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March 9, 1933

No Need for New Emergency Banking Bill in Charlottesville

News Stories Editorials Advertising Charlottesville: A Safe Haven

During the days of March 8 and March 9, as the Emergency Banking Bill is passed and Roosevelt makes the decision to re-open banks across the country. The Daily Progress offers several Associated Press stories about the national crisis. But the newspaper primarily goes about covering the simple daily business of Charlottesville with the rest of the stories, with only a few smaller stories recognizing how this will affect the residents of Charlottesville.

On March 8, the newspaper follows the lead of national newspapers like The New York Times and puts a story about the proposed re-opening of the banks at the top of the page with the headline, "President Proposes Reopening of Sound Banks." Just below this headline is another story, giving almost the same emphasis of this event to the story of a local citizen who pled guilty to murder the day before. These two stories run on top of one another, with equal emphasis on importance. In addition, there is also a local story which tells of local banks just waiting to be re-opened with the headline, "Bankers Waiting Congress Action." This story tells the tale of local bankers who have had several "joyous" days off, just waiting until they are given the go-ahead to go back to work and resume operations after a minor, annoying "inconvenience."

With the official re-opening of sound banks on March 9, The Daily Progress placed considerably more emphasis on the positive effects of the banks re-opening, creating a tone of re-assurance once again. In line with the main story in The New York Times on this date, The Daily Progress editors capped their front page with a New York Associated Press story under the headline, "Banks Authorized To Do Restricted Business." A large story written by The Daily Progress staff is placed just under the main story; under the headline "City Banks Open Under New Plan," it emphasizes how business is returning quickly to normal and is "moving slowly but surely" under the new plan. This story explains to the people that the bankers have completed their holiday and will be continuing business in a state of "normalcy" after the inconvenient, but not tragic, four-day holiday.

In the days after the re-opening of banks across the nation, the editorials of The Daily Progress praised the citizens of Charlottesville for remaining calm throughout the nation's crisis and encouraged them to be satisfied with the lives they were living in the protected community of Charlottesville. They were relatively unaffected by the financial woes of the nation. The editorials also served often to commend the rest of the nation which, they said, was certainly hit harder than the city of Charlottesville.

On March 8, when it seemed the banks would be re-opened soon, the editors ran an editorial entitled, "A Quiet Nation Meets Its Emergency." While it praised much of the nation for meeting "its" emergency quite well, it also emphasized that there were many in the "other states" who were responsible for unsafe and irrational spending habits which caused the crisis, "the ignorant and selfish irresponsible man." But overall it these editorial say that the rest of the nation leearned a serious "lesson" from the crisis, while not directly acknowledging that Charlottesville or Virginia faced the crisis at all.

Following the passage of the Emergency Banking Bill on March 9, in an editorial entitled "Satisfied," the editors tell a tale of religious moralism to the other states in the union, telling them to be "satisfied with what they have" and to place emphasis on the value of religion and good living. But there is no mention of any ways in which the editors felt that the "bank holiday" or the end of the "bank holiday" had any effect, or changed anything in particular in the Charlottesville economy.

The merchants of Charlottesville acknowledged the national economic crisis for the first time, in unison, on March 9 1933. On the same day that the banks re-opened across the nation, the merchants of Charlottesville took out a large, two-page spread ad in The Daily Progress. In large, bold, black font the ad declared: "With Supreme Confidence...Business Goes On As Usual in Charlottesville." The advertisement was signed by more than forty merchants and business representatives in Charlottesville and it claimed that, "We the undersigned merchants and businessmen of Charlottesville view with no alarm whatsoever the bank holiday declared across the nation." In fact the merchants went on to claim that it was indeed a beneficial holiday for all, allowing the rest of the nation's economy to get a chance to catch up and giving many in Charlottesville the day off. The ad stated this positive spin; "On the contrary we feel that this step was expedient for the purpose of conserving the resources of the banks of the nation." Not knowing that the banks would be re-opened that day, the merchants wrote that they felt only "good would come" from this temporary action.

Along with this two-page advertisement, several other clothing and car manufacturers, local banks and food stores also inserted into their advertisements the opinion that spending should not be altered too much during this time, because the banks would surely open again soon. These individual ads were in concordance with the large full-page ad which appeared on the same day. For example, The Union Dollar Store declared in a March 9 ad that, "With Great Respect to Our New President Roosevelt...we are glad to announce that we will conduct our business as usual during the Bank Holidays and accept checks on purchases made in our store." The Union Dollar Store was only one of many organizations which placed ads stating that its business would go on as usual.

During the time period of FDR's bank closings and subsequent re-openings, The Daily Progress inherently spoke of a grave national problem which was only a minor inconvenience in Charlottesville. The newspaper treated it as a desired day-off from business as usual; the newspaper also stated that the holiday was a positive thing for areas other than Charlottesville which actually had banking problems. The newspaper maintained the tone that the problem was not the fault of the people of Charlottesville, but really the fault of people outside the Grand Commonwealth whose spending ways were unwise and irresponsible.

The main theme of this period in the news, editorials and advertising was simple in Charlottesville: the perpetuation of Business As Usual. There is no better way to put it; every local story, ad and argumentative piece put forth an undying feeling that there was no reason to panic. The city of Charlottesville would be unaffected, a City on a Hill away from the disaster. But at the same time they sympathized with the "others" in the nation who had to suffer, and in some cases they criticized other regions of the nation. They at some points criticized these areas for making faulty financial decisions which helped cause the banking problem in the first place.

Inside This Edition: Reporting on Key Dates in the Depression

October 29, 1929: Stock Market Crash March 4, 1933: FDR Innaugurated March 5, 1933: FDR declares 'bank holiday' March 9, 1933: Emergency Banking Bill passed May 12, 1933: Federal Emergency Relief Act passed December 5, 1933: Repeal of Prohibition
May 6, 1935: WPA established August 14, 1935 Social Security Act passed November 3, 1936: FDR re-elected February 3, 1937: National Guard prepared to strike workers in Flint, Michigan September 16, 1940: Selective Service Act passed December 7, 1941: Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor


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