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neering as helper in the office, in San Francisco, of Louis Janin, the bestknown mining engineer in the West.
He was soon out of the office, however, and again in the mines of California, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, and Arizona, where he stayed until he received an offer from an engineering firm to go to West Australia. Here, in 1897, after only two years of mining engineering apprenticeship since graduation, he was an arrived and successful mining engineer in the position of manager of one of the most famous of Australian mines. There can be no doubt that native capacity was as largely responsible for this swift achievement as good training and other environment.
In another year (1898) he was manager of two other great Australian mines, and in one year more he was director of mines for the Chinese Empire. This gave him a chance to go through some highly spiced adventures in Tientsin during the Boxer Rebellion of 1900.
Crossing with him from Thamesmouth to Flushing in the summer of 1915, on one of the small Dutch boats which were allowed by Germans and Allies to maintain a precarious crossChannel connection between the Continent and England, I heard from him as we walked the narrow decks, with a constant eye out for casual floating mines or careless submarines, many stories of his experiences in Australia and China. I do not remember many of the incidents, but I remember clearly the general impression made on me by all of them together. It was, that the chief actor in them was a man of level head, clear vision, entire fearlessness, and great resourcefulness and directness of action.
Since then I have had the opportunity, given by close association, to see him think and act under circumstances of continuous serious importance. I
would use the same words now to express my present actual knowledge of his qualities which I have just used to express my impression of them gained on the uneasy little Dutch boat.
After the Chinese experiences he became a junior partner in a London mining firm, at that time (1902) perhaps the greatest in the world. During this partnership, which lasted until 1908, Hoover had the experience of meeting the task, largely because of his own attitude in the matter and through his own exertions, of making good to the firm's clients the defalcation by the firm's financial member of about a million dollars. In 1908 he had restored the sum, sold his interest in the firm, and was a man free and wholly competent to go it alone successfully in the world's arena of mining business. And ever since then he has gone it alone, and successfully.
It is beyond the province of this sketch to recite any of the details of his impressively successful handling of large mining affairs in Russia, Burma, Central America, Mexico, and elsewhere. He has been successful in making money for his associates and for himself out of many undertakings; but, more importantly, he has been successful in making good mines out of what in other men's hands had been bad ones. That, indeed, has been his special work in mining: not promoting mines and selling mining shares to an easy public, but making the earth yield its treasures even when it seemed most reluctant to release them. He has made his money in mining out of the ground, not out of the pockets of investors.
And then in August, 1914, came the War, and came also Hoover's ready relinquishment of mining and moneymaking, and his undertaking to care
for the feeding of a nation suddenly deprived of the capacity of feeding itself. This undertaking promised to make large demands on all the qualities we have attributed to the subject of our analysis. It also required another or perhaps it is not so much another quality as it is one including most of the others, and something more and larger than any of them. I would call it the creative imagination. Ribot's famous essay of many years ago pointed out clearly how mistaken we are in the limitations with which we commonly use the term 'creative imagination.' By it we mean usually something peculiar to artists and poets, and hence foreign to men of business and politics and statecraft. If such men show originality of constructive thought and achievement we call it that, and not creative imagination. But when they conceive and do things originally and constructively, they are really revealing their possession of the same quality which poets and artists-real ones-possess. Only with them it is expressed differently. Herbert Hoover is a rather unpoetic-looking brother to the poets; he is an artist using colors not named in the solar spectrum; he is a man of creative imagination.
Also, it goes without saying that to drop money-making and mining, to begin money-losing and hard, wearing struggle in the tremendous task of Belgian relief, revealed, in the victim of our vivisection, qualities of heart and humanity which we have not before in this paper ascribed to him, although they have long been familiar to his friends.
The work of feeding the people of Belgium and occupied France has been much more difficult than is popularly imagined. And the greatest difficulties have not been those which might, at first glance, seem to be the probable
chief ones, namely, difficulties on the material side in obtaining the great sums of money necessary, and in purchasing and transporting and handling the enormous food-quantities involved. But they have been of a more intangible sort, difficulties connected with the belligerent governments, difficulties about the necessary agreements and guaranties indispensable to the inauguration and maintenance of the work. The material problems have been serious enough, in all conscience, but the immaterial ones have been more serious. There has been necessary all through the course of the undertaking much more than the ‘engineering efficiency,' so widely noted and praised in connection with it; there has been continuously necessary a high degree of diplomatic achievement.
