So Mr. President, What Did You Do During Your
Term In Office? 1933
Introduction: The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Administration 1933-1945
Franklin D. Roosevelt, was the first President to serve more than two terms and
the first to be inaugurated January 20. The only son of a railroad executive
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882. Most of his early
education was from governesses and tutors and every year he went to Europe with
his parents. The similarity between Mr. Roosevelt and his fifth cousin Theodore
Roosevelt was that they both were of considerable wealth, both went to Harvard ,
both began their political careers in New York and most of all both became
president. As reformers and leaders of social and economic revolutions (T.R.'s
"Square Deal" and F.D.R.'s "New Deal") they were both detested and adored.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was president during the greatest depression and the
greatest war in the history of the world, and he defeated them both. Just before
paralysis struck him in August, 1921, the thirty-nine-year-old Roosevelt stood
six feet, two inches, weighed about 175 pounds and was in vibrant health. After
a day of vigorous exertion, followed by a swim in the icy waters of the Bay of
Fundy, Roosevelt went to bed with a chill. The next morning he had a high
temperature and complained of acute pain in the legs. In a few days they were
paralyzed. He never again stood unaided.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was fifty- one when he took the oath of office, a year
younger than Lincoln when he was inaugurated. Just like Lincoln he faced a grave
national crisis and immediately went into action. "Action and action now" was
F.D.R.'s inaugural promise, and action was what the country got. Roosevelt's
smile, soothing voice and supreme self-confidence drove some men to fury, while
others found it irresistible was able to encourage a fear-ridden nation to
overcome the "Great Depression" and assemble the mightiest military the world
had ever seen to free the enslaved people of three continents..
He was the first president to leave the country during a war, Roosevelt
conferred with Churchill at Casablanca, Morocco, in January, 1943 to plan
military strategy following the North African invasion of the previous fall. At
Teheran, Iran, F.D.R., Churchill and Stalin met together (for the first time) to
discuss the invasion of Western Europe.
During the first 100 days as President, Roosevelt 's first duty was to restore
confidence to the stricken nation and get it back on its feet. He stressed
throughout his messages the element of "Hope", inflating the deflated spirits of
the American people, like a child blowing up a balloon. The American people,
clinging to the words of his inaugural address and first fireside chat soon
afterwards, felt he was their leader, their friend and that he would pull them
through this horrendous crisis and save them from any further catastrophe no
matter what. In doing this , a sigh of relief could be heard across the entire
nation. It is said that Roosevelt always strove to work with Congress. President
Roosevelt did more during his first 100 days to alter the basic structure of the
nation's economic life than anybody else had done in 100 years.
"Happy Days Are Here Again," was his favorite campaign song., and through his
term in office the people of the United States elected him president four times
a greater honor and trust than ever given another man.
As president he believed that the role of any president was "to preserve under
the changing conditions of each generation, a people's government for the
Americans who had counted on the wisdom of its dynamic businessmen were shaken
by Senate revelations that too many bankers and industrialists had shown neither
wisdom nor integrity in the speculative role they played in the events leading
up to the great crash of 1929. The Panic of 1929 and the ensuing depression were
the most terrible the nation had ever suffered.
"The stock market crash on October 23, 1929 wiped out an average of more than a
billion dollars worth of paper values a day. A staggering total of 15 million
were unemployed, and those who continued to work did so under greatly reduced
wage scales." The flow of capital into productive enterprise slowed down to a
trickle. The country was suffering from under consumption not overproduction.
Banks were weighted down with government bonds, real estate mortgages based on
greatly appreciated valuations, and highly speculative securities. Our mass
unemployment in proportion to population almost doubled that of Britain and even
exceeded that of Germany. A general disillusionment across the entire nation was
obvious as more and more breadlines, vagrants living in Hoovervilles, and
marches of unemployed men with defiant banners contributed to the economic
situation. Beginning in the United States, the Great Depression spread to most
of the world's industrial countries, bringing foreign-trade to a standstill.
There was a rapid decline in production and sales of goods.
The run on banks became acute as nearly $1,000,000,000 were withdrawn during the
two weeks preceding March 4, 1933.
Extremely low prices bankrupted hundreds of thousands of farmers and threatened
thousands more with the foreclosure of their farms. The small farmer, the
tenant, the sharecropper, and the farm hand were caught in the unyielding vise
of an increasing technological revolution. Mechanization and scientific
agriculture drove many families off the farm. Farm debtors and sharecroppers
were evicted by the thousands. Malnutrition is evident in every part of the
country and even starvation appears. Thousands of banks were bankrupt and those
that were still operating were closed by state governors to head off further
Faced with these conditions of the nation being in the worst desperate economic
plight ever before seen, President Roosevelt takes office on March 4, 1933.
During his first "100 days" with the cooperation of Congress, Roosevelt puts
into effect 15 major pieces of legislation in his determination to remedy the
nation's many problems. With his famous fireside chats, he tries and often
succeeds in restoring confidence and lifting the nation's morale.
So Mr. President, What Did You Do During Your Term In Office? 1932
BIBLIOGRAPHY: The above information is compiled from my collection of books: The
American Presidents by David C. Whitney; Reader's Digest Association, Inc.
(1996), The New York Public Library American History Desk Reference; A Stonesong
Press Book (1997) The Memoirs of Herbert Hoover, Macmillan Company (1952); The
Bicentennial Almanac Edited by Calvin D. Linton, Ph.D. Publishers, Thomas Nelson
Inc. (1975) The Presidents of the United States Vol 2, A.S. Barnes & Co. (1973)
: Roosevelt in Retrospect, A Profile in History by John Gunther; Harper &
Brothers, Publishers, (1950): Society and Thought in America: Volume II by
Harvey Wish, Publishers: David McKay Company, Inc.1952