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Title: 1920s

  • 1918-1929

The End of the War
  • The first American troops arrived in France in
    the Spring 1918
  • The doughboys participated in the last great
    counteroffensive which marked the start of the
    end for Germany
  • Initially the Americans were under the command of
    the French but they were later assigned to
    General John J. (Black Jack) Pershing
  • Before the end of the war President Wilson
    formulated his Fourteen Points as the basis for

  • Germany signed the armistice on November 11, 1918
    mainly because of the potential of the American
  • Wilson became a hero to the people of a liberated
  • During the war partisan politics did not afflict
    Congress as the country united behind the war
  • In 1918 Wilson asked for a Democratic victory,
    but the Republicans ended up with a narrow
  • Wilson went to Paris for the peace talks and left
    the country in the hands of a Republican Congress

  • Wilson was the first president to travel to
    Europe but he alienated the Republicans by not
    inviting one republican to the Peace Conference
  • The chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign
    Relations, Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts was
    particularly angered
  • Lodge and Wilson shared a mutual hatred
  • The Paris Conference was dominated by the Big
    Four Wilson, Lloyd George of Britain, Orlando
    of Italy, and Clemenceau of France
  • The matter which caused the greatest concern was
    stopping the spread of Communism

  • Wilsons main goal was to establish a League of
  • He imagined an organization of representative who
    would meet to discuss world problems
  • When Wilson returned to America he found that
    few, especially among the Republicans, shared his
    enthusiasm for a League of Nations
  • The Republicans declared they would not approve
    the League in its current form
  • Opposition from the Republicans weakened Wilsons
    diplomatic power in Paris
  • When he did return to Paris he found that the
    opinion of the major powers had become much more

The Versailles Treaty
  • France was determined to occupy the
    German-Rhineland and the Saar Valley
  • Wilson persuaded the French to accept occupation
    of the region by the League of Nations for 15
  • France also received a security pledge from
    Britain and America both countries promised to
    help if Germany re-armed
  • The final treaty was given to the Germans to sign
    in June 1919

  • When the Germans saw the treaty they were shocked
    to see so few of Wilsons Fourteen Points, which
    had been the basis under which they had
  • Wilson had been forced to compromise his original
    ideals to keep the bickering Europeans happy
  • As soon as he returned to America, Wilson was
    confronted with a hostile Congress
  • Isolationists wanted no part of foreign treaties
  • Some thought the agreement did not punish Germany
    enough for starting the war
  • Irish-Americans, German-Americans and
    Italian-Americans all hated Wilson

The End of Wilson
  • Wilson still felt confident the Versailles Treaty
    would be ratified. Even Lodge only wanted to
    make the treaty more American
  • The Treaty became bogged down in Senate as Lodge
    examined every page
  • Wilson set off around the country to muster
    public support even though he was advised
    against such a move by his own physicians
  • While in Colorado in September, 1919, Wilson
    collapsed from exhaustion
  • He was quickly returned to Washington, but
    suffered a stroke only days later

  • Wilson remained out of circulation for over six
  • Lodge saw the opportunity to step up. Lodge had
    failed to get the Treaty amended but now was his
  • Critics were especially annoyed over Article X
    which promised the United States would give aid
    to any country that faced external aggression
  • Lodge attached a series of amendment to the
    original treaty so the Republicans could claim
    some of the credit
  • Wilson told the Democrats to vote against the
    amended treaty

  • The treaty was defeated in the Senate
  • The public was angry and upset that the Senate
    could not agree on a simple resolution and they
    demanded a second ballot
  • The Democrats would have to accept the amended
    packet otherwise the whole treaty would fail
  • Wilson refused to compromise and ordered the
    Democrats to once again vote against the amended
  • The treaty died in the Senate

The Election of 1920
  • The Republicans eventually selected Senator
    Warren G. Harding of Ohio with Massachusetts
    Governor Calvin Coolidge as his running mate
  • Coolidge had made a name for himself by defeating
    the police strike in Boston
  • Democrats nominated Governor James M. Cox of Ohio
    with Franklin D. Roosevelt as his running mate
  • In the first election that included women,
    (Nineteenth Amendment 1920) the Republicans won

