Herbert Clark Hoover (August 10, 1874 – October 20, 1964) was the 31st President of the United (1929–1933). Originally, Hoover was a professional mining engineer and author. As the United States Secretary of Commerce during the 1920's under Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, Hoover promoted partnerships between government and business under the rubric of "economic modernization".
A trained engineer , Hoover believed firmly in the Efficiency Movement, which held that the government and the economy were riddled with inefficiency and waste, and could be improved by experts who could identify and solve the problems. He also believed in the importance of volunteerism and the role of individuals in both American society and in the economy. Hoover, who had made a small fortune in mining, was the first of two Presidents to redistribute his entire salary (President Kennedy was the other; he donated all his paychecks to charity).
Hoover graduated from Stanford University in 1895 with a degree in geology. In 1897, he went to Australia as an employee of Bewick, Moreing & Co., a London-based mining company. He worked under company partner Edward Hooper, and served as both a geologist and mining engineer while searching the Western Australian goldfields for investments. After being appointed as mine manager at the age of 23, he led a major program of expansion for the Sons of Gwalia gold mine at Gwalia, Western Australia. Additionally, he brought in many Italian immigrants to cut costs and counter the union militancy of the Australian miners. Hoover believed "the rivalry between the Italians and the other men was of no small benefit. "
Hoover worked at gold mines in Big Bell, Cue, Leonora, Menzies and Coolgardie, Western Australia. During his time at Gwalia, Hoover first met FJ (Jim) Lyster, a pioneering metallurgist. An open feud developed between Hoover and his boss Ernest Williams, with Hoover persuading four other mine managers to conspire against Williams. The firm's principals then offered Hoover a compelling promotion that would relocate him to China, and in turn, end the feud.
Hoover worked as chief engineer for the Chinese Bureau of Mines and as general manager for the Chinese Engineering and Mining Corporation. He later worked for Bewick, Moreing & Co. as the company's lead engineer. Hoover recommended improving working conditions for Chinese workers at the company, seeking to end the practice of imposing long term servitude contracts on them. Additionally, Hoover petitioned to institute reforms for workers based on merit. Hoover was made a partner in Bewick, Moreing & Co. in 1901, and assumed responsibility for various Australian operations and investments. The company would eventually control approximately 50% of gold production in Western Australia.
In August–September 1905, Hoover founded the Zinc Corporation (eventually part of the Rio Tinto Group) with William Baillieu and others. The corporation's intention was to purchase and treat the zinc rich-tailings in Broken Hill, New South Wales. Hoover left Bewick Moreing & Co in 1908 and set out on his own as an independent mining consultant. Eventually, he ended up with investments on every continent and offices in San Francisco, London, New York City, St. Petersburg, Paris and Mandalay, Burma. He enjoyed his second majorly successful venture with the British firm Burma Corporation, again producing silver, lead and Zinc in large quantities at the Namtu Bawdwin Mine.
By 1914, Hoover was an extremely wealthy man, with an estimated personal fortune of four million dollars. He was once quoted as saying "If a man has not made a million dollars by the time he is forty, he is not worth much". Acting as a main investor, financier, mining speculator and organizer of men, Hoover played a major role in the important metallurgical developments that occurred in the mining city of Broken Hill in the early twentieth century. These developments that had a tremendous impact on the world mining and the production of silver, lead and zinc. After World War II, Hoover's mining work in the Kyshtym area of Russia proved invaluable to American intelligence agencies. Hoover's extremely detailed maps of the area, particularly of the Soviets' first military plutonium production facility at Mayak, provided vital knowledge for U.S. intelligence in the even of war with the Soviet Union.
In 1909, Hoover's lectures at Columbia and Stanford universities were published in the work known as Principles of Mining, which became a standard textbook. Additionally, Hoover and his wife published their English translation of the 1556 mining classic De re metallica in 1912.