Herbert Hoover to Woodrow Wilson


Herbert Hoover to Woodrow Wilson


Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964




1917 March 29


Herbert Hoover sends Wilson correspondence regarding the proposed financial compensation for relief given by America to Belgium and France should the United States enter World War I.


Hoover-Wilson Correspondence, Hoover Institution, Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford, California


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum


Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924--Correspondence
Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964--Correspondence




To the President,
The White House,
Washington, DC


Your Committee, appointed to cooperate with the Commission for Relief in Belgium, have the honor to submit for your consideration on the following suggestions:

First: There is a prevailing report current in the press of the country that in the event of the United States entering into the war with Germany a credit of large magnitude will be created for the benefit of some or all of the allied governments. We suggest that in case this be done a portion of the credit so offered be specifically allocated by previous agreement with the borrowers for expenditure by our Commission in the relief work now carried on in the occupied areas of Belgium and Northern France. Such a course would have, as it seems to us, several advantages: It would inure directly to the benefit of the Allies because to that extent it would relieve them of the monthly payments they are themselves making for the same purpose; at the same time it would give to this country an appropriate share in the responsibility and burden of financing a work which has been carried on, though unofficially, in the name of the United States.

It is not our opinion or desire that the advances thus made should be permitted to replace or diminish private relief. If the contemplated advance, as we assume it may be, is made in a form to carry with it financial assistance to the recipient on terms more bebneficial than current in the market, the corresponding burden to this country thus assumed might be distributed to private subscribers who would then be afforded an opportunity to help pro tanto in the support of Belgium. In any event we propose to continue our efforts to stimulate charitable gifts.

The following particulars as to our needs and resources are submitted for your guidance:

The food stuffs we are permitted to deliver into Belgium and Northern France call for a monthly expenditure (mainly in American purchases) of about .......

Our monthly receipts from the Governments of Great Britain and France for account of Belgium are ........

Our monthly meceipts from the Government of France for account of Northern France are ..............
6,000,000.           13,000,000.

As a matter of fact our receipts from benevolence have averaged less than $1,000,000 per month, America’s contributions averaging only about $300,000 per month; consequently, we have never been able, and are not now able, to provide for these 10,000,000 people even the meagre ration authorized by the Allied Governments.

Our second suggestion is that a recommendation should be made by the President to Congress for an appropriation of $2,000,000 as a gift to cover the working expenses of the Commission from its inception to the end of the current year. This represents less than five-eighths of one per cent of the moneys handled by the Commission, a fact of striking signficance reflecting, as it does, not only the ability with which its affairs have been administered, but also the value of the voluntary services rendered by those responsible. Up to the present such expenses have been met out of the funds provided by the Allied governments. This has always been a matter of chagrin to Mr. Hoover and the members of the Commission, and it would lift a burden from their hearts if they could feel that the services they have administered in the name of America and for which they have been overwhelmed with expressions of gratitude, has indeed been rendered by America free of expense to the recipients.

Yours respectfully,
[Herbert Hoover]

Original Format



Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924





Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964, “Herbert Hoover to Woodrow Wilson,” 1917 March 29, WWP19059, Hoover Institute at Stanford University Collection, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.