SEC 80th Anniversary Banner

The SEC was established 80 years ago on June 6, 1934, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 into law. The SEC's mission then and now is to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation. Here's a look back at the events of 1934 and the creation of the SEC.

The Securities Exchange Act was authored by Florida Senator Duncan Fletcher and Texas Congressman Sam Rayburn in the midst of the Great Depression following the Stock Market Crash of 1929.

Passage followed a series of Congressional hearings into Wall Street practices led by Ferdinand Pecora, Chief Counsel of the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency.

Many Americans had lost their savings during the Stock Market Crash of 1929. They wrote letters to Washington calling for action.

Letter from Lammert, Your stock market regulation bill is none too severe and perhaps not drastic enough to forever stop this form of daylight and legal robbery.
Letter from John Kruttschnitt,

But the legislation also had opponents.

Richard Whitney, NYSE President

It will not only destroy our securities market, but will, as a necessary consequence, interrupt the flow of credit and capital in the business.

Congress approved the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 on June 3. The President signed the act into law three days later.

Securities Exchange Act of 1934

The purpose of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 is "To provide for the regulation of securities exchanges and of over-the-counter markets operating in interstate and foreign commerce through the mails, to prevent inequitable and unfair practices on such exchanges and markets, and for other purposes."

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's first headquarters building was located at 1778 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C.  The first SEC Commissioners in 1934: (left to right) Commissioner Ferdinand Pecora; Commissioner George C. Mathews; Chairman Joseph P. Kennedy; Commissioner Robert E. Healy; Commissioner James M. Landis

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's first headquarters building was located at 1778 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. The first SEC Commissioners in 1934: (left to right) Commissioner Ferdinand Pecora; Commissioner George C. Mathews; Chairman Joseph P. Kennedy; Commissioner Robert E. Healy; Commissioner James M. Landis

21 different securities exchanges registered with the Commission in its first year.

1934 Chicago Board of Trade books

On July 3, 1934, SEC Chairman Joseph P. Kennedy addressed the nation to describe the work of the new agency.

Joseph Patrick Kennedy, SEC Chairman

The Securities and Exchange Commission is undertaking its duties with a profound sense of the responsibility, which has been imposed upon it in response to a widespread demand on the part of the American people.
SEC 80 years footer graphic