Thursday, May 14, 2009

So Mr. President What Did You Do During Your Term In Office? (11)

Topic: The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Administration 1933-1945 Intro. (2)

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 exeeded that of Germany. A general disillussionment 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The run on banks became acute as nearly $1,000,000,000 were withdrawn during the two weeks preceding March 4, 1933.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 failures.

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.

To be continued: Excerpts From The First Inaugural Address by President Roosevelt.

Sources For Information: 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

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