Biographical sketches

Bernard Baruch

Bernard 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.

Baruch 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. 23-4.


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