FDR and the New Deal: 10 New Federal Agencies in First 100 Days

The Great Depression: Part 3 New Deal New York

PBS (2013)

Film Review

Part 3 is mainly about the collaboration between New York City mayor Fiorello La Guardia and Roosevelt to end joblessness, hunger and starvation in Depression-era New York.

One of the first things FDR did following his 1933 inauguration was to close banks for four days (to end the bank runs responsible for an epidemic of bank failures) and pass a $2 billion emergency banking bill to pay off depositors who lost savings due to bank failures.

He also created 10 new agencies during his first 100 days to address the economic crisis caused by the Great Depression. The first three were the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) which used federal money to put 250,000 jobless Americans to work restoring the national forests; the Federal Emergency Relief (FER) agency, which provided direct financial relief to the unemployed and their families; and the National Recovery Administration (NRA), which set profit and wage limits for businesses.

During the winter of 1933-34, FDR and La Guardia worked together to establish the Public Works Administration, a temporary jobs program that employed 1.5 million jobless Americans in infrastructure projects (building roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, etc). One-fifth of these new jobs went to New York, America’s largest city. Under the leadership of Reverend Adam Clayton Powell, New York’s black community organized to protest overt discrimination against black workers, especially by white-owned businesses in Harlem.

In 1935, the NRA, which was very unpopular with the business community was overturned by the Supreme Court and replaced with the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The latter banned racial discrimination, as well as creating numerous jobs for writers, actors and artists, as well as infrastructure projects.

One-seventh of WPA funding went to New York City.

This episode neglects to mention the attempted 1933 Wall Street-initiated coup against Roosevelt foiled by General Smedley Butler.


6 thoughts on “FDR and the New Deal: 10 New Federal Agencies in First 100 Days

  1. I enjoyed the history lesson, President Roosevelt said signing a bill with a quill pen, not even a fountain pen let alone a ball point pen, then drying the signature with a blotter. No mob hanging around to get one of twenty or so pens used for his signature to be able to say, “This is the pen used to sign the Save the Universe Bill!” No, it is one of very many pens signing a bill that will save nothing. In fact, if we are lucky, that billi will bring us as little harm as possible. And there were people smoking pipes. And great jazz music of the time, including Billie Holiday. By the way, there are still people against the NRA, just not the same people. Discrimination in employment. And public works projects. Corruption. Edward Gibbon wrote, “History is little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind.” And the redeeming, “We improve ourselves by victories over ourselves. There must be contest, and we must win.” Will we win this time? Some don’t want us to. Sorry I can’t reblog this, my WordPress site has been taken down. Who is next?


  2. I also really enjoyed the doco. The stuff about LaGuardia was totally new to me. I think we should initiate some complaints to WordPress about them shutting you down. Did they give you a reason? Also tell me again what your blog was called.


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