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Although he had been a career soldier for most of his adult life, towards the end of his Presidency, Dwight Eisenhower developed a mistrust for those whose financial interests were tied to national defense spending. On January 17, 1961, Eisenhower addressed the nation on television for his farewell address. In the speech, he warned Americans to be on guard against what he called "the Military Industrial Complex". In the speech Eisenhower also expressed concerns about the dangers of massive spending, especially deficit spending, about Federal influence on scholars, and about a "technological elite".


Eisenhower had served two full terms as President and was the first president to be term-limited. He had presided over a period of considerable economic expansion, as well as over the growing Cold War. Three of his national budgets had been balanced, but spending pressures mounted, especially from the Department of Defense. The speech followed the election of John F. Kennedy, as the oldest American president in a century was about to hand the reins of power to the youngest man ever elected president. Eisenhower was concerned about Kennedy's lack of experience and his susceptibility to being influenced by his generals. Sometime in 1959, Eisenhower had decided to make a final statement as he left public life.

In the speech Eisenhower expressed concern over a lack of planning for the future. In the speech he told Americans that they "must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow."

Eisenhower warned the nation about the potentially harmful and corrupting influence of what he termed the "military-industrial complex". He said:

"Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense. We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security alone more than the net income of all United States corporations. Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence, economic, political, even spiritual, is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

Here is a brief excerpt from that speech, along with some comments by historian Michael Beschloss:

Eisenhower also said that "the prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocation, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded... [I]n holding scientific discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite."

Eisenhower's speech is remembered primarily for its reference to the military-industrial complex. The phrase gained increased usage during the Vietnam era and man have expressed the opinion that a number of the fears raised in his speech have come true. An excellent 2005 documentary directed by Eugene Jarecki entitled Why We Fight follows up on the remarkable foresight that Eisenhower showed in giving this warning. The documentary is available on YouTube here. Eisenhower's granddaughter Susan appears prominently in the film.

Happy Birthday James Buchanan

On April 23, 1791 (223 years ago today) James Buchanan, Jr., the 15th President of the United States, was born in Cove Gap, Pennsylvania. Buchanan served as President from 1857 to 1861, just prior to the Civil War, and it was on his watch that a number of states began to secede from the Union. Although Buchanan said that he felt that it was illegal for them to secede, he also felt that he was powerless to do anything about it.


Buchanan became a successful lawyer before representing his state in the United States House of Representatives. He was elected to the Senate and later served as Minister (Ambassador) to Russia under President Andrew Jackson. He was also Secretary of State under President James K. Polk. Buchanan turned down an an appointment to the US Supreme Court. President Franklin Pierce appointed him Minister to the Court of St. James. His time in London seemed to distance him from the sins of the Pierce administration, and he was nominated by the Democratic Party as its candidate in the 1856 Presidential election.

Buchanan won the Presidency in a three-man race with John C. Frémont and Millard Fillmore. As President, he was often called a "doughface", a Northerner with Southern sympathies. He tried to maintain peace between the North and the South largely by giving in to the south, but in the process he only managed to alienate both sides. In the dying months of his administration, the Southern states declared their secession, leading to the Civil War. Buchanan's view of record was that secession was illegal, but that going to war to stop it was also illegal.

By the time he left office, the Democratic Party had split. Buchanan had once aspired to a presidency that would rank in history with that of George Washington and his biographer Jean Baker has written that no one ever became president with as impressive qualifications for the office as Buchanan. However, his inability to take any useful action to prevent the break-up of the nation has led to his consistent ranking by historians as one of the worst presidents in American history. In two separate polls of historians (in 2006 and 2009) his failure to deal with secession was selected as the worst presidential mistake ever made.

Buchanan is the only president to have been a bachelor. There is speculation that he may have been involved in a gay relationship with Senator (and later Vice-President) William Rufus King of Alabama. Many of his contemporaries spread such rumors and even went so far as to refer to King as "Mrs. B", but there is insufficient evidence on which to prove such a theory. The two men's nieces destroyed almost all of their correspondence.

