Literature of Liberty: War and Socialism

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For half a century Herbert Hoover (1874–1964) was an important spokesman for American values. Raised in Iowa and Oregon, he was one of the first students at Stanford University under its distinguished founder, David Starr Jordan (coming to Stanford from the presidency of Indiana University, Jordan was one of the most knowledgeable of the many prominent persons who spoke out boldly in the anti-imperialistic cause during the Spanish-American War and the suppression of Philippine independence). Hoover’s training in geology at Stanford should not mislead us into viewing him as a narrowly trained engineer lacking a global vision. Hoover received a broad-based education at Quaker academies in West Branch, Iowa and Newberg, Oregon; and, after graduating from Stanford, he took advantage of opportunities for extensive self-education and far-flung travels. His career in mining took Hoover not only to the gold mines of the western United States but also to other mines throughout the world: in Australia, China, Russia, Burma, Italy, and Central America. From his offices in San Francisco, New York, and London, Hoover travelled by boat throughout nearly two decades to supervise his extensive business interests in such distant locations as Australia and China. Our understanding of this early part of Hoover’s career has been illuminated by the biographical studies of Professors David Burner and George Nash, who inform us that during those long voyages Hoover read many thousands of volumes. Hoover’s skillful 1912 translation from the Latin of Georgius Agricola’s mining treatise De Re Metallica displays only one facet of his vast knowledge. Another indication of Hoover’s ongoing passion for developing his mind was his decision to make his home on the Stanford campus for long periods of time…

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