Harry Hopkins

Harry Hopkins

:"This article is about the politician, for the British tank named for him, see Light Tank Mk VIIIInfobox US Cabinet official
name=Harry Lloyd Hopkins

title=United States Secretary of Commerce
president=Franklin D. Roosevelt
term_start=December 24, 1938
term_end=September 18, 1940
predecessor=Daniel Calhoun Roper
successor=Jesse Holman Jones
birth_date= August 17, 1890
birth_place=Sioux City, Iowa
death_date=January 19, 1946 (aged 55)
death_place=New York City, New York

Harry Lloyd Hopkins (August 17 1890January 29 1946) was one of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's closest advisers. He was one of the architects of the New Deal, especially the relief programs of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which he directed and built into the largest employer in the country. In World War II he was Roosevelt's chief diplomatic advisor and troubleshooter and was a key policy maker in the $50 billion Lend Lease program that sent aid to the allies.

Early life

Harry Hopkins was born at 512 Tenth Street in Sioux City, Iowa, the fourth child of four sons and one daughter of David Aldona and Anna ("née" Pickett) Hopkins. His father, born in Bangor, Maine, ran a harness shop, after an erratic career as a salesman, prospector, storekeeper and bowling-alley operator; but his real passion was bowling, and he eventually returned to it as a business. Anna Hopkins, born in Hamilton, Ontario, had moved at an early age to Vermillion, South Dakota, where she married David. She was deeply religious and active in the affairs of the Methodist church. Shortly after Harry was born, the family moved successively to Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Kearney and Hastings, Nebraska. They spent two years in Chicago, and finally settled in Grinnell, Iowa.

Hopkins attended Grinnell College and soon after his graduation in 1912 took a job with Christodora House, a social settlement in New York City's Lower East Side ghetto. In the spring of 1913 he accepted a position with the New York Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor (AICP) as "friendly visitor" and superintendent of the Employment Bureau. In October 1913, Harry Hopkins married Ethel Gross and the couple eventually had three sons: David (1914-1980), Robert (1921-2007) and Stephen (1925-1944), and a daughter, Barbara. In 1927, Hopkins fell in love with Barbara Duncan, a secretary from Michigan. After divorcing his first wife, he married Duncan in 1929. A daughter, Diana, was born in 1932. His second wife died of cancer in October 1937 and on July 30, 1942, he married Mrs. Louise Macy (d. 1963). A son, Marine private, Stephen P. Hopkins, was killed in action in the Marshall Islands in 1944.

Social work

In 1915, New York City Mayor John Purroy Mitchel appointed Hopkins executive secretary of the Bureau of Child Welfare which administered pensions to mothers with dependent children.

Hopkins opposed America's entrance into World War I, and in protest registered as a socialist. [Fleming, Thomas "The New Dealers' War: F.D.R. And The War Within World War II", Basic Books, 2001.] Hopkins moved his family to New Orleans where he worked for the American Red Cross as director of Civilian Relief, Gulf Division. Eventually, the Gulf Division of the Red Cross merged with the Southwestern Division and Hopkins, headquartered now in Atlanta, was appointed general manager in 1921. Hopkins helped draft a charter for the American Association of Social Workers (AASW) and was elected its president in 1923.

In 1922, Hopkins returned to New York City where he became general director of the New York Tuberculosis Association. During his tenure, the agency grew enormously and absorbed the New York Heart Association.

In 1931, New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt named R. H. Macy department store president Jesse Straus as president of the Temporary Emergency Relief Administration (TERA). Straus named Hopkins, then unknown to Roosevelt, as TERA's executive director. His efficient administration of the initial $20 million outlay to the agency gained Roosevelt's attention, and in 1932, he promoted Hopkins to the presidency of the agency. [Jean Edward Smith, p. 251.] Hopkins and Eleanor Roosevelt began a long friendship, which strengthened his role in relief programs.

New Deal

In March 1933, Roosevelt summoned Hopkins to Washington as federal relief administrator. Convinced that paid work was psychologically more valuable than cash handouts (the "dole"), Hopkins sought to continue and expand the Hoover administrations' work-relief programs, especially FERA. He supervised the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), the Civil Works Administration (CWA), and the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Over 90% of the people employed by the Hopkins programs were unemployed or on relief. He feuded with Harold Ickes, who ran a rival program the PWA which also created jobs but did not require applicants be unemployed or on relief.

