“This nation asks for action, and action now.”
-Franklin Roosevelt, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933
100 DAYS OF ACTION
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
JOBS AND RELIEF
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
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.
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.
Despite 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.