Harry Lloyd Hopkins (August 17, 1890 – January 29, 1946) was one of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's closest advisers. He was one of the architects of the New Deal, especially the relief programs of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which he directed and built into the largest employer in the country. In World War II he was Roosevelt's chief diplomatic advisor and troubleshooter and was a key policy maker in the $50 billion Lend-Lease program that sent aid to the allies.
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Communities now find themselves in possession of improvements [resulting from the WPA] which even in 1929 they would have thought themselves presumptuous to dream of... [but] everywhere there had been an overhauling of the word presumptuous. We are beginning to wonder if it is not presumptuous to take for granted that some people should have much, and some should have nothing; that some people are less important than others and should die earlier; that the children of the comfortable should be taller and fatter, as a matter of right, than the other children of the poor.
Spending to Save: The Complete Story of Relief (1936), p. 184They are damn good projects - excellent projects. That goes for all the projects up there. You know some people make fun of people who speak a foreign language, and dumb people criticize something they do not understand, and that is what is going on up there - God damn it!
Stated at a press conference (April 4, 1935); reported in Robert E. Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins (1948), p. 60. Sherwood says, "The reports of this conference quoted Hopkins as saying that 'the people are too damned dumb', and this phrase was given plenty of circulation in the press" (p. 61). He adds in a footnote that "it will be seen from the transcript of his remarks that this particular statement was directed not at the people but at the critical orators" (p. 938). Also reported in Paul F. Boller, Jr., and John George, They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, & Misleading Attributions (1989), p. 48-49; Boller and George also note that the quote was quickly misreported as "The people are too damn dumb to understand".
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