FERA, the largest program from 1933-35, was a continuation of Hoover's relief program and involved giving money to localities to operate work relief. CWA was similar, but focused on short-term projects (like maintenance work) that left little visible impact. The WPA was dramatically new because it operated on its own. It selected projects with the cooperation of local and state government but operated them with its own staff and budget. Hopkins started programs for youth (National Youth Administration) and for artists and writers (Federal One Programs). He and Eleanor Roosevelt worked together to publicize and defend New Deal relief programs. He was concerned with rural areas but more and more focused on Cities in the great depression. Critics charged that his WPA, with 2 million men employed, who voted 90% Democratic, was the first national political machine. Others said the business owners had preceded the Hopkins effort by decades. Hopkins' plans for becoming president were shattered in 1940 by the Hatch Act which made it illegal to use the WPA for political purposes.

World War II

During the war years, Hopkins acted as FDR's unofficial emissary to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Visiting Britain in spring 1941, he had a major voice in making policy for the vast $50 billion Lend-Lease program, especially regarding supplies, first for Britain and then (upon the German invasion) the USSR too. He went to Moscow in July 1941 to make personal contact with Stalin. Hopkins recommended, and the president accepted, the inclusion of the Soviets in Lend-Lease. He then accompanied Churchill to the Atlantic Conference. Hopkins promoted an aggressive war against Germany and successfully urged Roosevelt to use the Navy to protect convoys before the US entered the war in December 1941. Roosevelt brought him along as advisor to his meetings with Churchill at Cairo, Tehran and Casablanca in 1942-43. He was a firm supporter of China, which received Lend Lease aid for its military and air force. Hopkins wielded more diplomatic power than the entire State Department. Hopkins helped identify and sponsor numerous potential leaders, including Dwight D. Eisenhower. He continued to live in the White House and saw the president more often than any other advisor. Although Hopkins' health – always poor – was steadily declining, Roosevelt sent him on additional trips to Europe in 1945; he attended the Yalta Conference in February 1945. He tried to resign after Roosevelt died but President Harry S. Truman, recognizing the value of his services, sent him on one more mission to Moscow.


In the early 1960s KGB Colonel Oleg Gordievsky (who later defected to the West) claimed to have attended a lecture by Ichak Ahkmerov, the Soviet intelligence Rezident in the US during World War II, in which Ahkmerov mentioned his contact with Alger Hiss and identified Hopkins, the man with the greatest sway over President Franklin Roosevelt, and who lived in the White House himself, as the most important of all Soviet wartime agents in the US. He claimed that his contacts with Hopkins had begun before Hopkins' first visit to Moscow in June 1941. Some have argued that Hopkins was only acting as a back channel between Roosevelt and Stalin, but if this had been the case his contact would have been one of the Soviet officials he saw regularly such as the Soviet ambassador, rather than the Rezident, who was operating undercover.

A May 1943 Venona report signed by Ahkmerov revealed that secret discussions between Roosevelt and Churchill had been reported by an agent "19", who was also present at the meeting. Military historian Eduard Mark, after examining Venona material, concluded that "19" was Harry Hopkins, on the grounds that only Hopkins would have been allowed to attend secret meetings with Churchill. [cite book | last = Romerstein | first = Herbert | authorlink = | coauthors = Eric Breindel | title = The Venona Secrets | publisher = Regnery Publishing | date = 2000 | location = | pages = pp. 213-215 | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 0895262754]

Death and remembrance

Hopkins, a chain-smoker, died in New York City in January 1946, succumbing to a long and debilitating battle with stomach cancer that for years had left him an emaciated wreck. His bursts of energy at moments of crisis were often followed by long periods of desperate debilitation. His body was cremated and the ashes interred in his old hometown of Grinnell, Iowa.

There is a house on the Grinnell College campus named after him.



