SUBSEQUENT TO HIS inauguration ceremony and parade, President Roosevelt chose to forego the traditional celebratory balls and begin work directly, an indication of the severity of the national economic crisis.
Originally, Roosevelt had planned to pass the banking legislation and allow Congress to adjourn. But after observing the speed and ease with which the legislature acquiesced, the president decided to seize on the momentum provided by the banking victory and use it to drive through the next parts of his New Deal. After being approached by several cabinet members regarding agriculture and the government economy, Roosevelt decided to address farming and government spending and attack prohibition. And so the Hundred Days began.
For Roosevelt, the obvious place to start was agriculture. He insisted that a farm bill was an immediate necessity in order to "restore vitality to the demoralized farmers, without whose purchasing power industrial surpluses could never be reduced." (Biles, 36) Roosevelt sent Congress the farm relief bill on March 16, beginning his second week in office.
Next, delivering on a promise made in his nomination acceptance speech, FDR sought to pay the unemployed to work on conservation projects, establishing the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which provided work for 250,000 young men, ages 18-25.
Not only was the White House firing on all pistons, the traditionally separate cabinet agencies were working together with a new synergy, often co-implementing programs and working outside their fields of expertise. In the torrent of legislative activity that was the first one hundred days, the government, fighting charges of socialism, established the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to bring hydro-electric power, soil conservation and flood control to seven southern states; addressed the home mortgage foreclosures which had caused Americans to lose homes at the rate of 1000 per day, helping the real estate and construction markets; abandoned the gold standard to avoid the gold runs from foreign nations and reign in inflation; and passed the National Industrial Recovery Act in order to stimulate industry and establish labor standards. (Among other laws not mentioned are the Farm Credit Act, the Railroad Coordination Act and the Glass-Steagall Act, which established the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
In the "Hundred Days," Roosevelt enjoyed an often-pliant Congress and a honeymoon with the press. By its end, he had passed 15 major laws, given 15 messages to Congress and 10 speeches, held press conferences and cabinet meetings twice a week and sponsored an international conference, made all major policy decisions, foreign and domestic, and, as Arthur Schlesinger notes, "never displayed fright or panic and rarely even bad temper." (21)