Herbert Hoover to Woodrow Wilson


Herbert Hoover to Woodrow Wilson


Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964




1918 October 26


Herbert Hoover writes to Woodrow Wilson about Belgian relief and the situation in this wartorn country.


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. Hoover

The probable early evacuation of Belgium brings us face to face with the problems of this distressed people not only in continued food relief, but in the broad issues of economic rehabilitation. The initial task of preserving the bare lives of the people during German occupation, undertaken four years ago under your direction, is now nearing completion. I conceive that the American people will willingly accept a large share in the burden of their continued assistance to reconstruction and rehabilitation, pending their re-payment for injury by Germany.

In order that such assistance should be exerted in the most liberal, efficient and comprehensive manner, I feel that it should be organized under a single agency, that it may co-ordinate the whole effort of the American people or the Government in in the furnishing of supplies, machinery, finance, exchange, shipping trade relations and philanthropy. We cannot I also feel in this matter that such an agency in addition to being the sole vehicle of supplies as should also have some proper participation in the control, expenditure and distribution of this assistance. Such consolidation should give much greater assurance of proper assistance and prevent any profiteering in this situationThe large experience of the Belgian Relief Commission, the character of its organization without profit, its shipping and the sympathetic bond which it forms, after four years of co-operation, with the Belgian people, point to its continuation and enlargement as the logical agency for this purpose.

I would therefore be glad if you and your colleagues would undertake this extended work.

I understand that the sentiment of the English and French people is to also participate in this burden. It would seem to me desirable to inquire if these governments would not therefore continue and enlarge their present support to the Commission to these ends, so that we may have a comprehensive and efficient agency for dealing with the entire problem on behalf of all.

It is of course primary that our assistance in this expenditure and orgnanization shall be built upon co-operation with the Belgian government and the use of such internal agencies and methods as may be agreed with them, to whom our whole solicitude is directed.

It is also of first importance that the expenditure of all philanthropy of the American people toward Belgium, of whatever character, should be conducted by or under the control of the Commission, if duplication and waste are to be avoided.

With view to the advancement of these ideas, I have addressed a note to the various departments of this government, indicating my direction that all matters relating to these problems should be undertaken under your guidance and that they should give to you every co-operation.

I wish for you to proceed at once with the undertaking so far as it relates to the United States and I wshould be glad if you would, through the proper agencies, take up a discussion of these matters with the Belgian government and with the English and French governments as to their relationship and participation.

Woodrow Wilson

Original Format



Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924




Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964, “Herbert Hoover to Woodrow Wilson,” 1918 October 26, WWP19477, Hoover Institute at Stanford University Collection, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.