NOTE: the Federal Reserve has stated in court that it is “not an agency” of the federal government and therefore not subject to the Freedom of Information Act
Requiring Gold Coin, Gold Bullion and Gold Certificates to Be Delivered to the Government
April 5, 1933
Section 2. All persons are hereby required to deliver on or before May 1, 1933, to a Federal Reserve Bank or a branch or agency thereof or to any member bank of the Federal Reserve System all gold coin, gold bullion and gold certificates now owned by them or coming into their ownership on or before April 28, 1933, except the following:
(c) Gold coin and bullion earmarked or held in trust for a recognized foreign Government or foreign central bank or the Bank for International Settlements.
Section 4. Upon receipt of gold coin, gold bullion or gold certificates delivered to it in accordance with Sections 2 or 3, the Federal Reserve Bank or member bank will pay therefor an equivalent amount of any other form of coin or currency coined or issued under the laws of the United States.
Section 5. Member banks shall deliver all gold coin, gold bullion and gold certificates owned or received by them (other than as exempted under the provisions of Section 2) to the Federal Reserve Banks of their respective districts and receive credit or payment therefor.
Section 6. The Secretary of the Treasury, out of the sum made available to the President by Section 501 of the Act of March 9, 1933, will in all proper cases pay the reasonable costs of transportation of gold coin, gold bullion or gold certificates delivered to a member bank or Federal Reserve Bank in accordance with Section 2, 3, or 5 hereof, including the cost of insurance, protection, and such other incidental costs as may be necessary, upon production of satisfactory evidence of such costs. Voucher forms for this purpose may be procured from Federal Reserve Banks.
Section 8. The Secretary of the Treasury is hereby authorized and empowered to issue such further regulations as he may deem necessary to carry out the purposes of this order and to issue licenses thereunder, through such officers or agencies as he may designate, including licenses permitting the Federal Reserve Banks and member banks of the Federal Reserve System, in return for an equivalent amount of other coin, currency or credit, to deliver, earmark or hold in trust gold coin and bullion to or for persons showing the need for the same for any of the purposes specified in paragraphs (a), (c) and (d) of Section 2 of these regulations.
Section 9. Whoever willfully violates any provision of this Executive Order or of these regulations or of any rule, regulation or license issued thereunder may be fined not more than $10,000, or, if a natural person, may be imprisoned for not more than ten years, or both; and any officer, director, or agent of any corporation who knowingly participates in any such violation may be punished by a like fine, imprisonment, or both.
This order and these regulations may be modified or revoked at any time.
Roosevelt’s campaign had promised to re-evaluate America’s commitment to the gold standard and, through a series of actions from March 6 to April 18, 1933, abandoned it.
Conservative businessmen and other supporters of the gold standard were dismayed. Hoover, who had championed the standard, wrote that its abandonment was the first step toward “communism, fascism, socialism, statism, planned economy.” He argued that the standard was needed to stop governments from “confiscating the savings of the people by manipulation of inflation and deflation….We have gold because we cannot trust Governments.”
Roosevelt also dissolved any “gold clause” within contracts, public or private, that guaranteed payment in gold. This clause was part of every government bond and most corporate bonds. “It was a standard feature of mortgage agreements and other contracts. For creditors, it offered protection against inflation or congressional tinkering with the currency.” For debtors, though, it was dangerous, as “The gold dollar, before Roosevelt reduced it, was $1.69. This meant that a bank, for example, could suddenly require a farmer to make mortgage payments in gold coin-transferring a $10,000 mortgage into one worth $16,900, raising the farmer’s debt burden by nearly 70 percent.” Likewise, the U.S. treasury could be required to pay the bearer of a $10,000 Liberty Bond $16,900 in gold coins. (The constitutionality of this Roosevelt policy was later challenged before the Supreme Court in the Gold Clause Cases, where it was upheld on narrow grounds.)
With the end of the gold standard, “conservative financiers were horrified. They viewed a currency not solidly backed by gold as inflationary, undermining both private and business fortunes and leading to national bankruptcy. Roosevelt was damned as a socialist or Communist out to destroy private enterprise by sapping the gold backing of wealth in order to subsidize the poor.”