Federal Relief For American Citizens

The first argument Hopkins makes in replying to those who are opposed to the provision of federal relief to American citizens by the federal government is the urgency for that relief conditioned by elementary hunger. Twenty-two million people in the United States were hungry, staying on relief rolls at the beginning of the 1930s and receiving two dollars as a monthly relief. Hopkins explains that his job has not been easy because of the necessity to make many difficult decisions to help the American people survive those hard times using limited resources and opportunities. He says it has been challenging to decide who should get relief, how many dollars a month they should get, and how their needs should be investigated, especially being unable to call for a board meeting or conduct a public survey. Nonetheless, Hopkins has managed to reduce the number of people on relief rolls in America to its historical minimum.

The second argument of Hopkins is the inadequacy of his opponents’ arguments. Many people say that others get unreasonably much money, and the wages are unreasonably high. In response, Hopkins provides concrete numbers: the average relief of $27 and the average wage of $50. He strongly disagrees that these amounts of money are excessively high because of the costs of people’s basic needs. Hopkins suggests that living with $50 is nearly impossible, offering people with an opposing viewpoint to try it themselves. Thus, he explains that this particular argument of people opposing federal relief is incorrect and should be nullified.


“There were more people on the relief rolls late in 1932 and early in 1933 than have ever been in America since, and there are fewer in America today than there have ever been.” (Polenberg, 2000).

“Try and live on $50.00 per month. See how far it goes.” (Polenberg, 2000).


Polenberg R. D. (2000). The era of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933-1945: A brief history with documents. Bedford/St. Martin’s.