1920s (1919-1929)
 Postwar Problems
o Demobilization
 Process of reducing the army
 Getting the country back to normal
 Returning soldiers to civilian life
 Cutback in production, troops
 Regulations and agencies during the war are gone
 Jobs taken by women and blacks were restored to white males
 Brief recession
 10% were unemployed
 European products arrived
 Government sold war vessels to be converted to shipper boats
 Railroads became more privatized
 Progressive reforms were reversed
o Red Scare
 Peace process was shaky, uneasy
 People were afraid of communism and socialism
 Laborers weren’t happy
 Afraid because of Russian Revolution – became communist
 Immigrants brought over ideologies
 Socialism, communism, anarchism
 Several unexplained bombings occurred
 Mitchell Palmer – attorney general
 Established an office under Hoover
 Orders mass arrest of foreign, sketchy people
o Known as the Palmer Raids
o Roughly 6,000 were jailed
o Most were foreign-born; some were deported.
 Ended as quickly as it began
 Palmer lost credibility
 Loss of civil liberties
o Labor Conflict
 US valued free enterprise
 Said unions could not be trusted
 Several strikes occurred in 1919
 US no longer trusted Unions
 Seattle – strike occurred with ship workers wanting higher pay
 In Boston, there was a police strike
o The policeman wanted to form a union and the union leaders were fired;
went on strike
o Governor of MA was Coolidge, called in national guard, chastised the
 Steel Strike at US Steel
o Ended in bloodshed
o State and federal troops were called in; race and ethnicity were exploited
o By January it was over
Railroad Strike
o 1922, broken up by a court injunction
o RR labor board announced a 12% pay cut and workers had to return with
pay cut
Membership slowed
o But wages increased in general
o Race Riots
 Race riots occurred
 When blacks migrated north, blacks and whites competed for jobs
 East St. Louis
 Chicago
 Worst, 40 were killed
 Lynchings increased
 Republican Control
o Business Doctrine
 20s known for Republican dominance
 1920 election – Harding v. Cox
 Harding was unclear about many issues
 Harding was elected by a landslide – ‘Return to Normalcy’
o Harding Presidency
 Congress was solidly Republican
 Business boomed
 Farmers and unions struggled
 Roosevelt died in 1919
 End of progressivism
 Believed that there should be limited government regulation
 Leaders of organizations were conservative
 Republican party believed it would benefit if it protected business
 Harding
 Small-town guy, editor
 Didn’t have great leadership abilities
 Made Charles Evans Hughes Secretary of State and Hoover at Secretary of
o Treasury Secretary – Andrew Mellon
o Filled SC spot with former president Taft
o Pardoned Eugene Debs
 Harding signed most bills that conservative Congress gave him
 Reduced income taxes
 Increased tariff rates
 Est. Bureau of the Budget
o Created and submitted budget at once
 He was a corruptible post-war president
 His secretary of the interior, Fall, and Dougherty were found to have been
accepting bribes from oilmen to let them use land – Teapot Dome
 Dougherty was taking bribes not to prosecute
 Harding died in Alaska of an aneurism
o Coolidge Presidency
 Accepted presidency after death of Harding
Won popularity as a Massachusetts Governor
 Broke Boston police strike
 He was the first president to be on the radio
 Was overwhelmingly nominated for the Republican candidate in the next election
 Democrats nominated conservative John Lewis
 Liberals were not happy
o Began progressive party – Bob Lafollett
 Coolidge won
 Believed in limited government
 Inaction – didn’t do a whole lot
 Cut spending down to a bare minimum
 Sometimes he vetoed the conservative congress
o Farm subsidies bill
o Bonus Pensions for WWI veterans
o McNary-Haugen Bill
 Would have give farmers a subsidy boost
 Coolidge declined to run again
o Hoover and 1928 Election
 Hoover had a reputation as a naval leader; had served 3 presidents
 Republican candidate in 1928
 Opponent was Al Smith – Catholic
 Smith was opposed to prohibition efforts
 Appealed to immigrants and Protestants were openly prejudice against Smith
 Republicans bragged about Coolidge Prosperity
 Hoover was expected to continue this and promised an end to poverty
 Hoover won in a landslide
Mixed Economic Development
o Causes of business Prosperity
 20s began with a brief recession, from 22 to 28, things were uphill
 Ended in October of 1929 when the stockmarket crashed
 Unemployment was less that 4%
 Standard of living improved
 More electricity, indoor plumbing
 By 1930, 2/3 of all homes had electricity
 Prosperity was not universal
 Urban and rural areas had incomes below poverty level
 Mecca was WWI and the 20s was their downfall
 Industrial output increased 50%
 Found better ways to produce
 Improved mass production
o Henry Ford – perfected assembly line in automobile manufacturing
o Much more efficient, price of a car was 1/3 of what it used to be
