The nation needed immediate relief, recovery from economic collapse, and reform to avoid future depressions, so relief, recovery and reform becameFranklin D. Roosevelt's goals when he took the helm as president. At his side stood a Democratic Congress, prepared to enact the measures carved out by a group of his closest advisors — dubbed the“Brain Trust” by reporters. One recurring theme in the recovery plan was Roosevelt’s pledge to help the “forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid.”
Birth of the “New Deal”
The term New Deal was coined during Franklin Roosevelt’s 1932 Democratic presidential nomination acceptance speech, when he said, "I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people." Roosevelt summarizedthe New Deal as a "use of the authority of government as an organized form of self-help for all classes and groups and sections of our country."
At his inauguration in March 1933, Roosevelt declared in his lilting style, "Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is, fear itself — needless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreatinto advance." In his first 99 days, he proposed, and Congress swiftly enacted, an ambitious "New Deal" to deliver relief to the unemployed and those in danger of losing farms and homes, recovery to agriculture and business, and reform, notably through the inception of the vast Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The New Deal effects would take time; some 13,000,000 people were out of work by March1933, and virtually every bank was shuttered.
The New Deal programs were born in Brain Trust meetings prior to Roosevelt’s inauguration, and also were a grateful nod to Theodore Roosevelt's "square deal" of 30 years earlier. Members of the group included Raymond Moley, an American journalist and public figure; Rexford Tugwell, Adolf Berle of Columbia University, attorney Basil O'Connor, and later,Felix Frankfurter of Harvard Law School. Many of Roosevelt's presidential campaign advisors continued to counsel him after he was elected, among them Berle, Moley, Tugwell, Harry Hopkins, and Samuel I. Rosenman; but they never met again as a group after his inauguration.
Opening the way for the New Deal, President Herbert Hoover was defeated by Franklin D. Roosevelt inthe Election of 1932. Hoover, who had been blamed for the stock market crash and the Depression, strongly opposed Roosevelt's New Deal legislation, in which the federal government assumed responsibility for the welfare of the nation by maintaining a high level of economic activity. According to Hoover, Roosevelt had been slow to reveal his New Deal programs during the presidential campaign and worried thatthe new president would sink the nation into deficit spending to pay for the New Deal. Roosevelt never consulted Hoover, nor did he involve him in government in any way during his presidential term.
The "Hundred Days"
The president called a special session of Congress on March 9. Immediately he began to submit reform and recovery measures for congressional validation. Virtually all the importantbills he proposed were enacted by Congress. The 99-day (March 9-June 16) session came to be known as the "Hundred Days."
On March 12, 1933, Roosevelt broadcast the first of 30 "fireside chats" over the radio to the American people. The opening topic was the Bank Crisis. Primarily, he spoke on a variety of topics to inform Americans and exhort them to support his domestic agenda, and later,the war effort. During Roosevelt's first year as president, Congress passed laws to protect stock and bond investors.
Among the measures enacted during the first Hundred Days were the following:
Emergency Banking Act (March 9), provided the president with the means to reopen viable banks and regulate banking;
Economy Act (March 20), cut federal costs through reorganization of and cuts in...