Category Archives: FDR


Delivered October 22, 1933

listen_to_radio_10It is three months since I have talked with the people of this country about our national problems; but during this period many things have happened, and I am glad to say that the major part of them have greatly helped the well-being of the average citizens. Because, in every step which your Government is taking we are thinking in terms of the average of you — in the old words, “the greatest good to the greatest number” — we, as reasonable people, cannot expect to bring definite benefits to every person or to every occupation or business, or industry or agriculture. In the same way, no reasonable person can expect that in this short space of time, during which new machinery had to be not only put to work, but first set up, that every locality in every one of the 48 states of the country could share equally and simultaneously in the trend to better times.

The whole picture, however — the average of the whole territory from coast to coast — the average of the whole population of 120,000,000 people — shows to any person willing to look, facts and action of which you and I can be proud.

In the early spring of this year there were actually and proportionately more people out of work in this country than in any other nation in the world. Fair estimates showed 12 or 13 millions unemployed last March. Among those there were, of course, several millions who could be classed as normally unemployed — people who worked occasionally when they felt like it, and others who preferred not to work at all. It seems, therefore, fair to say that there were about 10 millions of our citizens who earnestly, and in many cases hungrily, were seeking work and could not get it. Of these, in the short space of a few months, I am convinced that at least 4 millions have been given employment — or, saying it another way, 40% of those seeking work have found it.

That does not mean, my friends, that I am satisfied, or that you are satisfied that our work is ended. We have a long way to go but we are on the way.


Revisiting The Election of 1936

By Richard Walker, Director of the Living New Deal, published February 12, 2014

Harvey Smith recently dug up a copy of the Democratic Party platform from the campaign of the 1936, the guideline for Franklin Roosevelt’s record-breaking run for re-election. It is an eye-opener to consider the what FDR’s team hoped to accomplish and the pledges to serve the greater good of the nation by the New Deal team. We can only wish that such visionaries were at the helm of the Democratic Party today!



Continue reading Revisiting The Election of 1936

FDR in 1933: “There Must Be a Strict Supervision of All Banking and Credits and Investments. There Must Be an End to Speculation with Other People’s Money.”

Adam Cohen on Nothing to Fear, September 29, 2008, Democracy Now!

Note: segment starts at 34 minutes


We now move three-quarters of a century back in time to 1933. It was the middle of an era that our current moment is sometimes compared to: the Great Depression. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt took his oath of office in March of that year, over 10,000 banks had collapsed, following the stock market crash of 1929. One-quarter of American workers were unemployed, and people were fighting over scraps of food. We play an excerpt of FDR’s inaugural speech on March 4, 1933, and speak to Adam Cohen, author of the forthcoming book, Nothing to Fear: FDR’s Inner Circle and the Hundred Days that Created Modern America. 

JUAN GONZALEZ: We now move three-quarters of a century back in time to 1933. It was the middle of an era that our current moment is sometimes compared to: the Great Depression. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt took his oath of office in March of that year, over 10,000 banks had collapsed, following the stock market crash of 1929. One-quarter of American workers were unemployed, and people were fighting over scraps of food.

This is an excerpt of FDR’s inaugural speech on March 4, 1933.

PRESIDENT FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT: First of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror, which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. […]

We face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things. […] The withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side. Farmers find no markets for their produce. And the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone. More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment. […]

Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men. […]

Yes, the money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. […]

This nation is asking for action, and action now. […]

There must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments. There must be an end to speculation with other people’s money. And there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.

These, my friends, are the lines of attack. I shall presently urge upon a new Congress in special session detailed measures for their fulfillment, and I shall seek the immediate assistance of the forty-eight states.

Continue reading FDR in 1933: “There Must Be a Strict Supervision of All Banking and Credits and Investments. There Must Be an End to Speculation with Other People’s Money.”


Delivered Monday, July 24, 1933, 9:30 PM

The Fireside Chat” a sculpture by George Segal at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington D.C. FDR used radio talks to speak directly to the American public.

After the adjournment of the historical special session of the Congress five weeks ago I purposely refrained from addressing you for two very good reasons.

First, I think that we all wanted the opportunity of a little quiet thought to examine and assimilate in a mental picture the crowding events of the hundred days which had been devoted to the starting of the wheels of the New Deal.

Secondly, I wanted a few weeks in which to set up the new administrative organization and to see the first fruits of our careful planning.

I think it will interest you if I set forth the fundamentals of this planning for national recovery; and this I am very certain will make it abundantly clear to you that all of the proposals and all of the legislation since the fourth day of March have not been just a collection of haphazard schemes but rather the orderly component parts of a connected and logical whole.

Long before Inauguration Day I became convinced that individual effort and local effort and even disjointed Federal effort had failed and of necessity would fail and, therefore, that a rounded leadership by the Federal Government had become a necessity both of theory and of fact. Such leadership, however, had its beginning in preserving and strengthening the credit of the United States Government, because without that no leadership was a possibility. For years the Government had not lived within its income. The immediate task was to bring our regular expenses within our revenues. That has been done. It may seem inconsistent for a government to cut down its regular expenses and at the same time to borrow and to spend billions for an emergency. But it is not inconsistent because a large portion of the emergency money has been paid out in the form of sound loans which will be repaid to the Treasury over a period of years; and to cover the rest of the emergency money we have imposed taxes to pay the interest and the installments on that part of the debt.