After leaving office, Buchanan wrote an autobiography entitled Mr. Buchanan's Administration on the Eve of Rebellion, which attempted to justify his inaction against the seceding states. I've read it, it's not very convincing. Buchanan caught a cold in May 1868, which quickly worsened due to his advanced age. He died on June 1, 1868, from respiratory failure at the age of 77 at his home at Wheatland and was interred in Woodward Hill Cemetery in Lancaster.
Two of the things on James K. Polk's to do list were the acquisition of territory from Mexico, and resolution of the boundary dispute of the Oregon Territory with Great Britain. Polk went to war with Mexico on questionable grounds after attempts at negotiation failed. But Polk was wise enough not to fight a two-front war, especially with a powerful nation like Great Britain. Instead, Polk and his Secretary of State James Buchanan opted for a more peaceful solution. That solution came about in the form of the Oregon Treaty, signed on June 15, 1846, in Washington, D.C. The treaty brought an end to the Oregon boundary dispute by settling competing American and British claims to the region.

Previously, during the administration of President James Monroe, Great Britain and the United States entered into the Treaty of 1818, which set the boundary between the United States and British North America along the 49th parallel of north latitude from Minnesota to the "Stony Mountains" (now known as the Rocky Mountains). The territory west of those mountains was called the Oregon Country to Americans and the Columbia District to the British. The Treaty of 1818 provided for joint control of that land for ten years. Both countries could claim land and both were guaranteed free navigation throughout.

Joint control became problematic for both sides. Polk's offered to settle the boundary at the 49th parallel but the British initially rejected this offer. Expansionists in the Democratic Party boldly called for the annexation of the entire region up to Parallel 54°40′ north. (This led to the slogan "54-40 or Fight".) But after the outbreak of the Mexican-American War in April 1846, compromise became the wiser course of action. Negotiations in Washington, D.C. continued and the matter was settled by the Polk administration (to the dismay of Democratic Party hardliners). Polk wanted to avoid a two-war situation.


The treaty was negotiated by U.S. Secretary of State (and future President) James Buchanan, and Richard Pakenham, British envoy to the United States and member of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom for Queen Victoria. The treaty was signed on June 15, 1846. The Oregon Treaty set the U.S. and British North American border at the 49th parallel with the exception of Vancouver Island, which was retained in its entirety by the British. Vancouver Island, with all coastal islands, was constituted as the Colony of Vancouver Island in 1849. The U.S. portion of the region was organized as Oregon Territory on August 14, 1848, with Washington Territory being formed from it in 1853. The British portion remained unorganized until 1858 when the Colony of British Columbia was declared as a result of the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush. The two British colonies were amalgamated in 1866 as the United Colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia. When the Colony of British Columbia joined Canada in 1871, the 49th Parallel became the U.S.-Canadian border.

Presidents at Peace: Nixon Goes to China

In 1972 President Richard Nixon visited the People's Republic of China (PRC), in a monumental diplomatic initiative that marked the first time that a U.S. president had visited there. At that time China considered the U.S. one of its foes, and the visit let to the end of 25 years of separation between the two sides.


Even before being elected president, Richard Nixon had talked of the need for better relations with the PRC. The U.S. did not maintain diplomatic relations with Communist China, because it had recognized the government of the Republic of China on Taiwan as the government of China. Early on in his first term, Nixon and his National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger began sending subtle overtures to the PRC government about opening up diplomatic relations. After a series of these overtures by both countries, Kissinger went on secret diplomatic missions to Beijing, where he met with Premier Zhou. On July 15, 1971, Nixon announced that he would visit the PRC the following year.

Nixon visited China from February 21 to 28, 1972. His visit allowed the American public to view images of China for the first time in over two decades. Throughout the week the President and his most senior advisers engaged in substantive discussions with the PRC, including a meeting with Chairman Mao Zedong, while First Lady Pat Nixon toured schools, factories and hospitals in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou with the large American press corps in tow. Nixon dubbed the visit "the week that changed the world."

The visit had tremendous results. A significant shift in the Cold War balance resulted, pitting the PRC with the U.S. against the Soviet Union. "Nixon going to China" has since become a metaphor for an unexpected or uncharacteristic action by a politician.


Nixon said that there were three objectives for the trip: (1) to embrace People's Republic of China for peaceful settlement of Taiwan,(2) peaceful settlement of the Vietnam War and (3) deterrence of the Soviet Union's sphere of Communist influence after the Sino-Soviet Split. Nixon's critics said that Nixon's diplomacy failed on all three accounts. Taiwan remained threatened by the People's Republic of China, Vietnam was soon captured by the PRC-aided North Vietnam Communists and the collapse of Soviet Union was mainly due to internal domestic economic causes of its unproductive economic system. But Nixon's visit opened the door to Sino-American foreign relations, and paved the way to the strong economic ties that bind the two countries today.

