling, widespread popular dissatisfaction and resentment, even revolt.
War time was no time to force any such situation as this.

The remedy offered by supply and demand was one which would only bring
on another and worse illness. But Hoover realized and declared over and
over again that even a necessary interference with the law of supply and
demand was at best an evil. But it was less of an evil, under the
circumstances, than not to interfere with it to some degree. These were
not normal but abnormal times, and regulation by supply and demand is
primarily a process for normal times. And it is a process that requires
time to do its remedial work, and there was no time.

But Hoover did not and does not believe in price-fixing or immediate
government control of commerce where they can be avoided. In his
statement before the Senate Committee on Agriculture in June, 1917, he

     "The food administrations of Europe and the powers that they
     possess are of the nature of dictatorship, but happily ours is not
     their plight.... The tendency there has been for the government to
     take over the functions of the middleman, first with one commodity
     and then with another, until in the extreme case of Germany
     practically all food commodities are taken directly by the
     government from the producers and allotted by an iron-clad system
     of ticket distribution to the consumer. The whole of the great
     distributing agencies, and the financial system which revolved
     around them, have been suspended for the war or destroyed for good.
     That is the system which is dictatorship, and which, so far as I
     can see, this country need never approach.

     "In distinction from this, our conception of the problem in the
     United States is that we should assemble the voluntary effort of
     the people, of the men who represent the great trades; that we
     should, in effect, undertake with their coöperation the regulation
     of the distributing machinery of the country in such a manner that
     we may restore its function as nearly as may be to a pre-war
     basis, and thus eliminate, so far as may be, the evils and failures
     which have sprung up. And, at the same time, we propose to mobilize
     the spirit of self-denial and self-sacrifice in this country in
     order that we may reduce our national waste and our national

The primary basis of the commodity control, that is the control of the
manufacture, wholesale selling, storage, and distribution of foodstuffs
lay in the licensing provisions of the Food Control law. Any handler of
foods, not an immediate producer or a retailer whose gross sales did not
exceed $100,000 a year, could be forced to carry on his business under
license, and authority was provided to issue regulations prescribing
just, reasonable, non-discriminatory and fair storage charges,
commissions, profits, and practices. This license control was the Food
Administration's principal means of enforcing provisions against all
wasteful, unjust, and unreasonable charges and procedures.

But it was far from easy to determine all at once either what trades and
commodities should be taken under control or what kind and degree of
control should be exercised. As Hoover said to the Senate Committee on
Agriculture, using a metaphor springing from his engineering experience:

     "It is impossible, in constructing routes and bridges through the
     forest of speculation and difficulty to describe in advance the
     route and detail of these roads and bridges which we must push
     forward from day to day into the unknown."

And, referring again to the same matter in an address before the United
States Chamber of Commerce in September, 1917, he said:

     "We shall find as we go on with the war and its increasing economic
     disruption, that first one commodity then another will need to be
     taken under control. We shall, however, profit by experience if we
     lay down no hard and fast rules, but if we deal with each situation
     on its merits. So long as demand and supply have free play in a
     commodity we had best leave it alone. Our attention to the break in
     normal economic control in other commodities must be designed to
     repair the break, not to set up new economic systems or theories."

Hoover believed in making haste slowly. But he had to move. The crisis
of the situation was upon us, the dike was already leaking and measures
were demanded which would stop the leak before it became a flood. In the
exigency there was no time for the Food Administrator to devise and
carefully test plans suggested by even the most favored theories of
economists, if these plans offered remedies which would only be
available in an indeterminate future. The scope of the war had
disorganized the life and practices of the whole world, had overthrown
all precedents, shattered all fundamental relations. And on nothing was
its disturbing influence upon the normal more potent than in relation to
food supply.

The means of control by license regulations adopted by the Food
Administration were many and various. From the beginning the stocks of
manufacturers and dealers were limited, so that a continuous and even
distribution might prevent shortage and high prices; contracts for
future delivery were limited again to secure an equal distribution and
lessen the possibility of speculative profits from the rising market.
Wasteful and expensive practices were forbidden. All these means were
capable of rather definite application. But a greater difficulty came in
the equally important and necessary work of limiting profits and
securing a more direct distribution from manufacturer and large food
handler to consumer.

The many regulations and the varying activities necessary to achieve
these needs were mostly looked after by a Division of Distribution and
certain allied divisions, devoting their attention to special groups of
commodities. The principal division was under the immediate direction of
Theodore Whitmarsh, one of the most vigorous and able of Hoover's
volunteer helpers. Under Hoover's direction Whitmarsh and his associates
at the head of the special commodity divisions worked out the manifold
details of a regulatory system which was gradually extended to a most
varied assortment of foodstuffs, trades and manufactures.

At the end of 1918 over 250,000 food-handling corporations, firms, and
individuals were under Food Administration licenses. Meat, fish,
poultry, eggs, butter, milk, potatoes, fresh and dried vegetables, and
fruits, canned goods, the coarse grains and rice, vegetable oils,
coffee, and such various commodities accessory to food-handling, as ice,
ammonia (for ice-making), arsenic (for insecticides), jute bags, sisal,
etc., were under direct control to greater or less extent, except when
in the hands of the actual producers and the ultimate retailers. And by
the indirect means of a wide publicity of "fair prices," and by an
influence exerted through the wholesalers, even the retailers were
brought into some degree of agreement or control in connection with the
Food Administration effort to eliminate unfair dealing and food

But more important than the control of any one of these many foods, or
perhaps than of all of them together, and more discussed both in Food
Administration days and since, was the control of wheat, and, as a part
of it, of flour and bread. Some of the methods and results of food
conservation as especially applied to wheat have already been referred
to, but here we are especially concerned with the methods of
governmental control as applied to this grain.

Hoover had learned in Belgium, and by his observation of the situation
in England and Europe, that the poetic expression that bread is the
staff of life becomes endowed with an intense practical significance to
the food controllers and the peoples in bread-eating countries suffering
from food-shortage. The loudest call of hungry people, their primary
anxiety and the first care of the food-controlling authorities all
converge on wheat. The dietetic régime for a semi-starving people is
strong or weak, appeasing or dangerous, in proportion to the bread it
contains. If the bread ration is normal or sufficient much repression
can be used in the case of other foods. With bread there is life. The
call of the Allies on America was for wheat above all else. More than
one half of the normal dietary of France is composed of wheat bread.
England normally uses less bread and more meat, but in the war time she
found she could lessen meat supply more safely than bread supply. It was
for the possible lack of 75,000,000 bushels of wheat that Lord Rhondda
saw the defeat of the Allies staring him in the face.

The government control of the American wheat as contrasted with its
voluntary conservation, took many forms, touching it as grain, as flour,
and as bread, as object of special stimulation for production, as prior
commodity for transportation, and as export product. But curiously, that
feature of its control for which the Food Administration has been most
subject to ill-considered criticism is one for which the Food
Administration has the least responsibility; this is the
government-established "fair price" to the grower.

The Food Control Law as passed by Congress in August, 1917, contained a
provision, guaranteeing a price of two dollars a bushel for the 1918
wheat crop. It was put in to stimulate production to insure the needed
supply for the war period. And it was intended to benefit the farmer. On
the basis of this the Government would presumably be able, by proper
regulation of the food handlers and commercial practices intermediate
between the producer and consumer, both to assure the farmers of a good
price and the consumer of not being driven to panic and revolt by an
impossible cost of his daily bread. That such a regulation was
absolutely and immediately necessary was obvious from the fact that at
the very time the Food Administration was being organized unofficially
along the lines of conservation propaganda in May, 1917, wheat was
selling in Chicago at $3.25 a bushel and the consumer was paying for his
bread on that basis, although the official estimate of the Department of
Agriculture of the average price actually received by the farmer for his
crop was but $1.44 a bushel.

Congress had provided a government guarantee only for the 1918 crop. At
the time of the organization of the Food Administration the 1917 crop
was on the point of coming to market. It seemed highly desirable for the
sake of the farmers to insure their receipt of a fair price for this
crop, also. Therefore the President appointed a committee composed of
representatives of leading farmers' and consumers' organizations
together with a number of agricultural experts from the agricultural
colleges of the country under the chairmanship of President H. H.
Garfield of Williams College, later U. S. Fuel Administrator, to fix on
a "fair price" for the 1917 crop. The Food Administrator, as publicly
announced by President Wilson at the time, took "no part in the
deliberations of the committee" nor "in any way intimated an opinion
regarding that price."

The Committee in view of the fact that the price for 1918 wheat was
already guaranteed at $2.00--it was later increased by the President to
$2.26--and that any smaller price would undoubtedly lead to a
considerable holding over of 1917 wheat for sale at the 1918 price and
that a higher price would have been dangerously unfair to the consumers,
especially the great body of working men, recommended a "fair price" of
$2.20 a bushel for 1917 wheat. It was a price a little higher than that
guaranteed by England to its farmers, about the same as that adopted by
Germany, and a little less than that guaranteed by France, so desperate
that she was ready to pay anything for production, and was already
forestalling the complaint of consumers by subsidizing the bread. The
President adopted the price as recommended to him by the Committee, but
there was no Congressional guarantee to back it up. So, with the fair
price thus determined by an independent commission, the Food
Administrator proceeded with plans for holding the price of wheat at
this level and reflecting it to the farmer. The principal steps taken to
effect this were:

First, the creation of a government corporation (the U. S. Grain
Corporation) which, acting under the provision of the Food Control Law
authorizing the government to buy and sell foodstuffs, could deal in
wheat and exert its influence in the maintenance of the fair price by
acting as a dominant commercial agency for the buying, selling, and
distribution of wheat.

Second, the licensing of all store handlers and millers of wheat and
controlling them both through voluntary agreements and license

Third, the prohibition of trading in futures.

As an illustration of the results quickly obtained by these measures we
may note that while the farmer was getting in the year just before the
war about 27 per cent of the cost of each loaf of bread for the wheat in
it, to which the miller added about 6-1/2 per cent and the middlemen and
bakers the remaining 66-1/2 per cent, and in 1915, after the war began,
the respective proportions were 30 per cent, 11 per cent, and 59 per
cent, in 1918, after the Food Administrator's control was in force, the
farmer got 40 per cent, the miller 3 per cent, and the others 57 per
cent. Or, as another illustration, while in 1917, when there was no food
control the difference between the price of the farmers' wheat and the
flour made from it was $11.00 per barrel this margin during Food
Administration days was about $3.50.

An enumeration of the many and ingenious measures adopted by Hoover and
Julius Barnes, the self-sacrificing and highly efficient head of the
Grain Corporation, to acquit themselves and the Government with fairness
to all interests of the tremendous responsibility and undertaking thus
imposed on them would carry us beyond the limits of our space. These
controllers of the American wheat had in their hands the fate of
nations. The Allies had to be supplied; and the American farmers had to
be stimulated to top effort; and the American consumers, which means the
whole people, had to be kept uninjured in working efficiency and
undismayed by possibility of food panic which would result from
prohibitive prices, or actual shortage. If the war was to be won there
simply had to be wheat enough for all, America and Allies alike, and it
had to be available both as regards distribution and price.

The results of the American wheat control can be summed up in one word:
success. The unwearying labors and undiminished devotion necessary to
achieve this success in face of great difficulties and much criticism
cannot be so readily summed up. But without them the history of the war
would have been a different history. We should never forget this. In the
records of the methods and results of the control lies the matter, all
ready for the competent pen, for an epic of the wheat, the fit third
part of the trilogy that Frank Norris began with "The Octopus" and "The
Pit" and had, at the call of death, to leave unwritten.

Another phase of Hoover's food regulatory activity, concerning which
there was, and still continues to be, much discussion, is that of his
attempt to insure a stimulated production of hogs by a stabilized price
which should well reward the grower and yet not lead to such an
exorbitant cost to the consumer as would have been a dangerous hardship
to our own people and an unfair hold-up of our associates in the war.
Next to wheat, pork products were the American food supplies most
necessary to the Allies.

Hogs are a corn product. The cost of production of hogs depends rather
more upon the price of corn than upon any other factor. Investigation
showed that owing to the violent fluctuations in demand for corn and
hogs during the war, there had been five periods between the beginning
of the war and September, 1917, in which it had been more profitable to
sell corn than to feed it to swine at the price of hogs then
prevailing, while there were only three periods when the reverse was
true. In the preceding eight years there had been only two periods in
which the direct sale of corn was more profitable than feeding it to

The results of these periods of unprofitable feeding was to retard hog
production, as the grower was discouraged from breeding during those
periods. Hoover therefore decided that the maintenance of a proper
relation between the price of corn and the price of hogs was the best
method of assuring an increased production of pork. Furthermore, the
violent fluctuations in the price of hogs tended to lift the price of
the pork products to the consumer unduly, for at every new rise the
stocks already in the warehouses over the whole country were marked up
and the spread between the consumer and the producer thereby increased.
A stabilization of the price of hogs was therefore as necessary for the
protection of the consumer for the sake of a reduction of this spread as
it was in the case of other foodstuffs.

In order that the swine growers should have an opportunity to
participate in the determination of what method would be most fair and
effective in establishing this stabilization and stimulating production,
a committee of leading producers was asked to investigate the whole
matter. This committee made a report late in October, 1917, which, after
setting out the situation in detail and calling attention to the
imperative need of a stimulation of production, declared that although
hog production for the ten years ending 1916 had been maintained on a
ratio of 11.66 bushels of corn to 100 pounds of hog, there had been but
little profit to the grower on this basis and that it would be desirable
for the sake of stimulation to pay at least the equivalent of 13.33
bushels of corn per hundred pounds of average hog and, if possible, as
much as 14.33 pounds. On this latter ratio the committee believed that
production could be increased fifteen per cent above the normal. The
Committee added an expression of its belief that "the best emergency
method of immediately stabilizing the market and preventing the
premature marketing of light unfinished pigs and breeding stock would be
to establish a minimum emergency price for good to select hogs of
sixteen dollars a hundred pounds on the Chicago market."

As the Food Administrator had no power to fix prices by law, nor to
guarantee a price for the producer backed by money in the U. S. Treasury
as in the case of the wheat guarantee, the only means available to him
to assure a stable minimum price for hogs was to come to an agreement
with the principal buyers both of hogs and the prepared pork products
that they would pay a price which would make this minimum possible. This
was accomplished by Hoover, with the approval of the President, in the
following way: The Allies agreed with the United States that their
purchases of food supplies would be made through the Food Administration
(as already explained earlier in this book). They then agreed with the
Food Administrator that their orders for pork and pork products might be
placed with the packers at prices which would enable the packers to buy
the hogs offered them at not less than the minimum price agreed to
between the Food Administrator and the producers. The orders for our
Army and Navy, and for other large buyers, such as the Belgian Relief
and Red Cross, were also placed through the Food Administration upon the
same price basis. The packers then agreed with the Food Administration
that if these orders were placed with them at the stated prices they
would pay to the producer the minimum price announced by the Food
Administration. The combined orders of these principal buyers called for
from thirty to forty per cent of the pork and pork products produced in
the United States, and the price paid by them would obviously determine
the price for the whole amount.

