First 100 days of Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidency

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The first 100 days of Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidency began on March 4, 1933, the day Roosevelt was inaugurated as the 32nd President of the United States. During this period, he presented a series of initiatives to Congress designed to counter the effects of the Great Depression. He had signaled his intention to move with unprecedented speed to address the problems facing the nation in his inaugural address, declaring: "I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the measures that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world may require."[1] Roosevelt's specific priorities at the outset of his presidency were: getting Americans back to work; protecting their savings and create prosperity; providing relief for the sick and elderly; and getting industry and agriculture back on their feet.[2] The 100th day of his presidency was June 11, 1933.

Roosevelt coined the term "first 100 days" during a July 24, 1933, radio address. At the time, however, he was referring to the 100-day session of the 73rd United States Congress—March 9 to June 17—rather than the first 100 days of his administration.[1][3] Fifteen major laws were enacted during this period. Since then, the first 100 days of a presidential term has taken on symbolic significance, and the period is considered a benchmark to measure the early success of a president.

Background

Franklin D. Roosevelt spent the first week of his Presidency dealing with a month-long series of bank closures that were ruining families nationwide.[4]:78 He closed the entire American banking system on March 6, 1933. On March 9, Congress passed the Emergency Banking Act, which Roosevelt used to effectively create federal deposit insurance when the banks reopened.[5] At 10 p.m. ET that Sunday night, on the eve of the end of the bank holiday, Roosevelt spoke to a radio audience of more than 60 million people, to tell them in clear language "what has been done in the last few days, why it was done, and what the next steps are going to be".[4]:78–79 It was the first of 30 evening radio addresses that came to be called the Fireside Chats.

The result, according to economic historian William L. Silber, was a "remarkable turnaround in the public's confidence … The contemporary press confirms that the public recognized the implicit guarantee and, as a result, believed that the reopened banks would be safe, as the President explained in his first Fireside Chat." Within two weeks people returned more than half of the cash they had been hoarding, and the first stock-trading day after the bank holiday marked the largest-ever one-day percentage price increase.[5]

Roosevelt also set up several organizations with a variety of roles.

The New Deal

Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA)

While Roosevelt's main goal was to increase employment, he also recognized the need for a support system for the poor. The Federal Emergency Relief Administration, started in 1933, addressed the urgent needs of the poor. It spent $500 million on soup kitchens, blankets, employment schemes and nursery schools. The Federal Emergency Relief Administration was shut down in 1935 and its work taken over by two completely new federal agencies, the Works Progress Administration and the Social Security Administration. FERA was involved with a broad range of projects, including construction, projects for professionals (e.g., writers, artists, actors, and musicians), and production of consumer goods. They also focused on giving food to the poor, educating workers, and providing nearly 500,000 jobs for women.[6]

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)

On March 9, 1933, Roosevelt ordered some of his senior staff to put unemployed men to work on conservation projects by summertime. On March 21, he submitted a proposal to Congress, calling for the employment of 250,000 men by June. It was soon passed into law on March 31, giving the President authority to establish the Emergency Conservation Work (ECW) program. The ECW was the program's official name until 1937, when the popular name of CCC became official. Above and beyond other Hundred-Day programs, the CCC was Roosevelt's favorite creation, often called his "pet". The Civilian Conservation Corps allowed unemployed men to work for six months on conservation projects such as planting trees, preventing soil erosion, and combatting forest fires. Workers lived in militarized camps across the country and made $30 per month. By the end of the program in 1942, the CCC had employed 2.5 million men.[7]

Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA)

In May 1933, the Agricultural Adjustment Administration was created in order to raise crop prices in response to the rural economic crisis. The administration helped to control the falling prices by setting quotas to reduce farm production. Beyond price adjustment, the act helped farmers to modernize and implement innovative farming methods. In extreme cases the agency helped farmers with their mortgages and provided direct payment for farmers who would agree to sign acreage reduction contracts.[8]

National Industry Recovery Act (NIRA)

The National Industry Recovery Act came into place on June 16, 1933, just five days before the end of 100 days. The act was an attempt at economic recovery from the severe deflation caused by the Great Depression. The act consists of two sections, the first of which promoted industrial recovery and the second established the Public Works Administration (PWA). The National Industry Recovery Act set up the Public Works Administration (PWA) and the National Recovery Administration (NRA). The PWA used government money to build infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, for the state. This demand for construction created new jobs, which achieved Roosevelt's main priority. The National Recovery Act also improved working conditions and outlawed child labor. Wages increased, so workers were able to earn and spend more. Today, the act is widely considered a legal failure; it generated large numbers of regulations and resulted in a significant loss of support for President Roosevelt.

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)

The Tennessee Valley Authority was established to build dams on the Tennessee River. These dams were designed to stimulate farming in the area to end poverty while creating hydroelectricity, as well as prevent flooding and deforestation. The hydroelectric power was used effectively to provide electricity for nearby houses. The TVA marked the first time the federal government competed against private companies in the business of selling electricity.[9]

Reception of the New Deal

Criticism

The New Deal faced considerable opposition from many people, chiefly Republicans, and from the business sector. The primary complaints were that the legislative package cost too much and overstepped the government's authority. Some critics specifically attacked the TVA as a form of communism, arguing that government-run enterprise would stifle the private sector's ability to compete and undermine American workers.

Roosevelt was also attacked by Democrats, led by Louisiana's Gov. Huey Long, who argued that the New Deal didn't go far enough. Long, positioning for his own prospective presidential run, had pushed expansive social programs and infrastructure investments in his state and wanted to see FDR follow suit on a national level.

References

  1. ^ a b Walsh, Kenneth T. (February 12, 2009). "The First 100 Days: Franklin Roosevelt Pioneered the 100-Day Concept". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved January 4, 2011. 
  2. ^ "President Franklin D. Roosevelt Set 100-Day Standard". NPR.org. Retrieved April 27, 2017. 
  3. ^ Alter, Jonathan (May 8, 2007). The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope. Simon and Schuster. p. 273. ISBN 978-0-7432-4601-9. 
  4. ^ a b "FDR's First Fireside Chat". Radio Digest. 1 (1): 78–82. February 1939. 
  5. ^ a b Silber, William L. (July 2009). "Why Did FDR's Bank Holiday Succeed?". Economic Policy Review. Federal Reserve Bank of New York. 15 (1). Retrieved 2016-02-28. 
  6. ^ Foner, Eric (2014). Give Me Liberty: An American History (4 ed.). New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. p. 814. ISBN 978-0-393-92029-1. 
  7. ^ Speakman, Joseph (2006). "Into the Woods: The First Year of the Civilian Conservation Corps". Prologue Magazine. 38 (3). Retrieved April 13, 2017. 
  8. ^ "Farmer Opinion and the Agricultural Adjustment Act, 1933". The Mississippi Valley Historical Review. 1 (1): 658–659. 1962. 
  9. ^ Foner, Eric (2014). Give Me Liberty: An American History (4 ed.). New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. pp. 815–816. ISBN 978-0-393-92029-1. 
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