  • Harding gained over 7 million more popular votes
  • Socialist Eugene V. Debs ran as a Third party
    from the Atlanta penitentiary and gained almost 1
    million votes
  • The public had shown they were tired of Wilsonian
    politics and European affairs they wanted what
    Harding promised a return to normalcy
  • Unfortunately Harding was a poor choice and
    proved to be an even worse president, mainly
    because of his poor choice of appointments

The Red Scare
  • In 1917 the Bolshevik Revolution forced Russia
    out of the war, changed the Russian government,
    created a small Communist party in America, and
    caused fear and concern among non-Communist
  • In the wake of the war the country was gripped by
    a series of strikes
  • Most people assumed the strikes were part of a
    Communist/Bolshevik plot
  • The red scare of 1919 created political
    careers, ruined some lives, caused pain and
    anguish to anguish to many innocent people

  • In 1919 a bomb exploded at the home of Attorney
    General A. Mitchell Palmer (the Fighting Quaker)
    who had been leading the campaign against
    possible Bolsheviks
  • The explosion caused Palmer to increase his
    efforts and gained him enormous public support
  • In December 1919 the government deported 249
    suspected aliens and Bolshevik sympathizers on
    the Buford
  • The following year another bomb exploded on Wall
    Street and killed nearly forty people
  • Many states joined together to pass anti-red

  • Critics of the paranoia protested that basic
    American rights were been ignored
  • But the red scare served the conservatives and
    businessmen well they could now complain about
    troublemakers and unions and associate them with
    the Bolsheviks
  • Unions found it hard to even exist. Any appeal
    for a union was seen as un-American
  • The most notorious case of anti-foreign sentiment
    was the Sacco-Vanzetti case in Massachusetts

Sacco and Vanzetti
  • Nicola Sacco a factory worker and Bartolomeo
    Vanzetti a fish seller were convicted in 1921 of
    murdering a Massachusetts paymaster and his guard
  • The defendants were of Italian descent and known
    as anarchists and atheists
  • The case lasted six years before both men were
    convicted and sentenced to death
  • They were executed in 1927

  • One of the greatest social experiments in
    American history was the attempt to prohibit
    alcohol in the 1920s
  • The Eighteenth Amendment (1919) (and the Volstead
    Act) tried to abolish the manufacturing, sale,
    and transportation of alcohol
  • The Act was very popular in the South and the
    West, but in the East there was strong opposition
  • But the idea was flawed because many people,
    especially foreign-born Americans found was
    around the law

  • The authorities had not really considered how to
    enforce a law that so many people opposed and
    that had been a large part of normal society
  • Speakeasies with secret passwords and tiny
    windows sprouted in major cities
  • Illegal alcohol was shipped from the West Indies
    or from Canada by gangsters determined to supply
    the thirsty market and make a fortune
  • Bootleggers produced homemade alcohol that often
    caused blindness or death
  • But there were some benefits to the Prohibition
  • Absenteeism from work decreased and people saved
    more money
  • The noble experiment failed because so many
    people simply refused to accept the law

  • The large number of immigrants that were entering
    the country from Europe worried many people
  • The Emergency Quota Act of 1921 was attempt to
    limit immigration by only allowing a certain
    quota from each country 3 of that nationality
    living in America in 1910
  • Favored those from Southern and Eastern Europe
  • Congress approved the Immigration Act of 1924
    which cut the quota of foreigners from 3 to 2
    and changed the date to 1890 from 1910

  • This new changed favored immigrants from Northern
    Europe at the expense of those from the South and
    East who called the legislation discriminatory
  • Nativist believed a stronger, better America
    could be attained though people with light hair
    and blue eyes
  • The Act also stopped completely the immigration
    of Japanese
  • Exempt from the quota system were Canadian and
    those from Latin America because they were
    needed to take the lowest paying jobs
  • Act ended the belief that all were welcome

