The First Hundred Days FDR: Hoover's Legacy
The Great Depression had started with the Wall Street Crash in October 1929. Republican President Hoover had failed to recognize the severity of the Great Depression and had taken a hard line approach to the crisis. Hoover had failed to take effective measures to address the problems, was blamed for the depression and was perceived as being insensitive.
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The First Hundred Days FDR: Effects of the Great Depression
When FDR came to office he had no great plan or detailed strategy to combat the devastation of the Great Depression. But he understood the feelings of desperation, dejection and despair that were being experienced by so many of the American people.
- During 1929-1931 over 3000 banks had gone bankrupt - over 10% of the nation's total. The stock market had plunged 85% from its high in 1929
- 25% of the population were unemployed
- People had lost their savings and many were in debt
- People were hungry, and it was a common sight to see breadlines and Soup Kitchens in all of the major towns and cities
- By 1932, between 1 - 2 million Americans were homeless
- The homeless had seen their homes repossessed and had no option but to live in overcrowded conditions with their families.
- The destitute had no option but to live in tents in communities that consisted of makeshift shacks in camps they called 'Hoovervilles'
- The country had also been hit be a devastating drought followed in 1932 by Dust Storms and 'Black Blizzards' that created the Dust Bowl in which 100 million acres of farming land was destroyed
The Great Depression - Soup Kitchen
Hundred Days FDR: The Mood of the Nation
The American people were looking for FDR, their new president, to take action. The mood of the nation had turned sour. Desperate men walked the streets and roamed the nation looking for work and food. People organized Hunger Marches.
Hundred Days FDR: The Bonus Army
In the summer of 1932 over 40,000 WWI Veterans had congregated in Washington. They were called the Bonus Army and had lobbied Congress to pass legislation authorizing the early payment of promised bonuses. They had been refused.
The US Army, under Douglas MacArthur, used violent tactics to disband the veterans. This was the desperate situation that greeted FDR when he assumed the presidency - he had to take drastic action in his first 100 days of office.
Hundred Days FDR: The Federal Government
There was no federal government financed "safety net" of welfare or relief programs to keep Americans from falling into dire poverty. People were dependent on the local state or charitable organizations to survive. It was clear that the unemployed needed much more than the state and local communities could afford.
Hundred Days FDR for kids: The Fearless Approach
FDR adopted to totally fearless approach to making decisions and trying new ideas. Once again his own words made in an address at Oglethorpe University on May 22, 1932 conveys the man's character and ideals.
"It is common sense to take a method and try it.
If it fails, admit it frankly and try another.
But above all, try something."
FDR was clearly happy to push forward any ideas he thought had merit. The overriding view of his first Hundred Days was to try something.
Hundred Days FDR: The Inaugural Speech on March 4, 1933
FDR made his views clear to Americans in his inaugural speech on March 4, 1933 in which he stated:
"This nation asks for action, and action now. Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the measures that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world may require."
Hundred Days FDR: There was no Hundred Days Strategy...
Despite his brave words FDR had no clear strategy or concrete ideas and plans for his first Hundred Days in office. But he needed them. FDR gathered a diverse group of advisors and experts in agriculture, law, business, economics and social work to help him and give him advice. A famous FDR quote reveals his honesty and his views.
" I'm not the smartest fellow in the world, but I can sure pick smart colleagues."
Hundred Days FDR for kids: The Advisors and the 'Brain Trust'
His advisors during the first hundred days fell into several distinct groups:
- The 'Progressives' favored new reforms and government intervention in the economy
- The 'New Nationalists' believed that the government should work closely with corporations and businesses to manage the economy
- Others totally distrusted 'Big Businesses', blamed them for the recession, and favored a 'trust busting' approach
His close advisors were an academic team, referred to the 'Brain Trust', that consisted of were three law professors called Adolf Berle, Raymond Moley and Rexford Tugwell.
Hundred Days FDR Goals and Objectives: The Three R's - Relief, Recovery and Reform
The FDR Goals and Objectives of the first hundred days were established under three simple headings, the Three R's - Relief, Recovery and Reform that required either immediate action, temporary measures or permanent reforms.
- Relief for the unemployed and poor
- Recovery of the economy by establishing temporary programs to restart the flow of consumer demand.
