The First Hundred Days of FDR
by Valerie R. Dorn
By declaring in his inaugural address that there was "nothing to fear but fear itself," FDR instilled hope and courage (33031501.gif) in the people of the United States. He made clear that the time of waiting was over, (33031603.gif) that he had the people's interests at heart, and that he would mobilize the power of goverment (33031301.gif) to help them. Once in office, FDR issued two presidential edicts: the first called Congress into special session, and the second stopped the transactions in gold (33030802.gif) and proclaimed a national bank holiday. (33030804.gif) The emergency banking measure extended governmental assistance to sound bank to reopen their doors. The House unanimously passed the bill. When banks reopened, (33031202.gif) people were more eager to deposit cash than to withdraw it, ending the crisis. Sound banking had been reestablished. Meanwhile, the economy needed a boost. An accumulated deficit of $5 billion loomed over the government, whose credit had to be preserved. To bring the budget into balance, FDR had to cut (33030801.gif) at least a half billion dollars. Congress passed the Economy Act, giving FDR the power to cut hundreds of millions from veterans relief expenditures, (33033105.gif) millions from government employee salaries, and millions by reorganizing Federal agencies. The Economy Act protected the government's credit The dollar gained on foreign exchanges. FDR had preserved the government's credit and averted financial crisis. (33031003.gif) Beer had been on the public's mind since prohibition. Majorities in both houses of Congress pledged to change prohibition but monetary and fiscal matters took precedence. Then, on March 22, FDR asked Congress to legitimize beer, and they responded (33031802.gif) with a resounding yes. The brewing industry started up again, opening over a thousand plants and employing over half a million people. With a 5% government tax (33033104.gif) per barrel, the federal government received revenues of $125 million. The money would go toward the balancing of the budget, and the nation rejoiced (33032405.gif) to the flow of beer. FDR's attention turned to the crisis in agriculture. Farmers organized to prevent by force, if necessary, the sale of their farms to satisfy mortgages by picketing roads to keep food out of cities. Farmers purchasing power had to be restored. FDR urged the passage of a bill that allowed the administration to apply a number of farm measures. (33031901.gif) The Agriculture Adjustment Act attempted to bolster farm incomes by setting price levels for certain commodities and giving subsidies to farmers who cut back production. The subsidies were paid through a tax on processors of farm products. The Farm Credit Administration was a merger of the farm services of several agencies. It provided for easier refinancing of farm mortgages. Through these measures, the government could retire land and tax processors of farm products. Prices were returned to 1909-1914 levels. FDR's programs helped agriculture by reinstating farm purchasing. (33030901.gif) FDR did not solve the problem of unemployment, but did much to alleviate it. The primary goals of the New Deal were to put the nation back to work (33031101.gif) and to make the American economy depression-proof. (33033101.gif) However, by making the economy resistant to depression, it also made it inflation-prone. inflation-prone. (37020501.gif) Between 11 and 12 million people in the United States were jobless and very few jobs were available. FDR took action (33032201.gif) and said that he would provide funds for the states, would spend millions in reforestation, and public construction. These were direct acts for emergency aid. More employment was to come from the revived brewing industry, from renewed business activity that would follow increased farm purchasing power and government expenditures. The next legislation to go into effect was the Civilian Conservation Corps Reforestation Relief, an unemployment relief measure. It provided Federal jobs in road construction, reforestation, flood control and national park projects. FERA created the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, which administered the distribution of $500 million, half of it in direct aid to the states and the other half on the basis of $1 of Federal money for each $3 spent by a state or locality for unemployment relief programs. These two acts set the precedent for future programs, like welfare. FDR had revived the economy (33031801.gif) and aided the unemployed. FDR took the United States, in the midst of the Great Depression, and made sweeping changes.(33041903.gif) He reduced unemployment, promoted economic growth, and altered the distribution of income. FDR renewed hope and courage (33031701.gif) in the American people who were in despair. He mobilized the power of government to serve their interests and kept the economy from disintegrating. After the first 100 days, FDR had changed (33031004.gif) the disorderly panic-stricken mobs and factions of the United States into a nation confident of its power to provide for its own security and to control its own destiny. The Hundred Days (33042201.gif) were the beginning of a process that transformed the American nation.