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.
Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States – Prequel B
Directed by Oliver Stone
Prequel B starts with the period of social repression that followed the return of GIs from World War I. US leaders were extremely concerned they would spread the oral sex techniques they had learned from French women. Alcohol prohibition, a crackdown on prostitution, rampant antisemitism (even Harvard restricted Jewish admissions) and anti-immigrant sentiment, and the eugenics movement (accompanied by forced sterilization of convicts, the “feeble minded” and promiscuous women) were all typical of this intense repression.
During the same period, Wall Street banks greatly reduced their investment in agriculture and manufacture, preferring the easier profits to be had from cheap credit and speculation. In 1929, a disastrous decision by central banks to increase interest rates triggered a deadly global depression, setting the stage for the rise of fascism in Europe.
Back in the US, Generals MacArthur, Eisenhower and Patton charged 40,000 World War I veterans and their families with infantry and tanks and burned their tents. The latter, calling themselves the Bonus Army, were demanding immediate payment of the bonus they had been promised for serving in World War I.
Stone describes the 1930s as a radical period of social experimentation, in part due to Roosevelt’s sweeping New Deal social reforms (including Social Security, unemployment insurance, agricultural subsidies, aid to dependent children and Federal paid work schemes), and in part due to aggressive industrial unionization and intense interest on the part of American intellectuals in Russia’s experiment with communism. Hundreds of thousands of Americans would join the Communist Party, while numerous prominent writers (including Ernest Hemingway, Langston Hughes, Sinclair Lewis, Richard Wright, Clifford Odets, and Sherwood Anderson) were communist sympathizers.
During the same period, the America’s wealthy elites were more inclined to support Hitler. Key individuals who helped finance the Third Reich include Henry Ford, Prescott Bush, William Randolph Hearst, the Morgan brothers, Allen Dulles (first CIA director) and John Foster Dulles (Secretary of State under Eisenhower). The key US banks involved were Bank of International Settlements, Chase Manhattan, JP Morgan and United Banking Corporation (Brown Brothers Harriman). Specific US companies that provided Hitler with armaments, military vehicles, aircraft, oil and other material support include Kodak, ITT, Dupont, Westinghouse, Standard Oil, Singer, GE, Pratt and Whitney, United Fruit, Singer, Douglas Aircraft and International Harvester.
In 1933, some of these same industrialists would also try to instigate a coup – foiled by General Smedley Butler – to remove Roosevelt from office.
Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States – Prequel A
Directed by Oliver Stone (2014)
Owing to the series’ great success, Oliver Stone has produced two prequels to his Untold History of the United States. The first traces the origins of America’s present empire-building spree at the end of the 19th Century.
Stone credits Lincoln’s Secretary of State William Seward (1861-69) for the launch of America’s imperialist ambitions. Following the US conquest of half of Mexico in 1848, Seward sought to expand US empire even further by conquering Alaska, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Canada, Columbia, the Virgin Islands, Hawaii and Midway.The US would eventually succeed in annexing all of these territories, except for Canada, Haiti and the Dominican Republic – although they only formally possessed the northern section of Columbia, which they renamed Panama.
Then, as now, the US undertook these military adventures at the behest of Rockefeller, JP Morgan, William Randolph Hearst and other Wall Street robber barons. After the severe depression of 1893 (which caused 20% unemployment), they were convinced the only way to prevent further economic instability was to conquer foreign countries for their resources, cheap labor and markets for surplus US products.
During this period, US troops also invaded Cuba, the Philippines, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua and China for the benefit of Standard Oil, United Fruit and other US corporations. Stone quotes extensively from General Smedley Butler’s War is a Racket. Butler participated in nearly all of these invasions.
Stone goes on to trace the British, French, US and czarist designs on Middle Eastern oil that were the true basis for World War I and the invasion of Russia by British, French, US and Japanese troops following the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. I was unaware the US refused to recognize the Soviet Union until 1933, when Roosevelt took office.
My favorite parts of this film concern the brave rebels who opposed this US imperialist aggression despite a brutal federal crackdown on all protest activity: Mark Twain and other in the Anti-Imperialist League, Eugene Debs, Bill Haywood and International Workers of the World, Emma Goldman and Mother Jones (Mary Harris Jones).
The purpose of war, according to this brief documentary by radio host Michael Rivero, is to force central banks on countries that try to issue their own money.He makes a compelling argument, illustrated by numerous historical examples. The film’s main value, in my view, is in dispelling common misconceptions about where money comes from. Contrary to popular belief, western democracies don’t issue the money they use to run government services. They borrow the money at interest from privately owned central banks. In the US, this private central bank is called the Federal Reserve.