The Ku Klux Klan
  • Another element of the anti-foreign campaign was
    the reemergence of the KKK
  • The KKK had been around since the middle of the
    nineteenth century, but after the Civil War it
    had become known as an antiblack movement
  • In the 1920s, the new KKK reinforced the nativist
    spirit that was sweeping the country they were
    anti-foreign, antiblack, anti-Jewish,
    anti-Communist, anti-Catholic, anti-international,
    anti-birth control, anti-drinking, and

  • They were pro-American, pro-Anglo-Saxon,
    pro-Protestant they were ultra-conservative and
    dedicated to maintaining traditional American
    morals, standards, and culture
  • The new KKK had a great deal of support,
    especially in the southern Bible Belt states
  • At its height of popularity it claimed to have
    over 5 million members
  • The organization collapsed in the late twenties
    when it was investigated for corruption and
  • The KKK was a realization of what can happen when
    people are confronted with social change

The Fordney-McCumber Tariff (1922)
  • Mellon also wanted higher tariffs
  • The Fordney-McCumber Tariff increased tariffs
    against chemicals and metal products that were
    been imported from Germany
  • During the war the United States had moved from a
    creditor to a debtor nation
  • The tariff made it harder for European nations to
    sell in America and consequently prevented them
    from making money and repaying their war debt

  • Harding appointed Republicans dedicated to his
    ideals to all the main committees
  • In 1923 news was leaked about members of the
    administration robbing the Veterans Bureau
  • The official ran away to Europe
  • Other cronies were charged with a variety of
  • The biggest scandal was the Teapot Dome scandal

  • Prohibition created untold opportunities for
    criminals to make money
  • In many major cities like Chicago, virtual gang
    wars erupted as rival crime bosses competed for
    the millions of dollars associated with alcohol
  • The most famous crime boss was Scarface Al
    Capone who controlled a crime empire that was
    worth millions of dollars
  • The gangsters were hard to catch and harder to
  • Capone was eventual found guilty of tax evasion

The Ohio Gang
  • Many of Hardings appointments were members of a
    group called the Ohio Gang
  • Harding met with the Ohio Gang on a regular
    basis and often in places outside the White House
  • They earned a reputation as drinking, women, and
    gambling even during a time of Prohibition
  • Once in office the administration started
    dismantling Progressive legislation, especially
    the social reforms
  • Harding was able to appoint four Supreme Court

McNary-Haugen Bill
  • Farmers suffered in the post-war years as they
    could not sell their products
  • Many looked to farmer cooperatives and
    associations to protect their interests and give
    them greater political leverage
  • In 1924 Senator McNary and Representative Haugen
    introduced a bill to help the framers
  • The idea was to dump surplus crop on the world
    market to raise domestic prices
  • In 1927 and 1928 the bill passed both Houses but
    was vetoed by Coolidge

  • It was clear that the administration was
  • Secretary of Treasury Mellon reduced government
    spending and lowered taxes mostly for the rich
  • Mellon believed that by giving money to the rich
    they would have more to invest and that would
    stimulate the economy
  • In 1921 he persuaded Congress to pass the Budget
    and Accounting Act, which created the Bureau of
  • The Revenue Act of 1926 lowered taxes even more
    for the rich

Teapot Dome
  • Oil reserves under the Teapot Rock in Wyoming had
    been set aside by Albert Fall of the Interior
    Department for the naval oil reserves
  • Fall signed contracts with private companies
    letting them use the oil reserves
  • Falls standard of living skyrocketed including a
    loan of 400,000 from the oil companies which
    was delivered in a bag
  • Harding claimed to have had no knowledge of the
    extent of the scandals, but he obviously knew
    there was a problem

  • In 1923 Harding went to Alaska Territory and on
    the way back he stopped in Seattle
  • He suffered food poisoning and died
  • The public was distraught as they didnt know the
    extent of the problems
  • Calvin Coolidge was sworn in as president
  • Coolidge promised to return the White House to
    the Gilded Age philosophies
  • Even more than Harding, silent Cal advocated
    supporting big business the man who builds a
    factory builds a temple
  • He distanced himself from the scandals and became
    the Republican nominee for 1924

