National Recovery Administration

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fdr-driveAbove, Hugh Johnson, Fiorello LaGuardia and Robert Moses on Grand Street to start a section of the FDR Drive, 1934.

In 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed General Hugh S. Johnson to administer the National Recovery Administration (NRA). This involved organizing thousands of businesses under fair trade codes drawn up by trade associations and industries. Johnson was no friend of unions and had been called a petty fascist. There is a picture of him raising his arm in a Fascist salute to a crowd marching by. He claimed it was doctored.

The NRA program was voluntary, but during its first six months, General Johnson mustered 1,500,000 volunteer workers and speakers, issued 100,000,000 pamphlets, and plastered millions of Blue Eagle posters throughout the land. The NRA had 87 employees and it had grown to employ thousands. Of the 3,000,000 Blue Eagles (a symbol used to show compliance with the NRA Act), only 48 have been revoked in the first year. [The companies that did not display the NRA symbol were seen as unpatriotic and selfish.] However, it eventually came to employ 23,000,000 people under the NRA fair code. The violations of codes became common and finally in 1935 the Supreme Court declared the NRA unconstitutional, noting that the federal government had invaded fields reserved to the individual states.

That the name of the law suit? Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States. Yes, it took the Jewish kosher chicken butchers in New York to take down an American Blue Eagle and one of the most successful American enterprises in history.