Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It turns out Harry Hopkins didn't say it

After Mitt Romney's "gifts" comments, I couldn't help but remember that I thought FDR advisor and WPA director Harry Hopkins said "we shall tax and tax, and spend and spend, and elect and elect."  But it turns out this is likely apocryphal--indeed, Hopkins denied having said any such thing.

Here is a nice chronology from Bartleby:

AUTHOR:Harry Lloyd Hopkins (1890–1946)
QUOTATION:We shall tax and tax, and spend and spend, and elect and elect.
ATTRIBUTION:Attributed to HARRY L. HOPKINS, administrator of the Works Progress Administration.

  Although Frank R. Kent mentioned the subject of “spending, taxes, and election” in reference to Hopkins in his column, “The Great Game of Politics” (Baltimore, Maryland, Sun, September 25, 1938, pp. 1, 16) he first attributed “we are going to spend and spend and spend, and tax and tax and tax, and elect and elect and elect” to Hopkins in the Sun, October 14, 1938, p. 15.

  Joseph Alsop and Robert Kintner in their column, “The Capital Parade” (Washington, D.C., Evening Star, November 9, 1938, p. A–11), elaborated Hopkins’s “probably apocryphal” words to: “Now, get this through your head. We’re going to spend and spend and spend, and tax and tax and tax, and re-elect and re-elect and re-elect, until you’re dead or forgotten.”

  Arthur Krock, in his column, “In the Nation” (The New York Times,November 10, 1938, p. 26), reported the wording as “we will spend and spend, and tax and tax, and elect and elect.” He also repeated this wording in an article in The New York Times, November 13, 1938, sec. 4, p. E–3. A letter by Hopkins denying this attributed quotation and a response by Krock were published in The New York Times, November 24, 1938, p. 26.

  Over the years the quotation attributed to Hopkins has evolved into the wording above.

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