With this power, derived solely by agreement, and not, as many of the
producers seemed to understand, or rather, misunderstand, by
governmental authority exercised, as in the case of wheat, to establish
a government-backed guarantee, the Food Administrator announced on
November 3, 1917, that:

     "The prices (of hogs) so far as we can effect them will not go
     below a minimum of about $15.50 per hundredweight for the average
     of the packers' droves on the Chicago market until further
     notice.... We have had and shall have the advice of a board
     composed of practical hog-growers and experts. That board advises
     us that the best yardstick to measure the cost of production of
     hogs is the cost of corn. The board further advises that the ratio
     of corn price to hog price on the average over a series of years
     has been about twelve to one (or a little less). In the past when
     the ratio has gone lower than twelve to one, the stock of hogs in
     the country has decreased. When it was higher than twelve the hogs
     have increased. The board has given its judgment that to bring the
     stock of hogs back to normal under the present conditions the ratio
     should be about thirteen. Therefore, as to the hogs farrowed next
     spring, we will try to stabilize the price so that the farmer can
     count on getting for each one hundred pounds of hog ready for
     market, thirteen times the average cost per bushel of the corn fed
     to the hogs.... But let there be no misunderstanding of this
     statement. It is not a guarantee backed by money. It is not a
     promise by the packers. It is a statement of the intention and
     policy of the Food Administration which means to do justice to the

The effect of Hoover's action to accomplish the imperatively needed
stimulated production of hogs began to appear by the next July and from
that time on was very marked, the production reaching an increase over
normal of thirty percent. The price assured to the farmers by the Food
Administration was maintained uniformly from November, 1917, to August,
1918. In October, however, a critical situation arose because, by reason
of the growing peace talk, a sharp decline in the price of corn occurred
and this decline spread fear among the growers that a similar reduction
would take place in the price of hogs because of the fixed thirteen to
one corn and hog ratio. A rapid marketing of hogs ensued which broke the

With the Armistice there was an immediate change of attitude on the part
of the Allies who had been trying to build up reserves of pork products
to use in times of possible increased difficulty of transportation. They
now moved promptly toward a reduction of purchases. This made serious
difficulties in maintaining the price to the producers during the months
of December, January, and February. But Hoover's original assurance to
the growers covered these months. It required most vigorous pressure on
his part to compel the Allies to live up to their purchasing agreements.
But he was finally successful in disposing of the material offered by
the growers and thus was able to keep faith with them.

Some criticism of the Food Administration because of this maintenance of
prices was voiced by consumers. But two important things must be
remembered in this connection. In the first place the stabilized price
was established primarily for the sake of stimulating an imperatively
needed increased production. In the second place the assurance of the
Food Administration given to the growers in November, 1917, that it
would do what it could to maintain the price for hogs farrowed in the
spring of 1918 covered sales extending to the spring of 1919. No one
knew that an armistice would come in November, 1918. The only safe plan
was to try to insure a food supply for a reasonably long time in
advance. To have broken the agreement with the producers when the
armistice came would have caused many of them great, even ruinous
losses. Besides it would have been a plain breach of faith. Hoover
would not do it.

In March, 1919, the War Trade Board was no longer willing to continue
its export restrictions. It was only by virtue of these that the Food
Administration had any control of the situation. They were canceled and
from that time on the market was uncontrolled. But by then, the major
hog run was disposed of, and the Food Administration had acquitted
itself of its obligation to the producers.

This is a long and dry story of pigs and corn and difficulty. But I
think it well to tell it, even though it may be dull, because it seems
to be so little known. Hoover's situation vis à vis pigs and producers
and packers in those strenuous days of threatened collapse of an
all-important food supply seems to be too little understood. And this
little understanding has resulted in too much unfair criticism. Now let
us turn to another story with more humans than hogs in it.

Hoover had said, in May, 1917, within a few days after the President had
told him that he wanted him to administer the food of America, as a war
measure: "I conceive that the essence of all special war administration
falls into two phases: first, centralized and single responsibility;
second, delegation of this responsibility to decentralized

Then let us recall how soon after that we were all assuming some share
in this "decentralized administration." If we had not all become Federal
Food Administrators of states, or county, or city, or rural sub-food
administrators, or even members of food conservation committees or
members of honor ration leagues, we were all at least, household food
administrators. We were all administering, in a new light and with a new
aim, the food we bought or cooked or ate. Hoover, the centralized and
responsible head, had decentralized food administration right down to
each one of us.

This decentralization began with an organization of all the states. The
general responsibility for this work was vested in a particular division
of the Food Administration, directed by John W. Hallowell, a young
engineer and business man who revealed a conspicuous capacity in this
important position. As early as June, inquiry was made of Governors of
the states and of other public officials and prominent men concerning
desirable men who would be willing to volunteer their services in
directing the work of the Food Administration within their state, as
their part in the war work of the nation. Early in July as many as had
been so far selected came to Washington for a first conference with
Hoover, at which plans were made for proceeding with the work within the
states immediately upon the passage of the Food Control Act. By August
10 when the Food Administration was formally established, Federal Food
Administrators were already selected for about half the states. The rest
were soon chosen. Frequent meetings were held in Washington.

At each successive conference with Hoover of these state administrators,
who were able men, experienced in business administration or public
service, their enthusiasm, their confidence in his leadership, their
response to his national ideals, their personal devotion to him, grew.
Hoover's relation to them recalled to me, with leapings of the heart,
those earlier days in Brussels when the eager young men of the C. R. B.
used to come rushing in from the provinces to group themselves around
him and derive fresh inspiration and determination from their contact
with him to see the job through and to see it through cleanly and

These Federal Food Administrators listened to Hoover in Washington as we
listened to him in Belgium. He stirred their hearts and satisfied their
minds. And they went back to their difficult tasks, with fresh
conviction and renewed strength. And their tasks were truly difficult,
their voluntarily assumed share of the decentralized administration was
a serious one. But they, too, decentralized parts of the administration;
they set up the district and county and city administrations. And they
and their many helpers were the ones who carried food administration
into every market and grocery store and bakery and home. The whole
country, all the people, became a part of the United States Food

And that was what Hoover wanted and intended. For he knew that only the
people, all of them working voluntarily together, could really
administer the food of America, as it had to be administered in the
great war emergency that had come to the country.

On the day after the armistice Hoover addressed the Federal Food
Administrators, gathered in Washington, for the last time. In this
address he outlined his attitude toward the future work of the Food
Administration and, even more importantly, toward governmental food
control as a policy, in the following words:

     "Our work under the Food Control Act has revolved largely around
     the curtailment of speculation and profiteering. This act will
     expire at the signing of the peace with Germany, and as it
     represents a type of legislation only justified under war
     conditions, I do not expect to see its renewal. It has proved of
     vital importance under the economic currents and psychology of war.
     I do not consider it as of such usefulness in the economic currents
     and psychology of peace. Furthermore, it is my belief that the
     tendency of all such legislation, except in war, is to an
     over-degree to strike at the roots of individual initiative. We
     have secured its execution during the war as to the willing
     coöperation of ninety-five per cent of the trades of the country,
     but under peace conditions it would degenerate into an harassing
     blue law.

     "The law has well justified itself under war conditions. The
     investigations of our economic division clearly demonstrate that
     during the first year of the Food Administration farm prices
     steadily increased by fifteen per cent to twenty per cent on
     various computations, while wholesale prices decreased from three
     per cent to ten per cent, according to the basis of calculation.
     Thus middlemen's cost and profits were greatly reduced. This was
     due to the large suppression of profiteering and speculation and to
     the more orderly trade practices introduced under the law.

     "It is my desire that we should all recognize that we have passed a
     great milestone in the signing of the armistice; that we must get
     upon the path of peace; that therefore we should begin at once to
     relax the regulation and control measures of the Food
     Administration at every point where they do not open a possibility
     of profiteering and speculation. This we cannot and will not permit
     so far as our abilities extend until the last day that we have
     authority under the law. When we entered upon this work eighteen
     months ago our trades were rampant with speculation and
     profiteering. This grew mainly from the utterly insensate raids of
     Europe on our commodities. I look now for a turn of American food
     trades towards conservative and safe business because in this
     period that confronts us, with the decreased buying power of our
     own people, of uncertainty as to the progress of the world's
     politics, with the Government in control of exports and imports, he
     would be a foolish man indeed who today started a speculation in
     food. This is a complete reversal of the commercial atmosphere that
     existed when war began eighteen months ago, and therefore the major
     necessity for law in repression of speculative activities is, to my
     mind, rapidly passing. It is our duty, however, to exert ourselves
     in every direction so to handle our food during reconstruction as
     to protect our producers and our consumers and to assure our trade
     from chaos and panic."

On the same day that this address was made Hoover began the canceling of
the Food Administration regulations, and this cancellation continued
rapidly through November and December. It had to be done with care to
prevent dangerous disorganization, and some continued control was
necessary during the winter and spring in order to carry out the
agreements of price stabilization entered into between the Food
Administration and the producers and handlers of certain commodities, as
hogs, sugar, rice, and cotton seed and its products. The wheat price
guarantee and control especially provided for by Congress and later
Presidential proclamation remained vested in the United States Grain
Corporation. It will expire on June 30, 1920.

But Hoover could not remain in America to see this demobilization of the
Food Administration through personally. Only ten days after the
armistice he left for Europe, at the request of the President, to direct
the participation of the United States in the imperatively needed relief
of the war-ravaged countries of Eastern Europe. Edgar Rickard, who had
been Hoover's chief personal assistant through all of the Food
Administration work, was appointed by the President as Acting Food
Administrator in Hoover's absence.



With the coming of the armistice victorious America and the Allies found
themselves face to face with a terrible situation in Eastern Europe. The
liberated peoples of the Baltic states, Poland, Czecho-Slovakia,
Jugo-Slavia, and the Near East, were in a dreadful state of starvation
and economic wreckage. A great, responsibility and pressing duty
devolved on America, Great Britain, France, and Italy to act promptly
for the relief of these peoples who had become temporarily, by the
hazards of war, their wards. But the Allies themselves were in no
enviable position to relieve others. Their own troubles were many. It
was on America that the major part of this relief work would fall.

No man knew this situation, as far as it could be known before the veil
of blockade and military control was lifted from it, better than
Hoover. And no man realized more clearly than he the direful
consequences that it threatened not only to the peoples of the suffering
countries themselves but to the peace and stability of the world, to
restore which every effort had now to be exerted. Hoover was not only
the man logically indicated to the President of the United States to
undertake this saving relief on the part of America, but he was the man
whom all of Europe recognized as the source of hope in this critical
moment. He came to the gigantic endeavor as the man of the hour.

Hoover naturally made Paris his headquarters, for the Peace Conference
was sitting here, and here also were the representatives of the Allies
with whom he was to associate himself in the combined effort to save the
peoples of Eastern Europe from starvation and help them make a beginning
of self-government and economic rehabilitation.

His first steps were directed toward: First, securing coördination with
the Allied Governments by setting up a council of the associated
governments; second, finding the necessary financial support from the
United States for making the American contribution to this relief;
third, setting up a special organization for the administration of the
American food and funds; and, fourth, urging the provision of funds and
shipping by the Allied Governments.

The special American organization for assisting in this general European
relief was quickly organized under the name of the American Relief
Administration, of which Hoover was formally named by the President
Director-General, and Congress on the recommendation of the President
appropriated, on February 24, 1919, $100,000,000 as a working fund for
the new organization. In addition to this the United States Treasury was
already making monthly loans of several million dollars each to
Roumania, Serbia, and Czecho-Slovakia. But while waiting for the
Congressional appropriation the work had to be got going, and for this
the President contributed $5,000,000 from his special funds available
for extraordinary expenses.

Before actual relief work could be intelligently begun, however, it was
necessary to find out by personal inspection just what the actual food
situation in each of the Eastern European countries was, and for that
purpose investigating missions were sent out in December, 1918, and
January, 1919, to all of the suffering countries.

Hoover had quickly gathered about him, as nucleus of a staff, a number
of men already experienced in relief work and food matters who had
worked with him in the Belgian relief and the American Food
Administration. Others were rapidly added, both civilians of business or
technical experience and army officers, detached at his request,
especially from the Quartermaster and Service of Supplies corps. From
these men he was able to select small groups eager to begin with him the
actual work. His own impatience and readiness to make a real start was
like that of a race-horse at the starting gate or a runner with his toes
on the line awaiting the pistol shot.

The atmosphere of Paris was an irritating one. The men in control were
always saying "wait." There were a thousand considerations of old-time
diplomacy, of present and future political and commercial considerations
in their minds. They were conferring with each other and referring back
to their governments for instructions and then conferring again. Common
sense and necessity were being restrained by political sensitiveness and
inertia. In Hoover's mind one thing was perfectly clear. Time was of the
essence of his contract. Every day of delay meant more difficulty. The
Eastern countries, struggling to find themselves in the chaos of
disorganization, waiting for an official determination of their new
borders, were already becoming entangled in frontier brawls and
quarreling over the control of local sources of food and fuel. Their
people were suffering terribly and were clamoring for help. Hoover was
there to help; he wanted to begin helping. So he began.

Hoover had already taken the position that the day of hate was passed.
With the end of mutual slaughter and destruction came immediately the
time for help. It was like that pitiful period after the battle when the
bloody field is taken over by the stretcher-bearers, the Red Cross
nurses, and the tireless surgeons. So Hoover had already clearly in mind
that the hand of charity was going to be extended to the sufferers in
Hungary and Austria and Germany as well as to the people who were
suffering because of the ravages of the armies of these nations. Dr.
Alonzo Taylor and I, whom he had sent early in December to Switzerland
to get into close touch with the situation in Eastern and Central
Europe, listened, for him, in Berne to the pitiful pleas of the
representatives of starving Vienna. By January Hoover's missions were
installed and at work in Trieste, Belgrade, Vienna, Prague, Buda-Pest,
and Warsaw. In February Dr. Taylor and I were reporting the German
situation from Berlin.

The attitude of the people in these countries was one of pathetic
dependence on American aid and confidence that it would be forthcoming.
The name of Hoover was already known all over Europe because of his
Belgian work, and the swiftly-spread news that he was in charge of the
new relief work acted like magic in restoring hope to these despairing

When the first food mission to Poland, making its way in the first week
of January, 1919, with difficulty and discomfort because of the
demoralized transportation conditions, had reached that part of its
journey north of Vienna towards Cracow which brought it into
Czecho-Slovakia, our train halted at a station gaily decorated with
flags and bunting among which the American colors were conspicuous. A
band was playing vigorously something that sounded like the
Star-Spangled Banner, and a group of top-hatted and frock-coated
gentlemen were the front figures in a great crowd that covered the
station platform. I was somewhat dismayed by these evident preparations
for a reception, for we were not coming to try to help Czecho-Slovakia,
but Poland, between which two countries sharp feeling was already
developing in connection with the dispute over the Teschen coal fields.
I told my interpreter, therefore, to hurry off the train and explain the

He returned with one of the gentlemen of high hat and long coat who
said, in broken French: "Well, anyway, you are the food mission, aren't
you?" I replied, "Yes, but we are going to Warsaw; we are only passing
through your country; we can't do anything for you."

"But," he persisted, "you are the Americans, aren't you?"

"Yes, we are the Americans."

"Well, then, it's all right." And he waved an encouraging hand to the
band, which responded with increased endeavor, while the crowd cheered
and waved the home-made American flags. And we were received and
addressed, and given curious things to drink and a little food--we gave
them in return some Red Cross prisoner packages we carried along for our
own maintenance--and then we were sent on with more cheers and hearty

Delay so plainly meant sharper suffering and more deaths that even
before the necessary financial and other arrangements were completed or
even well under way, Hoover had made arrangements with the Secretary of
War by which vessels carrying 135,000 tons of American food were
diverted from French to Mediterranean ports, and with the Grain
Corporation, under authority of the Treasury, by which 145,000 tons
were started for northern European ports. Thus by the time arrangements
had been made for financing the shipments and for internal
transportation and safe control and fair distribution, the food cargoes
were already arriving at the nearest available ports. Within a few weeks
from the time the first mission arrived in Warsaw and had reported back
to Hoover the terrible situation of the Polish people, the relief food
was flowing into Poland through Dantzig, the German port for the use of
which for this purpose a special article in the terms of the armistice
had provided, but which was only most reluctantly and by dint of strong
pressure made available to us.

Similarly from Trieste the food trains began moving north while there
still remained countless details of arrangement to settle. I was in
Vienna when the first train of American relief food came in from the
South. The Italians were also attempting to send in some supplies, but
so far all the trains which had started north had been blocked at some
border point. The American train was in charge of two snappy doughboys,
a corporal and a private. When it reached the point of blockade the
corporal was told that he could go no farther. He asked why, but only
got for answer a curt statement that trains were not moving just now.
"But this one is," he replied, and called to his private: "Let me have
my gun." With revolver in hand he instructed the engineer to pull out.
And the train went on. When I asked him in Vienna if he had worried any
at the border about the customs and military regulations of the
governments concerned which he was disregarding, he answered with a
cheerful smile: "Not a worry; Mr. Hoover's representative at Trieste
told me to take the train through and it was up to me to take her,
wasn't it? These wop kings and generals don't count with me. I'm working
for Hoover."

