Franklin D. Roosevelt was the only U.S. president to be elected four times. He led the United States through the Great Depression and World War II.
He became the 32nd U.S. president in 1933, and was the only president to be elected four times. Roosevelt led the United States through the Great Depression and World War II, and greatly expanded the powers of the federal government through a series of programs and reforms known as the New Deal. Roosevelt died in Georgia in 1945.
By 1930, Republicans were being blamed for the Great Depression and Franklin Roosevelt sensed opportunity. He began his run for the presidency, calling for government intervention in the economy to provide relief, recovery and reform. His upbeat, positive approach and personal charm helped him defeat Republican incumbent Herbert Hoover in November 1932. By the time Roosevelt took office in March of 1933, there were 13 million unemployed Americans, and hundreds of banks were closed. Roosevelt faced the greatest crisis in American history since the Civil War.
President Franklin Roosevelt proposed sweeping economic reform, calling it the "New Deal." He ordered the temporary closure on all banks to halt the run on deposits. He formed a "Brain Trust" of economic advisors who designed the alphabet agencies such as the AAA (Agricultural Adjustment Administration) to support farm prices, the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) to employ young men, and the NRA (National Recovery Administration), which regulated wages and prices. Other agencies insured bank deposits, regulated the stock market, subsidized mortgages, and provided relief to the unemployed.
By 1936, the economy showed signs of improvement. Gross national product was up 34 percent, and unemployment had dropped from 25 percent to 14 percent. But Franklin Roosevelt faced criticism for increased government spending, unbalanced budgets, and what some perceived as moving the country toward socialism. Several New Deal acts were declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Roosevelt retaliated by proposing to "pack" the court with justices more favorable to his reforms. Many in Congress, including some Democrats, rejected the idea. By 1938, negative publicity, a continuing sluggish economy, and Republican victories in mid-term elections virtually ended Roosevelt's ability to pass more reform legislation.
The New Deal was a series of social liberal programs enacted in the United States between 1933 and 1938, and a few that came later. They included both laws passed by Congress as well as presidential executive orders during the first term (1933-1937) of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The new deal was basically a set of government programs intended to fix the depression and prevent future depressions.
The programs were in response to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians refer to as the "3 Rs," Relief, Recovery, and Reform: relief for the unemployed and poor, recovery of the economy to normal levels, and reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression.
Many historians distinguish between a "First New Deal" (1933-34) and a "Second New Deal" (1935-38), with the second one more liberal and more controversial. The "First New Deal" (1933-34) dealt with the pressing banking crises through the Emergency Banking Act and the 1933 Banking Act. The Federal Emergency Relief Administration provided $500 million ($9.1 billion today) for relief operations by states and cities, while the short-lived Civil Works Administration (CWA) gave localities money to operate make-work projects in 1933-34. The Securities Act of 1933 was enacted to prevent a repeated stock market crash. The controversial work of the National Recovery Administration was also part of the First New Deal.
The "Second New Deal" in 1935-38 included the Wagner Act to promote labor unions, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) relief program (which made the federal government by far the largest single employer in the nation), the Social Security Act, and new programs to aid tenant farmers and migrant workers. The final major items of New Deal legislation were the creation of the United States Housing Authority and Farm Security Administration, both in 1937, and the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which set maximum hours and minimum wages for most categories of workers.
The economic downturn of 1937-38, and the bitter split between the AFL and CIO labor unions led to major Republican gains in Congress in 1938. Conservative Republicans and Democrats in Congress joined in the informal Conservative Coalition. By 1942-43 they shut down relief programs such as the WPA and CCC and blocked major liberal proposals. Roosevelt himself turned his attention to the war effort, and won reelection in 1940 and 1944. The Supreme Court declared the National Recovery Administration (NRA) and the first version of the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) unconstitutional, however the AAA was rewritten and then upheld. As the first Republican president elected after FDR, Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961) left the New Deal largely intact, even expanding it in some areas. In the 1960s, Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society used the New Deal as inspiration for a dramatic expansion of liberal programs, which Republican Richard M. Nixon generally retained. After 1974, however, the call for deregulation of the economy gained bipartisan support. The New Deal regulation of banking (Glass-Steagall Act) was suspended in the 1990s.
The first hundred days is a sample of the first 100 days of a first term presidency of a president of the United States. It is used to measure the successes and accomplishments of a president during the time that their power and influence is at its greatest. The term was coined in a July 24, 1933, radio address by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, although he was referring to the 100-day session of the 73rd United States Congress between March 9 and June 17, rather than the first 100 days of his administration.
Between 8 March and 16 June, in what later became known as the "First Hundred Days," Congress followed Roosevelt's lead by passing an incredible fifteen separate bills which, together, formed the basis of the New Deal. Several of the programs created during those three and a half months are still around in the federal government today. Some of Roosevelt's most notable actions during the Hundred Days were:
A national bank holiday: The day after his inauguration, FDR declared a "bank holiday," closing all banks in the country to prevent a collapse of the banking system. With the banks closed, Roosevelt took measures to restore the public's confidence in the financial systems; when the banks reopened a week later, the panic was over.