The Election of 1924
  • The Democrats were divided and nominated John
    Davis a Wall Street lawyer
  • A farmer-labor coalition third party appeared
  • The Progressive party led by Robert La Follette
    from Wisconsin was backed by the Socialist party
    and the American Federation of Labor
  • Coolidge accused La Follette of wanting to turn
    America into a communist and socialist state
  • Coolidge won easily with Davis only winning the
    South the Progressives gained the most third
    party votes

Scope Monkey Trial (1925)
  • By the 1920s many states required students to
    wait until they were 16 before graduating
  • The type of education and the quality of
    education had changed dramatically as new
    philosophies swept the teaching field
  • But there was always an issue about how to teach
  • Fundamentalists believed the one true way was to
    reinforce biblical teachings about creationism
  • Science leaned more toward Darwin and evolution

  • Several states, including Tennessee, passed laws
    prohibiting the teaching of evolution
  • In 1925, at Dayton Tennessee, a high school
    biology teacher, John T. Scopes was indicted for
    teaching evolution
  • Scopes was defended represented by the American
    Civil Liberties Union and by famed trial lawyer
    Clarence Darrow an agnostic
  • The Fundamentalists hired former presidential
    candidate William Jennings Bryan to lead the
  • Bryan defending creationism was made to look
    foolish in the cross examination

  • In the end Scopes was found guilty and fined 100
    the fine was eventually set aside on a
  • The Fundamentalists had won the case but in doing
    so they had weakened their own argument for
    teaching creationism

Foreign Policy
  • Washington Naval Conference (1925) - attempted to
    prevent a naval arms race among United States,
    Britain, and Japan. Also included France, Italy,
    the Netherlands, China, and Portugal and created
    3 treaties

  • 1. The Five-Power Pact (1922) - U.S., G.B.,
    Japan, Italy, and France agreed to build no more
    warships for 10 years. Also limited naval
    tonnage5 tons for U.S. and G.B.3 tons for
    Japan1.75 tons for France and Italy
  • 2. Nine-Power Pact - Promised to maintain Chinas
    territorial integrity and support the open door
  • 3. Four-Power Pact - U.S., G.B., France, and
    Japan agreed to respect each others rights in
    the Pacific and promised to settle disputes
    through negotiations

Dawes Plan (1924)
  • After World War I the European nations owed 26
  • Hyperinflation in Germany (1923-4) caused them to
    default on their payments forcing other nations
    to default
  • The French occupied the Ruhr - the Germans
    stopped working in protest
  • American banker Charles Dawes negotiated large
    loans from American banks to help Germany
  • Britain and France reduced the amount of
    reparations over 5 years

  • Geneva Naval Disarmament Conference (1927) -
    Initiated by Coolidge to construct smaller
    warships, but only attended by U.S., G.B., and
    Japan. No agreement was reached
  • Kellogg-Briand Pact (1928) - Negotiated by French
    Foreign Minister Briand and Secretary of State
    Kellogg. It outlawed war as an instrument of
    national policy. Signed by 48 countries, but no
    means of enforcement
  • Young Plan (1929) - Reworked the Dawes Plan to
    reduce the payments even more and allow Germany
    even more time

  • Business and industry saw the election of
    Coolidge as a vindication of their practices
  • The American economy changed dramatically as
    consumerism became the order of the day
  • Leisure and advertising became huge enterprises
    as the economy moved from thrift and saving to
    spending and consumption

  • During the first part of the decade many people
    invested in real estate, especially in Florida
  • People eager to make money gambled with property,
    but in 1926 the bubble burst
  • Treasury Secretary Mellon reduced more taxes to
    keep the economy flowing
  • People shifted their money to Wall Street and
    purchased stock on margin
  • For a small payment investors could buy stocks
    with a promise of paying later
  • Between 1927 and 1929 the number of broker loans
  • But consumption was reaching saturation point

The Election of 1928
  • Coolidge decided not to seek re-election in 1928
  • The Republicans nominated Herbert Hoover
  • The Democrats nominated Governor Alfred Smith of
    New York
  • Hoover represented big business and middle
  • Smith, the son of immigrants and a Catholic
    represented big cities
  • Hoover won 444-87 in a vindication of