The American Revolution
Rivero begins by quoting Benjamin Franklin, who saw George III’s Currency Act as the main trigger for the American Revolution. The Currency Act prohibited colonists from using colony-issued currency. Instead they were required to use English bank notes. The latter were borrowed at interest from the England’s private central bank, the Bank of England. This interest payment amounted to a de facto tax on each and every financial transaction.
After the Revolution, the new American government returned to issuing its own currency. This ended in 1791, when Alexander Hamilton persuaded Congress to appoint a private central bank to finance government services. The First Bank of the United States was funded (at interest) by the Bank of England, which was controlled by Nathan Mayer Rothschild.
The War of 1812
Plagued by inefficiency and corruption, the First Bank of the United States was so unpopular that Congress ignored Rothschild’s threats and refused to renew its charter in 1811. Rothschild, whose control over British money enabled him to control both the economy and Parliament, had warned that Britain would declare war to re-colonize the US unless Congress renewed the charter. Although the US won the War of 1812, they were forced to charter the Second Bank of the United State in 1816 to repay their massive war debt. American’s second central bank lasted until 1832, when voters returned Andrew Jackson to a second term based on a campaign promise to shut it down.
The Civil War
From 1832-1862, the so-called “free banking era,” all banks were state charted. In 1862 Lincoln created a national system of banks to fund the federal government and issue currency. When he authorized the US Treasury to issue $150 million in interest-free “greenbacks,” the London Times called for the destruction of the US because of the major threat this posed to the global economy (i.e. international bankers). To punish Lincoln, England and (and France) would provide financial and material support to the southern Confederacy.
Government-issued currency ended for good in when the Wall Street banks conspired with Woodrow Wilson to create a permanent (private) central bank. The Federal Reserve Act was written in secret by the US banking establishment and rammed through Congress during the 1913 Christmas recess.
World War I and II
According to Rivero, World War I was also a banker’s war, intended to punish Germany for the strict limitations it imposed on its central bank. At the end of World War I, the Treaty of Versailles forced Germany to repay all the war debts of the other European countries, even though Germany hadn’t started the war.
Crushed by this war debt, the only way Hitler could salvage the German economy was to abolish Germany’s central bank and return to interest-free government-issued currency. This move, which infuriated international bankers, resulted in rapid Germany re-industrialization when the rest of the developed world was mired in deep economic depression. It was lauded internationally as the “German miracle.”
Meanwhile in 1933, American bankers and industrialists plotted a “Bankers’ Putsch,” an attempted military coup against Roosevelt. Their goal was to install corporate fascism in the US, along the lines of Mussolini’s government in Italy. General Smedley Butler, the war hero they enlisted to lead the coup, foiled it by exposing it to the House McCormick-Dirkson Committee. The largely pro-business committee instituted a cover-up, until journalist John Spivac uncovered their secret report in 1967.
In 1946, following World War II, forty-four nations signed an agreement at Breton Woods New Hampshire for the US dollar to replace the British pound as the world’s reserve currency. This was done with two stipulations: 1) that the US dollar would be redeemable for gold at a price of $35 an ounce and 2) that the Federal Reserve wouldn’t issue more dollars than they could redeem in gold.
Because the Federal Reserve is a private banking network, the federal government has no control whatsoever over the quantity of US dollars they issue. In 1971, it became obvious that the Fed was issuing far more dollars than it could redeem (the vast majority of money the Fed creates is electronic money – only about 3% is in notes and coins*). When France asked to redeem its dollar reserves for gold, Nixon unilaterally suspended the gold standard agreed at Breton Woods.
The Birth of the Petrodollar
At this point the US dollar became a “fiat” currency, theoretically back by nothing. In reality, it was backed by oil, through a complex agreement whereby the US agreed to “defend” countries (i.e. not destabilize or declare war on them) if they committed to buying and selling oil in dollars, aka “petrodollars.”
According to Rivero, the US invasion against a long list of Muslim countries is an indirect result of this agreement. Islam prohibits lending money at interest. As Rivero points out, none of seven Muslim countries retired General Wesley Clark has identified as targets for US military aggression (Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Lebanon) had private central banks prior to US invasion and occupation.**
Apart from several minorhistorical inaccuracies (eg the purpose of Executive Order 11110 that John Kennedy signed in 1961 and Nixon’s alleged pledge of the National Park system as security on US debt), the film serves as an excellent introduction to the hidden role played by private banks in issuing and controlling the global money supply.
*See 97% owned
**Retired General Wesley Clark first revealed the existence of this campaign to conquer the Middle East and North Africa during a Democracy Now interview in 2007.