Remembering Richard Nixon

On April 22, 1994 (just 20 years ago today) Richard Milhous Nixon, the 37th President of the United States, died at his home in New York City at the age of 81. Nixon served as President from 1969 to 1974, when he became the only president to resign the office. Nixon had previously served as a Representative and Senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961.

Nixon was born in Yorba Linda, California. He graduated from Whittier College in 1934 and Duke University School of Law in 1937. He returned to California to practice law. He and his wife, Pat Nixon, moved to Washington to work for the federal government in 1942. Nixon served in the United States Navy during World War II. He was elected in California to the House of Representatives in 1946 and to the Senate in 1950. His pursuit of the Alger Hiss case established his reputation as a leading anti-communist, and propelled him to national prominence.

Nixon was selected as the running mate of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Republican Party presidential nominee in the 1952 election. Nixon served for eight years as Eisenhower's vice president. He was unsuccessful in his first bid for the presidency in 1960, narrowly losing to John F. Kennedy. When he lost a race for Governor of California in 1962, it looked as if his political career was dead. But in 1968, he ran once again for president and defeated Hubert Humphrey.

Nixon initially escalated America's involvement in the Vietnam War, but he ended U.S. involvement in 1973. His visit to the People's Republic of China in 1972 opened communications between the two nations and eventually led to the normalization of diplomatic relations. Nixon initiated détente and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with the Soviet Union the same year.

Domestically, he launched programs to fight cancer and illegal drugs, he imposed wage and price controls, he enforced desegregation of Southern schools, he implemented environmental reforms, and he introduced legislation to reform healthcare and welfare. As one observer noted, Nixon was criticized by liberals for being too conservative and by conservatives for being too liberal. He presided over the lunar landings beginning with Apollo 11, but he replaced manned space exploration with shuttle missions. He was re-elected by a landslide in 1972.

Nixon's second term saw a crisis in the Middle East, resulting in an oil embargo and the restart of the Middle East peace process. His Vice-President, Spiro Agnew, resigned after suggestions of corruption. A continuing series of revelations about the Watergate scandal then dominated the rest of his term. The scandal escalated, costing Nixon much of his political support, and on August 9, 1974, he resigned in the face of almost certain impeachment and removal from office. After his resignation, he received a pardon from his successor, Gerald Ford.

In retirement, Nixon's work as an elder statesman, authoring nine books and undertaking many foreign trips, helped to rehabilitate his public image. Nixon suffered a severe stroke on April 18, 1994, while preparing to eat dinner in his Park Ridge home. A blood clot resulting from his heart condition had formed in his upper heart, broken off, and traveled to his brain. He was taken to New York Hospital–Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan, initially alert but unable to speak or to move his right arm or leg. Damage to the brain caused swelling (cerebral edema), and Nixon fell into a deep coma. He died at 9:08 p.m. on April 22, 1994, with his daughters at his bedside. He was 81 years old.
On November 30, 1995, President Bill Clinton visited Northern Ireland, and spoke in favour of the Northern Ireland peace process. He spoke at a huge rally at Belfast's City Hall. In the course of his speech he referred to terrorists as "yesterday's men". During his presidency, Clinton worked to end the conflict in Northern Ireland and tried arranging a peace agreement between the nationalist and unionist factions.


Two days before Clinton's speech, on November 28, 1995, a Joint Communiqué by British and Irish Governments, had outlined a 'twin-track' peace process. Preparatory talks were scheduled to lead to all-party negotiations beginning by the end of February 1996. Senator George Mitchell was appointed to lead an international body to provide an independent assessment of the main issues. On January 22, 1996 the report of the International Body on arms decommissioning (also known as the Mitchell Report) set out the six "Mitchell Principles" under which parties could enter into all-party talks. The main conclusion was that decommissioning of paramilitary arms should take place during (rather than before or after) all-party talks. The report was welcomed by the Irish government and opposition parties, and the Alliance Party. It was accepted as a way forward by Sinn Féin and the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), who both had paramilitary links. The moderate Unionist Party, (the UUP) expressed reservations, and the more hardline DUP rejected it outright. Twin-track talks began a week later with the SDLP, the Progressive Unionist Party, and the UDP. The UUP declined the invitation.

On February 28, 1996, the British and Irish prime ministers set a date of June 10, 1996 for the start of all-party talks, and stated that participants would have to agree to abide by the six Mitchell Principles. Sinn Fein agreed to participate and in May, Prime Minister Tony Blair endorsed the Mitchell Report.

