Local Response to 1933 Bank Holiday

Being a bank customer was risky business in the era of the Great Depression. Banks that made bad investments with their customers’ deposits were often unable to honor those funds for withdrawal. Banks would often close without warning. If depositors did not withdraw their funds in time, they could lose their life savings overnight. These quick closings became so commonplace that even rumors could cause panic and people would withdraw all their money.    

At 1:00 a.m. on Monday, March 6, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the suspension of all banking transactions, effective immediately. He had taken the oath of office only 36 hours earlier. 

For an entire week, Americans would have no access to banks or banking services. They could not withdraw or transfer their money, nor could they make deposits.

During these few days, FDR presented and was able to get passed, legislation to the new Congress which would allow only solvent banks to reopen.  On the evening before the banks reopened, President Roosevelt had a “fireside chat” with the nation with the 60 million radio listeners that tuned in. He reassured those hanging on his every word that that a plan was in place, the banks were secure, and the crisis was over. His attempts to calm the nation were successful; the day the banks reopened, deposits exceeded withdrawals and the economy began to recover. 

 Orrville National Bank (now First National Bank) in an attempt to alleviate the concerns of its depositors took a proactive approach by reminding depositors of the former presidents of the bank, with the following announcement in the March 23, 1936 issue of The Courier Crescent.

“In memory of these men, (J.F. Seas (1881-1902), H.H. Strauss (1902-1916) and Isaac Pontius (1916-1932)), who served the Orrville National Bank as presidents for more than 50 consecutive years, the institution announced today the payment in full of all depositors’ claims, with interest in full at two percent from August 3, 1933 to March 20, 1936.” 

 The bank leadership wanted their depositors to continue to associate trust and respect with Orrville National Bank during this turbulent time.

 The three men listed were highly regarded leaders in the community as well as at Orrville National Bank.

More about 1925-1934

 

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