Secondary sources

* Adams, Henry Hitch. "Harry Hopkins: A Biography" (1977)
* Andrew, Christopher and Gordievsky, Oleg. "KGB: The Inside Story", HarperCollins, (1990).
*Hopkins, June. "Harry Hopkins: Sudden Hero, Brash Reformer" (1999) biography by HH's granddaughter.
*Hopkins, June. "The Road Not Taken: Harry Hopkins and New Deal Work Relief" "Presidential Studies Quarterly" Vol. 29, 1999
*Howard; Donald S. "The WPA and Federal Relief Policy" (1943)
*Kurzman, Paul A. "Harry Hopkins and the New Deal", R. E. Burdick Publishers (1974)
*McJimsey George T. "Harry Hopkins: Ally of the Poor and Defender of Democracy" (1987), biography.
*Meriam; Lewis. "Relief and Social Security" The Brookings Institution. 1946. Highly detailed analysis and statistical summary of all New Deal relief programs; 900 pages
*Sherwood, Robert E. "Roosevelt and Hopkins" (1948), memoir by senior FDR aide; Pulitzer Prize. Enigma Books (2008)
*Singleton, Jeff. "The American Dole: Unemployment Relief and the Welfare State in the Great Depression" (2000)
*Smith, Jason Scott. "Building New Deal Liberalism: The Political Economy of Public Works, 1933-1956" (2005)
*Smith, Jean Edward. "FDR", Random House (2007)
*Romerstein, Herbert and Breindel, Eric. "The Venona Secrets: Exposing Soviet Espionage and America's Traitors", Regnery Publishing, Inc., (2000).
* [http://www.sweetliberty.org/issues/wars/jordan/01.html Jordan, George Racey] . "From Major Jordan's Diaries", Harcourt, Brace and Company (1952).
*"Harry Lloyd Hopkins". "Dictionary of American Biography, Supplement 4: 1946-1950". American Council of Learned Societies, 1974.

World War II

*Allen, R.G.D. "Mutual Aid between the U.S. and the British Empire, 1941—5", in "Journal of the Royal Statistical Society" no. 109 #3, 1946. pp 243-77 [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0952-8385%281946%29109%3A3%3C243%3AMABTUA%3E2.0.CO%3B2-SC online at www.jstor.org] detailed statistical data on Lend Lease
*Clarke, Sir Richard. "Anglo-American Economic Collaboration in War and Peace, 1942-1949". (1982), British perspective
*Dawson, Raymond H. "The Decision to Aid Russia, 1941: Foreign Policy and Domestic Politics" (1959)]
*Dobson, Alan P. "U.S. Wartime Aid to Britain, 1940-1946" London, 1986.
*Herring Jr. George C. "Aid to Russia, 1941-1946: Strategy, Diplomacy, the Origins of the Cold War" (1973)]
*Kimball, Warren F. "The Most Unsordid Act: Lend-Lease, 1939-1941" (1969).
*Louis, William Roger. "Imperialism at Bay: The United States and the Decolonization of the British Empire, 1941-1945". 1977.
*Reynolds, David. "The Creation of the Anglo-American Alliance 1937-1941: A Study on Competitive Cooperation" (1981)
*Thorne, Christopher. "Allies of a Kind: The United States, Britain and the War Against Japan, 1941-1945" 1978.
*Woods, Randall Bennett. "A Changing of the Guard: Anglo-American Relations, 1941-1946" (1990)

External Sources

* slave narratives
* [http://newdealproject.org/ Living New Deal project, California]
* [http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/wpaposters/wpahome.html Posters from the WPA at the Library of Congress]
* [http://www.wpamurals.com/ Database of WPA murals]
* [http://www.ggarchives.com/wpa/ourjobwpa/index.htm Text and Graphics from 1937 WPA Brochure: "Our Job with the WPA"]
* [http://www.ggarchives.com/wpa/qanda/index.htm Text and Graphics from 1939 WPA Brochure: "QUESTION'S AND ANSWERS ON THE WPA"]
* [http://www.ggarchives.com/wpa/misc/wpa_union.htm WPA Membership Card and Lapel Pin]
* [http://www.ggarchives.com/wpa/misc/assignment_slips.htm Samples of WPA Work Assignment Forms used in the 1930s]
* [http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0895262258/ref=ord_cart_shr?%5Fencoding=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&v=glance]

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