Ending the gold standard: To avoid deflation, FDR quickly suspended the gold standard.
This meant that U.S. dollars no longer had to be backed up by gold reserves, which also meant that the government could print—and spend—more money to "prime the pump" of the economy.
Glass-Steagall Act: The Glass-Steagall Act imposed regulations on the banking industry that guided it for over fifty years, until it was repealed in 1999.
The law separated commercial from investment banking, forced banks to get out of the business of financial investment, banned the use of bank deposits in speculation.
It also created the FDIC[link to "FDIC" passage below]. The effect of the law was to give greater stability to the banking system.
FDIC: The Federal Deposit Insurance Commission backed all bank deposits up to $2500, meaning that most bank customers no longer had to worry that a bank failure would wipe out their life savings.
The agency continues to insure American deposits today.
Federal Securities Act: This act regulated the stock markets and preceded the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1934, which continues to regulate U.S. stock markets to this day.
Agricultural Adjustment Act: The AAA provided relief to farmers by paying them to reduce production; this also helped to reduce crop surpluses and increase prices for crops.
Civilian Conservation Corps: To reduce unemployment, put 250,000 young men to work in rural conservation projects, mostly in national parks and forests.
Tennessee Valley Authority: The TVA provided electrification and other basic improvements the impoverished interior of the South.
National Industrial Recovery Act: One of FDR's more controversial measures, it created new agencies and regulations that tightened the relationship between government and business. It was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1935.
Public Works Administration: Funded the construction of public works projects across the country, including schools, hospitals, airports, dams, and ports, as well as ships for the Navy and airports for the Army Air Corps.
Federal Emergency Relief Act: Provided direct relief, training and work for unemployed Americans. It was abolished in 1935 and its programs folded into other agencies.
The Emergency Banking Act (the official title of which was the Emergency Banking Relief Act), Public Law 1, 48 Stat. 1 (March 9, 1933), was an act passed by the United States Congress in March 1933 in an attempt to stabilize the banking system. Beginning on February 14, 1933, Michigan, an industrial state which had been hit particularly hard by the Great Depression in the United States, declared an eight-day bank holiday. Fears of other bank closures spread from state to state as people rushed to withdraw their deposits while they still could do so. Within weeks, thirty-six other states held their own bank holidays in an attempt to stem the bank runs. The banking system was on the verge of collapse. On March 4, Delaware became the 48th and last state to close its banks.  Following his inauguration on March 4, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt set out to rebuild confidence in the nation's banking system. On March 6 he declared a four-day banking holiday that kept all banks shut until Congress could act. A draft law prepared by the Treasury staff during Herbert Hoover's administration, was passed on March 9, 1933. The new law allowed the twelve Federal Reserve Banks to issue additional currency on good assets so that banks that reopened would be able to meet every legitimate call.
The Emergency Banking Act, an amendment to the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917, was introduced on March 9, 1933 to a joint session of Congress, and was passed the same evening amid an atmosphere of chaos and uncertainty as over 100 new Democratic members of Congress swept into power determined to take radical steps to address banking failures and other economic malaise. The EBA was one of President Roosevelt's first projects in the first 100 days of his presidency. The sense of urgency was such that the act was passed with only a single copy available on the floor of the House of Representatives and legislators voted on it after the bill was read aloud to them by Chairman of the House Banking Committee Henry Steagall. Copies were made available to senators as the bill was being proposed in the Senate, after it had passed in the House.
From March 1933 to June 1944, Roosevelt addressed the American people in some 30 speeches broadcast via radio, speaking on a variety of topics from banking to unemployment to fighting fascism in Europe. Millions of people found comfort and renewed confidence in these speeches, which became known as the "fireside chats."
Roosevelt was not actually sitting beside a fireplace when he delivered the speeches, but behind a microphone-covered desk in the White House. Reporter Harry Butcher of CBS coined the term "fireside chat" in a press release before one of Roosevelt's speeches on May 7, 1933. The name stuck, as it perfectly evoked the comforting intent behind Roosevelt's words, as well as their informal, conversational tone. Roosevelt took care to use the simplest possible language, concrete examples and analogies in the fireside chats, so as to be clearly understood by the largest number of Americans. He began many of the nighttime chats with the greeting "My friends," and referred to himself as "I" and the American people as "you" as if addressing his listeners directly and personally.
The election-night jubilation was tempered, however, by an inescapable fear—that the U.S. Supreme Court might undo Roosevelt's accomplishments. From the outset of his presidency, FDR had known that four of the justices—Pierce Butler, James McReynolds, George Sutherland and Willis Van Devanter—would vote to invalidate almost all of the New Deal. They were referred to in the press as "the Four Horsemen," after the allegorical figures of the Apocalypse associated with death and destruction. In the spring of 1935, a fifth justice, Hoover-appointee Owen Roberts—at 60 the youngest man on the Supreme Court—began casting his swing vote with them to create a conservative majority.
