Jul 1, 1932
Franklin D. Roosevelt wins the Democratic Party's nomination for the presidency, prevailing on the fourth ballot at the Democratic Convention in Chicago. In a break with precedent, Roosevelt travels to Chicago to accept the nomination in person. "I pledge you, I pledge myself," Roosevelt declares, "to a new deal for the American people."
He didn't know he probably should have trademarked the term. Money for days.
Nov 8, 1932
Franklin D. Roosevelt defeats Herbert Hoover in a landslide to win the presidency. Hoover wins only six states as FDR steamrolls to victory with more than 57% of the popular vote and 89% of the electoral vote. If they were luchadores, FDR would have unmasked Hoover.
Mar 4, 1933
Franklin D. Roosevelt is inaugurated as President of the United States. In his inaugural address, Roosevelt famously declares that "the only thing to fear is fear itself." He later added, "and also spiders," but that usually gets left out.
Mar 9, 1933
Franklin D. Roosevelt calls Congress into special session, sending up as his first piece of proposed legislation a bill to stabilize the country's failing banking system. Congress passes the bill that very day. We mention this only to point out that Congress can, in theory, do things.
Mar 11, 1933
Congress passes Franklin D. Roosevelt's economy bill, slashing government spending by cutting $500 million in scheduled payments to veterans and federal employees. Kind of a jerk move there, Roosevelt.
Mar 12, 1933
Franklin D. Roosevelt conducts his first "Fireside Chat," going on the radio to communicate directly with the American people. Roosevelt reassures the country that its banks are now safe for business.
Mar 13, 1933
Franklin D. Roosevelt lifts the nationwide bank holiday he imposed one week earlier. Customers, buoyed by FDR's confidence in the banking system, deposit more money than they withdraw, ending the country's banking crisis.
Mar 22, 1933
At Franklin D. Roosevelt's request, Congress ends Prohibition, legalizing the sale of beer with an alcohol content of up to 3.2%. While a few old-line "dry" Senators attempt to filibuster the bill, House members invade the Senate chamber, chanting "Vote! Vote! We want beer!" Most historians agree that Journey's "Any Way You Want It" should have been playing.
Mar 31, 1933
Congress creates the Civilian Conservation Corps, which will put 250,000 young unemployed men to work in reforestation and development of the National Parks and Forests.
Apr 19, 1933
The United States goes off the gold standard, allowing inflationary forces to begin to lift the economy. Before this, all currency was backed with gold, having the unintended side effect of turning us all into old-timey prospectors.
May 12, 1933
Congress passes the Federal Emergency Relief Act, distributing hundreds of millions of dollars to the states for dispersal to the one-fourth of the national workforce unable to obtain jobs.
May 12, 1933
Franklin D. Roosevelt signs into law the Agricultural Adjustment Act, which seeks to help out farmers by reducing farm output and raising prices.
May 18, 1933
Congress creates the Tennessee Valley Authority to build dams and provide cheap public power, irrigation, and fertilizer while promoting economic development in the impoverished Tennessee River Valley.
May 27, 1933
Congress passes the Federal Securities Act, for the first time committing the federal government to the regulation of Wall Street.
Jun 16, 1933
Congress passes the National Industrial Recovery Act, the signature piece of legislation of the First New Deal, which Roosevelt hopes will lift the industrial economy out of Depression. The Act itself was pretty nervous about it, too.
Jun 16, 1933
Congress passes the Banking Act of 1933, which establishes the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which virtually ends bank failures in America. You know, for the moment.
Jun 16, 1933
The Hundred Days Congress adjourns from its special session, having passed all 15 bills requested by President Roosevelt. They probably did that relieved control room clapping scene you see in disaster movies.
Dec 5, 1933
The 21st Amendment takes full effect, ending Prohibition not only on beer and wine—legalized in March—but also on hard liquor. This means that one Amendment of the Constitution (the 18th) was now completely repealed by another.
Jun 19, 1934
The National Labor Relations Board is created to hear cases arising from the labor guarantees included in the National Industrial Recovery Act.
Jun 28, 1934
Congress creates the Federal Housing Administration to insure loans for construction and repairs of homes.
Apr 8, 1935
Congress passes the Emergency Relief Appropriations Act, which allocates $5 billion for work relief projects administered through the new Works Progress Administration, which will ultimately employ more than eight million Americans. That's $5 billion in 1935 dollars, which today has to be like...20...500...okay, a lot of money.
May 11, 1935
Franklin D. Roosevelt establishes the Rural Electrification Administration to extend power to the vast majority of American farms that still lack electricity. Strange that they waited until now.
May 27, 1935
In Schechter v. United States, the Supreme Court rules that the National Industrial Recovery Act—the centerpiece of the First New Deal—is unconstitutional. Roosevelt curses, presumably the Supreme Court "and their little dog, too."
Jul 5, 1935
Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Wagner National Labor Relations Act, which re-establishes the right to collective bargaining that had been thrown out by the Supreme Court along with the rest of the NRA in the Shechter decision. If at first you don't succeed...
Aug 14, 1935
Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act, the signature piece of legislation of the entire New Deal era, which permanently changes the relationship between the American people, their government, and the free market. You might have heard of this one.
Aug 30, 1935
Congress passes Franklin D. Roosevelt's "wealth tax," a largely symbolic measure that raises the top tax rate to 79%. Still, more than 95% of American families pay no income tax at all. This was alternatively known as the "Eat It, Rockefeller" Act.
Jan 6, 1936
In United States v. Butler, the Supreme Court rules that the Agricultural Adjustment Act is unconstitutional. They also ruled that the butler did, in fact, do it.
Nov 3, 1936
Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected to a second term as president, winning in a landslide over Republican Alf Landon. Roosevelt wins every state but Maine and Vermont. Landon returns to his home planet.
Jan 20, 1937
Franklin D. Roosevelt is inaugurated into his second term in the White House, promising further reform to improve conditions for "one third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished."
Feb 5, 1937
Frustrated with the Supreme Court's rejection of much of his program, Franklin D. Roosevelt proposes new legislation allowing him to expand the court to 15 members, which would allow him to install as many as six friendly justices to overrule the existing conservative majority. It didn't go well.
Mar 27, 1937
In West Coast Hotel v. Parrish, the Supreme Court upholds a Washington state minimum-wage law. Conservative justice Owen Roberts, who previously sided with the anti-New Deal bloc on the court, votes with the majority, creating a new pro-New Deal majority and ensuring that government interventions into the economy will no longer be overturned as unconstitutional. This was known as the "switch in time that saved nine."
Apr 12, 1937
The Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of the National Labor Relations Act.
May 24, 1937
The Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of the Social Security Act.