But the whole situation in these southeastern countries because of their
utter disorganization and their hopeless embroilment in conflict with
each other, was too impossible. Whatever degree of peace the capitals of
these countries recognized as the diplomatic status of the moment, the
frontiers had no illusions. There were trenches out there and
machine-guns and bayonets. Men were shooting at each other across the
lines. Either the trains or cars of one country would be stopped at the
border, or if they got across they did not get back. Some countries had
enough cars and locomotives; some did not. If one country had some coal
to spare but was starving for lack of the wheat which could be spared by
its neighbor, which was freezing, there was no way of making the needed
exchange. The money of each country became valueless in the others--and
of less and less value in its own land. Everything was going to pieces,
including the relief. It simply could not go on this way.

Finally, as a result of Hoover's insistence at Paris on the terrible
danger of delay both to the lives of the people and the budding
democracy of Europe, the Supreme Economic Council took the drastic
measure of temporarily taking over the control of the whole
transportation system of Southeastern Europe which was put into Hoover's
hands, leaving him to arrange by agreement, as best he could, according
to his own ideas and opportunities, the other matters of finance, coal,
the interchange of native commodities between adjacent countries and the
distribution of imported food.

Hoover became, in a word, general economic and life-saving manager for
the Eastern European countries. It is from my personal knowledge of his
achievements in this extraordinary position during the first eight
months after the Armistice that I have declared my belief earlier in
this account that it was owing more to Hoover and his work than to any
other single influence that utter anarchy and chaos and complete
Bolshevik domination in Eastern Europe (west of Russia) were averted. In
other words, Hoover not only saved lives, but nations and civilizations
by his superhuman efforts. The political results of his work were but
incidental to his life-saving activities, but from an historical and
international point of view they were even more important.

Before, however, referring to them more specifically, something of the
scope and special character of the general European relief and supply
work should be briefly explained.

Altogether, twenty countries received supplies of food and clothing
under Hoover's control acting as Director-General of Relief for the
Supreme Economic Council. The total amount of these supplies delivered
from December 1, 1918, to June 1, 1919, was about three and a quarter
million tons, comprising over six hundred shiploads, of a total
approximate value of eight hundred million dollars. There were, in
addition, on June 1, port stocks of over 100,000 tons ready for internal
delivery, and other supplies came later.

The twenty countries sharing in the supplies included Belgium and
Northern France (through the C. R. B.), the Baltic states of Finland,
Esthonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, a small part of Russia, Poland,
Czecho-Slovakia, Germany, German Austria, Hungary, Roumania, Bulgaria,
Greater Servia, Turkey, Armenia, Italy, and the neutrals, Denmark and
Holland. By the terms of the Congressional Act appropriating the hundred
million dollars for the relief of Eastern Europe, no part of the money
could be used for the relief of Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, or
Turkey. But Vienna needed help more quickly and imperatively than any
other eastern capital. Hoover arranged that money should be advanced by
England and France for food purchases in America for Austria and
Hungary. This food was put into Hoover's hands, and to him was left the
problem of getting it into the suffering countries. Germany was supplied
under the approval of the Allies in accordance with the armistice

The "relief" of Eastern and Central Europe was, of course, not all
charity in the usually accepted meaning of the term. The American
hundred million dollars and the British sixty million dollars could not
buy the needed eight hundred millions' worth of food and clothing. In
fact, of that American hundred million all but about fifteen are now
again in the U. S. Treasury in the form of promises to pay signed by
various Eastern European Governments. About ten millions of it were
given by Hoover outright, in the form of special food for child
nutrition, to the under-nourished children from the Baltic to the Black
Sea. By additions made to this charity by the Eastern European
Governments themselves and by the nationals of these countries resident
in America, and from other sources, two and a half million weak children
are today still being given (May, 1920) a daily supplementary meal of
special food.

Hoover's experience in Belgium and Northern France had taught him how
necessary was the special care of the children. All the war-ravaged
countries have lost a material part of their present generation. In some
of them the drainage of human life and strength approaches that of
Germany after the Thirty Years War and of France after the Napoleonic
wars. If they are not to suffer a racial deterioration the coming
generation must be nursed to strength. The children, then, who are the
immediately coming generation and the producers of the ones to follow,
must be particularly cared for. That is what Hoover gave special
attention to from the beginning of his relief work and it is what he is
now still giving most of his time and energy to.

For the general re-provisioning of the peoples of Eastern and Central
Europe all of the various countries supplied were called on to pay for
the food at cost, plus transportation, to the extent of their
possibilities. Gold, if they had it--all of Germany's supply was paid
for in gold--paper money at current exchange, government promissory
notes, and commodities which could be sold to other countries, made up
the payments. The charity was in making loans, providing the food,
getting ships and barges and trains and coal for its transportation,
selling it at cost, and giving the service of several hundred active,
intelligent, and sympathetic Americans, mostly young and khaki-clothed,
and a lesser group of Allied officers, all devoted to getting the food
where it was needed and seeing that it was fairly distributed.

It is impossible to depict the utter bewilderment and helplessness of
the governments of the liberated nations of Eastern Europe at the
beginning of the armistice period. Nor is it possible to explain
adequately the enormous difficulties they faced in any attempt at
organizing, controlling, and caring for their peoples. With uncertain
boundaries--for the demarcation of these they were waiting on a hardly
less bewildered group of eminent gentlemen in Paris; with a financial
and economic situation presenting such appalling features of
demoralization that they could only be realized one at a time; with
their people clamoring for the immediately necessary food, fuel and
clothing, and demanding a swift realization of all the benefits that
their new freedom was to bring them; and with an ever more menacing
whistling wind of terror blowing over them from the East--with all this,
how the responsible men of the governments which rapidly succeeded each
other in these countries retained any persistent vestiges of sanity is
beyond the comprehension of those of us who viewed the scene at close

For a single but sufficient illustration let us take the situation in
the split apart fragments of the former great Austro-Hungarian Empire,
which now constitute all or parts of German Austria, Hungary,
Czecho-Slovakia, Jugo-Slavia and Roumania. For all these regions (except
Roumania) Vienna had for years been the center of political authority
and chief economic control. In Vienna were many of the land-owners, most
of the heads of the great industries, and the directors of the
transportation system. It was the financial and market center, the hub
of a vast, intricate, and delicate orb-web of economic organization. But
the people and the goods of the various separated regions, except German
Austria, the smallest, weakest, and most afflicted one of them all, were
cut off from it and all were cut off from each other. The final
political boundaries were not yet fixed, to be sure, but actual military
frontiers were already established with all their limitations on
inter-communication and their disregard of personal needs. Shut up
within their frontiers these regions found themselves varyingly with or
without money--if they had any it was of ever-decreasing purchasing
power--with or without food, fuel, and raw materials for industry; and
with lesser or larger numbers of locomotives and railway cars, mostly
lesser. But of everything the distribution bore no calculated relation
to the needs of the industry and commerce or even to the actual
necessities of the people for the preservation of health and life.

Vienna, itself, "_die lustige schöne Stadt Wien_" was, as it still is
today and for long will be, the saddest great capital in Europe. Reduced
from its position of being the governing, spending, and singing and
dancing capital of an empire of fifty-five million people--it never was
a producing capital--to be the capital of a small, helpless nation of
scant seven million people concentrated in a region unable to meet even
their needs of food and coal--Vienna represents the pathetic extreme of
the cataclysmic results of War.

But if the situation was most complex and hopeless in the south, it was
far from simple or hopeful in the north. Poland, the smaller Baltic
states and Finland were all in desperate plight and their new
governments were all aghast at the magnitude of the problem before them.
To add to the difficulties of general disorganization of peoples, lack
of the necessities of life, and helplessness of governments, there was
ever continuing war. Armistice meant something real on the West and
Austro-Italian fronts, but it meant little to Eastern Europe. There was
a score of very lively little wars going on at once over there: Poland
alone was fighting with four different adversaries, one at each corner
of her land.

But the climax of the situation was reached in the realization by all
immediately concerned that something saving had to be done at once, or
the whole thing would become literal anarchy, with red and howling death
rampant over all. Bolshevik Russia, just over the Eastern borders, was
not only a vivid reality to these countries, but it was constantly
threatening to come across the borders and engulf them.

Its agents were working continuously among their peoples; there were
everywhere the sinister signs of the possibility of a swift removal of
the frontiers of Bolshevism from their Eastern to their Western borders.
In Paris the eminent statesmen and famous generals of the Peace
Conference and the Supreme Council sat and debated. They sent out
occasional ultimata ordering the cessation of fighting, the retirement
from a far advanced frontier, and what not else. Inter-Allied Economic
and Military Missions came and looked on and conferred and returned.
But nobody stopped fighting, and the conferences settled nothing. The
Allies were not in a position--this need be no secret now--to send
adequate forces to enforce their ultimata. An Inter-Allied Military
Mission of four generals of America, Great Britain, France and Italy
started by special train from Cracow to Lemberg to convey personally an
ultimatum to the Ruthenians and Poles ordering them to stop fighting.
The train was shelled by the Ruthenians east of Przemsyl, and the
generals came back. Eastern Europe expected the great powers to do
something about this, but nothing happened, and the discount on ultimata
became still more marked.

Somebody had to do something that counted. So Hoover did it. It was not
only lives that had to be saved; it was nations. It was not only
starvation that had to be fought; it was approaching anarchy, it was

As already stated, Hoover's food ships had left America for Southern and
Northern European ports before Hoover's men had even got into the
countries to be fed. As a consequence, food deliveries closely followed
food investigations. That counted with the people. One of Hoover's rules
was that food could only go into regions where it could be safeguarded
and controlled. That counted against Bolshevism. Shrewd Bela Kun was
able to play a winning game in Hungary against the Peace Conference and
Supreme Councils at Paris, but he was out-played by soft-voiced,
square-jawed Captain "Tommy" Gregory, Hoover's general director for
Southeast Europe, and it was this same California lawyer in khaki,
turned food man, who, when the communist Kun had passed and the pendulum
had swung as dangerously far in the other direction, allowing the
audacious Hapsburg, Archduke Joseph, to slip into power, had done most
to unseat him.

Gregory had been able to commandeer all the former military wires in the
Austro-Hungarian countries for use in the relief work. So he was able to
keep Hoover advised of all the news, not only promptly, but in good
Americanese. His laconic but fully descriptive message to Paris
announcing the Archduke's passing read: "August 24th, Archie went
through the hoop at 8 P. M. today."

Relief in Eastern Europe was spelled by Hoover with a capital _R_ and
several additional letters. It really spelled Rehabilitation. It meant,
in addition to sending in food, straightening out transportation,
getting coal mines going, and the starting up of direct exchange of
commodities among the unevenly supplied countries. There was some
surplus wheat in the Banat, some surplus coal in Czecho-Slovakia, some
extra locomotives in Vienna. So under the arbitrage of himself and his
lieutenants there was set up a wholesale international bartering, a
curious reversion to the primitive ways of early human society.

This exchange of needed goods by barter solved in some degree the
impossible financial situation, gave the people an incentive to work,
and helped reduce political inflammation. It was practical statesmanship
meeting things as they were and not as they might more desirably be, but
were not. I say again, and many men in the governments of Eastern
Europe, and even in the councils in Paris[1] have said, that Hoover
saved Eastern Europe from anarchy, and held active Bolshevism to its
original frontiers. That meant saving Western Europe, too.

Then Hoover came back to America to be an American private citizen
again. That is what he is today. He is still carrying on two great
charities in Eastern Europe: the daily feeding of millions of
under-nourished children, and the making possible, through his American
Relief Warehouses, for anyone in America to help any relatives or
friends anywhere in Eastern Europe by direct food gifts. But he is doing
it as private citizen. The story of Hoover--as far as I can write it
today--is that of an American who saw a particular kind of service he
could render his country and Europe and humanity in a great crisis. He
rendered it, and thus most truly helped make the world safe for
Democracy and human ideals. It would only be fair to add to his Belgian
citation the larger one of American Citizen of the World and Friend of
All the People. But he would only be embarrassed if anyone attempted to
do it now. We can safely leave the matter to History.

[Footnote 1: The official representative of the Treasury of one of the
Allied powers, who had no reason to be too friendly to the American
director of relief, for Hoover had often to oppose the policies of this
power in the Paris councils, has recently written of him: "Mr. Hoover
was the only man who emerged from the ordeal of Paris with an enhanced
reputation. This complex personality, with his habitual air of weary
Titan (or, as others might put it, of exhausted prizefighter), his eyes
steadily fixed on the true and essential facts of the European
situation, imported into the Councils of Paris, when he took part in
them, precisely that atmosphere of reality, knowledge, magnanimity, and
disinterestedness, which, if they had been found in other quarters also,
would have given us the Good Peace."]




With the war effectually over we enter a new economic era, and its
immediate effect on prices is difficult to anticipate. The maintenance
of the embargo will prevent depletion of our stocks by hungry Europe to
any point below our necessities, and anyone who contemplates speculation
in food against the needs of these people can well be warned of the
prompt action of the government. The prices of some food commodities may
increase, but others will decrease, because with liberated shipping
accumulated stocks in the Southern hemisphere and the Far East will be
available. The demands upon the United States will change in character
but not in volume.

The course of food prices in the United States during the last fifteen
months is of interest. In general, for the first twelve months of the
Food Administration the prices to the farmer increased, but decreased to
the consumer by the elimination of profiteering and speculation. Due to
increases in wages, transportation, etc., the prices have been
increasing during the last four months.

The currents which affect food prices in the United States are much less
controlled than in the other countries at war. The powers of the Food
Administration in these matters extend:

First, to the control of profits by manufacturers, wholesalers and
dealers, and the control of speculation in foodstuffs. They do not
extend to the control of the great majority of retailers, to public
eating places, or the farmer, except so far as this can be accomplished
on a voluntary basis.

Second, the controlled buying for the Allied civil populations and
armies, the neutrals and the American army and navy, dominates the
market in certain commodities at all times, and in other commodities
part of the time. In these cases it is possible to effect, in
coöperation with producers and manufacturers, a certain amount of
stability in price. I have never favored attempts to fix maximum prices
by law; the universal history of these devices in Europe has been that
they worked against the true interests of both producer and consumer.

The course of prices during the first year of the Food Administration,
that is, practically the period ending July 1,1918, is clearly shown by
the price indexes of the Department of Agriculture and the Department of
Labor. Taking 1913 prices as the basis, the average prices of farm
produce for the three months ending July 1, 1917, were, according to the
Department of Agriculture's price index, 115 per cent more than the
average of 1913 prices, and according to the Department of Labor index,
it was 91 per cent over 1913 prices. The two departments use somewhat
different bases of calculation. The average of farmers' prices one year
later--that is, the three months ending July 1,1918, was, according to
the Department of Agriculture indexes, 127 per cent over the 1913 basis
and, according to the Department of Labor index, was 114 per cent over
the 1913 average. Thus farm prices increased 12 per cent on the
Department of Agriculture calculations and 23 per cent upon the
Department of Labor basis.

An examination of wholesale prices, that is, of prepared foods, shows a
different story:

The Department of Agriculture does not maintain an index of wholesale
prices, but the Department of Labor does, and this index shows a
decrease in wholesale prices from 87 per cent over 1913 basis to 79 per
cent over the 1913 basis for the three months ending July 1, 1917, and
July 1, 1918, respectively. The Food Administration price index of
wholesale prices calculated upon still another basis shows a decrease of
from 84 per cent to 80 per cent between these periods one year apart.

Thus all indexes show an increase in farmers' prices and a decrease in
wholesale prices of food during the year ending July 1, 1918. In other
words, a great reduction took place in middlemen's charges, amounting to
between 15 per cent and 30 per cent depending upon the basis of
calculation adopted. These decreases have come out of the elimination of
speculation and profiteering.