Two years later, on October 17, 1997 a peace commission known as the Parades Commission was announced by the British Government, but its membership and powers attracted criticism from unionists. On November 6, 1997 12 members of Sinn Féin resigned in protest at the acceptance of the Mitchell Principles. The IRA also had problems with the report.

Progress was made on Sunday November 9, 1997, when Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, in a radio interview on the tenth anniversary of the Enniskillen bombing, which killed 11 people, said that he was "deeply sorry about what happened". But a month later more violence erupted when on December 27, 1997 members of the Irish National Liberation Army shot and killed Billy Wright, the Loyalist Volunteer Force leader, in violation of a ceasefire that had been in place.

On January 26, 1998, the talks moved to Lancaster House in London. The UDP were barred from the talks, following their involvement in three more murders. The governments stated that the UDP could re-enter the talks if it maintained the ceasefire. Progress was made, but more violence occurred. Finally on March 25, 1998, Senator Mitchell, set a two week deadline for an agreement.

On Good Friday, April 10, 1998 at 5:36 pm (over 17 hours after the deadline) George Mitchell stated: "I am pleased to announce that the two governments and the political parties in Northern Ireland have reached agreement". President Clinton had made a number of telephone calls to party leaders to encourage them to reach this agreement.

The Good Friday Agreement called for the British Parliament to pass legislative and executive authority of the province to a new Northern Ireland Assembly. A period of stalemate followed the agreement, mainly due to the refusal of the IRA to decommission its weapons. Mitchell returned to the region and arranged yet another blueprint for a further peace settlement that resulted in a December 1999 formation of the power-sharing government agreed the previous year, which was to be followed by steps toward the IRA's disarmament. That agreement eventually faltered as well, although Clinton continued peace talks to prevent the peace process from collapsing completely.

It wasn't until 2005 that the IRA finally decommissioned all of its arms and, in 2007, Sinn Féin expressed a willingness to support the reformed Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). Power was restored to the Assembly in May 2007, marking renewed promise for the fulfillment of the Good Friday Agreement.


On December 8, 2007, Northern Ireland's First Minister Ian Paisley and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness visited President George W. Bush in the White House. McGuinness said to the press "Up until the 26th of March this year, Ian Paisley and I never had a conversation about anything – not even about the weather – and now we have worked very closely together over the last seven months and there's been no angry words between us. ... This shows we are set for a new course."
The Venezuela Crisis of 1895 was a diplomatic incident which occurred during the second term of Grover Cleveland. It involved Venezuela's longstanding dispute with the United Kingdom about the territory of Essequibo and Guayana Esequiba. Britain claimed these as part of British Guiana, while Venezuela saw them as Venezuelan territory. Britain's refusal to submit the dispute to international arbitration and considered military intervention as a means of resolving the issue. The crisis ultimately attracted American intervention in the dispute to force arbitration of the entire disputed territory, according to Cleveland's interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine.


The dispute became a diplomatic crisis in 1895 when Venezuela's lobbyist William L. Scruggs tried to convince the United States that British behavior violated the Monroe Doctrine. He used his influence in Washington, D.C. to pursue the matter. President Grover Cleveland adopted a broad interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine. According to Cleveland, it did not just prevent new European colonies, but it also declared an American interest in any matter within the hemisphere. British prime minister Lord Salisbury and the British ambassador to Washington, Julian Pauncefote, underestimated the importance the American government placed on the dispute. When they realized the importance of the issue to Cleveland, they ultimately accepted the American demand for arbitration of the entire territory. A tribunal convened in Paris in 1898 to decide the matter, and in 1899 awarded the bulk of the disputed territory to British Guiana.

By standing with a Latin American nation against European colonial powers, Cleveland improved relations with the United States' southern neighbors, but the professional and impartial manner in which the negotiations were conducted also helped relations with Britain. By backing down in the face of a strong interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine, Britain conveyed its acceptance of the Doctrine.

The White House Easter Egg Roll

I get different information from different sources about how the tradition of the White House Easter Egg Roll began, though one pretty good source is White House Curator Bill Allman. According to Allman, Dolly Madison, the wife of President James Madison, began the event in 1814 and hundreds of children brought their decorated eggs to join in games.


