Posts Tagged ‘FDR’

Harry Lloyd Hopkins (1890=1946) US

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.

His reputation as a fine administrator reached the ear of New York‘s governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who brought Hopkins into his administration.

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)




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32nd  President of USA

In his day FDR  was the bugbear for great many who called him, a dictator, a charlatan, a grinning poseur. For others he was a friend of the poor, the champion of the minorities, the defender of Labour, the patrician saviour of Capitalism, the inspiring architect of the Allied victory and a prophet of a new world order under the aegis of the UN.

For foes and friends alike the truth remains undisputed: his impact on the modern world shall endure. When he died William S. White observed, ‘ it seemed as if history itself had died’.

A cousin of President Roosevelt, and the only son of James and Sarah Delano Roosevelt he was the quintessence of social privilege and wealth. Having passed his bar exams,he accepted in 1910 an offer  to run for the NY senate. One found him at first, ‘ a spoiled silk sort of guy. But he was amassing quietly his political capital that would when time came confound his detractors. He became assistant Secretary of the Navy under President Wilson. It proved to be his baptism of fire in the use of political strategy and of persuasion in an  executive  position.

At the Democratic convention of 1920 he was chosen as the running mate of James M.Cox from Ohio. His setback was further exacerbated by infantile paralysis in Aug,1921. It in a way gave him a new perspective, -compassion as well as steely resolve,  and while ‘lying there, he grew bigger day by day.’. The year 1924 marked his return to national politics. He became the Governor of New York( ’28). With the onset of Market crash of 1929 it was clear to him new alternatives were needed. In 1930 during his campaign for selection he promised a ‘New Deal.’ With a stunning victory he set forth a new credo of government and economy for the State of New York. His eyes were already set for Presidency since President Hoover was already beaten by the march of events. Carefully FDR prepared his moves that would lift him to the White House. His New Deal was a call to arms rather than a political campaign.For the nation’s 14 million unemployed, Roosevelt’s attack on irresponsible Corporate interests his credo constituted a thrilling new chapter in political leadership .

Inaugurated on March 4, 1933 FDR closed the banks for 4 days and his New Deal in practice showed the nation could be saved. Farmers were given a boost   with the passing of the Emergency Farm Mortgage Act, which stopped foreclosures, and authorized Federal refunding of the mortgages; on May 18, the Tennessee Valley Authority came into being; on May 27, Trust and Securities Act, House Owners Loan Corporation(June,13). In Hundred Days he had three other major Acts passed (June16)-and his New Deal was a concrete example of his vision. (To be concluded)


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“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind.”

The above quote is revealing as to something profoundly refreshing about the US President. It encapsulates a certain perspective on life and politics,- terse as it is direct a quality that is rare among politicians.

Calvin Coolidge was born in Plymouth Notch, Vermont, on July 4, 1872. Coolidge slated for law gravitated into politics. In 1896 Coolidge campaigned locally for Republican presidential candidate William McKinley he was elected in 1906, as a Progressive Republican to the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
Elected U.S. vice president in 1920, he became president following the death of Warren G. Harding in 1923. Coolidge, also known as “Silent Cal,” chose not to seek a second term. He died in Northampton, Massachusetts, on January 5, 1933.
And Coolidge, of course, was always a source of great stories. Everyone has his favorites. Once a man, riding with Coolidge through Vermont, commented, “See how closely they have shaved those sheep?” “At least on this side,” said the President.
At another point, a rude, combative man came up to Coolidge and said, “I didn’t vote for you.” The President immediately replied: “Someone did.”

In 1905, Coolidge married Grace Anna Goodhue, a teacher at a school for the deaf. The two were nearly opposites: While Grace was talkative and social, Calvin was stoic and serious. The marriage would prove to be very happy and successful over the coming decades.
One Sunday morning Mrs. Coolidge was indisposed so Calvin went to church alone. On his return Mrs. Coolidge asked her husband, ”Calvin, what did the minister preach about?”
“Sin,” said ‘silent’ Cal.
“What did he say about sin?” prodded his wife.
“He was against it.”
For anecdotes check my earlier post on him.(ack: http://www.biography.com)

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Ulysses S. Grant
Early in his military career, Ulysses S. Grant complained about the inadequacy of the officer who shared his command in a certain campaign. Grant’s senior general snapped,  “You underrate this man; remember he has been through ten campaigns.”
Grant pointing to a mule replied that it also has been through as many campaigns, “But still he is a jackass, isn’t he?”
Franklin Delano  Roosevelt
A distinguished Jurist when asked to run for the Presidency demurred on the plea that he in the highest office may be compelled to make some distressing compromises, FDR had this to say,” First get elected, Judge, then get honest.”

While Roosevelts were entertaining some family friends at the White House, a huge boiled salmon was brought in on a silver platter. It elicited the remark from FDR to his wife,” Who gave us that magnificent fish?”
“Why are you so sure that that somebody gave it to us?” She asked him.
“Because nobody in his senses would go out and actually buy a fish as big as that.”
Inspite of his crippled condition FDR possessed great stamina.
Once after completing a whirlwind tour he appeared fresh and relaxed someone asked how he could accomplish so much without getting worn out Roosevelt answered,  “You are looking at a man who spent two years trying to wiggle his big toe.”


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Is hope winging past ahead of the ground reality?

‘Trying to buck up a dispirited nation, President Barack Obama on Saturday promised that prosperous days will return and cast these bleak times as nothing less than a “great opportunity.” Packing some heft with his hope, he defended his fast-moving and expensive agenda.