The course of retail prices corroborates these results also. Since
October, 1917, the Food Administration has had the services of 2,500
weekly, voluntary retail price reporters throughout the United States.
These combined reports show that the combined prices per unit of 24 most
important foodstuffs were $6.62 in October, 1917. The same quantities
and commodities could be bought for $6.55 average for the spring
quarter, 1918--that is, a small drop had taken place. During this same
period of quarters ending July 1, 1917, to July 1, 1918, the prices of
clothing rose from 74 per cent to 136 per cent over 1913, or a rise of
about 62 per cent, according to the Department of Labor indexes.

Since the spring quarter, ending July 1, 1918, there has been a rise in
prices, the Department of Agriculture index for September showing that
farm price averages were 138 per cent over the 1913 basis, and the
Department of Labor index showing 136 per cent, or a rise from the
average of the spring quarter this year of 11 per cent and 22 per cent
respectively to the farmer. The wholesale price index of the Department
of Labor shows a rise from 79 per cent average of the spring quarter,
1918, to 99 per cent for September, or a rise of 20 per cent. The Food
Administration wholesale index shows an increase from 80 per cent to 100
per cent, or 20 per cent for the same period.

In October, 1918, the Food Administration retail price reports show that
the retail cost of the same quantity of the 24 principal foodstuffs was
$7.58 against an average of $6.55 for the spring quarter 1918, or a rise
of about 18 per cent.

It is obvious enough that prices have risen during the last three
months both to the farmer and to the wholesaler and retailer. On the
other hand, these rising prices have only kept pace with the farmers'

Since the first of July this year, many economic forces have caused a
situation adverse to the consumer. There has been a steady increase in
wages, a steady increase in cost of the materials which go into food
production and manufacture, and in containers and supplies of all kinds.
There has been an increase of 25 per cent in freight rates. The rents of
the country are increasing and therefore costs of manufacturing,
distribution and transportation are steadily increasing and should
inevitably affect prices. The public should distinguish between a rise
in prices and profiteering, for with increasing prices to the
farmer--who is himself paying higher wages and cost--and with higher
wages and transport, prices simply must rise. An example of what this
may come to can be shown in the matter of flour. The increased cost of
transportation from the wheat-producing regions to New York City amounts
to about forty cents per barrel. The increased cost of cotton bags
during the last fourteen months amounts to thirty cents per barrel of
flour. The increase in wholesalers' costs of drayage, rents, etc.,
amounts to ten cents, or a total of eighty cents without including the
increased costs of the miller or retailer.

Such changes do not come under the category of profiteering. They are
the necessary changes involved by the economic differences in the
situation. We cannot "have our cake and eat it." In other words, we
cannot raise wages, railway rates, expand our credits and currency, and
hope to maintain the same level of prices of foods. All that the Food
Administration can do is to see as far as is humanly possible that these
alterations take place without speculation or profiteering, and that
such readjustments are conducted in an orderly manner. Even though it
were in the power of the Food Administration to repress prices, the
effect of maintaining the same price level in the face of such increases
in costs of manufacture, transportation and distribution, would be
ultimately to curtail production itself. We are in a period of inflation
and we cannot avoid the results.

We have had a large measure of voluntary coöperation both from
producers, manufacturers and wholesalers, in suppression of profiteering
and speculation. There are cases that have required stern measures, and
some millions of dollars have been refunded in one way or another to
the public. The number of firms penalized is proportionately not large
to the total firms engaged.

In the matter of voluntary control of retailers we have had more
difficulty, but in the publication from week to week in every town in
the country of "fair prices" based upon wholesale costs and type of
service, there has been a considerable check made upon overcharges. The
Food Administration continues through the armistice until legal peace
and there will be no relaxation of efforts to keep down profiteering and
speculation to the last moment.



I have been greatly honored as your unanimous choice for President of
this Institute with which I have been associated during my entire
professional life. It is customary for your new President, on these
occasions, to make some observation on matters of general interest from
the engineer's standpoint.

The profession of engineering in the United States comprises not alone
scientific advisers on industry, but is in great majority composed of
men in administrative positions. In such positions they stand midway
between capital and labor. The character of your training and experience
leads you to exact and quantitative thought. This basis of training in a
great group of Americans furnished a wonderful recruiting ground for
service in these last years of tribulation. Many thousands of engineers
were called into the army, the navy, and civilian service for the
Government. Thousands of high offices were discharged by them with
credit to the profession and the nation.

We have in this country probably one hundred thousand professional
engineers. The events of the past few years have greatly stirred their
interest in national problems. This has taken practical form in the
maintenance of joint committees for discussion of these problems and
support to a free advisory bureau in Washington. The engineers want
nothing for themselves from Congress. They want efficiency in
government, and you contribute to the maintenance of this bureau out of
sheer idealism. This organization for consideration of national problems
has had many subjects before it and I propose to touch on some of them
this evening.

Even more than ever before is there necessity for your continued
interest in this vast complex of problems that must be met by our
Government. We are faced with a new orientation of our country to world
problems. We face a Europe still at war; still amid social revolutions;
some of its peoples still slacking on production; millions starving; and
therefore the safety of its civilization is still hanging by a slender
thread. Every wind that blows carries to our shores an infection of
social diseases from this great ferment; every convulsion there has an
economic reaction upon our own people. If we needed further proof of the
interdependence of the world, we have it today in the practical blockade
of our export market. The world is asking us to ratify long delayed
peace in the hope that such confidence will be restored as will enable
her to reconstruct her economic life. We are today contemplating
maintenance of an enlarged army and navy in preparedness for further
upheavals in the world, and failing to provide even some insurance
against war by a league to promote peace.

Out of the strain of war, weaknesses have become ever more evident in
our administrative organization, in our legislative machinery. Our
federal government is still overcentralized, for we have upon the hands
of our government enormous industrial activities which have yet to be
demobilized. We are swamped with debt and burdened with taxation. Credit
is woefully inflated; speculation and waste are rampant. Our own
productivity is decreasing. Our industrial population is crying for
remedies for the increasing cost of living and aspiring to better
conditions of life and labor. But beyond all this, great hopes and
aspirations are abroad; great moral and social forces have been
stimulated by the war and will not be quieted by the ratification of
peace. These are but some of the problems with which we must deal. I
have no fear that our people will not find solutions. But progress is
sometimes like the old-fashioned rail fence--some rails are perhaps
misshapen and all look to point the wrong way; but in the end, the fence

Your committees, jointly with those of other engineering societies, have
had before them and expressed their views on many matters concerning the
handling of the railways, shipping, the reorganization of the government
engineering work, the national budget, and other practical items.

The war nationalization of railways and shipping are our two greatest
problems in governmental control awaiting demobilization. There are many
fundamental objections to continuation of these experiments in socialism
necessitated by the war. They lie chiefly in their destruction of
initiative in our people and the dangers of political domination that
can grow from governmental operation. Beyond this, the engineers will
hold that the successful conduct of great industries is to a
transcendant degree dependent upon the personal abilities and character
of their employees and staff. No scheme of political appointment has
ever yet been devised that will replace competition in its selection of
ability and character. Both shipping and railways have today the
advantage of many skilled persons sifted out in the hard school of
competition, and even then the government operation of these enterprises
is not proving satisfactory. Therefore, the ultimate inefficiency that
would arise from the deadening paralysis of bureaucracy has not yet had
full opportunity for development. Already we can show that no government
under pressure of ever-present political or sectional interests can
properly conduct the risks of extension and improvement, or can be free
from local pressure to conduct unwarranted services in industrial
enterprise. On the other hand, our people have long since recognized
that we cannot turn monopoly over to unrestrained operation for profit
nor that the human rights of employees can ever be dominated by

Our business is handicapped on every side by the failure of our
transportation facilities to grow with the country. It is useless to
talk about increased production to meet an increased standard of living
in an increasing population without a greatly increased transport
equipment. Moreover, there are very great social problems underlying
our transport system; today their contraction is forcing a congestion of
our population around the great cities with all that these overswollen
settlements import. Even such great disturbances as the coal strike have
a minor root in our inadequate transportation facilities and their
responsibility for intermittent operation of the mines.

We are all hoping that Congress will find a solution to this problem
that will be an advanced step toward the combined stimulation of the
initiative of the owners, the efficiency of operation, the enlistment of
the good will of the employees, and the protection of the public. The
problem is easy to state. Its solution is almost overwhelming in
complexity. It must develop with experience, step by step, toward a real
working partnership of its three elements.

The return of the railways to the owners places predominant private
operation upon its final trial. If instant energy, courage and large
vision in the owners should prove lacking in meeting the immediate
situation we shall be faced with a reaction that will drive the country
to some other form of control. Energetic enlargement of equipment,
better service, coöperation with employees, and the least possible
advance in rates, together with freedom from political interest, will be
the scales upon which the public will weigh these results.

Important phases of our shipping problem that have come before you
should receive wider discussion by the country. As the result of war
pressure, we shall spend over $2,800,000,000 in the completion of a
fleet of nineteen hundred ships of a total of 111,000,000 tons--nearly
one quarter of the world's cargo shipping. We are proud of this great
expansion of our marine, and we wish to retain it under the American
flag. Our shipping problem has one large point of departure from the
railway problem, for there is no element of natural monopoly. Anyone
with a water-tight vehicle can enter upon the seas today, and our
government is now engaged upon the conduct of a nationalized industry in
competition with our own people and all the world besides. While in the
railways government inefficiency could be passed on to the consumer, on
the seas we will sooner or later find it translated to the national

Until the present time, there has been a shortage in the world's
shipping, but this is being rapidly overtaken and we shall soon be met
with fierce competition of private industry. If the government continues
in the shipping business, we shall be disappointed from the point of
view of profits. For we shall be faced with the ability of private
enterprise to make profits from the margins of higher cost of government
operation alone. Aside from those losses inherent in bureaucracy and
political pressure, there are others special to this case. The largest
successfully managed cargo fleet in the world comprises about one
hundred and twenty ships and yet we are attempting to manage nineteen
hundred ships at the hands of a government bureau. In normal times the
question of profit or loss in a ship is measured by a few hundred tons
of coal wasted, by a little extravagance in repairs, or by four or five
days on a round trip. Beyond this, private shipping has a free hand to
set up such give-and-take relationships with merchants all over the
world as will provide sufficient cargo for all legs of a voyage, and
these arrangements of coöperation cannot be created by government
employees without charge or danger of favoritism. Lest fault be found,
our government officials are unable to enter upon the detailed higgling
in fixing rates required by every cargo and charter. Therefore they must
take refuge in rigid regulations and in fixed rates. In result, their
competitors underbid by the smallest margins necessary to get the
cargoes. The effect of our large fleet in the world's markets is thus
to hold up rates, for so long as this great fleet in one hand holds a
fixed rate others will only barely underbid. If we hold up rates an
increasing number of our ships will be idle as the private fleet grows.
On the other hand, if we reduce rates we shall be underbid until the
government margin of larger operation cost causes us to lose money.

We shall yet be faced with the question of demobilizing a considerable
part of this fleet into private hands, or frankly acknowledging that we
operate it for other reasons than interest on our investment. In this
whole problem there are the most difficult considerations requiring the
best business thought in the country. In the first instance, our
national progress requires that we retain a large fleet under our flag
to protect our national commercial expansion overseas. Secondly, we may
find it desirable to hold a considerable government fleet to build up
trade routes in expansion of our trade, even at some loss in operation.
Thirdly, in order to create this fleet, we have built up an enormous
ship-building industry. Fifty per cent of the capacity of our ship yards
will more than provide any necessary construction for American account.
Therefore there is a need of obtaining foreign orders, or the reduction
of capacity, or both. I believe, with most engineers, that, with our
skill in repetition manufacture, we can compete with any ship builders
in the world and maintain our American wage standards; but this
repetition manufacture implies a constant flow of orders. It would seem
highly desirable, in order to maintain the most efficient yards until
they can establish themselves firmly in the world's industrial fabric,
that the Government should continue to let some ship construction
contracts to the lowest bidders, these contracts to supplement private
building in such a way as to maintain the continuous operation of the
most economical yards and the steady employment of our large number of
skilled workers engaged therein.

When we consider giving orders for new ships, we must at the same time
consider the sale of ships, as we cannot go on increasing this fleet.
When we consider sale, we are confronted with the fact that our present
ships were built under expensive conditions of war, costing from three
to four times per ton the pre-war amount, and that already any merchant,
subject to the long time of delivery, can build a ship for seventy-five
per cent of their cost. It would at least seem good national policy to
sell ships today for the price we can contract for delivery a year or
two hence, thus making the government a reservoir for continuous

We could thus stabilize building industry to some degree and also bring
the American-owned fleet into better balance, if each time that the
government sold three or four emergency constructed cargo vessels it
gave an order for one ship of a better and faster type. This would make
reduction in our ship-building steadier and would give the country the
type of ships we need.

Our joint engineering committees have examined with a great deal of care
into the organization of and our expenditure on public works and
technical services. These committees have consistently and strongly
urged the appalling inefficiency in the government organization of these
matters. They report to you that the annual expenditure on such works
and services now amounts to over $250,000,000 per annum, and that they
are carried out today in nine different governmental departments. They
report that there is a great waste by lack of national policy of
coördination, in overlapping with different departments, in competition
with each other in the purchase of supplies and materials, and in the
support of many engineering staffs.

They recommend the solution that almost every civilized government has
long since adopted, that is, the coördination of these measures into one
department under which all such undertakings should be conducted and
controlled. As a measure practical to our government, they have
advocated that all such bureaus should be transferred to the Interior
Department, and all the bureaus not relating to those matters should be
transferred from the Interior to other departments. The Committee
concludes that no properly organized and directed saving in public works
can be made until such a re-grouping and consolidation is carried out,
and that all of the cheeseparing that normally goes on in the honest
effort of Congressional committees to control departmental expenditure
is but a tithe of that which could be effected if there were some
concentration of administration along the lines long since demonstrated
as necessary to the success of private business.

Another matter of government organization to which our engineers have
given adhesion is in the matter of the national budget. To minds charged
with the primary necessity of advance planning, coördination, provision
of synchronizing parts in organization, the whole notion of our
hit-or-miss system is repugnant. A budget system is not the remedy for
all administrative ills, but it provides a basis of organization that at
least does not paralyze administrative efficiency as our system does
today. Through it, the coördination of expenditure in government
department, the prevention of waste and overlapping in government
bureaus, the exposure of the "pork barrel," and the balancing of the
relative importance of different national activities in the allocation
of our national income can all be greatly promoted. Legislation would
also be expedited. No budget that does not cover all government
expenditure is worth enactment. Furthermore, without such reorganization
as the grouping of construction departments, the proper formulation of a
budget would be hopeless. The budget system in some form is so nearly
universal in civilized governments and in completely conducted business
enterprise, and has been adopted in thirty of our States, that its
absence in our federal government is most extraordinary. It is, however,
but a further testimony that it is always a far cry of our citizens from
the efficiency in their business to interest in the efficiency of their

Another great national problem to which every engineer in the United
States is giving earnest thought, and with which he comes in daily
contact, is that of the relationship of employer and employee in
industry. In this, as in many other national problems today, we are
faced with a realization that the science of economics has altered from
a science of wealth to a science of human relationships to wealth. We
have gone on for many years throwing the greatest of our ingenuity and
ability into the improvement of processes and tools of production. We
have until recently greatly neglected the human factor that is so large
an element in our very productivity. The development of vast repetition
in the process of industry has deadened the sense of craftsmanship, and
the great extension of industry has divorced the employer and his
employee from that contact that carried responsibility for the human
problem. This neglect of the human factor has accumulated much of the
discontent and unrest throughout our great industrial population and has
reacted in a decrease of production. Yet our very standards of living
are dependent on a maximum productivity up to the total necessities of
our population.

Another economic result is, or will be yet, a repercussion upon the
fundamental industry of the United States, that is, agriculture. For the
farmer will be unable to maintain his production in the face of a
constant increase in the cost of his supplies and labor through
shrinkage in production in other industries. The penalty of this
disparity of effort comes mainly out of the farmer's own earnings.

