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President Hoover and the Civil War



     The discussion on General Sherman and the March to the Sea led to the question of the attitude toward it of Christians like Presidents Hoover and Carter. Tim Walch, director of the Hoover Presidential Library Museum in West Branch, Iowa, comments:
     As far as I know, Mr. Hoover had no strong views on the Civil War. He came from a strong Quaker background and those families provided support and comfort to John Brown in the years before his raid on Harper's Ferry. In fact, Brown spent the winter of 1856 or 1857 in Springdale, Iowa, about five miles from West Branch.
     Mr. Hoover was a strong admirer of Abraham Lincoln, however, and would quote from Lincoln's writings on a regular basis. In fact, Hoover recalled that a portrait of Lincoln was the only picture that hung in his family home. He later acquired that portrait to hang in his own home and it now hangs in a reproduction of his Waldorf suite living room that is part of the Hoover Presidential Library Museum in West Branch.
     It is interesting to note, by the way, that the South as a region received the largest share per capita public aid during the Hoover administration. This was no small sum. Hoover spent more public monies on public works projects than all the presidents before him combined! The South "bit the hand that fed it," however, and voted for FDR in 1932.


     My comment: As pacifists, the Quakers refused military service yet the supported military action to fight slavery. It would seem that they are caught in the same predicament as the Catholic priests in Central America who are accused of supporting armed leftist guerrillas.

Ronald Hilton - 12/8/99


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