Posts Tagged ‘pen portrait’

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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Ernest Bevin(1881-1951) was a self made man who rose from humble circumstances to be a force to reckon with in the British politics. For example as a foreign minister when NATO was formed the US may have been the senior partner but he was the engine that got Britain on board. The son of poor parents, and an orphan at six he was schooled in adversity. Yet he could hold is own with the best brains and with greatest in the realm. When King George VI asked him where he had gained so much knowledge he replied,’Your Majesty, I plucked it from ‘edgerows of experience.’


Bevin joined the Dockers’ Union and rising through the ranks by the age of 30 he was elected general secretary, a post he was to hold for the next nineteen years.

He was a member of the Labour Party. In 1936 the Conservative government feared the spread of communism and was fairly sympathetic to the military uprising in Spain against the left-wing popular Front.

Bevin was a strong supporter of the PF government in Spain and in August 1936 made a speech where he praised “the heroic struggle being carried on by the workers of Spain to save their democratic regime.” Nevertheless he was against working with the Communist Party of Great Britain.

In  May 1940 he was inducted by Churchill into his coalition government as Minister of Labour. Bevin successfully achieved mobilization of Britain’s workforce and became one of the most significant members of Churchill’s war cabinet. In 1945 Labor came into power Attlee appointed Bevin as his Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Bevin, who held strong anti-communist views, played an important role in the acceptance of the Marshall Plan, the creation of NATO and Britain’s decision to develop nuclear weapons.

His defects revealed themselves in a scepticism towards the new Israel and to a wider European Community.

According Harold Wilson Clement Attlee relied heavily on Bevin during his six years in power. Bevin’s main rival in the cabinet was Herbert Morrison whom he disliked. A fellow minister, Harold Wilson explained: “Ernie Bevin could not stand Herbert Morrison, who had been a City boss when Bevin had been head of one of the biggest unions and the two had clashed…’ A fellow MP, Robert Boothby tells the story of how the two men loathed each other. When a MP said to Bevin that “Morrison was his own worst enemy”, he replied, “Not while I’m alive he ain’t.” In very poor health, Bevin resigned from Attlee’s government in March 1951. Ernest Bevin died the following month on 14th April, 1951.(Ack: www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk

Please refer-Their Shining Moment-bevin

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Ivan IV Vasilyevich (1530 –1584) known in English as Ivan the Terrible, was Grand Prince of Moscow from 1533 until his death. His long reign saw the conquest of the Khanates of Kazan which was commemorated by one of the most beautiful buildings erected anywhere on the earth.(St. Basil’s Cathedral impressed the Tsar so much that he had the architect, Postnik Yakovlev, blinded so he could never design anything as beautiful again. (In reality, Postnik Yakovlev went on to design more churches for the Tsar. Then what is legend if it does not stretch truth so even violence and rank stupidity sound much sweeter than reality? It is what legend does to the memory of people and places.)
Ivan the terrible is an anglicized travesty of the ruler who gripped the imagination of Russians. Ivan the fearsome is closer to the truth. Look only what he has achieved? Sheer scale of his achievements weigh more against his failures. He annexed Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia, transforming Russia into a multiethnic and multiconfessional state spanning almost one billion acres, approximately 4,046,856 km2 . He brought about changes in (1,562,500 sq mi). He was the first tsar of all Russia.
The 1560s brought hardships to Russia that led to dramatic change of Ivan’s policies. Russia was devastated by a combination of drought and famine, Polish-Lithuanian raids, Tatar invasions and the sea-trading blockade carried out by the Swedes, Poles and the Hanseatic League. His first wife, Anastasia Romanovna, died in 1560, and her death was suspected to be a poisoning. This personal tragedy deeply hurt Ivan and is thought to have affected his personality, if not his mental health. At the same time, one of Ivan’s advisors, Prince Andrei Kurbsky, defected to the Lithuanians, took command of the Lithuanian troops and devastated the Russian region of Velikiye Luki. Since then he would be wary of the nobles and take stern actions to nip the trouble in bud.
His creation of a buffer between him and the nobility was in the creation of the oprichnina. It consisted of a separate territory within the borders of Russia on which the tsar held exclusive power. The Boyar Council ruled the zemshchina (‘land’), the second division of the state. Ivan also recruited a personal guard known as the oprichniki. Originally it was a thousand strong. They enjoyed social and economic privileges under the oprichnina. They owed their allegiance and status to Ivan, not to heredity or local bonds. Think how this idea would change in the hands of Joseph Stalin. His gulags was a land where dissidents were made to work to death and his personality cult created a new class that owed allegiance to him only.
The modern Ivan, Comrade Stalin and no other, the man who personally saw to the death of some 22 millions as with Ivan the Grozny were molded by history, culture and also by circumstances that create historic parallels. If that is the case only Russia could have produced two evil geniuses whose contribution to history of world would be debated by historians for many more centuries to come.
Tailpiece: the tsar also made laws restricting the mobility of the peasants, which would eventually lead to serfdom.