In the mid 19th century, the tradition became one the Easter Monday Egg Roll and it took place on the grounds of the United States Capitol. By the mid 1870s, the egg rolling activities on the West Terraces had gained considerable popularity. During the administration of President Andrew Johnson, children from the President's family dyed eggs on Sunday for the Monday rolling, which the First Lady would watch from the South Portico. Only small groups of egg rollers were reported on the White House grounds under the presidency of General Ulysses S. Grant, with the majority of egg rolling activity and all day picnics taking place at the Capitol.

The egg roll activity of 1876 took its toll on the grounds, a fact that annoyed some members of Congress. With an inadequate budget to complete the landscaping and maintenance of the grounds, Congress passed a law forbidding the Capitol grounds to be used as a children's playground. The law was to be enforced in 1877. But that Easter Monday rain poured down, canceling any outdoor activities sending the egg rollers indoors to play.

On Easter Saturday of 1878, a small announcement in the local press informed the egg rollers the new law would be enforced. President Rutherford B. Hayes, who was taking his daily walk, was approached by a number of young egg rollers who asked about the possibilities of egg rolling on the South Lawn of the White House. Hayes inquired amongst his staff who briefed Hayes on past practices. Hayes then issued an official order that should any children arrive to egg roll on Easter Monday, they were to be allowed to do so. That Monday, as children were being turned away from the Capitol grounds, word quickly spread to go to the White House!

President Hayes and his wife, Lucy, officially opened the White House grounds to the children of the area for egg rolling that Easter Monday. Successive Presidents continued the tradition, and the event has been held on the South Lawn ever since.

The event has been canceled on occasion only because of poor weather conditions and during World War I and World War II. During the war years egg rollers were spotted on the grounds surrounding the Washington Monument, at the National Zoo, and even returning to the grounds surrounding the Capitol!

By the late 1800s such games as "Egg Picking," "Egg Ball," "Toss and Catch," and "Egg Croquet" were popular Easter Monday activities. The children attending the event take part in many newer activities, but rolling a hard-boiled egg across the lawn is still a highlight of the day. Presidents and First Ladies have personally greeted the egg rollers as have members of the Cabinet, athletes, musicians, celebrities from film, television, and theater and the official White House Easter Bunny. At the end of the day as egg rollers leave, each receives a special presidential wooden egg complete with the signatures of the President and the First Lady.

This year, the White House Easter Egg Roll will be held on Monday, April 21st, 2014, and it is said to be the 136th annual. This year’s theme is “Hop into Healthy, Swing into Shape,” and more than 30,000 people will assemble on the South Lawn to join in the event, which will feature live music, sports courts, cooking stations, storytelling and, of course, Easter egg rolling.

I hope you're having a happy Easter wherever you are.
For many people, their first thought about President Herbert Hoover is that he was the President when the great depression did its worst to the United States. He was portrayed by his enemies as an uncaring capitalist. This impression is not factually correct, though it is true that the depression began and the stock market crashed on Hoover's watch. It was also during his presidency that the Bonus Marchers, who participated in a protest in Washington D.C., were callously dealt with by US troops commanded by one Douglas MacArthur, and Hoover has had to wear that outrage, even though MacArthur disobeyed Hoover's orders and attacked the marchers. But in his time, Hoover was also known as a great humanitarian, both prior to and after his presidency. He was someone who worked hard to feed the starving at home and abroad.


Hoover's most significant humanitarian efforts surrounded the two world wars of the 20th century. When World War I began in August 1914, before the United States was a participant in the war, Hoover helped to organize the return of around 120,000 Americans from Europe. He organized about 500 volunteers in distributing food, clothing, steamship tickets and cash to his countrymen who were stuck in the war zone, unable to return home without help. But he didn't restrict his activities to just Americans.

When Belgium faced a food crisis after being invaded by Germany in 1914, Hoover commended a relief effort by starting the Commission for Relief in Belgium (CRB). As chairman of the CRB, Hoover worked with Belgian political leader Émile Francqui to provide food for the entire nation for the duration of the war. The CRB obtained and imported millions of tons of foodstuffs for Francqui's organization to distribute, and supervised food distribution to make sure the German army didn't appropriate the food. The CRB became a remarkable organization, with its own ships, factories, mills, and railroads. Private donations and government grants supplied the CRB's $11-million-a-month budget.

