August 10th marks the 148th birthday of President Herbert Hoover. He is the earliest president with a presidential library in the National Archives system and, like the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, it is built near the site of his birthplace and gravesite. Presidents Hoover and Nixon were both Quakers and both lived in California. Hoover attended Leland Stanford Junior University (now Stanford University) and later built a home near the university campus.
Richard Nixon visited West Branch, Iowa in 1965 for the first posthumous birthday celebration for President Hoover. As former vice president, Nixon was the featured speaker. An article published in The Gazette in 2021 reflected, “Nixon took his job seriously, spending a month on the speech.” (Fanno-Langton, Diane. “Time Machine: Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon visit West Branch.” The Gazette, 11 August 2021, https://www.thegazette.com/history/time-machine-dwight-eisenhower-and-richard-nixon-visit-west-branch/)
This warm, kind, generous, shy, witty, and progressive humanitarian, was painted before his countrymen as a cold, heartless, selfish, aloof, humorless reactionary. But time fortunately has a way of healing the wounds inflicted by excessive partisanship.
Richard Nixon speaking about President Herbert Hoover at the Hoover Presidential Library in West Branch, Iowa on August 9, 1965
Hoover lived for thirty-two years after his presidency and continued to be a voice in politics. He delivered a speech at the 1960 Republican National Convention when Nixon was named the Republican nominee for president.
Nixon refers to President Hoover multiple times in his memoirs RN: The Memoirs of President Nixon.
Shortly after the Alger Hiss verdict in 1950, Herbert Hoover sent then Congressmen Nixon a telegram that read, “The conviction of Alger Hiss was due to your patience and persistence alone. At last the stream of treason that has existed in our government has been exposed in a fashion all may believe.”
During the Fund Crisis when Nixon was a candidate for vice president in 1952, Hoover came to Nixon’s defense when campaign spending allegations were raised.
When Nixon was deciding whether to run for Governor of California in 1962, he recalled, “Friends whose political judgment I respected were sharply divided as to what I should do. Herbert Hoover and General Douglas MacArthur advised me to run for Congress so that I would have a forum from which I could address national and international issues.”
President Herbert Hoover passed away on October 20, 1964. Four years before Richard Nixon was elected president for the first time.
Interested in learning more presidential history? Become a member of the Nixon Foundation and receive free admission to all National Archives presidential libraries including the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum.