Haig, Alexander (1924– ) Haig was a career military officer who served in the Korean and Vietnam wars. He was military assistant to Henry Kissinger (when he was Nixon’s national security advisor), then became White House Chief of Staff at the height of the Watergate scandal from May 1973 until September 1974. Haig proved a great crisis manager, who (many believe) kept the government running while Nixon struggled with Watergate. After serving as supreme commander of NATO from 1974 to 1979, Haig was appointed secretary of state by Ronald Reagan in 1981. He made a major gaffe when, after the March 30, 1981, assassination attempt on Reagan, Haig declared that he was “in control” in the White House, asserting—unconstitutionally—that he was third in succession to the presidency. Haig resigned in 1982.
Haldeman, H. R. “Bob” (1926–1993) An advertising executive, Haldeman worked on President Nixon’s election campaigns and served as his White House chief of staff from 1969 to 1973. His power was great, since he largely determined who would and who would not see the president. Haldeman was deeply implicated in what Nixon’s inner circle called “dirty tricks” designed to undermine or destroy the administration’s opponents. During the Watergate scandal, Haldeman resigned, was convicted of perjury, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice, and served 18 months of a 30-month sentence.
Hale, Nathan (1755–1776) Hale was a Connecticut schoolteacher who served as militia captain in the revolution and volunteered to conduct espionage behind the British lines in Long Island, New York. Captured, he suffered the fate of a spy: hanging. Long-accepted tradition has it that his final words were, “My only regret is that I have but one life to lose for my country.” This was a close paraphrase of a line from Cato by the 18th-century British playwright Joseph Addison, which the Yale-educated Hale may well have read—or which may have been supplied by some contemporary Patriot myth maker.
Hall, G. Stanley (1844–1924) Hall began his academic career intending to study for the ministry, but switched to philosophy and then to psychology. His early research used specially formulated questionnaires to study child development and concluded that mental growth proceeded in an evolutionary manner roughly analogous to the course of biological evolution proposed by Charles Darwin. Hall integrated modern psychology into the most advanced currents of scientific thought of his age, successfully incorporating into his work both Darwin and Freud.
Hamilton, Alexander (1755 or 1757–1804) Hamilton was of illegitimate birth in Nevis, British West Indies. After serving as a staff officer to General Washington during the American Revolution, he rose to become a New York delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and was a prime contributor to The Federalist Papers (1789–1795), which helped ensure that the new Constitution would achieve ratification. Under President George Washington, Hamilton was the first secretary of the treasury and was responsible for a fiscal policy that established the credit of the infant nation on a sound basis. He was an ardent champion of a strong central government, which put him at odds with Washington’s secretary of state, Thomas Jefferson, who favored a more radical democracy. Hamilton was killed in a duel (July 11, 1804; he died the next morning) with his chief political foe, Aaron Burr.
Hammerstein, Oscar (1847–1919) His memory overshadowed by the fame of his lyricist son, Hammerstein immigrated from Germany to the United States when he was a teenager and became a cigar maker. He also moonlighted as a theater manager and, in 1889, built his own theater, to which he brought the greatest actors and singers of the day. While he produced shows in all genres—including drama, comedy, vaudeville, and musical comedy—his greatest passion was grand opera, the production of which he revolutionized by introducing an unprecedented degree of genuine theatricality. By the end of his life he had built eleven theaters, ten of them in Manhattan.
Hammerstein, Oscar, II (1895–1960) Son of the major American opera impresario for whom he was named, Hammerstein studied law, but soon became an author and lyricist for the musical comedy stage, writing between 1920 and 1959 all or most of 45 musicals. His most notable collaborations were with composer Richard Rodgers, with whom he wrote (among others) Oklahoma! (1943), Carousel (1945), and South Pacific (1949), all landmarks in popular musical entertainment.
Hammon, Jupiter (circa 1720–circa 1800) Hammon was a slave on Long Island, New York, whose masters allowed him to attend school. Deeply religious, he wrote his first published poem, “An Evening Thought. Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries,” on Christmas Day 1760. Printed early the next year, it was the first piece of literature published in the United States by an African American.
Hancock, John (1737–1793) A prosperous Boston merchant, Hancock was a major leader of the independence movement and the president of the first and second provincial congresses in 1774 and 1775. The first to sign the Declaration of Independence in 1776, he wrote his name large—large enough, he said, so that King George and his ministers could read it all the way from London.
Hardin, John Wesley (1853–1895) During 1868–1877, Hardin earned notoriety as an incorrigible Texas gunslinger, killing at least 21 men in duels and ambushes. Apprehended in Florida in 1877, he was convicted and sentenced to 25 years at hard labor. He was pardoned in 1894, but soon fell to thievery. On August 19, 1895, John Selman, a policeman and fellow thief, shot him in the back of the head as he drank at the bar of the Acme Saloon, El Paso. The shooting was motivated by a personal feud, but Selman was acquitted of murder.
Harding, Warren Gamaliel (1865–1923) A genial Ohio politician, Harding was chosen by a caucus of party insiders (legend has it, in a “smoke-filled room”) as the Republican presidential candidate in 1920. His promise of a “return to normalcy,” after the strenuous reforms of President Woodrow Wilson’s two terms and U.S. involvement in World War I, appealed to the American people, who sent him to the White House by a landslide. His administration was characterized by conservative isolationism, rampant corruption, and even sexual scandal (Harding had a mistress). The president died in California during a trip to Alaska in 1923. Many historians consider him the least competent president in U.S. history.
Harlan, John Marshall (1833–1911) Harlan served as an associate justice of the U. S. Supreme Court from 1877 until his death, earning a reputation as one of the high court’s great dissenters. He dissented most forcefully from the majority on issues of civil rights for African Americans, arguing that the equal rights of blacks were guaranteed by Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments. His opinions would not be vindicated until the mid 20th century, years after his death. His grandson, also named John Marshall Harlan (1899–1971), also served on the Supreme Court (1955–1971).
Harriman, W. Averell (1891–1986) President Franklin Roosevelt sent Harriman to Britain and the Soviet Union to manage U.S. aid to these allies during World War II. From 1943 to 1946, Harriman served as ambassador to the Soviet Union, then, briefly, as ambassador to Great Britain (April to October 1946). He was Harry S. Truman’s secretary of commerce from 1947 to 1948, and—except for a period as governor of New York from 1954 to 1958—served Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson in various high-level capacities. As JFK’s assistant secretary of state for Far Eastern affairs (1961–1963), he helped negotiate the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, and as LBJ’s ambassador-at-large, he headed the U.S. delegation to the Paris peace talks in an effort to end the Vietnam War during 1968–1969. His greatest influence during the Cold War period was in advising presidents on U.S. Soviet policy.
Harris, Joel Chandler (1848–1908) A Georgia journalist, Harris earned national fame as a humorist, beginning with his 1879 story, “Tar Baby,” told in African-American dialect by a slave named Uncle Remus and introducing the characters of B’rer Fox and B’rer Rabbit. This was the first of many stories Harris later published in a long series of “Uncle Remus” books, beginning with the 1880 Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings. Not only did these stories become popular American classics, Harris developed a passionate interest in African-American folklore, which he did much to collect, preserve, and present to both black and white America.
Harrison, Benjamin (1833–1901) The grandson of the ninth president, the short-lived William Henry Harrison, Benjamin Harrison defeated incumbent Democrat Grover Cleveland in 1888, winning an electoral majority but losing the popular vote by a margin of more than 95,000. Harrison was man of impeccable conscience, whose moderate Republicanism moved him to sign into law the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, which curbed monopolies. In foreign affairs, Harrison presided over a general expansion of U.S. influence abroad. His rival Cleveland defeated him in 1892—thereby becoming the only U.S. president to serve two nonconsecutive terms.
Harrison, William Henry (1773–1841) An army officer who served as governor of Indiana Territory, Harrison negotiated treaties that acquired from the Indians millions of acres during 1802–1809. When tribes under the Shawnee Tecumseh resisted, Harrison led forces that defeated them at the Battle of Tippecanoe (November 7, 1811), near Lafayette, Indiana. This victory provided the first memorable slogan in a U.S. presidential campaign in 1840: “Tippecanoe and Tyler, too!” (John Tyler was Harrison’s running mate.) Harrison was 67 when he was elected. On a frigid March 4, 1841, he took the oath of office and delivered the longest inaugural address in history (nearly two hours). He took a chill, fell ill, and died exactly one month later, on April 4. He was the first chief executive to die in office.
Hart, Lorenz “Larry” (1895–1943) Descended from the 19th-century German Romantic poet Heinrich Heine, Hart teamed with composer Richard Rodgers to write the lyrics of some 1,000 of the most popular and most beautifully crafted of American popular songs, including “Here in My Arms” (1926), “My Heart Stood Still” (1927), “With a Song in My Heart” (1929), “Lover” (1933), “Blue Moon” (1934), “The Lady Is a Tramp” (1937), “My Funny Valentine” (1937), “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” (1939), and “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” (1940).
Harte, Bret (1836–1902) Harte grew up in New York City. He left in 1854 to visit the California mining country and settled in San Francisco, where he became a clerk in the U.S. Mint and a magazine editor. He began writing short stories that evoked the “local color” of the California mining camps, with a sentimental turn and emphasis on remarkable incidents and characters. His 1870 collection, The Luck of Roaring Camp and other Stories, made him world famous—and “local color fiction” henceforth became a major American literary genre.
Harvey, Fred (1835–1901) Harvey immigrated to the United States from England in 1850 and entered the restaurant business. After the failure of his restaurant in St. Louis, he found work as a railroad freight agent. Observing the abysmal quality of railroad dining accommodations throughout the West, Harvey approached the Santa Fe Railroad with a proposal that he open a restaurant at the Topeka, Kansas, depot. This became the basis of a chain of Fred Harvey restaurants all along the Santa Fe line—the first American restaurant chain, precursor of the fast-food chains of the 20th century. Associated with the restaurants were the famous “Harvey Girls,” waitresses Harvey brought out West to serve in his establishments. These women often became the wives of western bachelors.
Hauptmann, Bruno (1899–1936) Born in Germany, Hauptmann immigrated to the United States after World War I. He made his living as a carpenter and a burglar. In a sensational trial spanning January 2–February 13, 1935, he was convicted of kidnapping and murdering the 21-month-old son of American aviator hero Charles Lindbergh and his wife, Anne Morrow. Dubbed the “trial of the century,” the proceedings in a Flemington, New Jersey, courthouse received intense international media scrutiny, but the conviction of Hauptmann was plagued by controversy that remains unresolved to this day. Despite the doubts and qualms of many—including New Jersey governor Harold Hoffman—Hauptmann was executed on April 3, 1936, protesting his innocence to the last.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel (1804–1864) Born and raised in New England and steeped in its history and lore, Hawthorne produced some of the greatest fiction in American literature, including his masterpiece, The Scarlet Letter (1850). Hawthorne was fascinated by the large themes of guilt, conscience, and community, and by his own heritage of New England Puritanism, which included an ancestor who had been a judge during the infamous Salem witchcraft trials of the 17th century. Hawthorne wove these themes and fascinations into richly atmospheric explorations of the human character, creating situations that made extensive use of allegory and symbolism to probe what he considered the darkest secrets of the soul.
Hay, John (1838–1905) Hay served as private secretary to Abraham Lincoln throughout his presidency (1861–1865), then held various diplomatic posts under other Republican presidents. In 1897, President William McKinley appointed him ambassador to Great Britain, then, in 1898, secretary of state. He was active in negotiating an end to the Spanish–American War (1898) and guided the nation toward becoming a major imperialist power. He advocated what he called the Open Door policy, designed to regulate relations between the Western powers and China, providing trade access to all. In 1901–1903, Hay was instrumental in clearing the way for the building of the Panama Canal.
Hayes, Mary McCauley (1753/54–1832) The wife of an artilleryman during the American Revolution, Hayes accompanied her husband in action. During the Battle of Monmouth (June 28, 1778), she carried pitchers of water to cool the guns and slake the thirst of the men. For this, she was nicknamed “Molly Pitcher.” When she saw her husband fall wounded, she seized his ramrod and took his place at the gun. General Washington recognized her valor by issuing to her a warrant as a noncommissioned officer.
Hayes, Rutherford B. (1822–1893) In the election of 1876, Democrat Samuel J. Tilden outpolled Republican Hayes in the popular vote and looked as if he would win an electoral majority as well; however, Republicans contested the result—charging (among other things) that the black vote had been suppressed in the South—and the election was ultimately decided by Congress in a deal that gave Hayes the presidency in exchange for his pledge to bring an immediate end to Reconstruction (including military government) in the states of the former Confederacy. Hayes was installed in office, ended Reconstruction, and, to his credit, set about cleaning out the corruption of Ulysses S. Grant’s two terms. However, he was always afflicted by the stigma of the backroom deal and was universally mocked by the title, “His Fraudulency.”
Hayne, Robert Y. (1791–1839) While serving as senator from South Carolina, Hayne debated Daniel Webster in 1830 on the legitimacy of nullification—the proposition that the U.S. Constitution was a compact among the individual states, and that, therefore, any state had the right to nullify a federal statute it considered in violation of the compact. The debate defined a major dispute between North and South, which would not be resolved except by the catastrophe of civil war.
Haywood, “Big Bill” (1869–1928) William D. “Big Bill” Haywood was a western miner who became active in the mine labor movement. He was a founder of the International Workers of the World (IWW) in 1905, a radical labor organization that sought to bring all workers under “one big union.” Haywood was persistently harassed by federal authorities, who, after U.S. entry into World War I, arrested him and other IWW members on charges of treason and sabotage for interfering with war-related production. While on bail pending appeal, Haywood fled to Soviet Russia, where he lived the rest of his life.
Hazelwood, Joseph (1946– ) On March 24, 1989, the supertanker Exxon Valdez ran aground 25 miles south of Valdez, Alaska, spilling 240,000 barrels of crude oil into the pristine waters of Prince William Sound. It remains the worst environmental disaster in American history. The skipper, Joseph Hazelwood of Huntington, New York, was charged with (among other things) operating a vessel while intoxicated and was found guilty of negligent discharge of oil. His conviction was overturned on appeal based on a statute that granted immunity to those reporting oil spills to the authorities. The oil spill covered some 2,600 square miles of Alaska wilderness and killed untold thousands of birds and marine animals.
Hearst, William Randolph (1863–1951) The renegade son of a California senator and gold miner, Hearst took over the ailing San Francisco Examiner in 1887 and transformed it into a runaway success by combining genuinely reformist investigative journalism with outright sensationalism. He repeated this success on a grander scale when he bought the moribund New York Morning Journal in 1895, hired the best writers and reporters to work on it, then reduced its price to a penny—thereby obtaining spectacular circulation. Hearst engaged in a circulation war with rival publisher Joseph Pulitzer and, together, the two publishers created a new brand of muckraking sensationalism dubbed “yellow journalism.” Hearst went on to build a nationwide news chain and became an opinion maker of unprecedented power, typically making news as well as reporting it—as when he heightened the war fever that led to the Spanish-American War.
Hemings, Sally (circa 1773–1835) Hemings was a chambermaid to Thomas Jefferson, by whom she may have had at least one child (her youngest son, Easton Hemings). DNA studies of known Hemings and Jefferson descendants and other scientific evidence have yet to resolve the controversy definitively. Jefferson, who had condemned the slave trade in his draft of Declaration of Independence, was a slave owner lifelong and, on his death, did not free Sally or any other slave.
Hemingway, Ernest (1899–1961) Many regard Hemingway as the greatest American novelist and short story writer of the 20th century. He was celebrated as much for his lean writing style—in which there seemed not a single superfluous word—as for his compelling treatment of themes of masculine identity, morality, and courage. A member of what Gertrude Stein called the “lost generation” of post-World War I writers and artists, Hemingway created fictional heroes in search of meaning in a morally and spiritually shattered world. In the process, he carved out for himself the life of a celebrity author, whose very public thirst for high-risk adventure was unquenchable. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.
Henderson, Fletcher (1898–1952) Henderson was a fine jazz pianist who created great orchestrations for large jazz ensembles and was responsible for much of the “big band” sound of the 1930s and 1940s. He was the first arranger to create fully written arrangements that did not compromise the free spirit of jazz improvisation. As Benny Goodman’s principal orchestrator, Henderson was responsible for much the Goodman band’s phenomenal success.
Henri, Robert (1865–1929) Henri led early 20th-century American art away from academic eclecticism—the imitation of earlier styles—toward a realism that embraced the modern urban landscape as a rich and exciting subject. Some critics derided his work and the work of the many American artists he influenced as the “Ashcan School,” but he and his followers accepted the label and continued to develop this new form of unsentimental urban and industrial realism that was unique to America.
Henry, Patrick (1736–1799) A radical leader of the independence movement in Virginia, Henry was less important to the American Revolution as a political thinker than as an orator of electrifying eloquence. He is best remembered for the speech he delivered at the second Virginia Convention on March 23, 1775. After introducing uncompromising resolutions for the funding of the Virginia militia to fight the British, he concluded: “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”
Herbert, Victor (1859–1924) Irish born, Herbert made his reputation and fortune in the United States as the composer of innovative popular operettas that were the precursors of the musical, a uniquely American popular art form. Of his more than 40 operettas, the best-remembered are Babes in Toyland (1903) and Naughty Marietta (1910). Herbert was also a great musical businessman, who led the fight for meaningful copyright protection of music and was a founder of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) in 1914.
Herjolfsson, Bjarni (late 10th century) While sailing from Iceland to Greenland in 986, this Norse explorer was blown off course by a storm, which took him close enough to what is now known as Newfoundland for him to see low-lying, thickly forested hills. Eager to reach Greenland, he did not investigate—but is generally considered the first European to lay eyes on the North American mainland.
Hersh, Seymour (1937– ) This investigative reporter achieved worldwide renown in 1969 by exposing the My Lai Massacre—the brutal destruction of a Vietnamese village on March 16, 1968, by a platoon of U.S. soldiers under Lieutenant William Calley—and its subsequent cover-up by the U.S. Army. Hersh was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his My Lai stories and continued his reporting on military and security matters, which, included exposing U.S. abuse of detainees at Iraq’s infamous Abu Ghraib prison (2004) and reports on U.S. military plans to employ nuclear weapons against Iran (2006).
Hickok, “Wild Bill” (1837–1876) Hickok was a radical abolitionist before and during the Civil War and worked for the Union Army as a teamster and scout. He became a deputy U.S. marshal after the war and earned a reputation as an uncompromising lawman for his work as sheriff of Hays City, Kansas, and as marshal of Abilene. He exploited his fame as star of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show during 1872–1874, then became a drifting gambler, who met his end on March 1, 1877, at a poker table in the Number Ten Saloon in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, shot to death by Jack McCall, a total stranger.
Hill, Anita (1956– ) A University of Oklahoma law professor, Hill accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment and testified in sensational televised hearings during Thomas’s Senate confirmation in 1991. Thomas denied the charges, which triggered long Senate debate, but failed to block his elevation to the high court. Hill was both widely praised and condemned for speaking out. She went on to become a professor of social policy, law, and women’s studies at Brandeis University.
Hill, James J. (1838–1916) Hill was among the last of the titans of American rail expansion, earning the title of “Empire Builder” for his construction and consolidation of rail lines throughout the Northwest at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries.
Hill, Joe (1879–1915) Hill was born in Sweden and immigrated to the United States in 1902. After joining the International Workers of the World (IWW) in 1910, he became an organizer, using his talent as a composer of folksongs to help drive recruitment. His most famous song, “The Preacher and the Slave,” has the capitalist preacher promising workers that they “will eat, bye and bye / In that glorious land above the sky; / Work and pray, live on hay, /You’ll get pie in the sky when you die.” In 1914, Hill was charged with the robbery-murder of a Salt Lake City grocer and his son. Despite thin circumstantial evidence, he was convicted—undoubtedly because of his radical beliefs. He was executed on November 19, 1915, and was celebrated as a martyr to the American labor movement.
Hinckley, John (1955– ) On March 30, 1981, Hinckley, a feckless off-and-on college student, fired his Rohm RG-14 revolver six times at President Ronald Reagan as he left the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., after a speaking engagement. A ricocheted bullet hit the president in the left lung. Other shots resulted in a catastrophic head wound to Press Secretary James Brady and lesser injuries to police officer Thomas Delehanty and Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy. Hinckley later claimed that after seeing the 1976 Martin Scorsese film Taxi Driver, he became obsessed with the young actress Jodie Foster and believed that he could capture her attention by killing the president. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was confined to Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C.
Hiss, Alger (1904–1996) Hiss was a distinguished State Department official and adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt before and during World War II. He served as temporary secretary-general of the United Nations and as president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace from 1946 to 1949. In 1948, Whittaker Chambers, a self-proclaimed reformed Communist, accused Hiss of passing classified documents to him for transmission to a Soviet agent. Hiss denied the charges; although he was never indicted for espionage, he was tried and convicted of perjury. He served more than three years of a five-year sentence and spent the rest of his life in an effort to prove his innocence—and was frequently cited by the American left as an example of right-wing persecution. (Soviet documents released after Hiss’s death in 1996 provide strong evidence of his guilt.)