  • 1929 promised continued prosperity, but there
    were some signs of problems
  • Also in 1929 Congress passed the Agricultural
    Marketing Act, which created the Federal Farm
    Board to allow loans to farmers
  • The Hawley-Smoot Tariff of 1930 sent duties to an
    all-time high
  • Over 1,000 economist petitioned Hoover to veto
    the bill as it would hurt consumers
  • Hoover ignored the appeal

Life in the Roaring Twenties
  • Life in the twenties was based on a fast-paced,
    big city mentality. Living in small towns with
    small town values was frowned upon
  • In 1920 Sinclair Lewis wrote Main Street about
    the cramped life of a prairie town
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald dubbed the twenties the Jazz
    Age symbolized by experimentation with music and
  • African and European music blended to form jazz
    which became popular with the younger crowd

  • New music meant new dances and the gyrations of
    the Charleston and the Black Bottom became all
    the rage
  • The development of the radio allowed people all
    over the country to be connected
  • Now ideas from one area could be spread almost
    immediately across the country
  • People listened to jazz and rag time, but even
    more popular were sporting events
  • The movies became the entertainment of choice as
    people thrilled at action on the big screen
  • In 1927 the introduction of sound increased the
    popularity of movies

  • One of the biggest changes witnessed during the
    decade came from a shift in morality
  • Traditional values of what was acceptable were
    cast aside as the twenties created a new woman
  • Novels, magazines, and the movies quickly showed
    the public what life was going to be like for
    these independent females who wore make up,
    smoked, drank, and were often kissed in public.
  • At the start of the decades skirts were expected
    to be just off the ground. By 1927 skirt length
    was at the knee.

  • The women who wore these short skirts were called
    flappers and they came to represent the new
    feminism of the twenties
  • The most controversial issue of the 1920s was
    birth control
  • Margaret Sanger promoted the use of birth control
    in 1912.
  • Sanger opened the first family- planning clinic
    in New York in 1916 by asking women if they could
    afford to keep having large families?
  • By 1920 women found themselves able to gain
    access to contraception
  • In 1921 she started the American Birth Control

Womens Right
  • Women had supported the plight of emancipation
    and rights for the former slaves and many were
    disappointed when they were not included in
  • The womens suffrage movement which had started
    much earlier became a focal point in the years
    prior to the 1920s
  • In 1912 Alice Paul became the head of the
    National American Woman Suffrage Associations
    Congressional Committee
  • Paul was very militant and urged woman to go on
    the offensive for their rights

  • Carrie Chapman Catt became the head of the
    National Suffrage Association in 1915
  • In 1916 Alice Paul helped create the Womans
    party which copied the tactics of British
  • In 1917 Paul and some followers were arrested for
    picketing the White House. In prison they went
    on hunger strike
  • President Wilson avoided the issue until 1916
    when he supported womens suffrage as part of the
    Democratic platform
  • In 1918 the Anthony Amendment passed the House
    but failed in the Senate by 2 votes

  • Eventually it was passed in 1919, but was not
    ratified as the Nineteenth Amendment for another
    14 months
  • In 1919 the League of Women Voters was formed
  • After attained the franchise many women stopped
    working for more rights
  • Paul and the Womans party introduced an Equal
    Rights Amendment into Congress in 1923, but her
    amendment would not be adopted until 1972

African Americans
  • Starting in roughly 1915 thousands of African
    Americans migrated north to the cities to work in
    the factories
  • With the sudden and large increase in African
    Americans there were some noticeable changes in
    society, particularly in politics
  • Blacks felt more inclined to participate in the
    political process in the North
  • In addition to an economic and political change
    there was a social change

  • The Harlem Renaissance was a rebirth of the black
    cultural spirit
  • Claude McKay wrote Harlem Shadows (1922)was one
    of the first writers to participate in the
    Renaissance spirit
  • James Weldon Toomer and Langston Hughes became
    widely read black authors
  • There was also a new spirit of Negro
    nationalism which allowed people like Marcus
    Garvey to express the importance of black culture
    and the uniqueness of being black
  • Garvey formed the Universal Negro Improvement
    Association in 1916

