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This was the spirit of the Hundred Days. Action, and action now. Said Will Rogers: "The whole country is with him, just so he does something. If he burned down the Capitol, we would cheer and say, 'Well, we at least got a fire started anyhow.' " On Roosevelt's second Sunday in the White House, he remarked at dinner, "I think this would be a good time for beer." That same night, he drafted a message calling for Congress to cancel the Prohibition ban on 3.2 beer. The House approved this on Tuesday and the Senate on Thursday. (It took until Dec. 5 before Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, repealing Prohibition in its entirety.)
With the New Deal came the New Dealers, a breed unknown in the sleepy Southern town that Washington had been. Rosenman had urged Roosevelt to seek advisers not among the usual politicians and financiers but in the universities. Harvard Law Professor Felix Frankfurter was now sending along a pack of bright and ambitious young lawyers who came to be known as the "happy hot dogs." Washington "is more entertaining and more lively than at any time since the war," the critic Edmund Wilson reported in the New Republic. "Everywhere in the streets and offices you run into old acquaintances . . . the 'progressive' young instructors from the colleges, the intelligent foundation workers, the practical idealists of settlement houses, the radicals who are not too radical not to conceive that there may be just a chance of turning the old order inside out." Not everyone admired these newcomers, of course. Judge Learned Hand, of the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, called them "so conceited, so insensitive, so arrogant."
Perhaps the most remarkable of all the New Dealers was Harry L. Hopkins, a gangling and often brusque idealist who, in the words of one acquaintance, gave off "a suggestion of quick cigarettes, thinning hair, dandruff, brief sarcasm, fraying suits of clothes, and a wholly understandable preoccupation." Born to poverty as the son of an Iowa harnessmaker, Hopkins had worked one summer among the slum children of New York City's Lower East Side, and that experience turned him into a professional social worker. When the Crash came, Governor Roosevelt made Hopkins head of New York's emergency relief, the nation's first such state program. Spreading money among the poor became Hopkins' life's passion, rivaled only by his passion for losing money at the race track.
Hopkins violated the rules that most Americans had learned in childhood: that taking charity was shameful; that unemployment was shameful; that a man who couldn't feed himself and his family was hardly a man at all. "Under our political system," Hoover had said in 1930, "Government is not, nor should it be, a general employer of labor." Federal aid to the unemployed, Hoover said, would weaken their "moral fiber." Hopkins disagreed. "People don't eat in the long run, Senator," he said to one legislator, "they eat every day."
Charity had traditionally been local, but the tidal wave of misery had overwhelmed local resources. Relief payments were often as low as $3