Franklin D. Roosevelt

32nd President of the United States (1933-1945)

Elected three years into the Great Depression, Roosevelt had to contend with an America in shambles – one quarter of the nation was unemployed, banks had been shuttered in 38 states and soup lines could be found in metropolises and small towns alike. When he was sworn in on March 4, 1933, he pledged to take “action now,” initiating a series of policies that would become the foundation of The New Deal, a bold plan to resurrect the nation’s economic standing. Roosevelt actually launched the New Deal in 105 days.

Highlights from his first 100 days:

• The day after the inauguration, he called a special session of Congress which authorized a four-day bank holiday to stop a run on the nation’s financial institutions.
• Five days after he’s sworn in, Roosevelt encourages Congress to pass his administration’s Emergency Banking Act, shutting down insolvent banks and reorganizing seemingly viable ones. (Within three days, 5,000 solvent banks were reopened and deposits began to rise for the first time since the Stock Market Crash of 1929.)
• He nominated Frances Perkins as Labor Secretary, the first woman named to a presidential cabinet.
• Roosevelt steered passage of the Civilian Conservation Corps bill, establishing a public work program to provide thousands of jobs through reclamation of natural resources.
• He signed the Federal Emergency Relief Act, which allocated $500 million of federal dollars for unemployment relief; the Homeowners Loan Act, which provided federal mortgage financing and guarantees; the Glass Steagall Act, which guaranteed bank deposits of $5,000 or less and separated commercial and investment banking activities; and the National Industrial Recovery Act – an omnibus proposal that included the establishment of production standards and price controls as well as minimum wages and maximum hours for workers.
• He established the Tennessee Valley Authority to rehabilitate that region by making electricity available, teaching farmers how to improve crop yields and replanting forests.
• Considered the first president to effectively use media, he holds a series of news conferences and gives “fireside chats,” radio reports directed to the American public.
• Repealed Prohibition, established in 1919 to ban the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol for consumption, as mandated in the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

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