The last wave of bank runs continued through the winter of 1932 and into 1933. By that time, Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt had won a landslide victory in the presidential election over the Republican incumbent, Herbert Hoover. Almost immediately after taking office in early March, Roosevelt declared a national “bank holiday,” during which all banks would be closed until they were determined to be solvent through federal inspection. In combination with the bank holiday, Roosevelt called on Congress to come up with new emergency banking legislation to further aid the ailing financial institutions of America.
On March 12, 1933, Roosevelt gave the first of what would become known as the “fireside chats,” or speeches broadcast over the radio in which he addressed the American people directly. In that first fireside chat, Roosevelt spoke of the bank crisis, explaining the logic behind his closing of all banks and stating that “Your government does not intend that the history of the past few years shall be repeated. We do not want and will not have another epidemic of bank failures.” He reassured the nation that banks would be secure when they reopened, and that people could trust that they could use their money as they saw fit at any time. “I can assure you, my friends,” Roosevelt intoned, “that it is safer to keep your money in a reopened bank than it is to keep it under the mattress.”
Roosevelt’s words and actions helped to begin the process of restoring public confidence, and when the banks reopened many depositors showed up ready to deposit their currency or gold, signaling the end of the nation’s banking crisis.