Son of a Quaker blacksmith, Herbert Clark Hoover brought to the Presidency an unparalleled reputation for public service as an engineer, administrator, and humanitarian. Continue And yet, Brooks says, Curtis did not lose his taste for politics. He favored the Dawes Act of 1887, passed a few years before he entered Congress, which allowed the federal government to divide tribal lands into individual plots, which eventually led to the selling of their land to the public. "I'm guessing that might have been a factor in clearly his belief on this issue?" What was the public reaction to the nomination and election of a mixed-race/Native American person at this time? Apparently, Glen did not get along with other dogs at the White House and was given to Mrs. Cora Newton, the wife of Herbert Hoover's secretary, Walter Newton. That honor belongs to Charles Curtis, an enrolled member of the Kaw Nation who served as President Herbert Hoover’s veep for his entire first term from 1929 to 1933. By this time, there was already bad blood between Curtis and Hoover. And, even if many Native American people were unhappy with the land allotment plans he had championed, many Kaw were proud of him. Curtis was a member of the Kaw (also called Kanza) Nation. or Thirteen-year-old Charles expected to join the migration, but his Indian grandmother commanded the boy to stay in Topeka with his White grandmother and assimilate. While many were dead set against land division and other policies pushed by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, others believed that tribes must assimilate into white American society and adopt norms like individual land ownership. Elected in 1928, Charles Curtis became the first, and only, Native American Vice President of the United States. Give a Gift. Vice President Mike Pence speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, on April 23, 2020. ", Correspondent Mo Rocca asked, "Had he gone with her, would we be talking about him today? Hoover White House Pets Bellhaven Behoover (Glen), a Collie. And it turns out his grandmother was right. The best-known event of his term involved a dispute over social protocol between Curtis’ sister, Dolly, and Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter, Alice. His rise also tells a broader story of how prominent Native Americans viewed how their communities should assimilate within a predominately white society and government. The senator had bristled at Hoover’s choice in 1918 to campaign for Democratic candidates and tried to stop then-President Warren G. Harding from appointing him to his cabinet, which he did anyway in 1921. Get the best of Smithsonian magazine by email. Copyright © 2021 CBS Interactive Inc.All rights reserved. "I think a lot of history would be lost," she replied. Senator Charles Curtis (with arm in sling) in Pawnee, Okla., in 1928, shortly before his vice presidential election victory. Curtis was born in 1860 in what was then the Kansas Territory to a White father and an Indian mother. Given to Lou Hoover by Florence B. Ilch, owner of Bellhaven Collie Kennels of Red Bank, N. J., in November 1928 at the age of eight months. But the United States has already elected its first minority vice president, Republican Charles Curtis, who had significant Native American ancestry. In fact, he may not have even survived.". Curtis also supported Native American boarding schools, in which children were taken from their families and denied access to their own languages and cultures. Story produced by Mary Lou Teel. "He learned how to ride horses, he could speak the language.". 15 presidents previously served as vice president. Hoover’s reputation as a humanitarian—earned during and after World War I as he rescued millions of Europeans from starvation —faded from public consciousness when his administration proved unable to alleviate widespread joblessness, homelessness, and hunger in his own country during the early years of the Great Depression. Serving from 1974 to 1977, Gerald Ford was the 38th president of the … Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the our 24/7 digital news network. Keep up-to-date on: © 2021 Smithsonian Magazine. ... Herbert Hoover, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Donald Trump. Hoover worked from 1896-1914 as a Mining Engineer. And as for the Kaw Nation, they've rebounded in number, and in 2002 purchased acreage for a memorial park in Kansas – a return to their ancestral land. "Well, knowing my Native grandmother, I know his Native grandmother had a strong influence on him. