Eugene R. Black was appointed chairman (called “governor” before 1935) of the Federal Reserve Board on May 19, 1933. He resigned August 15, 1934.
Black was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1873. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia and his law degree from Atlanta Law School.
After graduating from Atlanta Law School, Black practiced law and was appointed solicitor of Criminal Court of Atlanta in 1897. In 1901, he left law practice for a few years to act as general agent of the Prudential Insurance Company of America for the state of Georgia. He re-entered practice in 1904, joining McDaniel, Alston & Black. In 1921, he was elected president of Atlanta Trust Company.
After serving Atlanta Trust Company, Black held several positions within the Federal Reserve System. He was a Class A director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, and he also served as governor of that district until he was appointed to the Federal Reserve Board.
As chairman of the Board during the Great Depression, Black supported policies to help restore confidence in the banking system. He believed the Federal Reserve should act as a lender of last resort to otherwise solvent banks in times of stress. He promoted legislation allowing Reserve Banks to make direct loans to industry and establishing the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. Under his leadership open market operations also resumed. The Fed thus used its ability to purchase and sell securities in the open market as a means to increase the flow of money and credit in the banking system. However, one policy Black opposed during his chairmanship was President Franklin Roosevelt’s call for the surrender of the Federal Reserve System’s gold to the US Treasury.
After leaving the Federal Reserve Board in August 1934, Black returned to his post as governor of the Atlanta Fed, where he served until his death later that year.
Written by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. See disclaimer.