For the next two years, Hoover worked many long days from London, administering the distribution of over two million tons of food to nine million war victims. He crossed the North Sea forty times to meet with German authorities and persuade them to allow food shipments. This raised his international profile and status and he was seen as a great humanitarian. The Belgian city of Leuven named a prominent square Hooverplein after him. Hoover's organization fed up to 10.5 million people daily. But not everyone admired Hoover for his efforts. Great Britain believed that it was Germany's obligation to supply the relief. Winston Churchill was among Hoover's critics.

After the United States entered the war in April 1917, President Woodrow Wilson appointed Hoover to head the U.S. Food Administration, which was created under the Lever Food Control Act in 1917. Hoover established set days for people to avoid eating specified foods and save them for soldiers' rations. He established "meatless Mondays", "wheatless Wednesdays", and "when in doubt, eat potatoes". This program helped reduce consumption of foods needed overseas. It was called "Hooverizing" by government publicists. The agency also instituted a system of price controls and licensing requirements for suppliers to maximize production.

After the war, as head of the American Relief Administration, Hoover organized shipments of food for millions of starving people in Central Europe. He used a newly formed Quaker organization, the American Friends Service Committee, to carry out much of the work in Europe. He also provided aid to the defeated German nation after the war, as well as relief to famine-stricken Bolshevik-controlled areas of Russia in 1921, despite opposition from Senator Henry Cabot Lodge and other Republicans. A reporter asked Hoover if he was not helping to support Bolshevism. Hoover replied, "Twenty million people are starving. Whatever their politics, they shall be fed!".

At the end of the war, the New York Times named Hoover one of the "Ten Most Important Living Americans". President Wilson privately courted Hoover as his successor, and he briefly considered becoming a Democrat. In 1919 he established the Hoover War Collection at Stanford University. He donated all the files of the Commission for Relief in Belgium, the U.S. Food Administration, and the American Relief Administration, and pledged $50,000 as an endowment. The collection was later renamed the Hoover War Library and is now known as the Hoover Institution.


After his defeat in the 1932 election as President, Hoover was bitterly disliked by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and he was shut out of any government activity. But after Roosevelt died and Harry Truman became President, the nation once again called on Hoover for humanitarian relief work. Hoover and Truman became friends and, because of Hoover's previous experience with Germany at the end of World War I, in 1946 Truman asked Hoover to tour Germany to determine the food status of the occupied nation. Hoover toured what was to become West Germany and he produced a number of reports critical of U.S. occupation policy. On Hoover's initiative, a school meals program in the American and British occupation zones of Germany was begun on April 14, 1947. The program served 3,500,000 children aged six through 18. A total of 40,000 tons of American food was provided during the Hooverspeisung (Hoover meals).
James Buchanan consistently is ranked among the worst American Presidents, and in the 2004 American Presidents Series volume about Buchanan's presidency, historian Jean Baker carefully analyzes the reasons why Buchanan is deserving of his low ranking. In this concise (152 page) and intelligent analysis (all of the books in this series are of this length), Baker traces Buchanan's life from his upbringing, his early career as a lawyer and politician, his tenure as Secretary of State, and his runs at the presidency before embarking on a careful analysis of the most pressing issues of the Buchanan presidency.


Baker's analysis of Buchanan's presidency focuses on some of the biggest challenges he faced, including the conflict between the pro- and anti-slavery governments in Kansas. The last section of the book focuses on the final months of the Buchanan presidency, when trouble erupted in South Carolina, leading to the secession of a number of southern states, and ultimately to the civil war. Baker points out how Buchanan entered the presidency as well-prepared as any chief executive. So what went wrong? Baker dispels the myth that Buchanan was weak and indecisive, and makes the case for her subject's real shortcomings. In spite of Buchanan's Pennsylvania roots, Baker explains how Buchanan had strong pro-southern sympathies and sentiments, and how he was out of step with his times on the issue of slavery. When the south moved towards succession, Buchanan responded with rhetoric instead of action, not wanting to offend his favorite constituency. Under the president's nose, the southern members of his cabinet readied themselves for what was to come by sending weapons and other supplies to their home states.

Baker compares previous analyses of the Buchanan administration, including Buchanan's own post-mortem of his time in office. In a careful examination of the various theories of why Buchanan did nothing while the nation disintegrated, Baker challenges the competing theories that Buchanan was a strict constitutionalist or a do-nothing ditherer. She makes a compelling case that Buchanan was "an intellectual and electoral hostage" to the South, and how he let ideology trump pragmatism. Baker provides both an excellent analysis of the Buchanan presidency, and showcases her own brilliance in the process.


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