Skip to main content

1933 Fifty Years Ago

March 2023
1min read

The Blue Eagle—the American thnnderbird with outstretched wings- began to appear in office and plant windows in August, soaring above the proud motto “We Do Our Part.” This was the emblem of the National Recovery Administration established by Franklin Roosevelt in the hope that American industry, in a spirit of selfless concern for the commonweal, could and would regulate itself, stop destructive competition, rehire the jobless, and stimulate spending. Congress suspended the antitrust laws for two years and authorized the formulation of legally enforceable industrial codes designed to shorten hours, raise wages, and so forth. The public was urged to boycott businesses operating without the Blue Eagle and, to some extent, it did.

Roosevelt appointed Gen. Hugh S. Johnson to lead the NRA. Johnson, with great prescience, was not optimistic: on his appointment he remarked that “it will be red fire at first and dead cats afterwards. This is just like mounting the guillotine on the infinitesimal gamble that the ax won’t work.” His angry war against “chiselers,” as he called them, was not conducive to a spirit of cooperation with the industrialists, and Roosevelt forced him to resign after a year. The United States Supreme Court declared that the NRA was itself unconstitutional ( Schechter v. United States ) in May 1935, on the grounds that Congress had delegated too much power to the code authorities. The defendants, four brothers who were engaged in slaughtering chickens in New York City, were not involved in interstate commerce.

AUGUST 2 : Carl Hubbell of the New York Giants pitched his forty-fifth consecutive scoreless inning.

AUGUST 18 : Lou Gehrig breaks the record for consecutive games played: 1,308.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.


Stories published from "August/september 1983"

Authored by: William A. Nolen

“A wound in the heart is mortal,” Hippocrates said two thousand years ago. Until very recently he was right.

Authored by: The Editors

The brief mid-nineteenth-century popularity of eight-sided houses has left us a strange and delightful architectural legacy

Authored by: Phyllis C. Robinson

They could hardly have been more temperamentally incompatible, but the Midwestern writer Willa Cather and the crusading editor S. S. McClure enjoyed a splendid working relationship for six years and a lifetime of mutual respect

Authored by: Peter Andrews

“I don’t want this thing often,” one soldier said of his .45 automatic pistol, “but when I do, I want it damned bad.”

Authored by: Robert Friedman

In the underpinnings of our cities, in desolate swampland, beneath coastal waters—wherever the early settlers left traces of their lives—a new generation of archaeologists is uncovering a lost world

Authored by: Robert Bendiner

This century’s most powerful Secretary of State talks about the strengths and weaknesses of the Foreign Service, the role of the CIA, the rights of journalists, the contrast between meddlers and statesmen—and about the continuing struggle for a coherent foreign policy

Authored by: The Editors

Using the same bold colors that drew the rubes in to see the Giant Rat of Sumatra and the Three-Headed Calf, he painted a fanciful record of his world

Authored by: Edmund S. Morgan

Did the fifty-five statesmen meeting in Philadelphia at the Constitutional Convention know that a witch-hunt was taking place while they deliberated? Did they care?

How the novelty item of 1920 became the world-straddling colossus of 1940

Authored by: Delma K. Romines

One of America’s least-known and most curious folk arts

Featured Articles

Rarely has the full story been told about how a famed botanist, a pioneering female journalist, and First Lady Helen Taft battled reluctant bureaucrats to bring Japanese cherry trees to Washington. 

Often thought to have been a weak president, Carter was strong-willed in doing what he thought was right, regardless of expediency or the political fallout.

Why have thousands of U.S. banks failed over the years? The answers are in our history and politics.

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln embodied leading in a time of polarization, political disagreement, and differing understandings of reality.

Native American peoples and the lands they possessed loomed large for Washington, from his first trips westward as a surveyor to his years as President.