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The 1930s

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the TVA Act on May 18, 1933. The president is surrounded by various members of Congress from Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina, and at his left shoulder is Senator George Norris of Nebraska, after whom Norris Dam is named.


President Franklin Roosevelt needed innovative solutions if the New Deal was to lift the nation out of the depths of the Great Depression, and the Tennessee Valley Authority was one of his most innovative ideas. Roosevelt envisioned TVA as a totally different kind of agency. He asked Congress to create “a corporation clothed with the power of government but possessed of the flexibility and initiative of a private enterprise.” On May 18, 1933, Congress passed the TVA Act.

From the start, TVA established a unique problem-solving approach to fulfilling its mission: integrated resource management. Each issue TVA faced — whether it was power production, navigation, flood control, malaria prevention, reforestation or erosion control — was studied in its broadest context. TVA weighed each issue in relation to the whole picture.

From this beginning, TVA has held fast to its strategy of integrated solutions, even as the issues have changed over the years.