Saving the Banks
"We have provided the machinery to restore our financial system; it is up to you to support and make it work. It is your problem no less than it is mine. Together we cannot fail."
- Franklin Roosevelt, Fireside Chat on Banking, March 12, 1933
On his first full day in office, FDR confronted his greatest challenge - the banking crisis that threatened to destroy America's economy.
Roosevelt began with a decisive act. Declaring a "bank holiday," he temporarily closed all the nation's banks. Then he called Congress into special session to pass emergency banking legislation.
Treasury officials feverishly began work on the Emergency Banking Act. Rushed to Congress four days later, it was approved within hours. The Act gave the government authority to examine bank finances, provide needed capital, and determine which banks were fit to reopen.
The healthy banks were authorized to reopen on March 13. But would people trust them? On March 12, FDR went on nationwide radio to reassure Americans. His appeal worked. The following morning, when the banks reopened, depositors lined up to return their money. The banking crisis was over.