I am daily impressed with the fact that there is but one way out, and
that is again to reestablish through organized representation that
personal coöperation between employer and employee in production that
was a binding force when our industries were smaller of unit and of less
specialization. Through this, the sense of craftsmanship and the
interest in production can be re-created and the proper establishment of
conditions of labor and its participation in a more skilled
administration can be worked out. The attitude of refusal to participate
in collective bargaining with representatives of the employees' own
choosing is the negation of this bridge to better relationship. On the
other hand, a complete sense of obligation to bargains entered upon is
fundamental to the process itself. The interests of employee and
employer are not necessarily antagonistic; they have a great common
ground of mutuality and if we could secure emphasis upon these common
interests we would greatly mitigate conflict. Our government can
stimulate these forces, but the new relationship of employer and
employee must be a matter of deliberate organization within industry
itself. I am convinced that the vast majority of American labor
fundamentally wishes to coöperate in production, and that this basis of
goodwill can be organized and the vitality of production re-created.

Many of the questions of this industrial relationship involve large
engineering problems, as an instance of which I know of no better
example than the issue you plan for discussion tomorrow in connection
with the soft coal industry. Broadly, here is an industry functioning
badly from an engineering and consequently from an economic and human
standpoint. Owing to the intermittency of production, seasonal and
local, this industry has been equipped to a peak load of twenty-five or
thirty per cent over the average load. It has been provided with a
twenty-five or thirty per cent larger labor complement than it would
require if continuous operation could be brought about. I hope your
discussion will throw some light on the possibilities of remedy. There
lies in this intermittency not only a long train of human misery through
intermittent employment, but the economic loss to the community of over
a hundred thousand workers who could be applied to other production, and
the cost of coal could be decreased to the consumer. This intermittency
lies at the root of the last strike in the attempt of the employees to
secure an equal division among themselves of this partial employment at
a wage that could meet their view of a living return on full employment.

These are but a few of the problems that confront us. But in the
formulating of measures of solution, we need a constant adherence to
national ideal and our own social philosophy.

In the discussion of these ideals and this social philosophy, we hear
much of radicalism and of reaction. They are, in fact, not an academic
state of mind but realize into real groups and real forces influencing
the solution of economic problems in this community. In their
present-day practical aspects, they represent, on one hand, roughly,
various degrees of exponents of socialism, who would directly or
indirectly undermine the principle of private property and personal
initiative, and, on the other hand, those exponents who in varying
degrees desire to dominate the community for profit and privilege. They
both represent attempts to introduce or preserve class privilege, either
a moneyed or a bureaucratic aristocracy. We have, however, in American
democracy an ideal and a social philosophy that sympathizes neither with
radicalism nor reaction as they are manifested today.

For generations the American people have been steadily developing a
social philosophy as part of their own democracy, and in these ideals,
it differs from all other democracies. This philosophy has stood this
period of test in the fire of common sense; it is, in substance, that
there should be an equality of opportunity, an equal chance, to every
citizen. This view that every individual should, within his lifetime,
not be handicapped in securing that particular niche in the community to
which his abilities and character entitle him, is itself the negation of
class. Human beings are not equal in these qualities. But a society that
is based upon a constant flux of individuals in the community, upon the
basis of ability and character, is a moving virile mass; it is not a
stratification of classes. Its inspiration is individual initiative. Its
stimulus is competition. Its safeguard is education. Its greatest mentor
is free speech and voluntary organization for public good. Its
expression in legislation is the common sense and common will of the
majority. It is the essence of this democracy that progress of the mass
must arise from progress of the individual. It does not permit the
presence in the community of those who would not give full meed of their

Its conception of the State is one that, representative of all the
citizens, will in the region of economic activities apply itself mainly
to the stimulation of knowledge, the undertaking only of works beyond
the initiative of the individual or group, the prevention of economic
domination of the few over the many, and the least entrance into
commerce that government functions necessitate.

The method and measures by which we solve this accumulation of great
problems will depend upon which of these three conceptions will reach
the ascendancy amongst our people.

If we cling to our national ideals it will mean the final isolation and
the political abandonment of the minor groups who hope for domination of
the government, either by "interests" or by radical social theories
through the control of our political machinery. I sometimes feel that
lawful radicalism in politics is less dangerous than reaction, for
radicalism is blatant and displays itself in the open. Unlawful
radicalism can be handled by the police. Reaction too often fools the
people through subtle channels of obstruction and progressive
platitudes. There is little danger of radicalism's ever controlling a
country with so large a farmer population, except in one contingency.
That contingency is from a reflex of continued attempt to control this
country by the "interests" and other forms of our domestic

The mighty upheaval following the world war has created turmoil and
confusion in our own country no less than in all other lands. If America
is to contribute to the advance of civilization, it must first solve its
own problems, must first secure and maintain its own strength. The kind
of problems that present themselves are more predominantly
economic--national as well as international--than at any period in our
history. They require quantitative and prospective thinking and a sense
of organization. This is the sort of problems that your profession deals
with as its daily toil. You have an obligation to continue the fine
service you have initiated and to give it your united skill.



As you are aware, a report has recently been issued by the Industrial
Conference, of which I have been a member together with Governor McCall
and Mr. Hooker of your State. The conference embraced among its members
representatives from all shades of life including as great a trade
unionist as Secretary Wilson. I propose to discuss a part of the problem
considered by that commission. There is no more difficult or more urgent
question confronting us than constructive solution of the employment
relationship. It is not sufficient to dismiss the subject with generous
and theoretic phrases, "justice to capital and labor," "the golden
rule," "the paramount interest of the people," or a score of others, for
there underlies this question the whole problem of the successful
development of our democracy.

During last year there was a great deal of industrial unrest throughout
the entire world. This has somewhat moderated during the last few
months, but the underlying causes are only slumbering. Because the
country is not today involved in any great industrial conflicts, we
should not congratulate ourselves that the problem of industrial
relations has been solved. Furthermore, the time for proper
consideration of great problems does not lie in the midst of great
public conflict but in sober consideration during times of tranquillity.
There is little to be gained by discussion of the causes of industrial
unrest. Every observer is aware of the category of disturbing factors
and every one will place a different emphasis on the different factors

There is, however, one outstanding matter that differentiates our
present occasion from those that have gone before. It cannot be denied
that unrest in our industrial community is characterized more than ever
before by the purposes and desires that go beyond the demand for higher
wages and shorter hours. The aspirations inherent in this form of
restlessness are to a great extent psychological and intangible. They
are not, for this reason, any less significant. There is perhaps in some
local cases an infection of European patent medicines, and the desire
to use labor for political purposes. Aside from this, however, they do
reveal a desire on the part of the workers to exert a larger and more
organic influence in the processes of industrial life. They want better
assurance that they will receive a just proportion of their share of
production. I do not believe those desires are to be discouraged. They
should be turned into helpful and coöperative channels. There is no
surer road to radicalism than repression.

One can only lead up to consideration of these problems by tracing some
features of our industrial development even though they may be trite to
most of you. One underlying cause of these discontents is that with the
growth of large plants there has been a loss of personal contact between
employers and employees. With the high specialization and intense
repetition in labor in industrial processes, there has been a loss of
creative interest. It is, however, the increased production that we have
gained by this enlargement of industry that has enabled the standard of
living to be steadily advanced. The old daily personal contact of
employer and employee working together in small units carried with it a
great mutuality of responsibility. There was a far greater understanding
of the responsibilities toward employees and there was a better
understanding by employees of the economic limitations imposed upon the
employer. Nor can the direct personal contact in the old manner be

With the growth of capital into larger units, there was an inequality of
the bargaining power of the individual. Labor has therefore gradually
developed its defense against the aggregation of capital by
counter-organization. The organized uses of strike and lockout on either
side and the entrance of their organization into the political arena
have become the weapons for enforcement of demands. The large
development of industrial units with possible cessation of production
and service, through strikes and lockouts, penalizes the public. The
public is not content to see these conflicts go on, for they do not
alone represent loss in production, and thus lowering of the standard of
living, but also they may, by suspension of public service, jeopardize
the life of the community.

But the solution of the industrial problem is not solely the prevention
of conflict and its losses by finding methods of just determination of
wages and hours. Not only must solution of those things be found out
but, if we are to secure increased production and increased standard of
living, we must reawaken interest in creation, in craftsmanship and
contribution of his intelligence to management. We must surround
employment with assurance of just division of production. We must enlist
the interest and confidence of the employees in the business and in
business processes.

We have devoted ourselves for many years to the intense improvement of
the machinery and processes of production. We have neglected the broader
human development and satisfactions of life of the employee that leads
to greater ability, creative interest, and coöperation in production. It
is in stimulation of these values that we can lift our industry to its
highest state of productivity, that we can place the human factor upon
the plane of perfection reached by our mechanical processes. To do these
things requires the coöperation of labor itself and to obtain
coöperation we must have an intimate organized relationship between
employer and the employee and that cannot be obtained by benevolence;
that can only be obtained by calling the employee to a reciprocal

Therefore it has been the guiding thought of the conference that if
these objects are to be obtained a definite and continuous organized
relationship must be created between the employer and the employee and
that by the organization of this relationship conflict in industry can
be greatly mitigated, misunderstanding can be eliminated, and that
spirit of coöperation can be established that will advance the
conditions of labor and secure increased productivity.

It is idle to argue that there are at times no conflict of interest
between the employee and the employer. But there are wide areas of
activity in which their interests should coincide, and it is the part of
statesmanship on both sides to organize this identity of interest in
order to limit the area of conflict. If we are to go on with the present
disintegrating forces, these conflicts become year by year more critical
to the existence of the State. If we cannot secure a reduction in their
destructive results by organization of mutual action in industry, then I
fear that public resentment will generate a steadily larger intervention
of the Government into these questions.

In consideration of a broad, comprehensive, national policy, the
Conference had before it four possible alternative lines of action.
First, the attempt to hew out a national policy in the development of
the progressive forces at work for better understanding in industry
under such conditions as would maintain self-government in industry
itself; or, secondly, to adopt some of the current plans of industrial
courts, involving summary decision with jail for refusal to accept, such
as that initiated in the State of Kansas; or, thirdly, the
nationalization at least of the services upon which the very life of the
community depends; fourthly, to do nothing.

In a survey of the forces making for self-government in industry, the
Conference considered that definite encouragement must be given to the
principles of collective bargaining, of conciliation, of arbitration,
but that such forces could not develop in an atmosphere of legal
repression. There is but little conflict of view as to the principle of
collective bargaining and its vital corollary, fidelity to the bargain
made. There has been conflict over the methods of representation on both
sides. The Conference, therefore, has proposed that the Government
should intervene to assist in determination of the credentials of the
representatives of both sides in case of disagreement, and that such
pressure should be brought to bear as would induce voluntary entry into
collective bargain. Furthermore, it was considered that the large
development of conciliation and arbitration already current in
connection with such bargaining should be encouraged and organized under
a broad national plan that would give full liberty of action to all
existing arrangements of this character and stimulate their further

The Conference has therefore proposed to set up a small amount of
governmental machinery comprising Chairmen covering various regions in
the United States, with a Central Board in Washington, as a definite
organization for the promotion of these agencies. It has believed that
this is a step consonant with the normal development of our institutions
and the progressive forces already in motion, and that in such steps lie
the greatest hope of success. No one is compelled to submit to the
machinery established but where the employer and employee refuse to
enter into, or fail in, bargaining, then through the use of this
machinery the public stimulates them to come together under conditions
of just determination of the credentials of their representatives. The
plan is, therefore, a development of the principle of collective
bargaining. It is not founded on the principle of arbitration or
compulsion. It is designed to prevent the losses through cessation of
production due to conflict but, beyond this, to build up such
relationship between employer and employees as will not only mitigate
such disaster but will ultimately extend further into the development of
the great mutual ground of interest of increased production and under
conditions of satisfaction to both sides. It is a part of the conception
of the Conference that only in bargaining and mutual agreement can there
be given that free play of economic forces necessary to adjust the
complex conditions under which our industries must function.

Reduction of conflict in industry is the phase that not only looms large
in the public mind, but conflict is the public exhibit of the greatest
mark of failure in industrial relations. The imminence of conflict is
evidence of failure to have discussion or to arrival at mutual
agreement. Therefore, under the plan of the Conference that mutual
agreement is the best basis for prevention of conflict, the second step
in the Conference proposals is that there should be a penalty for
failure to submit to such processes. That penalty is a public inquiry
into the causes of the dispute and the proper ventilation to public
opinion as to its rights and wrongs. The strength of the penalty is
based upon the conviction that neither side can afford to lose public
good will. Pressure to rectitude by government investigation is
distinctly an American institution. It is not an intervention of public
interest that is usually welcomed. In the plan of this Conference, this
general repugnance to investigation is depended upon as a persuasive
influence to the parties of the conflict to get together and settle
their own quarrels. They are given the alternative of investigation or
collective bargain under persuasive circumstances. In order to increase
the moral pressures surrounding the investigation, either one of the
parties to the conflict may become a member of the board of
investigation, provided he will have entered on an _a priori_
undertaking that he is prepared to submit his case to orderly and simple
processes of adjustment. Thus his opponent will be put at more than
usual disadvantage in the investigation. If both sides should agree to
submit to normal processes of settlement, the board of investigation
becomes at once the stage of a collective bargain and the investigation

I will not trouble you with the elaborate details of the plan, for they
involved a great deal of consideration as to many difficult questions of
selection of representatives, provision for action by umpires, for
appeal to a board in certain contingencies, the character of questions
to be considered, methods of enforcement, standards of labor, and so on.
The point that I wish to make clear is that the Conference plan is
fundamentally the promotion of collective bargaining under fair
conditions of representation by both sides and the definite
organization of public opinion only as a pressure on the parties at
conflict to secure it. It is therefore basically not a plan of
arbitration, nor is it an industrial court. It is stimulation to
self-government in industry. The plan contains no essence of opposition
to organized labor or organized employers. It involves no dispute of the
right to strike or lock out, nor of the closed or open shop. It simply
proposes a sequence of steps that should lead to collective bargain
without imposing compulsions, courts, injunctions, fines, or jail. It is
at least a new step and worth careful consideration before employees and
employers subject themselves to the growth of public demands for the
other alternatives of wider governmental interference.

The Conference has set out the critical necessity of the development
within industry itself of a better basis of understanding as having the
great values that all prevention has over cures. There have been hopeful
developments in American industry during the past two or three years in
this direction. The first unit of employment relationship is each
industrial establishment, and if we would battle with misunderstanding
and secure mutual action it must be at this stage. It takes its visible
form in the organization in many establishments under various plans of
shop councils, shop committees, shop conference, all of which are based
on the democratic selection of representatives of employees who shall
remain in continuous open and frank relation and conference with the
employer in the interests of both. Where this development has had
success it has had one essential foundation; that is, that it must be
conceived in a spirit of coöperation for mutual benefit and it has
invariably lost out where it has been conceived solely to bargain for
wages and conditions of labor. It does not necessarily involve
profit-sharing, but it does involve a human approach to the problems on
both sides and a mutual effort at betterment.

It is the organization of such contact between employer and employees
which distinguishes this advance from the previous drift in large
industry. This type of organization has met with success not only in
non-union shops but in unionized shops, and in the latter case it has
imported the spirit of mutuality in addition to sheer negotiation of
grievance as to conditions of labor. It cannot, in our view, succeed if
it is to be conceived in a spirit of antagonism either to employer or to
union organization.

The trade unions of the United States have conferred such essential
services upon their membership and upon the community that their real
values are not to be overlooked or destroyed. They can fairly claim
great credit for the abolition of sweat shops, for recognition of fairer
hours in industry, reduction of overstrain, employment under more
healthful conditions, and many other reforms. These gains have been made
through hard-fought collective bargains and part of the difficulties of
the labor situation today is the bitterness with which these gains were
accomplished. In my own experience in industry I have always found that
a frank and friendly acceptance of the unions' agreements, while still
maintaining the open shop, has led to constructive relationship and
mutual interest.