 Improvement in use of energy
 Coal and electricity
 Homes and railroads still used coal, but oil and electricity became more common
o By 1930, about ¼ of US energy was oil
 Factories began to use electric motors and production of energy tripled
 Government policy
All levels favored business
Offered tax cuts
o Did nothing to enforce Antitrust laws
o Farm Problems
 Best years were WWI, downfall was in the 20s
 Farmers who had borrowed money in the war were deeply in debt
 Crop prices were dropping
 Due to improvements
 Gasoline tractors and special fertilizers made farmers overproduce
 Produced surplus and they had to borrow more and grow more in order to prosper
o Labor Problems
 Union membership declined about 20%
 Companies insisted on an open shop
o Don’t have to belong to a union to reap the benefits and work jobs
 New Culture
Culture dominated by young people
More people lived in the city
 Culture based on popular tastes, morals, and mass consumption
o Jazz Age
 Youth rebelled against elders and danced to jazz music
 Performed by black musicians
 City-theme
 Phonographs and radios were widespread
 Decade for increased radio ownership
 Broke down traditional culture barriers
o Consumerism/Auto
 Electricity allowed people to buy new appliances
 Light industry
 People buying stuff
 Affordable autos, appliances, refrigerators, washers
 Marketing and Advertisement
 Encouraged people to compete with their neighbors in ownership
 Bright packaging and credit/installment plans helped growth
 Planned Obselesense
 Developed products that later became obsolete
 Product numbers and styles became outdated by new versions
 Learned to attractively display and package materials
 Cellophane
o Clear plastic wrapping – Twinkie Wrapping
 Chains started marketing their products at lower prices than local stores
 Automobile
 By 1929, there were 26 and a half million registered vehicles, 1913 – 1.2 million
o Roughly 1 car per family
 Car replaced railroad as key promoter of wealth
 Affected everything in life
o Suburbs grew
o Traveling increased
o Changed the ways people dated
Entertainment Changed as Well
 New radio stations
o By 1930, 800 radio stations
 NBC started out as an affiliation of broadcasting stations
o CBS and ABC
 News, sports, soap operas, comedies, and quiz shows could all be heard
 Going to the movies became a national habit
o Hollywood became big
o Theaters were ornate and large
o Actors became really big and people began to recognize their names
 Could demand to work for different studios and work for different
 Talkie
o First talking movie came out in 1927
o Jazz movie – “The Jazz Singer”
 People began naming their kids after famous people
 Sports
o Boxing became big
o Gertrude Ederle – swam the English Channel
o Jim Thorpe – touchdowns
 Charles Lindbergh
 Young pilot who flew nonstop from Long Island to Paris
o Flew over in the Spirit of Saint Louis
 Welcomed as a hero
 Later became a Senator and his baby was kidnapped and killed
o Women at Home and at Work
 19th Amendment – suffrage
 No immediate impact – 1920 election
 Conformist views
 Gender roles – more defined
 Mothers, homemakers
 Appliances - made life easier, routine was same
 Workforce
 Urban women – jobs
 Feminized professions – back to pre-war style
 Significant Change
 Revo. Against sexual taboos
 Sigmund Freud
o Stress sex. Repression  SEX
 Premarital sex
o Novels, autos, movies  promiscuity
 Margaret Sanger
o Contraceptives
 Fashion
 Flappers – leaving nest early
 Education
 Graduates married and abandoned jobs
o Revolution in Morals
Divisions among Protestants – young v. old, urban v. rural
 Connections btw science and religion
 General translation of Bible
 Fundamentalists
 Rural – literal translation of Bible
 Creation = 7 days – origin of life
 Modernists = moral decay
 Revivalists
 Used radio, Hollywood, drama – Billy Sunday
o Attacked immoralities
 Aimee Semple Phearson
o Twin Evils = Communism and Jazz
Divorce Rises
 Divorce laws were more liberalized – 1/6
More Public Schools
 Economy
 More informed, more skills
 By end of 1920, HS grads doubled
Literature of Alienations
 Writers
 Religion – hypocritical
 Gertrude Stein
o ‘lost generation’
o Scott Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, Ernest Hemingway
Harlem Renaissance
 Industrial art – making functional items pretty
 Frank Lloyd Wright – architect – made buildings blend in
 Edward Hopper
 Painted ‘playhouses’ - audience
 Georgia O’Keefe – tulips and skulls
 1930 – 1/5 blacks lived in north
 Harlem – top black community – 200,000
 Renaissance – black music and art
o Poets (Langston Hughes)
o Singers, artists, musicians
 United Negro Improvement Association
 Preached black nationalism – Marcus Garvey
 Separatism – self-sufficient – ‘back to Africa’ movement
 Conflict of Cultures
o Scopes Trial
 TN Trial – illegal to teach evo. in schools
 ACLU offered to pay defense of teacher who would teach evo.
