Franklin D. Roosevelt

Message to Congress on Resumption of Banking.

March 09, 1933

To the Senate and House of Representatives: On March 3 banking operations in the United States ceased. To review at this time the causes of this failure of our banking system is unnecessary. Suffice it to say that the Government has been compelled to step in for the protection of depositors and the business of the Nation.

Our first task is to reopen all sound banks. This is an essential preliminary to subsequent legislation directed against speculation with the funds of depositors and other violations of positions of trust.

In order that the first objective—the opening of banks for the resumption of business—may be accomplished, I ask of the Congress the immediate enactment of legislation giving to the Executive branch of the Government control over banks for the protection of depositors; authority forthwith to open such banks as have already been ascertained to be in sound condition and other such banks as rapidly as possible; and authority to reorganize and reopen such banks as may be found to require reorganization to put them on a sound basis.

I ask amendments to the Federal Reserve Act to provide for such additional currency, adequately secured, as it may become necessary to issue to meet all demands for currency and at the same time to achieve this end without increasing the unsecured indebtedness of the Government of the United States.

I cannot too strongly urge upon the Congress the clear necessity for immediate action. A continuation of the strangulation of banking facilities is unthinkable. The passage of the proposed legislation will end this condition and I trust within a short space of time will result in a resumption of business activities.

In addition, it is my belief that this legislation will not only lift immediately all unwarranted doubts and suspicions in regard to banks which are one hundred percent sound but will also mark the beginning of a new relationship between the banks and the people of this country.

The members of the new Congress will realize, I am confident, the grave responsibility which lies upon me and upon them.

In the short space of five days it is impossible for us to formulate completed measures to prevent the recurrence of the evils of the past. This does not and should not, however, justify any delay in accomplishing this first step.

At an early moment I shall request of the Congress two other measures which I regard as of immediate urgency. With action taken thereon we can proceed to the consideration of a rounded program of national restoration.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Message to Congress on Resumption of Banking. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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