In the early days trade unionism was dominated mainly by the economic
theories of Adam Smith, and union labor at that time adopted as one of
its tenets that a decrease of productive effort by workers below their
physical necessities would result in more employment and better wage.
During the past twenty-five or thirty years, this economic error has
been steadily diminishing in American trade unions and while it may be
adhered to by some isolated cases today it is not the economic
conception of large parts of that body. The great majority have long
since realized that an increased standard of living of the whole nation
must depend upon a maximum production within the limits of proper
conservation of the human machine. We find, during the past few years,
many of the unions embracing the further principle of actual coöperation
with the employer to increase production. I believe the development of
this latter theme opens avenues for the usefulness and growth of trade
unionism of greater promise than any hitherto tried. I am aware of the
current criticism in some union quarters of the development of the shop
council idea for this purpose, and there are perhaps isolated cases that
give merit to this opposition. The strongest argument of union labor
against the shop council system should lie in the fact that nation-wide
organization of labor is essential in order to cope with the unfair
employers, but I believe that if they embrace encouragement to shop
council organization they open for themselves not only this prevention
of unfairness but the whole new field of constructive coöperation and
the further reduction of industrial conflict.

Attempts by governments to stop industrial war are not new. The public
interest in continuous production and operation is so great that
practically every civilized government has time and again ventured upon
an attempt at its reduction. There is a great background of experience
in this matter, for the world is strewn with failure of labor
conferences, conciliation boards, arbitration boards, and industrial
courts. This Conference, of course, had in front of it and in the
experience of its members this background of the past score of years. I
understand that recently you have had ably presented to you the
industrial solution that has been enacted into legislation by the State
of Kansas. I think some short discussion of this legislation may be of
interest in illuminating the difference in point of view between the
industrial conference and that legislation. The Kansas plan is, I
believe, the first large attempt at judicial settlement of labor
disputes in the United States. With the exception of one particular, it
is practically identical with the industrial acts of Australasia of
fifteen to twenty years ago. It comprises the erection of an industrial
court, the legal repression of the right to strike and lockout under
drastic penalties, the determination of minimum wage, and involves a
consideration of a fair profit to the employer. The Kansas machinery
goes one step further than any hitherto provided in this particular of
placing more emphasis on fair profits and it also provides for the right
of the State to take over and conduct the industry in last resort.
Under the enumerated industries in the Kansas law, probably two thirds
of Massachusetts industry would be involved. No man can say that this
legislation may not succeed in Kansas or under American conditions. The
experiment is valuable, and if it should prove a success to both
employees and employers Kansas will have again taken the initiative in
service to her sister states.

I will not be taken as a carping critic if I point out the difficulties
in its progress on the basis of Australasian experience. It may, as did
the Australasian acts, have a period of apparent success, and the
workers benefit by an initial service in planing out the worst
injustices. So far as I can see today, there is no reason why it will
not run the same course as in Australia, where the amount of strikes and
dislocation was ultimately as great under these laws as in countries
without them. In periods of industrial prosperity, the advancing wage
usually adjudicated by the industrial courts prevents strikes, but in
times of industrial depression decisions against the work people give
rise to the old form of resistance.

No one denies the right of the individual to cease work. The question
involved in this form of legislation is the right to combination in
common action by strike. Whatever the right may be, it is a certainty
that the working community of the civilized world adheres to this right
as an absolute fundamental to their protection. They believe that the
aggregation of capital into large units under single control places them
at an entire disadvantage if they cannot threaten to use their ultimate
weapon of combined cessation of labor. While it may be argued that the
State may intervene in such a manner as to substitute the protection of
justice for the right of strike and lockout, the belief in the right to
strike has become imbedded in the minds of the laboring community of the
world to an extent that it will not receive with confidence any
alternative in driving its own bargains.

There are other difficulties in compulsory adjudication of disputes. The
workings of such law necessarily result in ultimate determination of
minimum wage for all crafts and industries. Every different industrial
unit will claim a different minimum based upon its local economic
surroundings. Otherwise the competitive basis upon which industry is
established will be undermined. No court has ever yet adequately solved
these differentials and some dislocation of industry results. I would
expect to see develop out of this type of minimum wage the same
phenomenon that existed in some parts of Australia, where certificates
of inability to earn the minimum, and therefore permission to undertake
employment at less than this wage had to be issued in order that
employment might be found for the aged and disabled. The employers will
naturally in face of a minimum wage retain in employment that quality of
worker that can give the maximum effort. Another difficulty is the
tendency for wages of all workers, regardless of their ability, to fall
to the minimum, for the employer naturally reduces the good to average
with the poor worker. I would not want to be understood to necessarily
oppose the possibilities of a minimum wage for women over large areas,
as distinguished from craft minimums for men, because certain social
questions enter that problem to an important degree.

There is another feature of the Kansas Act that should be given a great
deal of consideration, and that is its essential provision that in the
determination of wage disputes it shall be based on a fair profit to the
employer. This must ultimately lead to a determination as to what a fair
profit consists of, just as minimum wage will need be found for every
craft and every establishment. I do not assume that any employer will
contend for an unfair profit, but the termination of what may be a fair
or unfair profit in respect to the hazards involved in the institution
of a business, in its conduct over a long term of years, its necessary
provisions for its replacement and future disasters, is a matter that
has not yet been satisfactorily determined by either theoretic
economics, legislation, or courts. In competitive industry the processes
of business determine this matter every day, and owners will only claim
such determination by the State when the competitive tide is against
them. We have long since recognized the rights of the State to determine
maximum profits in case of a monopoly, but the determination of minimum
profits (for fair profit is a minimum as well as maximum) may deliver
large burdens to the people. Moreover, I doubt whether labor will
ultimately welcome such determination, for an unsuccessful plant,
instead of abandoning its production to its competitors, will claim wage
reductions from the courts, and the general level of wages can thus be
driven down and the State, at least morally, becomes a guarantor of
profits in overdeveloped industry. This plan in the long run substitutes
government control of industry for competition.

As to whether such acts will not tend to crush out initiative, credit,
and curtail the proper development of industry, can only be determined
with time. Generally, it should be clearly understood that compulsory
settlement of employment at best only assures continuity of production
through just wages, hours and profits. It does not approach the problem
from the point of view of upbuilding a relation in industry that will,
if successful, not only eliminate strikes and lockouts, but make
constructively for greater production and cheaper costs.

The economic repercussions from such regulation do not all lie in favor
of either capital or labor. To curtail the activities in one is not
necessarily a favor to the other.

I am sure you would, upon consideration, view the entry of the
Government on a nation-wide scale into the determination of fair wage
and fair profit in industry, even if it could be accomplished without
force, with great apprehension. There are some things worse in the
development of democracy than strikes and lockouts, and whether by
legislative repression we do not set up economic and social
repercussions of worse character is by no means determined. They have
also the deficiency in that they undermine the real development of
self-government in industry and that, to me, is part of the growth of
democracy itself. Courts and litigation are necessary to the
preservation of life and property, but they are less stimulus to
improved relations among men than are discussion and disposal of their
own differences.

The whole world is groping for solution to this problem. If we cannot
solve it progressively, our civilization will go back to chaos. We
cannot stand still with the economic and social forces that surround us.
There has never been a complete panacea to all human relationships so
far in this world. The best we can do is to take short steps forward, to
align each step to the tried ideals that have carried us thus far. The
Conference has endeavored to find a plan for systematic organization of
the forces that are making for better relationships, to encourage the
growing acceptance of collective bargaining by providing a method that
should enable it to meet the objections of its critics and to aggregate
around this the forces of conciliation and arbitration now in such wide
use. It has sought to do this without legal repression but with the
organized pressure of public opinion.

To me there is no question that we should try the experiment of the
perhaps longer road proposed by the Industrial Conference for the
development of mutuality of relationship between employer and employee,
rather than to enter upon summary action of court decision that may both
stifle the delicate adjustment of industrial processes and cause
serious conflict over human rights. We must all agree that those
deficiencies in our social, economic and political structure which find
solution through education and voluntary action of our people themselves
are the solutions that endure. To me, the upbuilding of the sense of
responsibility and of intelligence in each individual unit in the United
States with the intervention of government only to promote the
development of these relations, the suppression of domination by any one
group over another, is the basis upon which democracy must progress.

Upon the solution of industrial peace and good will does the gradual
lift of the standard of life of our whole people rest by increase in the
material and intellectual output and its proper distribution among all
of us. To me the philosophic background of solution lies in rigorous
application to economic life of our tried national ideal--the equality
of opportunity and the preservation of industrial initiative; that is,
the stimulation of every individual by his own effort to take that
position in the community to which his abilities and character entitle
him and the protection to him to attain that end. In the earlier days of
our democracy, with its simpler economic life, we were concerned more
with the application of this ideal in its social and political phases.
It has been so long and firmly established there that it is no longer a
matter of discussion. With the growth of greater complexity in our
economic life, its practical application to the sharing in the material
and intellectual output in proportion to effort, ability, and character,
becomes more difficult. It must, nevertheless, be adhered to if the
ideal of our democracy is not to be abandoned.

I do not believe we can attain this equality of opportunity or maintain
initiative through crystallization of economic classes or groups
arraigned against each other, exerting their interest by economic and
political conflicts, nor can we attain it by transferring to
governmental bureaucracies the distribution of material and intellectual
products. I do believe that we can attain it by systematic prevention of
domination of the few over the many and stimulation of individual effort
in the whole mass.

It is well enough to hold a philosophic view, but the problems of day to
day that arise under it are very practical problems that require
concrete solution, and the employment relation is one of them.




The high cost of living is a temporary economic problem, surrounded by
high emotions. The agricultural industry is a permanent economic
problem, surrounded by many dangers. We are now entering into our
regular four-year period of large promises to sufferers of all kinds.
Except to demagogues and to the fellows who farm the farmer, there are
no easy formulas; nevertheless, there are constructive forces that can
be put in motion--and these are good times to get them talked about.

As bearing upon some suggestion of constructive solution, I wish to
establish and analyze certain propositions. Amongst other things they
involve a clear understanding of the bearings of different segments of
the total price of food between the different links in the chain of
production and distribution. These propositions are:

First: That the high cost of living is due largely to inflation and
shortage in world production; speculation is an incident of these
forces, not the cause.

Second: That the farmer's prices are fixed by the impact of world
wholesale prices; that such prices bear only a remote relation to his
costs of production.

Third: That any increase or decrease in the cost of placing the farmer's
products into the hands of the wholesaler is a deduction from or
addition to the farmer's prices; that is, an expansion or contraction of
the margin between the farm and wholesale prices makes an increase or
decrease in the farmer's return.

Fourth: That increase or decrease in the cost of distributing food from
the wholesaler to the door of the ultimate consumer is a deduction or
addition predominantly to the consumer's cost; that is, the margin
between the wholesaler and consumer in its increases or decreases is
largely an addition or subtraction from the consumer's price.

Fifth: That these two margins in most of our commodities except grain
were, before the war, the largest in the world; that they have grown
abnormally during the war, except during the year of food control.

Sixth: That analysis of the character of the margin between the farmer
and wholesaler will show that decreases in price find immediate
reflection on the farmer, while immediate increases in price are
absorbed by the trades between and the farmer gets but a lagging

Seventh: That an analysis of these margins will show that they can be
constructively diminished but that, regrettable as it is, the
prosecution of profiteers will not do it.

Eighth: That the problem must be solved, if our agriculture is to be
maintained and if the balance between agriculture and general industry
is to be preserved so as to prevent our becoming dependent upon imports
for food, with a train of industrial and national dangers.


Our war inflation does not lie so much in our increased gold and
currency. Our currency per capita has increased by perhaps 25 or 30 per
cent, but, compared to European practice of currency inflations of 200
to 800 per cent, our conduct has been provident indeed. This is not,
however, the real area of inflation. It lies in the expansion of our
bank credits. If we exclude the savings bank as not being credit
institutions in the ordinary sense, and if we compile the commercial
bank deposits, we still no doubt gather in some real savings, but
nevertheless the figures show a considerable color of inflation
somewhere. No one need think we have gotten so suddenly rich as the
money complexion of these figures might indicate. At the outset it
should be emphasized that all figures of this kind are subject to
dispute and interpretation; but, after all such deductions, the
indication of tendencies remains.

         |                | Per Cent
         |  Bank Deposits |  Change
    Year |       Total    | from 1913
    1913 | 11,390,918,596 | 100.0
    1914 | 11,974,760,593 | 105.1
    1915 | 12,282,097,638 | 107.8
    1916 | 15,398,090,701 | 135.2
    1917 | 18,444,103,496 | 161.9
    1918 | 20,425,067,839 | 179.3
    1919 | 24,971,784,000 | 219.2

It will be accepted at once that the volume of bank deposits must grow
with increased commodity production and therefore we may roughly examine
into this as well. If we combine the tonnage productivity of
agriculture, metals, coal, salt, cement, lumber and the quarries, we
shall cover the great bulk of our products. These figures also must be
taken as merely indicating the tendencies of the times.

         |               | Per Cent
         |  Production   |  Change
    Year |    in Tons    | from 1913
    1913 | 1,081,293,417 | 100.0
    1914 | 1,019,018,207 | 94.2
    1915 | 1,073,472,988 | 99.3
    1916 | 1,162,489,530 | 107.5
    1917 | 1,241,173,806 | 114.8
    1918 | 1,247,787,883 | 115.4
    1919 | 1,117,181,233 | 103.3

If we attach the index of prices during these periods and compare them
with the per cent variation in commodity production and bank deposits,
we have the following interesting parallels:

        |            |               |  Department
        |  Per Cent  |    Per Cent   |   of Labor
        | Change in  |   Change in   |  Wholesale
        | Production | Bank Deposits |    Index
   Year | from 1913  |   from 1913   |   of All
        |            |               | Commodities
   1913 |   100.0    |     100.0     |    100.0
   1914 |    94.2    |     105.1     |     99.3
   1915 |    99.3    |     107.8     |    100.5
   1916 |   107.5    |     135.2     |    120.5
   1917 |   114.8    |     161.9     |    175.9
   1918 |   115.4    |     179.3     |    196.6
   1919 |   103.3    |     219.2     |    214.5

Two different extreme schools of economics will interpret these tables
differently. One will hold that the increase in credit and money must
influence prices in exact ratio. The other will hold the rise of prices
as due to shortage in production, either at home or abroad, and that
rise in price necessitates an increase in credits and money to carry on
commerce. Both are probably right, for short production and inflation
probably alternatively serve as cause and effect. The first school has
some claims upon the large volume of gold we imported the first three
years of the war and multiplied into credits--as the cause prior to our
coming into the war. They can also point out that our Treasury and banks
deliberately inflated bank credits in order to place war loans and that
if this form of credits was removed our expansion would be nothing like
its present volume. As necessary as it may have been to use this method
in securing quick money at a low rate during the war, there are the
strongest objections to it since the armistice was signed. If our
post-war finance at least had been secured from savings by offering
sufficiently attractive terms, the inflation would be less although the
market price of Liberty Bonds might be lower.

That short world production has been one of the causes of rising prices
cannot be denied. The warring powers of Europe took 60,000,000 men from
production (nearly one third their productive man power) and put it to
destruction. They have lived to a great degree by gain of commodities
from the United States, and thus brought their shortage to our shores.
They have not yet altogether recovered from the holidays of victory, the
gloom of defeat, the persuasive "isms" that would find production
without work, the destruction of their economic unity, transportation,
credits, and other fundamentals necessary to maintain production. It
will be some time before they do recover. In the meantime, they are
perforce reducing their consumption--their standard of living--because
they have largely exhausted their securities, commodities or credit to
continue the borrowing of our commodities for their own short
production, as during the war. The exchange barometer is today witness
of the end of this procedure of living on borrowed money. In passing, it
may be mentioned that exchange is no more a cause of their inability to
buy from us than is the barometer the cause of blizzards. The storm is
that they have mostly exhausted their credits and they have not
recovered production so as to offer commodities to us in exchange for

Our own industrial production, as distinguished from agricultural
production, has fallen rapidly since the armistice. Some of the fall is
due to war weariness, some to "isms" that have infected us from Europe,
some to the natural abandonment of high cost production brought into
play during the war, some to strikes and a host of other wastes. Our
consumption has greatly increased since the restraints of war. Decrease
had not penetrated our agricultural community up to 1919 harvest, nor
will such decrease arise from these causes, but as I will set out later,
forces are entering that will decrease our agricultural production. Our
production in nearly all important food commodities except sugar is in
surplus of our own need. It only becomes a shortage affecting prices
under the drain of exports. Therefore, it is the world shortage that is
affecting our price levels, and not, so far, a deficiency for our needs.

