Harry Hopkins

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Harry Lloyd Hopkins

Harry Lloyd Hopkins (August 17 1890January 29 1946) was one of Franklin Roosevelt's closest advisors and one of the key architects of the New Deal. Harry Hopkins was born in Sioux City, Iowa, the fourth child of David Aldona and Anna Pickett Hopkins. Hopkins attended Grinnell College and soon after his graduation in 1912, he 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-) and Stephen (1925-1944).

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.

With America's entrance into World War I, 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 there, the agency grew enormously and absorbed the New York Heart Association.

When the Great Depression hit, New York State Governor Franklin Roosevelt called on Hopkins to run the first state relief organization in the nation – the Temporary Emergency Relief Administration (TERA). Hopkins met Eleanor Roosevelt only after he had accepted the job as head of the TERA. She reported, "I never heard of Mr. Hopkins until long after he had been working for my husband in New York State, so that whole paragraph on my having discovered him is untrue."(1) In Albany, Hopkins and ER began an enduring friendship, which had significant impact on New Deal policy.

Soon after Roosevelt's inauguration as president in 1933, he summoned Hopkins to Washington as federal relief administrator. Convinced that work should be the chief antidote to poverty, Hopkins used his influence with FDR to push for federal programs to provide government-sponsored jobs for the unemployed. Reinforced by ER and Lorena Hickok's reports from the field, Hopkins worked to alleviate the suffering of the unemployed by creating work and relief programs for the unemployed. His particular contributions to the New Deal included the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), the Civil Works Administration (CWA), and the Works Progress Administration (WPA). He supported ER's call for a National Youth Administration and the Federal One Programs, and the two worked closely together to promote and defend New Deal relief programs.

During the war years, Hopkins acted as FDR's unofficial emissary to Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin, as administrator of Lend-Lease, and as the shadowy figure behind Roosevelt at the Big Three conferences.

In July, 1941, Moscow learned of President Roosevelt's decision to send Hopkins to the Kremlin in order to negotiate Lend-Lease. For a number of days, no pertinent information from the Soviet Embassy in Washington was available. Consequently, the Kremlin readied for a stiff and prolonged bargaining session.

Vyacheslav M. Molotov was appointed chairman of a committee which was to determine in advance how far the U.S.S.R. might have to go in yielding to American demands. This included the right of Americans to inspection of lend-lease distribution on Russian soil, the admission of American military advisers into Soviet lines. The Soviet Union was willing to give concessions for mining manganese ore as well as special privileges in the Baku and Volga oil fields. The Soviet Unioon was even prepared to give a solemn pledge to maintain freedom of speech and religion.

Shortly before hopkins arrival Molotov informed Mikoyan, Vassilensky, Trainin, and Bogolepov that "A man at the very highest level of the Roosevelt administration," notified the Soviet espionage officers "Mr. Hopkins will demand no concessions whatever. The sole wish of Mr. Hopkins," Molotov assured the tovarisches, "is to ask nothing and give everything. What he wants is to keep us in the fighting -- and that is all. Mr. Hopkins is completely on our side and may be trusted absolutely."

Despite the protests of military officials, Hopkins demanded that the American government give the Soviet Union a large amount of uranium as part of the Lend-Lease program. On a diplomatic trip to the Soviet Union in 1945, he shunned the American position of free elections for Poland and told Stalin that Americaís goal was actually to have a post-war Poland that the Soviet Union was comfortable with. Earlier, when a Soviet government official defected, Hopkins unsuccessfully urged Roosevelt to return the man to the USSR even though he knew that it would mean the manís certain death.

The Venona project, decryptions of official Soviet documents, show that Hopkins, one of Franklin Delano Rooseveltís top advisors, was also an agent. Hopkins is identified as Agent "19."

Hopkins died January 29, 1946, succumbing to a long and debilitating battle with stomach cancer.


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