An Independent Woman: The Life of Lou Henry Hoover

By Anne Beiser Allen; Jon L. Wakelyn | Go to book overview

Chapter 16
A War-Shadowed Twilight

In February 1938 Bert went on a fact-finding tour of Europe, where Hitler's Germany was beginning to show signs of the kind of aggression that many remembered from the early months of 1914. It was the second trip he had made there in the past year. He spent a month traveling to various nations and discussing the political situation with his contacts in European capitals.

Lou remained behind, attending a Girl Scout reunion in Berkeley and working on her many projects -- charity fund drives, the West Branch house renovation, the Friends of Music. She was also becoming interested in the activities of Pro America, a political organization formed a few years earlier by a group of well-todo, mostly Republican women opposed to the New Deal. Although she agreed with the organization's beliefs, she had refused at first to become openly affiliated with it, fearing the negative effect association with the Hoover name might have on the group.

Lou had first heard of Pro-America in 1935, when a classmate, Agnes Morley Cleaveland, wrote to recommend it to her. Although Lou had never taken part in politics, she was deeply concerned about the direction in which the Roosevelt government seemed to be moving. In 1933 she wrote a lengthy dissertation to Allan about the Constitution in which she said, among other things, that "the success of any system of government depends on the character of the governed, and of the governors." She was appalled at the notion expressed by some editorial writers that the Constitution was outdated. "I think a balanced system of government, with three wheels interlocking, helping one another in orderly functioning, braking one another when any one gets erratic, is better than any dictatorship."1

-165-

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