FDR Fireside Chat #2 – Outlining the New Deal Program

Delivered Sunday May 7. 1933

History_Speeches_1145_FDR_Banking_Crisis_still_624x352On a Sunday night a week after my Inauguration I used the radio to tell you about the banking crisis and the measures we were taking to meet it. I think that in that way I made clear to the country various facts that might otherwise have been misunderstood and in general provided a means of understanding which did much to restore confidence.

Tonight, eight weeks later, I come for the second time to give you my report — in the same spirit and by the same means to tell you about what we have been doing and what we are planning to do.

Two months ago we were facing serious problems. The country was dying by inches. It was dying because trade and commerce had declined to dangerously low levels; prices for basic commodities were such as to destroy the value of the assets of national institutions such as banks, savings banks, insurance companies, and others. These institutions, because of their great needs, were foreclosing mortgages, calling loans, refusing credit. Thus there was actually in process of destruction the property of millions of people who had borrowed money on that property in terms of dollars which had had an entirely different value from the level of March, 1933. That situation in that crisis did not call for any complicated consideration of economic panaceas or fancy plans. We were faced by a condition and not a theory.

Continue reading FDR Fireside Chat #2 – Outlining the New Deal Program


by Michael Blim, 3 Quarks Daily website, published July 26, 2010

6a00d8341c562c53ef013485b30886970c-800wiA bag of books for two bucks, said the sign. Deflation has hit the little Connecticut country library used book sales I haunt each summer. Imagine what you can stuff into a big supermarket paper bag, and then cross-rough it with a run of terrific books – a book of Giotto’s frescoes, Graham Greene’s The Comedians, three P.D. James mysteries, George F. Kennan’s Russia and the West under Lenin and Stalin, a compilation of comic art propaganda that includes a study and pictures of Hansi: the Girl Who Loved the Swastika (the protagonist escapes Nazism by becoming a bride for Christ). All of these and A Guide to Thomas Aquinas.

All of these books bid for my affections, hoping for a quick conquest of my summer reading plans. Having laid hands on Robert Sherwood’s Hopkins and Roosevelt (1948) my fate was sealed. And fortunately for me, having spent as 3QD readers know the past two summers on first Hitler and then Stalin thanks to my library sales book buys.

What a delight to read the history of heroes once more. Sherwood tells the story of how Roosevelt and Hopkins, FDR’s alter ego insofar as he ever had one, battled the Great Depression and World War II together, with Hopkins the iron fist in Roosevelt’s velvet glove. The story is told with admiration and a beguiling humility. Though a successful playwright and a speechwriting White House denizen from 1940 onward, Sherwood never lost his awe of the two men, sharing intimate space and time with two persons who never shared their intimate thoughts with anyone.



New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt

97 ([New York State Takes the Lead in the Relief of the Unemployed. A Message Recommending Creation of Relief Administration.

August 28,1931

To the Legislature (in Extraordinary Session):

What is the State? It is the duly constituted representative of an organized society of human beings, created by them for their mutual protection and well-belng. “The State“ or “The Government” is but the machinery through which such mutual aid and protection are achieved. The cave man fought for existence unaided or even opposed by his fellow man, but today the humblest citizen of our State stands protected by all the power and strength of his Government. Our Government is not the master but the creature of the people. The duty of the State toward the citizens is the duty of the servant to the master. The people have created it; the people, by common consent, permit its continual existence.

One of these duties of the State is that of caring for those of its citizens who find themselves the victims of such adverse circumstances as makes them unable to obtain even the necessities for mere existence without the aid of others. That responsibility is recognized by every civilized Nation.

For example, from the earliest days of our own country the consciousness of the proper relationship between the State and the citizen resulted in the establishment of those often crude and unscientific but wholly necessary institutions known as the county poor houses.

Continue reading FDR: WHAT IS THE STATE?


From Fine Books & Collections:
Two Views of the Stimulus Package that Launched FDR’s New Deal,

by Steven Raab and F. S. Naiden

Desperate Times (Part 1)
By Steven Raab

FDR assessed the crisis in ways
that are relevant for us today.

Plummeting stock prices, rising unemployment, jobs insecure, bank failures, real estate foreclosures: Sound familiar? The year is 1930. That was when Americans began to feel the effects of the economic downturn that began with the Stock Market Crash the previous October, and when a panic mainly limited to investors deepened into the Great Depression.

The realization that this downturn would be long and catastrophic left people stunned and demoralized. Towns of homeless people sprung up, while men who’d held high-paying jobs took to the streets in their once-expensive but now frayed clothing to sell apples and pencils. The Hoover administration took the position that it was not the place of government to intervene. It stood by and did little, which is why the shantytowns were called Hoovervilles.

Through 1930 and into 1931, the problem of unemployment in New York state grew increasingly critical, and it was obvious that neither local funding nor privately supported agencies could handle the crisis. As the leading industrial state, New York had an especial need to maintain and develop the wage-earner market. With the support of both labor and business, Frances Perkins, the state industrial commissioner, told Governor Roosevelt that public works projects were “the greatest source of hope for the future,” and she recommended the immediate implementation of local public works programs along with public employment clearinghouses. He set up an emergency employment committee to review options but was soon convinced that more drastic measures were necessary than the committee proposed.



“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