Cheat Sheet Q&A: Who created the 100 day standard for Presidential judgement?:
Today's entry: Hi Brian, I have two "100 days" questions. First, what's the origin of the arbitrary Presidential timeline and second how many President's have had their signature achievements occur within that window anyway?
Bottom Line: Well, there is irony with regard to the origin of the 100 days reference. It's roots aren't in anything based in this country. In fact, the actual reference isn't even historically correct. The first time that a leadership reference to 100 days appears historically is with regard to the return of Napoleon in France. Here's the short version of what happened.
On March 20th of 1815 Napoleon began his return from exile after he'd been ousted in the prior year. In his attempted coup to regain the French throne, he engaged in a series of battles (which included the battle of Waterloo) with forces loyal to him to attempt to overthrow the crown. The French defeated Napoleon's attempted coup and he was exiled once again. The coup ended on July 8th. During the ceremony re-recognizing King Louis the 18th, a reference to 100 days was made. The reference was that only a hundred days were needed to put down the coup and to restore the French Monarchy. The irony is that it was actually 111 days - not a hundred but that doesn't have the same round ring to it. So how did the "100 days" reference go from a French Napoleon reference to a standard of US Presidential timelines?
On July 24th 1933, FDR made reference to the Congress's 100 day session earlier that year that laid the ground work for the eventual "New Deal" as the Securities Act of 1933 was signed into law in May of that year. So yes, the entire context of the 100 day mark is a bit convoluted with regard to the way it's been applied in modern Presidential politics. It's origin is the ending of Napoleon's coup and was brought to the US as a reference for Congress rather than the President.
In terms of your second question, only FDR has had his signature policy achievement begin/occur during his first 100 days, which was likely a product of the desperation brought on by the Great Depression - so it's a standard that hasn't had any predictive power with regard to the longer term success/failure of any particular President.
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