On April 13, 1933, one month after his inauguration and already having launched more public relief efforts than any president in history, Franklin Roosevelt woke late.
The night before, he’d been entertaining the Congressional leaders of the Democratic Party, in characteristic fashion, until 11:15 pm. Whether he’d been mixing martinis (with more than a dash of vermouth) or old-fashioneds that night is unclear. They probably talked about baseball. Roosevelt had thrown out the opening pitch at the Senators’ game earlier that day. Maybe they also talked about the housing market. Henry B. Steagall, Chairman of the House Committee on Banking and Currency, was in the room. It was the second time that day that he’d met with Roosevelt, as they were cooking up the next act of Roosevelt’s New Deal. The day before that, he’d met with Joseph T. Robinson, the fearsome, growling Senate Majority Leader, who dutifully carried out Roosevelt’s plans, one by one, in between big puffs of his cigars. Together, Steagall and Robinson would execute a plan to resurrect the mortgage industry and redraw the lines that divided the American city.