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Herbert Hoover and Martha Berry

by Meg Ratliff, Berry College

October 2014

I doubt many Berry students (excluding MBDA workers, of course) know about Martha Berry’s interest in politics other than her connections to the Roosevelts. Yet, it is clear from her correspondence  that Martha Berry frequently acknowledged  upcoming elections, both on the national and local level. Even before the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920 gave women the right to vote, Martha Berry found ways to support her own political agenda through the help of men outside of Berry, as shown in this letter to J. L. Campbell in 1918.

Although I have not yet run across any information about who Miss Berry voted for in the early 1920s, it is clear in this letter exchanged between her and Elizabeth Achelis that she intended to vote for Herbert Hoover in the presidential election of 1928.  Hoover’s reputation today has been undermined by the disastrous consequences of the Great Depression that began not long after he took office.  However, in 1928, Hoover was seen by many Americans as a progressive and competent figure.  This was based both on his efforts to feed Europe in the wake of World War I’s devastation and his ability to increase efficiency as Secretary of Commerce.

Hoover still holds a place at the bottom of many “Best President’s” lists, so it is refreshing to see letters about his accomplishments in the eyes of Martha Berry. The Herbert Hoover tag on the Martha Berry Digital Archive contains informative letters to and from Miss Berry on the importance of Hoover during his campaign for the presidency. Although Hoover has a tarnished image after his inability to react efficiently to the Great Depression, he still caught the attention of Martha Berry and even received her vote for the presidency.

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