 John Scopes – Paducah
 Taught, was arrested  Court
 Nation followed case
 Defense – Clarence Darrow
 Prosecuting Attorney – WJB rep. TN
Testified as Biblical expert
o Darrow poked holes in fundamentalist views
 WJB died of stroke
 Stress = trial
 Scopes was convicted – later overturned  minor fine technicality
o Prohibition
 18th Amendment - prohibited sale and manufacture of alcoholic beverages
 Volstead Act – laws that carried out the 18th
 Created agencies and agents
 People made their own
 Gangs
 Al Capone  encouraged black market – underground liquor market
 Organized crime
o Nativism/S and V Trial
 After WWI, nativism rose
 Workers feared competition
 Isolationists said we needed to seclude ourselves
 Immigration Act
 1920 Census – took numbers of different ethnicities
 Said that 3% of those populations could still come
 1924 Immigration Act
 Used 1890 census – more northern European immigrants
 Allowed less southern and eastern Europeans
o Only 2% of those people could come
 1927
 Quota limited immigrants from Asia, E/S Europeans to 150,000 from each country
 No Japanese could come
 Italian Immigrants – Sacco and Vanzetti
 Italian anarchists – active against US govt.
 Payroll robbery – 1921
o Clerk was shot and robbed
 Italians were blamed – no viable evidence
o Tried and found guilty – sentenced to electric chair – executed
o KKK Reemerges
 Targeted blacks, Jews, Catholics – expanding the hatred
 5 million – 1925 – Midwest
 America was changing and they didn’t like it
 Clan became corrupt and leader was accused of murder
 Isolationist Foreign Policy
o Disarmament
 Charles Hughes – Washington Conference – 1921
 Belgium, China, France, Italy, Japan, Dutch, Portugal
 Treaties
 Five-Power
o Countries with 5 largest navies = scrapped destroyers and ships 
 Four-Power
o US, France, GB, Japan – respect property in Pacific
o all countries stop exploitation of China
 Kellogg Briand Treaty
 62 nations signed it, denounced offensive war
o Didn’t mention defensive wars (Japanese were defending themselves
when they bombed Pearl Harbor)
o Didn’t know how to punish violators
o Business Diplomacy
 Presidents used diplomacy to advance business interests
 Mexico
o Nationalized oil reserves/minerals in Constitution
o US negotiated to maintain oil rights
 US was still in Nicaragua and Haiti
o US resented  not so much positive influence
o Investments in LA countries doubled
 Middle East
o Oil reserves – major source of wealth
o Secretary of State Hughes won drilling rights for US
 Forney-McCumber
 Raised tariffs 25%
 Caused problems – limited cash flow btw countries
o War Debts and Reparation
 Before WWI, US was a debtor country
 After, US was a creditor – loaned billions to allies in WWI
 Harding, Coolidge – tried to force French and GB to repay money
 Caused hard feelings
 Policies w/ tariffs made it harder to repay
 Reparation
 Germany had to pay allies 30 billion dollars
 Printed more money and caused inflation in order to pay
o Lost its value
 Charles Dawes – banker
o Dawes Plan
 Create a cycle of payments
 US banks would offer loans
 Help Germany build up economy and pay war debts
 Finland was the only country that repaid all war debts

1920s (1919-1929) - Introducing Adam Morton