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone. Curtis grew up speaking Kanza and French before he learned English. He had an Indian jazz band play at the 1928 inauguration and decorated the vice presidential office with Native American artifacts. Curtis gained some fame as a talented horse rider, known on the circuit as “Indian Charlie.” But his grandparents on both sides encouraged him to pursue a professional career, and he became a lawyer and then a politician. “At the turn of the century when he’s working there are very prominent Indian scholars and writers and professional Indian people who are all talking about these issues,” Rhodes says. “And of course, that [opened up] tribal land in Oklahoma to white settlers, sooners.”. © 2021 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. Unfortunately for him, that scenario didn’t pan out; Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover won on the first ballot. Editor: Steven Tyler. The house is now for sale. Soon after he became president, the Great Depression started. That honor belongs to Charles Curtis, an enrolled member of the Kaw Nation who served as President Herbert Hoover’s veep for his entire first term from 1929 to 1933. After being raised among the Kaw Tribe in … His mother died when he was just three, and he was left in the care of his Indian grandmother. As for his former home in Topeka, Don and Nova Cottrell died last year, months apart. “You tell mothers, ‘OK, you’re going to give birth to a child, but at 5 they’re going to be taken from you,’” Grinede says. To balance the ticket, Republicans turned to Curtis, from the farm state of Kansas. When he was young, Curtis’ mother died, and his father fought in the Civil War for the United States. By 1873 the Kaw Nation, once millions of acres in area, had dwindled to little more than a burial plot, and the few hundred surviving members were being forcibly relocated south to what would become Oklahoma. In 1933 Hoover welcomed Franklin D. Roosevelt, who defeated him, as the country was in the middle of the Great Depression. Curtis … Herbert Hoover: Impact and Legacy. It needed a lot of work," Dannenberg said. In office, he was a loyal Republican and an advocate for women’s suffrage and child labor laws. ", How did that feel? People got sick. He became a successful lawyer, and was elected to the U.S. House of representatives. “Lots of Indian women chose not to have children.”. For many years, both scholars and the American public held Hoover in extremely low esteem, blaming him for the Great Depression and criticizing his efforts to solve the crisis. Rocca asked, "What would be lost if the house weren't there?". Herbert Clark Hoover (August 10, 1874 – October 20, 1964) was an American politician, businessman, and engineer, who served as the 31st president of the United States from 1929 to 1933. Abuse was rampant. Many of the assimilationist policies he backed had ultimately devastating effects on the lives of Indians, leading to the dissolution of tribal governments and the break-up of communal lands. Terms of Use Curtis, Kansas’ beloved veteran senator, offered the perfect choice to balance out the Commerce Secretary. But what about his race? He served under President Herbert Hoover from 1929 to 1933 as the first Native American vice president. I think he tried his best and I think he regretted, in the end, being assimilationist.”. Despite the racist treatment of the Kaw by white Kansans—which included land theft and murder—many whites were obviously willing to vote for Curtis. On these ocean voyages, Hoover turned his attention to reading, giving himself some of the liberal arts education he had missed in the narrow curriculum of Stanford. Henry said, "She wanted the best for him, and the best for him was to go live with his White family. "He lived with the Kaw people on the reservation," said Pauline Sharp, a member of the Kaw Nation. California Do Not Sell My Info Charles Curtis, Herbert Hoover's VP from 1929-1932, was the first person of color to be Vice President of the US. California Privacy/Information We Collect. "The Kaw people are the indigenous people of Kansas," said James Pepper Henry, CEO of the First Americans Museum, slated to open in September in Oklahoma City, and vice chairman of the Kaw Nation. Hoover's cabinet choices were generally strong ones. “That had become who he was,” Brooks says. But with the onset of the Great Depression, the ticket's bid for reelection went down in flames. Herbert Clark Hoover (August 10, 1874–October 20, 1964), mining engineer, humanitarian, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, and 31st President of the United States, was the son of Jesse Hoover, a blacksmith, and Hulda Minthorn Hoover, a seamstress and recorded minister in the Society of Friends (Quakers). 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