- Reform of the financial system to ease the economic crisis and the introduction of permanent programs to avoid another depression and insure Americans against future economic disasters
The goals and aims of the Three R's, Relief, Recovery and Reform, focused on emergency relief, regulating the banks and the stock market, providing debt relief, managing farms, initiating codes for industrial recovery and initiating construction projects.
Hundred Days FDR for kids: The President made the Decisions
During the first hundred days FDR listened to all of the ideas and opinions of his advisors and made his own decisions as to the policies and reforms that his government should pursue. FDR was a strong, confident, decisive and independent man. His character is reflected in another famous FDR quote that he made at his First Inaugural Address on March 4, 1933:
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
Hundred Days FDR for kids: The Banking Crisis
At the start of the First Hundred Days the one thing that FDR was sure of was that nothing would work until the banks and the banking system were sorted out. As the Great Depression had deepened banks began to fail at alarming rates - literally thousands of banks had closed. By 1933, depositors had seen $140 billion simply disappear through bank failures. If a bank collapsed, people lost all of the money they had in the bank. There were no bank safeguards or deposit insurance. Many Americans had lost their life savings. People with savings in the banks that had not yet failed were desperately worried. They wanted to take their money out, but knew that if they did those banks would fail too. It is therefore not surprising that Americans had no confidence in the banks. FDR's immediate aim of the first hundred days was to stabilize the banking system.
Hundred Days FDR for kids: The National 'Bank Holiday'
FDR announced his intention to immediately address the banking crisis to William H. Woodin, his Secretary of the Treasury. On Day 1 of his presidency (March 4, 1933), the first of the hundred days, he told Woodin that he wanted an emergency banking bill ready for Congress in under 5 days. The next day FDR declared a National Bank Holiday - and temporarily closed all the banks. On March 4, 1933 the Emergency Banking Relief Act was passed to check and regulate the banks. The banks re-opened on March 13, 1933.
Hundred Days FDR for kids: The 'Fireside Chats'
On Sunday March 12, 1933 FDR conducted the first of his many radio "Fireside Chats". He explained to the American people what he had done in plain, simple terms and told the public to have "confidence and courage." When the banks reopened the following day on Monday 13 March, 1933, people demonstrated their faith in FDR by making more deposits than withdrawals. The Banking Crisis was over. FDR's key advisors did not exaggerate when they later boasted, "Capitalism was saved in eight days." The sheer speed of action in the first hundred days was almost unbelievable...
Hundred Days FDR: Action taken during the First Hundred Days for kids
In less than 2 weeks of the first hundred days, the mood of the country changed from total despondency to an infectious atmosphere of optimism. From March 9,1933 and June 16, 1933 important acts were passed in an attempt to relieve the devastating effects of the Great Depression. FDR was as good as his word - he was certainly trying something. A list of the acts are detailed in the following table.
Action taken during the First Hundred Days in 1933 for kids
|Date||Action taken during the First Hundred Days|
|March 9, 1933||March 9, 1933 marks the first of the "Hundred Days"|
|March 9, 1933||Emergency Banking Relief Act - To regulate the Banking system|
|March 9, 1933||FDR conducted the first of his radio "fireside chats"|
|March 31, 1933||Reforestation Relief Act - Established the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and work for 250,000 men|
|April 19, 1933||FDR takes the nation off of the gold standard. |
|May 12, 1933||Federal Emergency Relief Act - The FERA established grants for relief projects|
|May 12, 1933||Agricultural Adjustment Act - The AAA provided relief to farmers|
|May 18, 1933||Tennessee Valley Authority - The TVA provided aid for the economic development in the Tennessee Valley|
|May 27, 1933||Federal Securities Act established the SEC to regulate trading on Wall Street |
|June 6, 1933||National Employment System Act was passed|
|June 13, 1933||Home Owners Refinancing Act providing loans for some 1 million mortgages. |
|June 16, 1933||The Banking Act of 1933 (aka the Glass–Steagall Act) established banking reforms and the FDIC|
|June 16, 1933||The Farm Credit Act of 1933 established the Farm Credit System (FCS)|
|June 16, 1933||National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) established the PWA and the NRA|
|June 16, 1933||The Public Works Administration (PWA) to supervise the construction of public works|
|June 16, 1933||The National Recovery Administration (NRA) to stimulate competition and establish fair trade|
|June 16, 1933||June 16 marked the final day of the "Hundred Days"|
Action taken during the First Hundred Days in 1933 for kids