FDR's battle with the Supreme Court cost him more than he gained and therefore he "lost" the episode. It did indeed cost FDR greatly politically. It taught the conservative Republicans and the Segregationist Southern Senators that they could block his domestic program thereafter.
The Tipaldo ruling persuaded Roosevelt that he had to act, and act quickly, to curb the court. As he told the press, the court had created a " 'no-man's-land' where no Government— State or Federal—can function." He had been waiting patiently for popular dissatisfaction with the court to mount; now anger at the Tipaldo decision surged. That ruling, the historian Alpheus T. Mason later wrote, "convinced even the most reverent that five stubborn old men had planted themselves squarely in the path of progress." The president recognized, however, that he must tread carefully, for despite widespread disgruntlement, most Americans believed the Supreme Court sacrosanct. When, in 1935, FDR had criticized it for adopting a "horse-and-buggy definition of interstate commerce," editorial writers had lashed out at him. Thereafter, the president had said little, even as he quietly heeded the counsel of his attorney general, Homer Cummings, who told him, "Mr. President, they mean to destroy us. . . . We will have to find a way to get rid of the present membership of the Supreme Court." With Roosevelt's encouragement, Cummings sought to come up with a workable plan to ensure a more favorable response to the New Deal from the court. These explorations proceeded stealthily; the president never mentioned the court during his campaign for reelection.
Charles Edward Coughlin (October 25, 1891 - October 27, 1979), was a controversial Canadian-American Roman Catholic priest based in the United States near Detroit at Royal Oak, Michigan's National Shrine of the Little Flower church. Commonly known as Father Coughlin, he was one of the first political leaders to use radio to reach a mass audience, as up to thirty million listeners tuned to his weekly broadcasts during the 1930s. He was forced off the air in 1939.
Early in his radio career, Coughlin was a vocal supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal. By 1934 he had become a harsh critic of Roosevelt, accusing him of being too friendly to bankers. In 1934 he established a new political organization called the National Union for Social Justice. He issued a platform calling for monetary reforms, the nationalization of major industries and railroads, and protection of the rights of labor. The membership ran into the millions, but it was not well-organized at the local level.
After hinting at attacks on Jewish bankers, Coughlin began to use his radio program to issue antisemitic commentary, and in the late 1930s to support some of the policies of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. The broadcasts have been called "a variation of the Fascist agenda applied to American culture". His chief topics were political and economic rather than religious, with his slogan being "Social Justice", initially in support of, and later opposing, the New Deal. Many American bishops as well as the Vatican wanted him silenced, but after the outbreak of World War II in Europe in 1939 it was the Roosevelt administration that finally forced the cancellation of his radio program and forbade the dissemination through the mail of his newspaper, Social Justice.
Known as "Federal One" for short, Federal Project Number One was created in 1935 as a subdivision of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) that sought to extend the relief of the New Deal to artists, actors, writers, and musicians. Although the arts had never been high on FDR's list of priorities, he felt funding them would provide a double benefit. Not only would it put legions of unemployed artists back to work, but their creations would invariably entertain and enrich the larger population. If FDR was only lukewarm about Federal One, however, his wife more than made up for it with her enthusiasm. Eleanor Roosevelt felt strongly that American society had not done enough to support the arts, and she viewed Federal One as a powerful tool with which to infuse art and culture into the daily lives of Americans. ER lent her wholehearted support to the creation of the Federal One programs, lobbied FDR to sign the executive order creating them, praised the projects in her columns and speeches, and defended them against congressional critics. ER felt particularly attached to Federal One's Federal Theatre Project and she delighted in the artistic work that she saw being crafted with federal dollars.
Not surprisingly, Federal Project Number One was a popular target of the New Deal's reactionary opponents in Congress. Martin Dies, the cantankerous chairman of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, detested Number One with particular intensity and sought to use his power as chairman to expose Communist subversion within the organization. Along with his conservative allies in the House and Senate, Dies had successfully pressured the White House to scale back Number One by the late 1930s. The first program to go was ER's beloved Federal Theatre Project, which Congress dissolved in June 1939. This was quickly followed with budget cuts for the Federal Writer's Project, the Federal Music Project, and the Federal Art Project. By the end of 1942 these programs had virtually been legislated away and in June 1943 they officially ceased to exist with the WPA's dissolution.
Gerald A. Danzer, J. Jorge Klor de Alva, Larry S. Krieger, Louis E. Wilson, Nancy Woloch Alan Brinkley, Albert S. Broussard, Donald A. Ritchie, James M. McPherson, Joyce Appleby Deborah Gray White, Edward L. Ayers, Jesús F. de la Teja, Robert D. Schulzinger