Hoffman, Abbie (1936–1989) Hoffman was a civil rights activist, who, in 1968, organized the Yippies—the Youth International Party—which protested the Vietnam War and the American “Establishment.” In an era of protest, Hoffman was skilled at drawing media attention, engaging in a kind of street theater to dramatize the protest movement.
Holladay, Ben (1819–1887) Born in Kentucky, Holladay settled in Missouri, where he opened a store and hotel. During the U.S.-Mexican War (1846–1848), he made a fortune supplying the U.S. Army and used his profits to finance the purchase of army-surplus oxen and wagons, which became the basis of his freighting business between Salt Lake City, Utah, and California. Holladay steadily expanded, purchasing the Central Overland California and Pike’s Peak Express, which he ultimately sold to Wells Fargo and Co. in 1866. Having pioneered big-time overland stagecoach and freight operations in the American West, he bought into steamship and railroad companies, but was wiped out in the financial panic of 1873 and retired three years later with a much-diminished fortune.
Holmes, Oliver Wendell, Jr. (1841–1935) In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Holmes to the U.S. Supreme Court after a distinguished career as a jurist, a professor of law, and a legal philosopher. He sat on the court until he retired in 1932, when he was nearly 91 years old. Although he never served as chief justice, Holmes was the most famous jurist ever to sit on the high court. His opinions were brilliantly reasoned and eloquently written—many of them expressing the view of the dissenting minority. Holmes was a steadfast exponent of judicial restraint, who believed that law making was the business of legislators, not the courts. He was also a vigorous advocate of free speech, arguing that it could be restrained only in the event of “clear and present danger”: “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.”
Holmes, Oliver Wendell, Sr. (1809–1894) Holmes was a distinguished American physician, who became dean of the Harvard Medical School. He was also a tremendously popular author, whose works included gently humorous essays and genteel poems of considerable literary merit. His most beloved work was The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table, a series of evocative essays of great charm. His son, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., was a distinguished jurist and one of the greatest of Supreme Court justices.
Homer, Winslow (1836–1910) Homer’s paintings combine a sense of drawn-from-nature spontaneity with a profound depth of psychological understanding. His best works picture human subjects against the brooding backdrop of an ultimately indifferent nature. Homer is most closely identified with the seascapes of his native New England. He added a new depth to realism, his work suggesting a wealth of emotion beneath the surface of the canvas.
Hoover, Herbert (1874–1964) Hoover came to wide public attention as President Woodrow Wilson’s food administrator during World War I and, after the war, as head the American Relief Administration, which provided food to war-ravaged Europe and even Soviet Russia. (“Whatever their politics,” Hoover declared, “they shall be fed.”) Hoover was nominated by the Republican Party as its presidential candidate in 1928. He defeated Democrat Al Smith and was almost immediately confronted by the Stock Market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression. Hoover steadfastly resisted giving direct federal aid to the legions of the jobless, homeless, and hungry, believing that to do so would irreparably destroy individual initiative and forever change the relation of the government to the people. His administration’s failure to deal effectively with the economic emergency resulted in Hoover’s loss to Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932. Unjustly, many Americans blamed Hoover not merely for failing to alleviate the Depression, but for having caused the Depression.
Hoover, J. Edgar (1895–1972) Hoover became director of a minor federal law enforcement agency, the Bureau of Investigation, in 1924 and transformed it into the powerful Federal Bureau of Investigation, one of the most respected investigative and law-enforcement agencies in the world. He directed the bureau until his death in 1972, a tenure filled with controversy, as Hoover compiled secret dossiers on hundreds of thousands of Americans, including government officials and other high-profile figures. His power in government was unprecedented for a non-elected official, and his intentions were often shadowy and sometimes suspect.
Hopkins, Harry (1890–1946) Trained as a social worker, Hopkins worked in the administration of New York governor Franklin D. Roosevelt as executive director (later chairman) of the New York State Temporary Emergency Relief Administration. When FDR entered the White House in 1933, Hopkins was named administrator of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration—in effect, czar of the New Deal. During World War II, Hopkins became the president’s closest advisor and his personal emissary to the leaders of the Britain and the Soviet Union. He was among the most powerful non-elected officials in American history. A small, frail man, who suffered from cancer during his later years, Hopkins worked tirelessly through the end of the war, finally succumbing to the disease months after World War II ended.