  • Garvey told blacks to liberate themselves from
    the whites and his words found a receptive
    audience in the racially-heated twenties
  • Not all black leaders agreed with Garveys
    rhetoric W.E.B. DuBois called Garvey an enemy
    of the Negro race
  • Garvey spoke at the UNIA convention in 1920 and
    told blacks that their best hope was to leave
    America and move back to Africa
  • He was found guilty of mail fraud and sentenced
    to prison in 1925 where he stayed until President
    Coolidge pardoned him in 1927 and sent him to

  • The organization Garvey started would reemerge
    much later in the form of the Black Power
  • A more influential organization was the National
    association for the Advancement of Colored People
    (NAACP) which was founded in 1910
  • The organization focused on getting public
    attention on the Fourteenth and Fifteenth
    Amendments the Amendments intended to allow the
    black man to vote
  • Gradually through the work of the Supreme Court
    the NAACP was able to make significant changes to
    the voting laws

The Automobile
  • The policies of Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon
    favored those who were willing to invest and
    invest heavily
  • Capitalists looked for industrialists and
    industrialists looked for a product and a market
  • The greatest symbol of American ingenuity was
    Henry Fords assembly line which turned out a new
    car every 10 seconds
  • Perhaps nothing symbolizes the 1920s and the new
    culture of America than the automobile

  • By the middle of the decade Fords Model T (the
    Tin Lizzie) was cheap enough that most workers
    could afford one
  • By the end of the decade there were almost 30
    million automobiles in the United States
  • Thousands of new jobs were created to accommodate
    the new automobile industry
  • Production of rubber, glass, and steel all
    increased dramatically roads had to be laid
    motels appeared by the side of the road as did
    gas stations
  • Demand for oil was gripped the nation
  • Once a luxury, the automobile became seen as a

  • On a weekend American families would climb into
    their cars and visit the countryside
  • No longer were city dwellers confined to the
  • Great areas of the country suddenly became
    popular as tourism became a major industry
  • Workers no longer had to live in the cities they
    could travel to work, so living in the suburbs
    became fashionable

  • In 1903 Orville and Wilbur Wright created a plane
    that stayed in the air for 12 seconds the door
    to air travel had been kicked open
  • During the First World War airplanes were
    commonly seen above the battlefields although
    they were poorly used and referred to as flying
  • After the war private companies started offering
    travel by airplane and the first commercial
    flights from New York to San Francisco started in

  • In 1927 Charles Lindbergh became the first man to
    fly west to east across the Atlantic Ocean
  • His plane the Spirit of St. Louis flew from new
    York to Paris in a little over 33 hours
    Lindbergh was able to claim the 25,000 prize

  • In the 1920s baseball became Americas game
  • Babe Ruth, who had been sold by the Boston Red
    Sox, became a living legend in New York playing
    for the Yankees
  • Yankee Stadium became commonly known as the
    house that Ruth built
  • In 1921 Jack Dempsey knocked out Georges
    Carpentier in front of the first crowd to pay a
    million dollars to see a fight

The Arts
  • The first real movie was The Great Train Robbery,
    made in 1913 and shown in theaters called
    nickelodeons because they charged five-cents
  • D. W. Griffith produced The Birth of a Nation in
    1915 about the Ku Klux Klan during Reconstruction
    was one of the first full-length movies
  • Southern California quickly became the center of
    the movie making business

The Wall Street Crash
  • By 1929 many advised caution but making money
    seemed almost too easy
  • The president even urged the Stock Market to
    discourage speculation
  • The Federal Reserve Board raised the interest
    rate but with no effect
  • In September prices dropped but it was seen as a
    slight adjustment and not a problem
  • October 29 became the most devastating single day
    for the market
  • People unable to meet their margin were forced to
    sell at a loss

  • During October over a third of the value was lost
  • In September the New York Times stock average was
    452, in July 1932 it was 52!
  • As prices fell companies started laying people
    off and increasing unemployment
  • Without work there was no income
  • Banks started to close, farmers went bankrupt,
    and factories closed
  • The crash did not cause the Great Depression but
    the policies of the government and the reluctance
    of the administration to interfere with business
    practices prevented any form of recovery
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