Herbert Hoover to Woodrow Wilson


Herbert Hoover to Woodrow Wilson


Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964




1917 May 31


Herbert Hoover writes to Woodrow Wilson regarding his concerns over the amount of governmental control given in the Food and Fuel Control Act.


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




Dear Mr. President (Wilson)

I have had an opportunity, at the request of various Senators and Congressmen, of discussing with them the Lever bill and the proposed methods of giving administration to it. I find the general feeling that the whole matter can be expedited in Congress and a great deal of opposition overcome if certain provisions of the bill are deleted.

In particular, Section 5, which provides for the establishment forof standards and grades in all sorts of foodstuffs. This is a reform which is of very minor importance from a war point of view and is a power which could not be executed by the Food Administration and would necesssarily be put upon the Department of Agriculture. It would seem to me undesirable to establish the large administrative measures necessary to give it effect unless this administration is established for a longer period than the war, and if in your judgment it is desirable that such measures should be taken, they might be separated from the Lever bill, -- a war measure.

Another clause which is arousing a great deal of opposition is Section 16, allowing mixtures of wheat flour with other cereals. It is my belief that we would probably not want to take advantage of this section because it will open the doors to aduleteration which we could not control without a very large administrative staff embracing a representative in every milling plant in the United States. On the other hand we can accomplish the problem of securing consumption of other cereals in substitution for wheat by such voluntary methods as the establishment of cornbread days and other devices of this kind. If these voluntary methods should fail we could then come back for powers at a later stage.

Somewhat the same argument applies also to Section 15 which provides for the establishment of  minimum percentages of wheat milling. Inquiry into the mechanical situation of milling in the country indicates that this could not be accomplished in the smaller mills without imposing a great deal of expense upon them and will arouse a great deal of opposition. The national saving to be made therefrom is of somewhat ndoubtful importance when we weigh all the various factors that enter into the question. Moreover, there are a great number of misguided faddists in the country who will bring constant pressure to bear upon us to take drastic action along these lines and whose antagonism we will certainly incur if we have the powers and do not make use of them. I am somewhat in doubt as to whether this clause should be deleted as it has its certain value in enabling us to force the millers to do certain other things we want by threatening the use of these powers, but if any very considerable fight is made over it, it is my view that it is not critical.

Another matter in connection with the bill seems to me of vital importance and that is that we should have an appropriation of at least $100,000,000 as working capital in purchase and sale of foodstuffs and to supplement the minimum guarantee provisions of the bill.I am informed by various Congressmen with whom I have discussed the matter that there would be no difficulty in the inclusion of such an appropriation and I cannot conceive that it would result in any financial loss to the country. Probably we would never call upon the appropriation at all, but the fact that we had it would enable us to establish banking credits on a much more positive scale.

I do not wish to take any particular attitude with regard to the bill without your kindly counsel as to whether or not the above ideas should be put into action.

Yours faithfully,
[Herbert Hoover]

Original Format



Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924




Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964, “Herbert Hoover to Woodrow Wilson,” 1917 May 31, WWP19068, Hoover Institute at Stanford University Collection, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.