Hopkins, Mark (1814–1878) With Collis P. Huntington (his business partner in a mercantile venture), Leland Stanford, and Charles Crocker, Hopkins formed the so-called “Big Four,” who financed the Central Pacific link in the Union Pacific-Central Pacific transcontinental railroad, which was completed in 1869. Hopkins was effectively one of the financial founders of modern California.
Horney, Karen (1885–1952) Born in Germany, Horney became a physician and an apostle of Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis. She practiced psychiatry in Germany until 1932, when she came to Chicago as director of the Institute for Psychoanalysis. She later practiced in New York City. Horney made a radical departure from Freud by arguing, in The Neurotic Personality of Our Time (1937), that environmental and social conditions—instinctual drives—were principal shapers of personality and causes of neurosis. It was a revolutionary philosophical, sociological, and psychological theory.
Houston, Sam (1793–1863) A Virginian by birth, Houston was sent to Texas in 1832 as President Andrew Jackson’s emissary in negotiating Indian treaties there. He decided to settle in Texas in 1833 and became a leader of the rebellion against Mexico—which governed Texas—beginning in November 1835. Houston commanded the small Texas army, which, despite early reverses, triumphed at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836 and won independence. Houston served as president of the Republic of Texas from 1836 to 1838 and from 1841 to 1844, then as one of the first two senators, after Texas was admitted to the Union in 1846. As a majority of Texans voted for secession on the eve of Civil War, Houston lost his bid for reelection to the Senate in 1858, but was elected governor in 1859. His efforts to prevent secession failed and, in 1861, he refused to swear allegiance to the Confederacy, whereupon he was deposed and lived out the rest of his life in quiet retirement.
Howard, O. O. (1830–1909) Oliver O. Howard served with distinction during the Civil War, losing his right arm at the Battle of Fair Oaks. Despite his disability, he returned to the war. During Reconstruction, Howard, who was deeply concerned about the fate of some four million freed slaves, was named to head the Freedman’s Bureau, the federal agency charged with ensuring the former slaves’ welfare and integration into society. Howard’s chief accomplishment was the establishment of schools and vocational training institutes under the auspices of the bureau. He was also a founder in 1867 of what became the nation’s premier institution of higher education for African Americans, Howard University, which was named in his honor. Howard served as the university’s third president from 1869 to 1874, when he returned to military service as a general officer in the Indian Wars of the West.
Howe, Julia Ward (1819–1910) A poet and, with her husband, publisher of the abolitionist newspaper Commonwealth, Howe composed the stirring “Battle Hymn of the Republic” during an 1861 visit to a military encampment near Washington, D.C. It was published in the February 1862 issue of Atlantic Monthly and, set to the tune of “John Brown’s Body,” became the quasi-official anthem of the Union Army for the rest of the Civil War.
Howells, William Dean (1837–1920) The novels of Howells are realistic chronicles of American life as it shifted from the simplicity of the early 19th century to the complexity of the turn of that century. His best work, the 1882 A Modern Instance, depicts the inexorable disintegration of a modern marriage, while his most popular work, The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885), is the story of a simple businessman’s struggle to rise within Boston society. Howells was an important influence on and mentor to many of his younger contemporaries, and he was an intimate literary adviser to Mark Twain.
Hubble, Edwin (1889–1953) Hubble was the founder of extragalactic astronomy, whose observations showed that the universe was populated with many galaxies, of which our Milky Way was just one. Hubble also showed that the universe was not only expanding, but doing so at an accelerating rate. His observations and conclusions advanced astronomy in the most profound and elemental ways, and his scientific achievement must be seen as on a par with those of Copernicus and Galileo.
Hudson, Henry (circa 1565–1611) A British sailor, Hudson made three voyages for England (1607, 1608, 1610–1611) and one for the Dutch (1609), all in an effort to discover the Northwest Passage—a water route from Europe to Asia via the Arctic Ocean. Although he failed to discover the desired route, Hudson extensively explored the northeast coast, including Hudson River and Hudson’s Bay. During his last voyage, he, his son, and seven others fell victim to a mutiny and were cast adrift in Hudson’s Bay on June 22, 1611. They were never heard from again.