So far as relief from price influence by shortage in production is
concerned, it may arise in two ways. First, slowly through gradual
recuperation in world production. Second, by compulsory reduction of
consumption in Europe through their inability to pay us by commodities,
gold or credits. This latter has been very evident through the drop in
exchange and engagements for export during the past few weeks.


The cost of food to the consumer is divided among the farmers on one
hand and storage, manufacture, jobbers, wholesalers, retailers and
transportation on the other. I believe these charges between the farmer
and consumer fall into two distinct groups--the charges comprising the
margin between the farmer and wholesaler which mainly concern the
farmer, and charges between the wholesaler and consumer, which mainly
concern the consumer. To establish this division, it is necessary to
analyze shortly the datum point by which price is determined.

The diet of the American people from a nutritional (not financial)
standpoint comprises the following articles and proportion:

Wheat and Rye 29.5% Pork Products 15.7% Dairy Products 15.3% Beef
Products 5.3% Corn Products 7.0% Sugar Products 13.2% Vegetable Oils
3.6% 89.6% All other, including potatoes 10.4%------ 100.0%

The wholesale price of about 90 per cent of our food in normal times is
only remotely determined by the cost of production, but mostly by world
conditions. We export a surplus of most commodities among the 90 per
cent and the prices of exports are determined by competition with other
world supplies in the European wholesale markets. Those items in this 90
per cent that we do not export are influenced by the same forces,
because in normal times we import them on any considerable variation in
price and the wholesaler naturally buys in the cheapest market. Even
milk is to a considerable degree controlled by butter imports in normal
times. When we import butter it releases more milk in competition. This
cannot be said to such extent of most of the odd 10 per cent, because
they are largely perishables that do not stand overseas transport and
consequently rise and fall more nearly directly upon local supply and
demand. Some economists will at once argue that if prices are
unprofitable to the farmer the situation will correct itself by
diminished production and, consequently, a general rise in the world
level of prices. In the abstract, this is true, but as a matter of fact
the surplus which our farmers contribute for export is only a small
portion of their total production or of the world pool, yet the total of
the world pool operating through this minor segment makes the prices for
a large part of the farmers' commodities. Therefore, the effect in
normal times of restriction in production in any one country does not
affect price so much as theoretic argument would believe. The farmer
must plant if he would live, and he must plant long in advance of his
knowledge of prices or world production. He can make no contracts in
advance of his planting, nor can he cease operations on the day prices
fall too low. He is driven on, year after year, in hope and necessity,
and will continue over long periods with a standard of return below
rightful living because he has no other course--and always has hopes. He
will vary fairly rapidly from one commodity to another--from wheat to
other grains, for instance--but he mostly raises his maximum of
something. In the long run of decreasing prices he would undoubtedly
reach so low a standard as to cease production. Then comes a
comparatively short period of higher prices in some commodity;
production is again stimulated and followed by long intervals of low
standards. As shown by the following table, on the whole, the farmer has
not been underpaid during the war, but the currents again are turning
against him.

It will be seen that the farmer enjoyed prices equivalent to or higher
than the general level up to the last six months. He is now, however,
falling behind in some important products. Unlike the industrial
workers, he is unable to demand an adjustment of his income to the
changed index of living.

                          | Index of Prices at the
                          | Farm in Principal
                          | Produce States
                          | A P |     |     |     |
                          | l r |     |     |  W  |  C
   Department of Labor    | l o |  H  |  C  |  h  |  o
   Wholesale Index of     |   d |  o  |  o  |  e  |  t
     All Commodities      | F u |  g  |  r  |  a  |  t
                          | a c |  s  |  n  |  t  |  o
                          | r e |     |     |     |  n
                          | m   |     |     |     |
 Pre-war            | 100 | 100 | 100 | 100 | 100 | 100
 First Quarter 1918 | 187 | 200 | 213 | 224 | 254 | 246
 Last Quarter 1918  | 206 | 204 | 223 | 220 | 258 | 246
 First Quarter 1919 | 200 | 202 | 225 | 228 | 264 | 215
 Last Quarter 1919  | 230 | 206 | 178 | 216 | 277 | 268

For the moment, what I wish to establish is only that the farmer's
prices are not based upon any conception of the cost of production, but
upon forces in which he has no voice. He can never organize to put his
industry in a "cost plus" basis as industrial producers do, and remedy
must be found elsewhere.


As stated, the margin between the farmer and consumer falls into two
divisions--one of which predominantly affects the farmer and the other
the consumer. It is really the wholesale prices that govern the farmer,
rather than retail prices, for it is in wholesale prices that the farmer
competes with the world. As the prices paid by the wholesaler are mostly
fixed by overseas trade at the datum point on the Atlantic seaboard or
in Europe, then if the margins between the wholesaler and the farmer are
unduly large, or increase, it is mostly to the farmer's detriment. For
instance, as the price of the farmer's wheat in normal times is made in
Liverpool, any increase in handling comes out of the farmer's price.
Likewise, as the wholesale price of butter is made by the import of
Danish butter into New York, any increase in the numbers or charges
between our farmer and the wholesale buyer comes, to a considerable
degree, out of the farmer.

As the datum point of determining prices is at the wholesaler, the
accretion by the charges for distribution from that point forward to the
consumer's door will not affect the farmer, but will affect the
consumer. When competition decreases through shortage the consumer pays
the added profits of these trades.

Studies of the cost of our distribution system, made by the Food
Administration during the war, established two prime conditions. The
first is that the margins between our farmers and the wholesaler in
commodities other than grain in some instances, are, even in normal
times, the highest in any civilized state--fully 25 per cent higher than
in most European countries. The expensiveness of our chain of
distribution in most commodities in normal times, as compared to
Continental countries, is due partly to the wide distances of the
producing areas from the dominating consuming areas, but there are other
contributing causes that can be remedied. In Europe, the great public
markets in the cities bring farmer and consumer closely together in many
commodities, but in the United States the bulk of products are too far
afield for this. The farmer must market through a long chain of
manufacturers, brokers, jobbers and wholesalers with or without their
own distribution system, who must establish a clientele of direct
retailers; and thus public markets, except in special locations and in
comparatively few commodities, have not been successful. Another major
factor in our cost of distribution is the increasing demand for
expensive service by our consumers. There are many other factors that
bear on the problem and the economic results of our system which are
discussed, together with some suggestion of remedy, later on.

The second result of these studies was to show the great widening of
this margin during the war. During the year of the Food Administration's
active restraint on this margin, there was an advance of six points in
the wholesale index while the farmer's index moved up 25 points. Both
before and after that period the two indexes moved up together. The same
can be said of the margins between the wholesaler and the consumer.
Taking the period of the war as a whole, the margin between the farmer
and consumer has widened to an extravagant degree.

A good instance of a movement in margins is shown in flour in 1917. The
farmer's average return for wheat of the 1916 harvest, as shown by the
Department of Agriculture, was about $1.42. As about four and one-half
bushels of wheat are required to make a barrel of flour, the farmer's
share of the receipts from this harvest was about $6.40 per barrel. In
1917, before the Food Administration came into being, flour rose to
$17.50 per barrel to the consumer, or, at that time, a margin of $11.00
per barrel. During the Administration, the farmer received an average of
about $2.00 for wheat at the farm, or about $9.00 out of a barrel of
flour. The consumer paid $12.50, the margin being about $3.50 per

This increase in margins shows vividly in the higher priced foods, for
instance, pork products. If we take hogs at the railway station over the
great hog states contiguous to Chicago as a basis, we find:

        | Price of Hogs |    Price of    |   Margin
  Six   |  in Principal | Cured Products |  Between
 Months |     States    |   to Consumer  | Farmer and
        |  Per 100 Lbs. |  100 Lbs. Hogs |  Consumer
  1914  |     $7.45     |     $18.97     |   $11.52
  1919  |     16.27     |      37.33     |   21.06
  1920  |     15.37     |      37.71     |   22.34

Thus, while the farmer has gained about $7.92 in his price, the margin
has increased by $10.82 to the consumer and, incidentally, during the
last year since food control restraints were removed, the consumer has
paid $.30 more while the farmer got $.90 less. These instances could be
greatly multiplied.

It is unfortunate that our national statistics do not permit a complete
analysis of the distribution of margin between all the various groups in
the chain between the farmer and consumer in different commodities. It
would be helpful if we could take the farmers, railways, manufacturers,
wholesalers and retailers, and determine what proportion each receives.

These margins between farmer and consumer are made up of a necessary
chain of charges for transport, storage, manufacture and distribution.
The great majority of citizens who are engaged in the processes that go
to make up this portion of food costs are employed in an obviously
essential economic function, and they do not approach it in a spirit of
criminality, but as a very necessary, proper, and honorable function.
They have, since the European War began, rather over-enjoyed the result
of economic forces that were not of their own creation. That a
considerable margin is necessary to cover the legitimate costs of, and
profits on, distribution is obvious. The only direction of inquiry is
how they can be legitimately minimized. These margins, starting from the
unduly high expense of a faulty system, have increased not only
legitimately, due to increased transportation, labor, rent, taxes, and
increased interest upon the large capital required, but they have,
except during the period of control, increased unduly beyond these
necessities. There are two general characteristics of this margin that
are of some interest. In the first instance, all of the transport,
storage, manufacture and handling is conducted upon a basis of cost plus
either fixed returns or, as is more usually the case, a percentage of
profit upon the whole cost of operation. Any distributing agency ceases
to operate when it does not secure costs and a profit. Consequently, all
those links put up a resistance to a curtailment of the margin which the
farmer is unable, except by absolute exhaustion, to put against
reduction of his price levels. If rapid falls in food prices occur, the
farmer, at least in the first instance, has to stand most of the fall
because he cannot quit. The farmer's costs of production relate to a
period long prior to the fall. Thus, if wages are due to fall as a
result of a fall in food prices, the farmer is always selling on the old
basis of his costs. The farmer has but one turn-over in the year. The
middleman has several and can thus adjust himself quickly.

Second, the custom of many of these businesses is to operate upon a
percentage of profit on the value of the commodities handled, even after
deducting all their increased costs, interest or other charges. When we
have rising prices, therefore, a doubling of prices, for instance, tends
to double profits on the same volume of commodities handled. In a rising
market, competitive pressures are much diminished and the dealer can
assess his own profits to greater degree than usual. While the packers
make a profit of, say, two cents on the dollar value of commodities, it
represents double the profit per pound over pre-war, even after
allowing such items as interest on the larger capital involved.


Aside from the necessary rise in the margin that has grown out of the
rise in cost of labor, rent, etc., from inflation and world shortage,
there are some causes which have accumulated to increase the margins
between the farmer and the wholesaler and the wholesaler and consumer
that could be greatly mitigated.


During the war, in order to restrain wild greed and profiteering in the
then existing unlimited demand, margins between purchase and sale in the
different manufacturing and handling trades were fixed in all the great
commodities--iron, steel, cement, lumber, coal and foodstuffs. The first
task of the war was to secure production, and the margins were therefore
fixed at such breadth as would allow the smaller high cost manufacturer
and the smaller dealer to live. Otherwise, the smaller competitors would
have been extinguished, production would have been lost, and, worse yet,
the larger low-cost operator would have been left with much inflated
monopoly. The excess profits tax was levied as a sequent corrective to
this necessary first step, so as to take the undue profits of the large
producer back to the public. It was a wise war measure, but the moment
restraints on profits were taken off and there was a free and rising
market ahead, then the tax was added to prices by all the participants
and passed on to the consumer, or deducted from the farmer when world
levels crowded his prices down. It should have been repealed at the time
the controls were abandoned, but our legislatures have been busy with
other things and, in the meanwhile, in food it not only increases the
margin between the farmer and the consumer but tends, as stated above,
to come out of the farmer to a large degree. It has other vicious
results in that it also stimulates dealers and manufacturers to
speculate their profits away in unsound business, rather than to pay it
to the government. It does sound well to tax the great manufacturers,
but to make them the agency to collect taxes from the population is not
altogether sound government.

It is a very important tax to the Government, bringing as it does over a
billion a year, and a place to put this load is not to be found easily.
The income tax does not have so malign an effect, for it comes to a
great extent from the individual and not from business. The present
method of income tax, however, has some weaknesses. The same levy is
made upon earned incomes as upon those that are unearned. The tax on
earned incomes tends in certain cases to be passed on to the consumer or
deducted from the farmer, and, besides, it is not just that a family
living by giving productive service to the community should pay the same
as a family that contributes nothing by way of effort. A stiff tax on
these latter families might send them to work, and certainly would
induce economy. Moreover, the earner of income must provide for old age
and dependents while the unearned income taxpayer has this provision
already. Altogether, it would seem the part of wisdom at least to
increase the income tax on the larger unearned income and decrease it on
the earners. It is argued that this drives great incomes to evasion by
investment in tax-free securities, which is probably true. We need more
comparative figures than the Treasury statistics yet show to answer this
point. In any event, relief to the earner would free his savings to
invest in taxable securities and we need above all things to stimulate
the initiative of the saver. Income taxes, except when too high on
earned incomes, do not destroy initiative, and every other government
has, in taxing, recognized the essential difference between earned and
unearned income. This distinction would generally relieve the range of
smaller incomes, for they are mostly earned.

The inheritance tax has not been fully exploited as yet. It cannot be
deducted from either farmer or consumer, it does not affect the cost of
living, it does not destroy initiative in the individual if it leaves
large and proper residues for dependents. It does redistribute
overswollen fortunes. It does make for equality of opportunity by
freeing the dead hand from control of our tools of production. It
reduces extravagance in the next generation, and sends them to
constructive service. It has a theoretic economic objection of being a
dispersal of capital into income in the hands of the government, but so
long as the government spends an equal amount on redemption of the debt
or productive works, even this argument no longer stands.

We may need to come to some sort of increased consumption taxes in order
to lift that part of excess profits and tax on earned incomes that
cannot be very properly placed elsewhere. When it comes, it should lie
on other commodities than food, except perhaps sugar, one half of which
is a luxury consumption. The ideal would be for it to be levied wholly
on non-essentials in order that it should be a burden on luxury and not
on necessity. There is no doubt difficulty in classifying. Jewelry and
furs are easy to class, but where necessity leaves off and luxury begins
in trousers is more difficult to determine.

It requires no lengthy economic or moral argument as a platform for
denunciation of all waste and useless expenditure. Some sane medium is
needed between comfort and luxury. Failing definition, and objection to
blue laws, the theme must be taken into the area of moral virtues and
become a proper subject for the spiritual stimulations of the church.
There is a psychology in luxury wherein we all buy high-priced things
because they are high-priced, not because they add comfort--and this has
contributed also to our high cost of living, for those who do it drive
up prices on those who try to avoid it. From an economic point of view,
the only recipes are taxation as a device to make it expensive.

More constructive than increasing taxes is to take a holiday on
governmental expenditures and relieve the taxpayer generally. If we
could stave off a lot of expensive suggestions for a few years and
secure more efficiency in what we must spend, then our people could get
ahead with the process of earning something to be taxed. This would at
least be comforting to the great farming and business community.


There is a great weakness in our present railway situation bearing upon
the farmer and consumer. Everyone knows of the annual shortage of cars
during the crop-moving season. Few people, however, appreciate that this
shortage of cars often amounts to a stricture in the free flow of
commodities from the farmer to the consumer. The result is that the
farmer, in order to sell his produce, often unknown to himself makes a
sacrifice in price to local glut. The consumer is compelled at the other
end to pay an increased price for foodstuffs due to the shortage in
movement. The constant fluctuations in our grain exchanges locally or
generally from this cause are matters of public record almost monthly.
On one occasion a study was made under my administration into the effect
of car shortage in the transportation of potatoes, and we could
demonstrate by chart and figures that the margin between the farmer and
the consumer broadened 100 per cent in periods of car shortage. Nor did
the middleman make this whole margin of profit, because he was subjected
to unusual losses and destruction, and took unusual risks in awaiting a
market. The same phenomenon was proved in a large way at time of acute
shortage of movement in corn and other grains.

