EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 16, 2009

Historical snippets: From FDR's inauguration

WASHINGTON (AP) — Franklin Roosevelt swept into Washington in the threadbare depths of the Depression, told the nation it would revive, and got to work.

The capital put on a fine show for him on March 4, 1933 — a "riot of romance," as a headline put it. Late in the day, with the throngs gone, his Cabinet already confirmed and a banking crisis in the new president's face, Eleanor Roosevelt summed up the occasion.

"It was very, very solemn, a little terrifying" she told The Associated Press, peeling off her gloves and speaking softly as she gazed outside a window from the White House. "The crowds were so tremendous. And you felt that they would do anything — if only someone would tell them what to do."

AP has been going back through history to find some of its inauguration stories as they appeared in the nation's newspapers at the time. Here are excerpts of three AP stories from the front page of the Sunday Avalanche-Journal in Lubbock, Texas, March 5, 1933:


Roosevelt, Inaugurated, Immediately Begins Labors


Associated Press Staff Writer

WASHINGTON, March 4 — Franklin D. Roosevelt ascended to the Presidency today with the stringent banking situation foremost in his planning, forthwith declared "this nation asks for action and action now," and proceeded to act accordingly.

To the gala inaugural ceremonies he gave himself with the usual smiling facility. But the while, too, he was making ready for the stupendous trials impending.

Right away, he won quick confirmation for his cabinet from specially convened mid-afternoon session of the Senate, and called the members together to be sworn in by an old friend, Supreme Court Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo, after he had stood from 2:30 to 6:05 p.m. reviewing the resplendent inaugural parade.

Legislation to alleviate the financial impasse was in process of formation, but being kept in free form for changes that developments might necessitate. William H. Woodin, secretary of the treasury, had the matter in charge.

President Roosevelt summoned Democratic congressional leaders to meet with him tomorrow to discuss when to call the special session. There were hints tonight this might be done as early as Wednesday.

Just what he had in mind for handling the banking emergency remained his own guarded secret. It was known, however, on the word of a Senator close to former President Hoover, there had been discussion between the new and old executives of proposals for some sort of percentage guarantee of bank deposits.

As the wearied legislators and inaugural crowds congregated for discussion and retrospection tonight, special attention was given to several sections emphasized by Roosevelt in his inaugural address. ...

Judging from comments on Capitol Hill, the legislators were impressed by Roosevelt's declaration that the times must be considered as though war were on, and that he intended to seek from Congress any drastic powers warranted to deal with problems surging for solution. ...


Colorful Inaugural Parade Is Cheered by 300,000 As 'New Deal' Is Started

Pennsylvania Avenue Is Riot Of Romance As FDR Comes In


Associated Press Staff Writer

WASHINGTON, March 4 (AP) — Square-shouldered, strong and steady, America marched today up hallowed Pennsylvania avenue, presenting to her new chieftain in an inaugural parade a sturdy symbol of the power placed in his hands.

Gray skies, as if aware of the solemnity of the hour, looked down on deep-massed banks of humanity from the great capitol dome to the flat White House roof, between which the marchers passed before upward of 300,000 spectators.

For one man in the parade that paid him homage, President Roosevelt had a special greeting — Alfred E. Smith, the "Happy Warrior" as he labelled him in 1928 in nominating him that campaign's Presidential candidate.

Smith, greeted by mighty sustained cheers as he marched along in the regalia of a Tammany sachem, and Mr. Roosevelt waved their hats at each other, evoking a great burst of applause from the hundreds in the court of honor.

In full panoply the army started off the mile-long swing from the capitol plaza to the reviewing stand in front of the executive mansion.

General Douglas MacArthur, chief of staff of the army and grand marshal of the parade, led his troops about the serpentine roadway before the capital, down broad Constitution avenue and into Pennsylvania avenue proper as a burst of cheering from spectators signalized the start.

Blue-clad and stepping smartly, the army's band came next and flaunting their glory in a chill breeze were massed the colors of the nation. Close behind with the gaudy flash of battle pennants came artillery, cavalry and engineer units and their guns. ...


New 'First Lady', Made Solemn By Inaugural, Lays Plans To Simplify White House Life; To Cut Expense


(Copyright, 1933, The Associated Press)

WASHINGTON, March 4. — In the big high-ceilinged sitting room in the southwest corner of the White House that is to be her home for the next four years, Eleanor Roosevelt stood this afternoon, gazing soberly out the window as she drew off her gloves.

"It was very, very solemn," she said, "a little terrifying."

She glanced about the room, which looked huge and cold and impersonal, stripped as it had been in the morning of the belongings of its previous occupant, already on her way to private life and freedom at her home in California.

"The crowds were so tremendous," Mrs. Roosevelt added softly. "And you felt that they would do anything if only someone would tell them what to do.

"I felt that particularly, because, when Franklin got to that part of his speech in which he said it might become necessary for him to assume powers ordinarily granted to a President in war time, he received his biggest demonstration."

Mrs. Roosevelt moved over to one of the wide windows and stared thoughtfully out across the White House grounds at the Virginia hills, softly outlined against a grey afternoon sky.

"No one," she said, "at all close to people in public life today can fail to realize that we are all of us facing extremely critical times.

"No woman entering the White House, if she accepts the fact that it belongs to the people and therefore must be representative of whatever conditions the people are facing, can light-heartedly take up her residence here.

"One has a feeling of going in blindly, because we're in a tremendous stream, and none of us knows where we're going to land." ...


Also on the front page of the Avalanche-Journal: "A glittering galaxy of multi-colored and designed automobiles, ranging in sizes and prices to accommodate almost any family and pocketbook, graces the floor of the Uptown Dance palace in Lubbock's fifth annual automobile show."

On display: latest cars from Chrysler, Plymouth, Buick, Oldsmobile and DeSoto, and International trucks.


NEXT: Theodore Roosevelt