Roosevelt came to office in the Great Depression, with one in four workers idle, more than 80 percent of the stock market's value gone, farmers destitute, urban dwellers in breadlines, and banks failing at an alarming rate, eliminating the savings of millions. Fellow Democrats controlled the House and Senate.
FDR immediately declared a temporary national closure of banks to stop panic withdrawals, called a special session of Congress and won passage of an emergency law to stabilize the banking system.
He came forward with a flurry of legislation that set the pillars of the New Deal in place within his first 100 days, "the most concentrated period of U.S. reform in U.S. history," say Alan Brinkley and Davis Dyer in "The Reader's Companion to the American Presidency." More than a dozen sweeping laws were enacted in that time as FDR threw the public purse behind the cause of industrial recovery, agricultural renewal and public works, expanding federal powers in the process. Social Security and much more came later.
FDR's burst of productivity gave rise to U.S. history's 100-day benchmark for new presidents.