Diplomacy popularly connotes methods of indirection, elements of concealment, the strategy of twilight hours. But Herbert Hoover's diplomatic achievement in connection with Belgian relief has been by methods just the opposite of the ones noted. He has won by directness and playing with the cards face up on the table. He has been something more than honest in his methods: he has been obviously honest. His forthrightness of plan, proposal, and action has carried him to swift success, where other methods would have failed - and time was always of the essence in the relief work. He has come to diplomacy untrained as a diplomat; just trained and by nature made to be forcefully common-sensible, sure of his ground, and honestly and confidently direct in the presentation of his needs. So foreign offices and war departments and secret services and all the other groups of people involved, whether American, English, French, German, or Belgian, have been won to permit and aid him in his great undertaking.
The humanitarian character of the undertaking itself, and the readily demonstrated necessity of it, might seem to be sufficient to insure success in the diplomatic and inter-governmental engagements necessary for it. But that is far from being the case. There has been no relief, in the large and complete way of Belgian relief, in Poland or Serbia or Armenia, or wherever else it was equally needed. No, humanitarianism alone is not sufficient in times of war at least, in this war, with such a completely militarized and dehumanized element in it as the German War Machine - to guarantee unaided the success of humane intentions and generous offers. It required keen understanding, highly intelligent planning, and forceful and persistent effort, to do good effectively in the Belgian centre of the terrible human struggle that is this War.
From the feeding of Belgium to the administration of the food of America was, under the circumstances, the natural and inevitable step. It was the character of the war which made feeding Belgium necessary; it was its magnitude which made control of the food of the last great nation to enter it also necessary. And it was the success of the manager of the very large and very difficult Belgian undertaking which promised the ultimate success-if success were at all possible to anybody of the manager of the larger and more difficult American undertaking.
Herbert Hoover entered on his new task in public service with no illusions as to its extraordinary difficulties. He said, grimly, immediately after promising President Wilson that he would undertake it, that he would probably get hung up on the first barbed-wire entanglements. He did not really mean
this, for he would not have undertaken it at all unless he had been confident that he would last longer than that. But he had seen one German food-dictator after another drop out, was seeing Lord Rhondda succeed Lord Devonport as food-controller in England, and was soon to see M. Violette make way for a new French minister of provisionment, and this one for still another; and his remark expressed concisely the fate that faced any too sanguine foodmanager. Managing the army or navy or the shipyards gives you excellent chances for trouble with soldiers or sailors or labor unions, but managing food gives you the supreme opportunity for trouble with everybody.
Hoover knew this when he left London for Washington; and he knows it even better now that he has had a few months of food-administration. But he knows something else, too, which he also undoubtedly knew, or at least believed, when he began these months. And that is that the administering of the food of the American public in a great emergency by calling upon the loyal and patriotic coöperation of the food-producers and food-handlers and food-consumers of America, in a word, of the whole American people, is not all trouble - it is partly a high experience of the revelation of the thing which makes democracy possible and democratic government successful the response of the great mass to the call for loyalty and sacrifice. And that response, no less than the response of trouble, has been a result of the undertaking of American food-control. It takes but a few to provide the response which means trouble; but it takes a great many to give the response which means even the beginnings of success in a great national endeavor. Yet those beginnings of success are already certainly apparent in the work of American food-administration.
This reliance upon the fundamental feeling, understanding, and loyalty of the mass of the people has been characteristic of Hoover in his work both in Belgian relief and American foodadministration. He is a democrat by birth and training. He does not merely believe in democracy - he relies on democracy. And yet he indulges in no blind and debilitating sentiment about the equality of all men. He knows that men are far from equal in capacity and character; they are unequal from birth, from conception. Nor can any identity of training or opportunity make them equal. It can help them to approach common understanding and common preferences, and can help remove adventitious inequality. But fundamental inequality is a condition of human, aye, of all animal and plant-existence. No two individuals in all the world through all time are or have been exactly alike; nor will there ever be such two. Not even 'identical twins' are identical, though they arise from the accidentally separated halves of the same egg.
