Analysis of the New Deal Letter from Martha Gelhorn
America during the Great Depression period saw many Americans lose hope and result in suffering conditions such as chronic poverty, health problems, and education issues that were the spillover effects of the Great Depression. In addition to the suffering and rage, the Americans, according to the letter, maintained the compassion and faith in their president, hoping that he would help address the challenges and raise the living conditions of the Americans once again. The letter to Harry Hopkins clarified on suffering effects of the Depression-era American lives, including health, education, and poverty problems (Johnson, 2012). It also emphasizes the hope and adoration the Americans have to their president Franklin Roosevelt hoping he will make the situation better with their support. In the letter, Martha supports the New Deal and warns of the opponents against revolting against a new people, as the Depression-era American lives are at the darkest and worst moment.
The origin of the letter to Hopkins was in the quest to identify, observe, and report on the conditions of the Depression-era American lives. Martha, in her letter, addresses the New Deal’s Federal Emergency Relief Association, most notably the administrator, Harry Hopkins. As a journalist of the hired journalist team, they were required to gather statistics and report on the various social aspects and effects of the Great depression, such as the unemployment rates, poverty index, and other Great Depression effects. This information was of paramount importance to the FERA, as they would use it to plan and administer relief programs to the most affected people. This letter profoundly connects with its historical context, which is the Great Depression, to try to find the affected numbers and find effective and efficient mitigation strategies through the relief programs in FERA (Johnson, 2012). Martha concludes that the Depression-era American lives are at the worst and darkest period with a frightening picture, which she uses to criticize the anti-New Deal opponents. She feels the country needed a new deal and face with market reforms, new employment opportunities, and agencies such as FERA that would help the Americans.
The letter covers two main themes, namely, suffering and compassion. Primarily, compassion is for the president of the people. In her letter, she identifies various instances she witnessed people with nothing in life, but leaving and looking forward to hoping with the confidence that their president would make things rights and not forget them. The illustration of the woman with five children and lives on $3.40 as relief weekly has a huge portrait of the president and the fact that her daughter cries to have it as a wedding present, indicates the absolute compassion for the president (Johnson, 2012). More importantly, the Americans believe the president is working harder to ensure the economic situation is corrected but may be incapacitated by the anti-New Deal opponents. On the suffering, the Americans live in poverty; they live below the subsistence scales, lack employment rates, and have health and dietary problems as well as educational problems.
The letter from Martha Gelhorn to Harry Hopkins was purposed to collect statistics and report on the conditions of the Americans during this period with significant emphasis on the poverty levels, unemployment rates, and other suffering effects. On the other hand, Harry Hopkins required the report and statistics to effectively plan, manage, and administer relief programs to help the poorest of the Americans badly hit by the Great Depression effects.
Johnson, M. P. (2012). Martha Gelhorn to Harry Hopkins, November 11, 1934. In Reading the American Past (pp. 166-168). Bedford/St. Martin’s.