“We will get through this,” Obama said in his weekly radio and video address, taped Friday after another week of downbeat news.

The unemployment rate climbed to 8.1 percent, the highest in more than 25 years. Stock values kept tumbling, down to their lowest levels since 1997. The latest Gallup polling finds that an anemic 20 percent of people in the United States are satisfied with the state of the nation. At least that’s an improvement from the 14 percent a month earlier.

Rather than pitch ahead to his next message, Obama devoted his address to recapping what his team did this past week to help get people working and spending.

The goal was to demonstrate that the administration is on the case and, more broadly, that history shows American resilience will win’.( quote from: Ben Feller-AP News)

Mr. President, your nation as well as the entire global community count on you. FDR’s fireside chat in another age was like a nightcap for the nation reeling under the irresponsible notions of ‘pursuit of happpiness’ and business by any means. Now that we see you live in our TVs we think you lay thick on hope and we know you are strong on ideas, and also articulate.So far so good. But where is the substance in the way these are put in motion?


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Illogical route of history is always given some semblance of shape by the logic of those who are determined to succeed. The son of a drunken Georgian cobbler is hardly the kind of man we expect to make history. This unlikely figure with bad teeth and pock marked face and with a deformed left hand came from the people.  He was common which was what Lenin required and he had plenty of middle class intellectuals already. Lenin was looking for one, preferably not just a peasant or a worker but someone with a modicum of education. Thus in 1912 V.I Lenin picked out Koba Jugashvili to become one of the 10 member Bolshevik Central Committee.
Fortune also smiled on Koba the Georgian, while he just made tentative steps on the stage of world history.
Lenin needed someone to expound the correct Marxist view (or rather his own views) on the question of Nationality problem. He felt a Pole or a Jew would take an extreme point of view while he himself as a Russian might not sound convincing to the rank and file among revolutionaries. Lenin thus chose ‘Koba’ one from the oppressed nationalities of the empire. In 1913 he wrote a treatise ‘Marxism and The National Question’ and it earned him the aura of a theorist. His authorship of an authoritative Bolshevik exposition on a very crucial issue was to decisively affect his future and that of Russia.
Was it chance that pitch forked him to the stage of world history? In any case we may with certainty vouch for his staying power. Till his death in 1953 he was the undisputed leader of the Soviet Union. In his ability to have beat back every opposition with the ruthlessness that we find parallel among those who wielded the destiny of Russia only in Ivan the Terrible, we see the logic of ambition straightening illogical twists inherent in luck. He later came to be known as Joseph Stalin.
He may be accused of having disposed of some 22 millions of people in his time but can he be seen separated from the history of Russia? Even at this moment of history he is a serious contender for the title of the Greatest Russian. Like Hitler  he would not have under normal circumstances, come to wield power but he did because he represented the people. He had all the qualities needed to succeed: ambition, vision, control over facts and detail, patience, native intelligence and cunning. By overthrow of  the old order a man of such qualities in Russia need not have worried over being checked. Yes Stalin was a creature of his times.

History is the anvil of God where evil geniuses and saviors make their impact.

Representational dispensation which we attribute to God must allow the ilk of Stalin, Pol Pot, Pinochet to ride every obstacle subject to the law of compensation. These obstacles are man made and often unjust like the class/caste, economic disparity etc.,

Take the case of FDR who came to play a pivotal role in the history of the USA at the time of Depression. Polio left him a cripple and yet he could use his class connections to go higher. In him also the two laws were in operation by which he made a difference to his world.

Men are pawns for good and evil alike, victims to the play off of two laws: of deprivation and compensation.
Tailspin: Al Gore may be deprived of a victory in the controversial 2001 elections. It is according to the law of deprivation.  But law of compensation showed its hand when Al Gore was picked out for Nobel Prize, a role which crowns with more honor than to be known as a President of Incompetence.

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One Sunday morning George C. Marshall came to read in his newspaper the flight of three Russians from Moscow over the North Pole.  They had taken off in a single engine monoplane two days before and they were scheduled to stop over in Oakland. But it so happened they were overhead ready to land at Pearson Field, south of Vancouver Barracks, practically in his front yard.
Marshall arranged for their breakfast and went out to receive unexpected and already world famous visitors.
They were brought over to his barracks to rest and Mrs. Marshall won their good will and notice in papers throughout the country by supplying ham, bread and a huge G.I pot of coffee.
Before the converging press could interview the visitors Marshall arranged for change of clothes and set up a news room and facilities for broadcasts in his living room. He knew always what was needed of the moment and cut out the ideological claptrap and party politics.

While Europe was battling the Nazi menace FDR hoped the nation would not be drawn into the war. President Roosevelt proposed to help Britain and France building up their air power with which they could hold Hitler in check without US participation. His policy was outlined in a White House conference on Nov.14,’38 and his idea was to build ten thousand planes for the purpose.
Most of his aides fell in with his proposal and said flatteringly so. When the president asked Marshall the Deputy Chief of Staff made his objections clear.
His relationship with FDR was a slow process  and to the president he proved to be the most important strategic advisor during the war.
Even when FDR decided to promote him to the highest position he did not tell anyone. Not even the Secretary of State. One Sunday he was called to White House and offered him the post of Chief of Staff. Marshall told him that he wanted the right to say what he thought and it would be often unpleasant.” Is that all right?” The president agreed. “You said ‘yes,’ pleasantly, but it may be unpleasant.” George Marshall said.

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