Hughes, Charles Evans (1862–1948) Hughes was governor of New York, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1910–1919), secretary of state (1921–1919), and chief justice of the United States (1930–1941). A distinguished representative of Republican conservatism, he was defeated by Woodrow Wilson in a 1916 bid for the White House. He squared off against another Democratic president, Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937, when he successfully opposed FDR’s attempt to “pack” the Supreme Court by appointing new—liberal—justices to offset the conservative influence of each sitting justice over the age of 70 who refused to retire. Nevertheless, although he was a political conservative, Hughes was instrumental in Supreme Court decisions upholding important provisions of FDR’s New Deal, including the right of labor unions to collective bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (Wagner Act) and much of the Social Security Act.
Hughes, Langston (1902–1967) Hughes briefly attended Columbia University (1921–1922), lived for a time in Harlem—center of African-American urban culture—worked as a steward on an African-bound freighter, traveled widely, then worked as a busboy in a Washington, D.C., hotel. He saw the famous white poet Vachel Lindsay in the dining room, put a copy of his poems beside Lindsay’s plate, and read in the newspapers the next day that Lindsay had announced his discovery of a great “Negro busboy poet.” Hughes was given a scholarship to Lincoln University, and his literary career was launched. Through numerous works of poetry and prose—especially autobiography—Hughes became widely regarded as a representative voice of black America.
Humphrey, Hubert (1911–1978) Hubert Horatio Humphrey served as Democratic senator from Minnesota from 1949 to 1965 and from 1971 to 1978. He was the representative of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, having built his political base on a farm and labor coalition the likes of which had not been seen since early in the 20th century. From 1965 to 1969, he was vice president in the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson, and he ran against Richard M. Nixon as the candidate of a splintered Democratic Party in 1968. Conservatives found him too liberal and, at this time, liberals opposed to the Vietnam War found his continued support of that war unacceptable. Nevertheless, his loss to Nixon was by a razor-thin margin.
Hunt, E. Howard (1918–2007) Hunt had been an Office of Strategic Services (OSS) operative during World War II and was a CIA agent after the war. He was instrumental in the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion, the abortive attempt to overthrow Cuba’s Fidel Castro in 1961. In the Nixon White House, Hunt, with G. Gordon Liddy, was one of the so-called Plumbers, a secret and illegal band of operatives whose job was to plug information leaks and secure political intelligence for the Nixon administration. He and Liddy planned the burglary of Democratic National Headquarters at Washington’s Watergate office complex in 1972, the exposure of which led to the downfall and resignation of the president. Convicted of burglary, conspiracy and wiretapping, Hunt served 33 months in prison. A colorful character—a prolific author of pulp spy novels—Hunt was also sinister, deemed by the Rockefeller Commission of the U.S. Congress in 1974 a suspect in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Huntington, Collis P. (1821–1900) With fellow California financiers Mark Hopkins, Leland Stanford, and Charles Crocker (collectively dubbed the “Big Four”), Huntington financed and promoted construction of the Central Pacific Railroad to link up with the Union Pacific, creating the first American transcontinental railroad in 1869.
Hurston, Zora Neale (1891–1960) When she was 16, Hurston left her native Florida with a traveling theatrical company and lived for a time in New York’s Harlem during the early part of the Harlem Renaissance, a great blossoming of African-American literary and artistic creativity. Hurston was educated at Howard University in Washington D.C. (1921–1924) and, on scholarship, studied anthropology at Barnard College in 1925–1928 under the renowned Franz Boas. She pursued graduate studies in anthropology at Columbia University and conducted groundbreaking fieldwork in folklore among African Americans in the South. Her folklore study produced major works of nonfiction and fiction based on African-American folk culture.
Hutchinson, Anne (1591–1643) In 1634, Hutchinson voyaged from England with her husband and settled in the Puritan Massachusetts Bay Colony. Here, Hutchinson conducted weekly religious meetings of Boston women. Hutchinson began giving voice to her own theological views, which included the principle that individual religious inspiration and insight trumped sermons or biblical knowledge. The Puritan establishment found this heterodoxy unacceptable, and banished her in 1637. With some followers, she settled part of Aquidneck Island in Roger Williams’s Rhode Island in 1638. She moved in 1642, to Long Island, near present Pelham Bay, New York, where, in 1643 she, together with all but one of her children, was killed by Indians. Some in Puritan Massachusetts claimed this as a divine judgment against her. Modern Americans view Hutchinson as an early champion of religious liberty and even a precursor of feminism.