Wayne S. Cole
Poor people seldom become kings or prime ministers or presidents. That eliminates many of us. Until the second half of the twentieth century no Catholic made it to the presidency. To this day no female, African-American, Asian- American, Native-American, Jew, or Muslim has ever been president of the United States. All that narrows the field considerably. But even among wealthy white male Christians there has been substantial variety among those rare individuals elevated to the presidency of the United States. Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt nicely illustrate that diversity in the first half of the twentieth century.
At their time, and in their separate ways, both Hoover and Roosevelt were seen as giants in public life. As a highly successful international mining engineer, as Food Administrator during World War I, and as Secretary of Commerce in Republican presidential administrations during the prosperity decade of the 1920s, Herbert Hoover was a much respected model of administrative skill, statesmanship, professional integrity, and public service. He probably could have been elected president in 1920 if he had clearly made himself available. Handsome, personable, outgoing, and bearing the "Rough Rider's" famous name, Roosevelt was a bright light on the political scene early on. Even his courageous battle against the crippling effects of poliomyelitis in mid-life failed to check his skyrocketing career in public life for long. Hoover and Roosevelt were both tall, robust, and energetic--two very special men destined for distinguished roles in public life.