The usual remedy for this situation is insistence that the railways
shall provide ample rolling stock, trackage and terminals to take care
of the annual peakload. We have fallen far behind in the provision of
even normal railway equipment during the war and an additional 500,000
cars and locomotives are no doubt needed. Above a certain point,
however, this imposes upon the railways a great investment in equipment
for use during a comparatively short period of the year when many
commodities synchronize to make the peak movement. The railways
naturally wish to spread the movement over a longer period. The burden
of equipment for short time use will probably prevent their ever being
able to take entire care of the annual delays in transport and stricture
in market, although it can be greatly minimized.

There is possible help in handling the peak load by improving the
waterways from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic seaboard by way of the
St. Lawrence River, so as to pass full seagoing cargoes. It has already
been determined that the project is entirely feasible and of
comparatively moderate cost. The result would be to place every port on
the Great Lakes on the seas. Fifteen states contiguous to the Lakes
could find an outlet for a portion of their annual surplus quickly and
more cheaply to the overseas markets than through the congested eastern
trunk rail lines. It would contribute materially to reduce this
effectual stricture in the free flow of the farmer's commodities to the
consumers. Of far greater importance, however, is the fact that the
costs of transportation from the Lake ports to Europe would be greatly
diminished and this diminished cost would go directly into the farmer's
pockets. It is my belief that there is a possible saving here of five or
six cents a bushel in the transportation of grain. Although a
comparatively small proportion of our total grain production flows to
Europe, I believe that the economic lift on this minor portion would
raise the price of the whole grain production by the amount saved in
transportation of this portion of it. The price of export wheat, rye,
and barley--sometimes corn--usually hogs--in Chicago at normal times is
the Liverpool price, less transportation and other charges, and if we
decrease the transport in a free market the farmer should get the
difference. Not only should there be great benefits to the agricultural
population, but it should be a real benefit to our railways in getting
them a better average load without the cost of maintaining the surplus
equipment and personnel necessary to manage the peakload during the fall
months. It has been computed that the capital saving in rolling stock
alone would pay for the entire cost of this waterway improvement over a
comparatively few years. The matter also becomes of national importance
in finding employment for the great national mercantile fleet that we
have created during these years of war.

Another factor in transportation bearing upon the problem of marketing
is the control by food manufacturing and marketing concerns of
refrigeration and other special types of cars. This special control has
grown up largely because, owing to seasonal changes in regional
occupation for these cars over different parts of the country, no one
railway wished to provide sufficient special cars and service for use
that may come its way only part of the year. The result has been to
force the building up of a domination by certain concerns who control
many of the cars and stifle free competition. Much the same results have
been attained by special groups in control of stock yards and, in some
cases, of elevators. Where such formal or informal monopolies grow up,
they are public utilities, and if the farmer is to have a free market
they must be replaced by constructive public service.


Every impediment to free marketing in produce either gives special
privileges or increases the risks which the farmer must pay for in
diminished returns. We have some commodities where manufacture has grown
into such units that these units exert such an influence that they
consciously or unconsciously affect the price levels of the farmer's
produce. When a few concerns have the duty of manufacturing and storing
the seasonal reserves in a single commodity they naturally reduce prices
during the heavy production season and increase them in the short season
as a method of diminishing their risk and increasing profits. Moreover,
their tendency is often to sell the minor portion of their product that
goes for export at lower than the domestic price in order to dispose of
it without depressing local prices. They do not need to conspire, for
there can be perfectly coincident action to meet the same economic
currents. Such coincidence has much greater possibilities of general
influence with a few concerns in the field than if there were many.

The experience gained in the Food Administration on these problems
during the war led to the feeling expressed at that time, that such
business should be confined to one line of activity, just as we have had
to confine our railways, banks and insurance companies. This is useful
to prevent reliance being placed upon the profits of alternative
products when engaged in stifling of competition, through selling below
cost on some other item. Even this restriction may not prove to be
sufficient protection to free market by free competition. I am not a
believer in nationalization as the solution to this form of domination,
but I am a believer in regulation, if it should prove necessary. If
experience proves we have to go to regulation, it is my belief that it
should be confined to overswollen units and that the point of departure
should not be the amount of capital employed but the proportion of a
given commodity that is controlled. The point of departure must depend
upon the special commodity and its ratio to the whole. When such a
concern obtains such dimensions that it can influence prices or
dominate public affairs, either with deliberation or innocence, then it
must be placed under regulation and restraint. Our people have long
since realized the advantage of large business operation in improving
and cheapening the costs of manufacture and distribution, but when these
operations have become so enlarged that they are able to dominate the
community, it becomes of social necessity that they shall be made
responsible to the community. The test that should apply, therefore, is
not the size of the institution or the volume of capital that it
employs, but the proportion of the commodity that it controls in its
operations. It is my belief that if this were made the datum point for
regulation, and if regulation were made of a rigorous order, this
pressure would result in such business keeping below the limit of
regulation. Thus the automatic result would be the building up of a
proper competition, because men in manufacturing would rather conduct a
smaller business free of governmental regulation than enjoy large
operations subject to governmental control. There are probably only a
very few concerns in the United States that would fall into this
category, and they should be glad of regulation in order to secure
freedom from criticism.


There are three kinds of speculation and profiteering in the food
trades. The first is of the inherent speculative character of foodstuffs
due to their seasonal nature. The farmer, more by habit than necessity,
usually markets the bulk of his grain in the fall. By necessity he must
market his animals at certain seasons for they must be bred at certain
seasonal periods, they must be fed at certain seasons, and thus they
come to market in waves of production larger than the immediate demand.
In perishables he must market fairly promptly as he cannot himself
maintain necessary special types of storage. Thus, the dealer must
speculate on carrying the commodities for distribution during the period
of short production while the farmer markets in time of surplus
production. While full competitive conditions might reduce the charges
for this hazard, there is a possibility of reducing the hazard by better
organization and, consequently, the charge for the hazard that is now
debited to the farmer. It is worth an exhaustive national investigation
to determine whether an extension of a system of central markets would
not afford great help. I do not mean the extension of our so-called
exchanges dealing in local produce, but the creation of great central
exchange markets with responsibilities for service to the entire people.
This help would arise in two ways. The first is the hourly determination
of price at great centers that all may know, and thus the farmer
protects himself against local variations and manipulation. The second
is a system of forward contracts through such a market between farmer
and consumer on standardized commodities. Such contracts in effect
remove the necessity of a speculative middleman. This system exists in
grain and in cotton and in its processes eliminates large part of the
hazard and carries the commodity at the lower rate of interest. The
present trouble with the system of future contracts is that it lends
itself to manipulation, but I believe this could be eliminated.

Take the case of potatoes; here is an unstandardized, seasonal
commodity, with no national market and therefore no established daily
price as a datum point. A grower in Florida, Maine, or Wisconsin,
through a local agent, or through local sale, consigns potatoes to
Pittsburgh because a larger price is reported there than in Chicago. The
grower can usually make no actual sale to an actual retailer or
wholesaler at destination because the buyer has no assurance of quality.
Coincident shipment from many points to a hopeful market almost daily
produces a local glut at receiving points somewhere in the country.
Often enough the shipper gets no return but a bill for freight and the
perishables sometimes rot in the yards. If potatoes were standardized
and sold on contract in national market, protected from manipulation,
three things should result. First, there would be a daily national price
known to growers. Second, by the sale of a contract for delivery the
grower would be assured of this price. Third, the contract and
directions for shipment would flow naturally to the distributor where
the potatoes were needed, and thus the present fearfully wasteful system
would be mitigated. Potatoes would be a most difficult case to handle;
dried beans, peas, even butter and cheese would be easier. I am not
advocating widespread dealing in futures, but short contracts giving
time for delivery would probably greatly decrease the margin between
farmer and local distributor by saving great wastes in transport, in
spoilage and in manipulation.

The second class of speculation is one largely of the war as a period of
rising prices growing out of inflation, and so forth. It lies in the
marking up of goods on the shelf to the level of the rising daily
market. This marking up has been one of the large factors in increasing
the margin during the war. No better example exists than the rise of
flour during the 1916-1917 harvest year, referred to elsewhere. We shall
have a remedy for this the moment the tide of inflation turns. The
farmer and consumer cannot, however, expect that they will get even
during such a reverse period for their losses on the rise, because the
trades have too great an individual power of resistance against selling
goods at a loss. Anyway, the marking up of goods will cease when prices
cease to rise--and there is a limit.

The third class of speculation is wholly vicious. That is the purchase
of foodstuffs, in times of rising economic levels, sheerly for the rise
in price or the deliberate manipulation of markets during normal times.
These operations are against the common welfare; they can find no moral
or economic justification. They are not to be reached by prosecution;
they must be reached by prevention. Our great boards of trade in fine
patriotic spirit proved their ability during the war to control
deliberate manipulation of grain and other futures.

The two latter types of speculation are an impediment to free markets
and they become an unnecessary charge on the margin.


There can be no question of the improvement in position of both farmer
and consumer in cases where coöperative marketing can be organized. The
high development of coöperative citrus fruit marketing has resulted in
lower average prices to consumer, better quality, and better return to
the grower. Here is a case of scientific distribution lamentably absent
in many other commodities. There are other specialized products to which
it could be well extended. To reach its best development it should have
parallel coöperative development among consumers as have we discussed


There are many ways of assisting the agricultural industry not pertinent
to this discussion on the cost of distribution. They do demand inquiry,
and public illumination; most of them do not demand legislation so much
as public education and consideration when legislating on other
subjects. Our agricultural interests also need a foreign policy. For
instance, during the last month there has been a consolidation of
control of buying in world markets by the European Governments. How far
it may be extended in its policies is not clear. Nevertheless, a
combination of importers in all Europe under government control could
determine the prices on every farm in the United States.


As the datum point of price determination is the wholesaler's market,
the accretions of charge for distribution from that point forward, the
economy of extravagance in these costs, is of primary interest to the
consumer. The same phenomena of marking up goods on the shelf,
calculating profits not on commodities but on dollars handled, a minor
amount of vicious speculation, and the passing on of excess profits tax,
are present in those trades during the past years. A much more pertinent
phenomenon in unduly increasing their margins is the increasing demands
of the consumer as to service. Several deliveries daily, purchases on
credit, the abandonment of the market basket in favor of the telephone,
mean many costs. One of them much overlooked is that customers must
always have "first" quality when they buy over the telephone, and the
seconds and thirds of equal food value in many commodities go to waste
and are added to the price of the firsts. That there are some people in
the United States who want to buy sanely is evidenced by the 400 per
cent increase in "cash and carry" shops. There are also too many people
in the final stages of distribution. One city in the United States has
one meat retailer for every 400 inhabitants; it would be equally well
served with one dealer for every 1200. The result is high margin to the
retailers and no out-of-the-way income to any of them. There is no very
immediate remedy for this. One possibility is an extension of
coöperative buying by consumers. It has proved a great success abroad.
It is not socialism, for it arises from voluntary action and initiative
among the people themselves.


There is now a tendency to ill balance between the agricultural and
general industry. For many years we were large exporters of food and
importers of manufactured goods. We gradually imported mouths,
manufactured our own goods and just as rapidly diminished our food
exports. Up to the point where we consumed our own food and
manufactured our own goods it has been a great national development. Our
annual exports of food decreased during the past twenty-five years from
some 15,000,000 tons to about 6,000,000 just before the European War. In
the meantime we increased the import of such commodities as sugar, rice,
vegetable oils, until our net exports were about 5,000,000 tons. Of the
kinds of food exported this probably represents a decreased export of
from twenty-five or thirty per cent of our production down to five per
cent of it.

During the war we gave special stimulus to food production and produced
greater economies in consumption so that these later years somewhat
befog the real current, for our agricultural surplus in normal years is
really very small. During the war and since, we have given great
stimulus to our manufacturing industries. If we shall continue to build
up our manufacturing industries and our export trade without
corresponding encouragement to agriculture, we will soon have more
mouths in our country than we can feed on our own produce. We shall,
like the European States which have devoted themselves to industrial
development, ultimately become dependent upon overseas food supplies. If
we examine their situation we find the very life of their people is
thus dependent upon maintaining open free access to overseas markets.
From this necessity have grown the great naval armaments of the world,
and the burden they imply on all sections of the population. Such
nations, of necessity, have engaged in fierce competition for markets
for their industrial products. Thus they built up the background of
world conflicts. The titanic struggles that have resulted have
endangered the very lives of their people by starvation. Their war
tactics have, in large degree, been directed to strangle food supplies.
One other result of this development is the terrible congestion of
populations in manufacturing areas with all the social and human
difficulties that this implies.

There is a jeopardy in industrial over-development which has received
too little attention because the world has only experienced it during
the past eighteen months. In times of industrial depression, or great
increase in the cost of living, whether brought about by war or by the
ebb and flow of world prosperity, these populations, oppressed with
misery, turn to political remedies for matters that are beyond human
control. They naturally resent the lowering of their standards of
living, and they inevitably resort to industrial strife, to strikes and
disorder. Theirs is the breeding ground of radicalism--for all such
phenomena belong to the towns and not to the country.

By and large, our industries are now in a high state of prosperity. More
favorable hours, more favorable wages, are today offered in industry
than in agriculture. The industries are drawing the workers from our
farms. If this balance in relative returns is to continue, we face a
gradual decrease in our agricultural productivity. If we should develop
our industrial side during the next five years as rapidly as we have
during the past five years, we shall by that time be faced with the
necessity to import foodstuffs to supplement our own food supplies. Some
economists will argue, of course, that if we can manufacture goods
cheaper than the rest of the world and exchange them for foodstuffs
abroad, we should do so. But such arguments again ignore certain
fundamental social and broad political questions. These dangers have
become more emphasized by experience of the war. From dependence on
overseas supplies for food, we will, by the very concern that will grow
in public mind as to the safety of these supplies, soon find ourselves
discussing the question of dominating the seas. Our international
relations will have become infinitely more complex and more difficult.
Unless the League of Nations serves its ideal, we will need to burden
ourselves with more taxation, to maintain great naval and military
forces. But of far more importance than this is that social stability of
our country, the development of our national life, rests in the spirit
of our farms and surrounds our villages. These are the sources that have
always supplied our country with its true Americanism, its new and fresh
minds, its physical and its moral strength. Industry's real market is
with the farmer by the constant increase of his standard of living. We
want our exports to grow in exchange for commodities we need from
abroad, but we want them to grow in tune with our social and political
interests, and to do so they must grow in step with our agriculture.

_In conclusion_ we are in a period of high inflation and shortage of
world production, and consequent abnormal prices. The tide is likely to
turn almost any time. Some of the outrageous margin between the farmer
and consumer will be remedied by the turn in the tide itself, for it
will eliminate the marking up of goods and the opportunity of vicious
speculation. The dangers of the turn are twofold. First, unless we
constructively remedy the unnecessary margin between the farmer and the
wholesaler the farmer will receive the brunt of the fall long before
the supplies he must buy and the labor he must employ will have fallen
in step. It will bring to him the greatest suffering in the community.

The farmer's position can be remedied by better distribution of the tax
load, by improvement in our transportation system, by getting our
markets free of impediments to free flow of competition, and by
constructive improvement in our whole distribution system. The consumer
will get relief from deflation, improvement in world production, and by
eliminating the same wastes and unnecessary costs in our distribution

The second danger is that deflation itself will take place without
constructive consideration. Great wisdom will be required on the part of
our government in its great control of credit that it shall take place
progressively and with care, in order that there shall be no sudden
breaks, with their resulting demoralization, unemployment and misery.

We require a careful balance of general industry to agriculture. We
cannot afford to build this nation into an industrial state dependent
upon other lands for its food supply. We want our industries to grow,
but we want agriculture to grow in pace with them. Many of our farmers
made great sacrifices in the war; they do not want to be coddled in
peace; but they must have an equality of opportunity with all the other
elements in the country.

[Footnote 2: _Saturday Evening Post_, Issue April 10, 1920.]


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large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.