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Yet the stock of cereals when the United States entered the war was at a lower level than it had been for years and the number of food animals had also been reduced.
To meet the crisis President Wilson called upon one of the most interesting and commanding personalities of modern times. Herbert Clark Hoover was a Californian mining engineer, of broad experience in Australia, China, and England, who in 1914 had been given control of Allied Relief abroad. The following year he undertook the difficult and delicate task of organizing food relief for Belgium. He was able to arouse the enthusiastic sympathy of Americans, win financial support on a large scale, procure the much-needed food, and provide for its effective distribution among the suffering Belgians, in spite of the suspicions of the Germans and the hindrances thrown in his path. A master organizer, with keen flair for efficient subordinates, of broad vision never muddied by details, with sound knowledge of business economics, and a gift for dramatic appeal, Hoover was ideally fitted to conduct the greatest experiment in economic organization the world had seen. Unsentimental himself, he knew how to arouse emotion — a necessary quality, since the food problem demanded heavy personal sacrifices
From the painting by Edmund C. Tarbell, N.A. By courtesy of the National Art Committee.