Harry Hopkins: Sudden Hero, Brash Reformer (The Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute Series on Diplomatic and Economic History)
Harry Lloyd Hopkins Edit Profile
Hopkins attended Grinnell College and soon after his graduation in 1912 took a job with Christodora House, a social settlement house in New York City's Lower East Side ghetto. In the spring of 1913, he accepted a position from John A. Kingsbury of the New York Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor (AICP) as "friendly visitor" and superintendent of the Employment Bureau within the AICP's Department of Family Welfare. During the 1915 recession, Hopkins and the AICP's William Matthews, with $5,000 from Elizabeth Milbank Anderson's Milbank Memorial Fund, organized the Bronx Park Employment program, one of the first public employment programs in the U.S.
Hopkins was a social worker in New York City through the 1920s. In response to the pressing needs arising in the economic depression stemming from the stock market crash of 1929, Hopkins was appointed (1931) executive director (later chairman) of the New York State Temporary Emergency Relief Administration established by Roosevelt, then governor. When Roosevelt became president (1933), he brought Hopkins with him to the nation’s capital. In his new post as administrator of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, he combined crusading moral fervour with executive ability.
Heavy Democratic victories in the 1934 elections encouraged Hopkins to pressure the president to recommend extensive reforms in the program the following year—including the introduction of the Works Progress (later Work Projects) Administration (WPA), which he directed. While opponents heaped scorn upon Hopkins for what they termed a gigantic giveaway program to earn votes, millions of Americans were put to work on a wide range of public projects. With enormous zest and dedication, Hopkins had by 1938 directed the spending of more than $8,500,000,000 for unemployment relief, aiding some 15,000,000 people, with the record marred by only a few insignificant scandals. In this period, he also served on the president’s Drought Committee, the Committee on Economic Security, the National Emergency Council, and the National Resources Planning Board and headed the Federal Surplus Relief Corporation.
By the time of the 1936 election, Hopkins had become deeply interested in politics and increasingly served as an adviser to Roosevelt, who appointed him secretary of commerce in 1938. When a serious illness put an end to Hopkins’ political ambitions, he became more valuable to the president as a trusted confidant. He acted as personal manager to Roosevelt at the Democratic National Convention in July 1940, after which he resigned his cabinet post. As World War II broadened Hopkins made several trips for the president to London and later to Moscow to discuss assistance and military strategy. He was appointed to head the lend-lease program to aid the Allies (1941) and was also a member of the War Production Board and the Pacific War Council. He functioned mainly, however, as the president’s intimate adviser; he even lived at the White House. His final service after Roosevelt’s death (April 1945) was to visit Moscow to help arrange the Potsdam Conference.
Major United States Army, 1953-1956. Fellow College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. Member Briarwood Country Club, Northwood Country Club, Klondike Hunting Club.
In 1913, Hopkins married Ethel Gross (1886-1976), a Hungarian-Jewish immigrant active in New York City's Progressive movement. They had three sons: David, Robert, and Stephen, and though Gross divorced Hopkins in 1930 shortly before Hopkins became a public figure, the two kept up an intimate correspondence until 1945. In 1931, Hopkins married Barbara Duncan, who died of cancer six years later. They had one daughter, Diana. In 1942, Hopkins married Louise Gill Macy (1906–1963) in the Yellow Oval Room at the White House. Macy was a divorced, gregarious former editor for Harper's Bazaar. The two continued to live at the White House at Roosevelt's request, though Louise eventually demanded a home of their own. Hopkins ended his long White House stay on December 21, 1943, moving with his wife to a Georgetown townhouse.
December 24, 1938 - September 18, 1940