“This nation asks for action, and action now.”
-Franklin Roosevelt, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933

March 9—June 16, 1933

March 9  Emergency Banking Act
March 20  Government Economy Act
April 19  Abandonment of the Gold Standard
May 27  Securities Act
June 5  Abrogation of Gold Payment Clause
June 13  Home Owners Loan Act
June 16  Glass-Steagall Banking Act

March 31 Creation of Civilian Conservation Corps
May 12 Federal Emergency Relief Act
June 16 National Industrial Recovery Act
June 16 Emergency Railroad Transportation Act

May 12  Agricultural Adjustment Act
May 12  Emergency Farm Mortgage Act
May 18  Tennessee Valley Authority Act
June 16  Farm Credit Act

March 22  Beer-Wine Revenue Act


Jobs and Relief

FDR Jobs 2
FDR poses with Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) workers at a Virginia CCC camp, August 12, 1933. With him are (l-r): Army General Paul Malone, presidential aide Louis Howe, Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, CCC Director Robert Fechner, Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace, and Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Rexford Tugwell.

When FDR took office the unemployment rate was 25 percent. Millions of Americans were barely surviving on dwindling aid provided by overwhelmed charities and state and local governments.

Roosevelt moved immediately to put people back to work. His goal was to provide swift assistance to jobless Americans, increasing their purchasing power so they could buy more goods and services and help boost the nation’s economy.

He launched the largest public works program in American history and directed billions of federal dollars to fund relief for the unemployed. The Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) provided states and cities with billions of dollars to finance local work projects. From 1933-1935 it completed over 235,000 projects. At its peak, it employed almost 2.5 million people. The Public Works Administration (PWA) put additional people to work building highways, dams, and other infrastructure.  The PWA accounted for one-third of all construction in America in 1933. From 1933-1939, it funded over 34,000 projects, including the Grand Coulee Dam, the Triborough Bridge, and the Lincoln Tunnel.

FDR Jobs 1
Top Row: Sisters in Schenectady, New York promote the NRA./ The CCC only enlisted young men, but Eleanor Roosevelt helped create a similar program for unemployed young women. One of the program’s camps was located at Bear Mountain, New York./ TVA employee. Middle Row: Employees at a FERA-funded work program for seamstresses in Massachusetts./ The NRA’s code poster featured the agency’s distinctive blue eagle logo./ TVA worker./ A CCC work crew clears land as part of a soil conservation project. Bottom Row: FERA-funded construction project in Johnstown, Pennsylvania./A group of women form the NRA eagle symbol during a rally in New York./ A teacher instructs a class of CCC enrollees in tractor repair.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) put unemployed young men aged 17-24 to work on conservation projects around the nation. Within three months, the Corps enlisted nearly 250,000 young men. Eventually, the CCC would employ nearly three million. They planted over two billion trees, fought forest fires and floods, built trails, campgrounds, and reservoirs, and aided with soil conservation programs.

FDR also committed the government to an unprecedented effort to regulate prices and wages and improve business and labor conditions. The National Industrial Recovery Administration (NRA) sought to end cut-throat competition brought on by the Depression that was reducing wages and prices to disastrous levels. It encouraged businesses in hundreds of industries to create codes of “fair competition.” The codes set maximum hours and minimum wages, guaranteed union rights, and prohibited child labor. Companies adopting the codes were exempt from anti-trust laws.

FDR 100 daysDespite FDR’s hopes, the NRA proved ineffective. Its codes were unwieldy, often favored larger businesses, and encouraged monopolistic practices that hindered economic recovery. It was declared unconstitutional in 1935.  Still, during 1933 its energy gave Americans a much-needed psychological lift.



Action and Action Now: FDR’s First 100 Days