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Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) who advocated back to basics was a contradiction in his life. Imagine the concept of ‘noble savage’ coming from the pen of a tormented soul like Dosteovsky? Rousseau unlike the eponymous hero of ‘The Idiot’ was a man of flesh and blood and one, notwithstanding his own case, conceived an ideal for man who had sold his birthright for a make-believe article called progress. Here was one who turned his back on the march of events in full flow in France – and Encyclopaedia movement was as harbinger of progress, and felt in his bones that it was leading nowhere. In one sense he was right. Enlightenment of the skeptics was as misplaced as salvation promised by the Church. France was limping from long fought religious wars that had undeniably damaged man’s faith and liberal ideas of man as reaction to his lost innocence were gathering momentum. In Rousseau’s mind men, who placed premium on civilization without being really civilized were straws in wind. It shall indeed be proven in the needless blood that flowed during the reign of terror, l’affaire Dreyfus, debacle of the two wars that liberal mind superficially cobbled up was as just as bad as religion. Unfortunately the voice of a near mad man was lost in the confusion and his already overwrought mind would be for the rest of his life fighting on two fronts for his own sanity and for recognition of his ideas.
Jean Jacques Rousseau was born in Geneva, Switzerland, 28 June, 1712, the second son of Isaac Rousseau, descendant of French Huguenots, and Susanne Bernard who died a week after he was born. The practically orphaned Rousseau would be saddled with a sense of guilt he was responsible for his mother’s death. He resisted authority and spent much of his spare time alone exploring his first love, nature, which he escaped to in life as a vagabond in 1728. His wanderings led him out of Geneva to Sardinia then France, where he met Madame de Warens, who for the next ten years provided for him an education and much needed moral support and maternal love. At this time Rousseau converted to Catholicism. Later he would become a Calvinist. His nature was quick to take offence and he would fall out with most of his friends as in the case of David Hume for example.
In 1742 and living in Paris, Rousseau hoped to establish himself in a musical career, unsuccessfully proposing a new system of music to the Academy of Sciences. He published musical theory and wrote for the opera, attracted the attentions of King and court, but ended up concentrating on the development of his political theories towards social reform. He also met Therese le Vasseur who became his mistress with whom he had five children. They married near the end of his life.
It was not until 1750 that he won his first prize for an essay A Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts, its basis being that man basically is good but became corrupted by society in his view civilization merely debased him. In 1755 he published his Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, stating that original man was preferable while isolated from the corruption of social institutions; that vices develop out of a society where man starts to compare himself to others and pride takes over his drive. In these time we know it as greed. Catholic theologians concurred that humanity had not sufficiently advanced, yet disagreed that man was innately good. Rousseau eloquently expressed the problems of `law and order’ with greater clarity than most other of his contemporaries like Diderot and Voltaire, whom he eventually parted ways with, but he was heavily criticised for his condemnations as well.
Rousseau wrote The New Eloise (1761) next, which escaped censor and was one of the most widely read works of the Romanticism period. He published Èmile in 1762, his `heretical’ education reform treatise. His next and most controversial work, The Social Contract (1762) while starting with the opening line “Man was born free, but he is everywhere in chains.” suggested that there was still hope for mankind’s future, that he is essentially good, a `noble savage’, if only he realised the importance of a state of nature and worked to disarm the constraints of society. The publication of these two works caused uproar among French Catholics and Calvinist censors who were deeply offended and publicly burnt the books. Orders for his arrest were issued. Enduring this persecution but becoming paranoid and insecure, Rousseau lived in exile in Prussia and later England, to live with Scottish philosopher David Hume for a period of time. He returned to France under a false name after accusing Hume of disloyalty.
Rousseau continued to work in secret on his Confessions (1764 – 1778), inspired by St. Augustine’s Confessions as well as the Essays of Montaigne. His last opus proves to be a progressively more and more disquieting assay of self-justification, Rousseau seeming to need to plead his case for posterity, confess his sins. The lyrical Reveries of a Solitary Walker (1782), marks a period of inner peace for Rousseau in his declining years. On 2 July, 1778, while staying with the Marquis de Giradin in Ermenonville, just north of Paris, Rousseau, after taking one of his routine morning walks communing with nature, he was felled by a stoke and is buried in The Pantheon in Paris alongside Victor Hugo, Voltaire(Francois Marie Arouet), and Emile Zola.
Voltaire’s letter:

Les DELICES, August 30, 1755.
I have received, sir, your new book against the human species, and I thank you for it. You will please people by your manner of telling them the truth about themselves, but you will not alter them. The horrors of that human society–from which in our feebleness and ignorance we expect so many consolations–have never been painted in more striking colours: no one has ever been so witty as you are in trying to turn us into brutes: to read your book makes one long to go on all fours. Since, however, it is now some sixty years since I gave up the practice, I feel that it is unfortunately impossible for me to resume it: I leave this natural habit to those more fit for it than are you and I. Nor can I set sail to discover the aborigines of Canada, in the first place because my ill-health ties me to the side of the greatest doctor in Europe, and I should not find the same professional assistance among the Missouris: and secondly because war is going on in that country, and the example of the civilised nations has made the barbarians almost as wicked as we are ourselves. I must confine myself to being a peaceful savage in the retreat I have chosen–close to your country, where you yourself should be…’
A fearful earthquake of Lisbon prompted Jean Jacques Rousseau to say it vindicated his theories arguing that houses could not have fallen if there had been no houses to fall, and that if men lived like beasts in the open, earthquakes would be robbed of nearly all their terrors.’

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CAVOUR, COUNT CAMILLO (1810-1861) Italian

His crowning achievement in melding different Italian states was equally important as giving it a constitutional structure. Camillo, born into an aristocratic Piedmontese family, was earmarked for a career in the army, even though his interests were more political than military.
When Charles Albert, the king of Piedmont (1831-1849), opened the first war of independence against Austria. Camillo retired to manage the family estate at Grinzane. He also served as mayor there from 1832 to the revolutionary upheaval of 1848.
This year was a turning point in his political career.
On March 23, 1848, in an article in the Risorgimento, Cavour called upon his king to join the national crusade and the king agreed. His country’s defeat at Custozza in July prompted Cavour to court France in order to oust the Austrians from Piedmont. Following year another war and defeat led to the abdication of the king in favor of his son, Vittorio Emanuele. Suspicious of the Pope XI and cashing in on the anti-Papal sentiment in Italy he came into national prominence. He did not support the Neo-Guelph program which dreamed that the pope would play a leading role in the unification movement. He became prime minister at the end of 1852.
During the course of the Crimean War, he ranged Piedmont alongside England and France, and in 1856 presented the Italian case before the Congress of Paris and the tribunal of world opinion. In Paris the Count through the support of Napoleon III, could garner popular support for his anti-Austrian, national campaign in 1859-1860.

The Second War of Italian Independence opened in April 1859. In July Napoleon signed an armistice at Villafranca with Franz-Josef, without consulting his Piedmont allies. Cavour, unwilling to accept the terms that left Venetia in Austrian hands, resigned.

Cavour returned to power in January 1860, and in March signed another secret agreement with Napoleon. On March 17, Cavour had the Piedmontese parliament proclaim Victor Emanuel II, king of Italy. Cavour also persuaded the parliament to proclaim the city of Rome the future capital of the kingdom, hoping to resolve the Roman question on the basis of an agreement with the church. He died shortly thereafter, and did not live to see the Italian occupation of Rome in 1870.
Born in Turin when it was under French control, Cavour was sponsored in baptism by Napoleon’s sister Pauline, and her husband, Prince Camille Borghese, after whom Camillo was named.(Ack:Frank J. Coppa)


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