Baruch (1870-1965) played a prominent role in Democratic
Party politics throughout much of the first half of
the twentieth century. A native of New York City,
Baruch gradually amassed a personal fortune through
shrewd investments on Wall Street. He later used part
of his wealth to support the Democratic Party and
Democratic campaigns, including Woodrow Wilson's successful
presidential campaign in 1912.
Wilson appointed Baruch as the chairman of the War
Industries Board following the United State's entry
into World War I in 1917. As a member of Wilson's
War Cabinet, Baruch found himself working closely
with Herbert Hoover, who was the U.S. Food Administrator.
The two men worked together to manage American industrial
and agricultural resources during the war and later
served as advisors to Wilson at the Paris Peace Conference.
While Hoover went on to become president, Baruch never
held an elected office, choosing instead to use his
wealth and reputation to influence politics and promote
the Democratic Party.
Baruch's work as a political advisor earned him the
nickname "Park Bench Statesman," as he often
could be found sitting at a park bench across from
the White House, offering advice to politicians. During
World War II, Baruch served as the chairman of the
Rubber Survey Committee and following Roosevelt's
death in 1945, Baruch found himself as an interlocutor
between the new president, Harry S. Truman, and the
former president, Herbert Hoover. Having worked closely
with Hoover during the Wilson administration, Baruch
felt that Hoover's prior experience and administrative
skills could prove quite useful to Truman in dealing
with the enormous challenges that would face the new
administration in the post-war world, specifically
providing food relief to nations facing famine.
was one of several people who met with Hoover during
May of 1945 in order to initiate contact between the
two Presidents. For more information see: Jordan S.
Schwarz's The Speculator: Bernard Baruch in Washington,
1917-1965, and The Harry S. Truman Encyclopedia p.