Herbert Hoover to Woodrow Wilson




Herbert Hoover writes to Woodrow Wilson about his plans in Europe when meeting with the Food Administrators there to coordinate Allie food efforts.


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


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum




Dear Mr. President

As I shall be leaving for Europe in the course of a few days, I am anxious to secure your approval to the plans I have in view:

First:I propose, in conference with the Food Administrators of England, France and Italy, to study the world harvest supplies, the Allied and United States requirements of the principal food commodities for the next twelve months and the distribution necessary at each point.

In order that these studies may be carried out expeditiously, I propose to make use of the staffs which the Food Administration has already in Europe and I propose to be accompanied by three or four assistants representing the technical side of different food commodity groups. Through these conferences I propose that we shall draw up as nearly as may be the general programme for the ensuing twelve months’ requirements, sources and supplies in each commodity group.

After these preliminary programmes are drawn up, I would propose that they should be submitted to the International Maritime Council for consideration on the shipping side and, upon the settling of these issues, to the Inter-Allied Finance Council for their consideration.

Second:You will recollect that during the past year we have built up certain bodies for co-ordinated action, that is, and “Executive” for cereals, another for meats and fats, and a third for sugar. I propose to add to this a fourth, covering jute and hemp. We have also consolidated the direction of overseas buying into these bodies to eliminate competition. There is some complaint as to these “Executives” and we need more effectual relations to them as, in every commodity, our interest in distribution extends outside the United States. I propose therefore to endeavour to arrange that either these “Executives” themselves, or their policies, should be controlled by a committee representative of each of the four Governments; they, of course, operating within the programmes agreed.

For this purpose I propose to add somewhat to the staff the Food Administration already has in Europe so as to carry out this work efficiently. The necessity for these “executives” increases daily by virtue of our common interest in supplies from all quarters of the world. One point in having these “executives” is to have proper advice here as to the fluctuating requirements and supplies of the different Allied nations in order that we may properly formulate our production and conservation policies at this end.

It may prove necessary in order to obtain co-ordination between these different food “executives” that I should constitute some one of the gentlemen that I leave in Europe as the responsible head of our American food group, who can represent me presonally in relations with the different Allied Food Ministers and who can represent in common the relation from our point of view with the American War Trade, Finance and Maritime represnentatives in Europe.

In all these programmes and arrangements I shall, of course, immediately submit any programmes for your approval, and if we consider it desirable to vary from the above form of organization, I shall, of course, secure approval first; and, as is customary, I shall assume it is my duty to approach the various European Food Ministers through and in co-operation with our Embassies abroad.

Third: I feel the food problem is for fundamental reasons a problem of marked distinction from all of the other Inter-Allied supply problems. This revolves around the points of psychology and morale which arises in this class of supplies as they so much affect the minds of the civil population both abroad and in the United States to a degree not touched by the more abstruse and less personal problems of war trade, finance and munitions.

During the whole of the past year we have built up a devotion of the American people to the issue that we must make any sacrifice of food short of damage to public health that the necessity of the Allies calls for. In other words, we have had morally and effectually a pooling of foodstuffs with the Allied peoples. The confidence this has inspired in Allied populations, of which I could furnish you many particulars, has been very great. I would therefore like to maintain this attitude in negotiation as being a direction from you that “the American people are gladly willing to make any sacrifice in consumption and production of foodstuffs short of damage to our own efficiency in the war that will maintain the health, comfort, and courage of the people of the Allied countries. That we are, in fact, eating at a common table with them”. I have in view endeavouring this year, if our supplies warrant, the establishment of a universal bread of about 20% other cereals than wheat over the United States and the Allied countries and to take off the quantity restrictions in Europe. This will be a much better bread than now prevails. It would give us a much better moral background here to effect economies and would have a great moral effect in Europe. It would also have a depressing effect in Germany where much comfort has been taken out of our bread difficulties.

In all this matter it seems to me fundamental that no financial restrictions should be placed upon the supplies of money for the purchase oby the Allies of staple food commodities of United States production. Unless this can be assured, we cannot hope for continuity of policy in either production or consumption. On the other hand, problems will arise which are purely Treasury problems, as to the finance of supplies that may be purchased by the Allies from overseas sources outside the United States where they may want financial assistance.

I would indeed be glad to know if the above meets with your approval.

Yours faithfully,
Herbert Hoover


Original Format






Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964, “Herbert Hoover to Woodrow Wilson,” 1918 June 29, WWP19453, Hoover Institute at Stanford University Collection, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.

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