Social Worker, Architect of Lend Lease
Born in Iowa in 1890, after graduating from Grinnell College (1912), where he studied social work, Hopkins left for New York City and a career in the same field, rising rapidly to the administrative ranks of his profession. From 1915 to 1930 he held a wide variety of difficult high-level positions in social work, always initiating new, creative, and useful programs.
Hopkins was one of the founders of the American Association of Social Workers, the first national professional organization for social workers.
The historian, William E. Leuchtenburg, recalls: “Harry Hopkins… directed relief operations under Roosevelt in Albany. For a social worker, he was an odd sort. He belonged to no church, had been divorced and analyzed, liked race horses and women, was given to profanity and wisecracking, and had little patience with moralists… A small-town Iowan, he had the sallow complexion of a boy who had been reared in a big-city pool hall… He talked to reporters – often out of the side of his mouth – through thick curls of cigarette smoke, his tall, lean body sprawled over his chair, his face wry and twisted, his eyes darting and suspicious, his manner brusque, iconoclastic, almost deliberately rude and outspoken.”
When Roosevelt became president he recruited Hopkins to implement his various social welfare programs. As John C. Lee has pointed out: “On the whole, it is apparent that the mission of the Civil Works Administrator had been accomplished by 15th February 1934. His program had put over four million persons to work, thereby directly benefiting probably twelve million people otherwise dependent upon direct relief.
Frances Perkins later recalled: “Hopkins became not only Roosevelt’s relief administrator but his general assistant as no one had been able to be. There was a temperamental sympathy between the men, which made their relationship extremely easy as well as faithful and productive. Roosevelt was greatly enriched by Hopkins knowledge, ability, and humane attitude toward all facets of life.”
Hopkins also worked as Secretary of Commerce (1938-40). During the early stages of the Second World War he was Roosevelt’s personal envoy to Britain. Raymond Gram Swing has pointed out: “It was his position as President Roosevelt’s chief assistant in World War II that, in particular, needs to be better appreciated and valued.…In the innumerable conferences Harry Hopkins attended abroad as the President’s emissary, he was blunt of speech, adroit of mind, and dedicated to the requirements of victory.” On the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt Hopkins helped arrange the Potsdam Conference for Harry S. Truman but retired from public life soon afterwards. Harry Lloyd Hopkins died of cancer in New York City on 29th January, 1946.
(Ack: Spartacus educational.com, encyclopaedia.com)