Herbert Hoover, therefore, knows that he is different from the men about him, and knows that these differences are of a kind that make him a leader, and hence a controller, of other men. And he accepts leadership because he honestly believes that success in organization and communal achievement demands the placing of authority in central hands. Centralization of authority and responsibility; decentralization of operations - this is the system on which Belgian relief was successfully administered, and on which American food-administration is being based.
But the necessity of leadership and authority in democracy carries with it the necessity of a selection of leaders on a basis of essentials alone. Capacity, conviction, courage, and devotion these are the bases for selecting the
heads of enterprises and governments; not politics, favor, or opportunism. And the selection should be generally recognized as made fairly, and, in cases where outstanding and accepted figures make it possible, inevitably. It is not undemocratic to choose or accept leaders, and to delegate authority. It is, indeed, essentially democratic procedure, and absolutely necessary for the successful persistence of democratic organization. Hoover, as convinced believer in centralized authority and as actual personal exemplar of such authority, and Hoover as true democrat, are not two inconsistent figures. Neither is President Wilson, to take another near-by example of the same condition.
What may be called the more special traits of Herbert Hoover are in perfect line with the general ones so far outlined. One man is as good as another to him until he reveals himself less good. He saves time by cutting out frills, both business and social. He enjoys company, but wants it to mean something. He has little small talk, but plenty of significant talk. He prefers arranging matters by conference and agreement to using the big stick, but he does not hesitate to club when necessary. 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 makes these decisions easily because he has a clear general policy to guide him.
I recall being asked by him to come to breakfast one morning at Stanford University, to talk over the matter of the faculty salary-standards. Mr. Hoover is now a trustee of the university that graduated him. His first question to the several of us who were there was: What is the figure below which a professor of a given grade (assistant
professor, 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 a figure. 'Well,' said Hoover, 'that must be the minimum salary of the grade.'
He saves time. He reads surprisingly much for a man so continually heavily laden with affairs, and so given to days and nights of concentration on their problems. But he does his reading in bed. Even in those many difficult and always uncertain trips across the North Sea, from England to Holland, on his enforced movements between London and Brussels, he always had his little electric torch, or even stub of a candle, to fasten to his bunk for a little reading before going to sleep. He saves trouble, as well as time, by wearing in all seasons, and for years, one after another, business suits of the same model and cloth, which he simply orders when needed, two or three at a time, as one would order another half-dozen of collars of one's favorite style and regular size.
He knows what he wants to do, and goes straight forward toward doing it; but if difficulty too great intervenes, he withdraws for a fresh start and tries another path. I always think of him as outside of a circle in the centre 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 and invaluable characteristics. If there is only one way, he fights to the extreme along that way. But almost always he sees that there are other ways, and he readily tries one after another of them.
In all the Belgian relief diplomacy he recognized discreetly the official position of military officers, ministers, ambassadors, cabinet secretaries, prem
iers. He was patient of form where form was obligatory. But in realities he dealt with each as man to man. He presumes reasonableness in his antagonist and depends on reason and understanding for his strength in discussion. He does not understand personal attack and vindictiveness. He has sufered unduly by lack of comprehension of the manner and methods of various attacks which have been made on him and his work.
He has an amazing capacity for lucid exposition. His successful argument with Lloyd George, who began a conference on the relief-work strongly opposed to it on grounds of its alleged military disadvantage to the Allies, and closed it by a complete acceptance of the principle, leaving to his cabinet secretaries and Mr. Hoover to arrange details, is a conspicuous example of his way of getting what he wants, on a basis of good grounds, confidence in his position, and effective setting out of his arguments. It is also a good example of the way he likes to 'do business.' The higher the authority and more able the man who has to be convinced, the more confident is Hoover of the outcome of the meeting.
He also has an emotional side. It is a side less apparent, though not less strong, than the purely reasoning one, or the one of forcefulness and authority. I shall not embarrass him by telling stories known only to a few intimates. But one incident may be described. In Belgium he avoided the soup-lines and the children's canteens as much as possible; he kept himself to the Brussels office, and had his meetings with the heads of the great national and provincial committees. But one day my wife persuaded him to take an hour from the central office to visit a canteen for sub-normal children.
'He stood silently,' she writes, 'as the sixteen hundred and sixty-two little