Chapter 20
The Roaring Twenties
• Harding
 Genial
 Lack of strong convictions
 Put strong men in important
 Gave lesser offices to the “Ohio
Harding Scandals
• Charles Forbes – embezzled
millions appropriated for veterans’
• Attorney general Daugherty
implicated in fraud
• Teapot Dome Scandal
 Secretary of Interior Albert Fall
 Leased government oil reserves
to private oil companies
• Calvin Coolidge
 Elected after three-party split
election (LaFollette ran on
Progressive ticket)
 After elected cleaned house
 Kept on Secretary of Treasury
 “Silent Cal”
• Both Harding and Coolidge deferred to the Senate on
foreign affairs
• US overwhelmingly isolationist
• Economic interests forced US to seek American influence
• Continued Open Door Policy in China – required
increasing checks on Japanese expansionism
• The Washington Conference
 Five-Power Treaty
o US-GB-Fr-Jp-It agreed to stop building battleships and reduce fleets to
a fixed ratio
 Four-Power Treaty
o US-GB-Fr-Jp agreed to respect each other’s interests in Pacific and
confer if any attack launched
 Nine-Power Treaty
o All powers agreed to respect Chinese independence and maintain
Open Door
• Treaties signified US interest in world affairs but treaties toothless
• Ratio under treaty actually gave Japanese naval dominance in
• Treaty made Philippines indefensible and endangered Hawaii
• Japan offended by National Origins Act 1924 that omitted Japan
from quota
• Both Japanese and American military officers considered war
between US and Japan inevitable
• Peace organizations flourished in
• Isolationism strengthened
• Kellogg-Briand Pact 1928
 French foreign minister Aristide Briand
and US Secretary of State Frank
 Treaty meaningless - pushed by peace
 Diplomats from 15 countries signed
treaty renouncing war as implement of
Good Neighbor Policy
• Hoover first to treat Latin
Americans as equals
• Re-interpreted Roosevelt Corollary
to Monroe Doctrine to mean US to
intervene only in self-defense
• Marines in Haiti, Nicaragua, and
Dominican Republic recalled in
• Platt amendment abrogated
• Latin Americans still resentful of
“rich Americans”
Totalitarian Challenge
• 1931 Japanese occupied
Manchuria made into puppet state
• Violation of Kellogg-Briand Pact
and Nine-Powers Treaty
• US and League of Nations asked
by Chiang Kai-shek to intervene –
US refused – not a world policeman
• 1932 Japan attacked Shanghai
• Condemnation by League of
Nations resulted in Japanese
withdrawal from League
War Debt & Reparations
• US lent Allies $10 billion for WWI –
wanted money repaid
• Allies demanded billions from
Germany to pay for war
• 1924 Dawes Plan scaled down
German reparations
• 1929 Young Plan further scaled
down German reparations
• When Great Depression struck both
Germans and Allies defaulted on
The Long Bull Market
• The Election of 1928
 Hoover versus Al Smith
 Issues - Catholicism
• The Stock Market
 Bull Market – long period of rising
stock prices
 Speculation – buying stocks in the
hope of selling them quickly for a
 Margin – buying stocks on small
cash down payment. Rest of cost
was interest-bearing loan
 Margin Call – demanding
immediate repayment of loan
The Great Crash
• Stock prices hit peak and started to
• Investors sold more and more stock
causing prices to fall further
• Margin calls caused people to sell
stocks at even lower prices – drove
market into tailspin
• October 1929 Black Thursday –
market plummeted/many investors
financially wiped out
• Crash did not cause Great
Depression but weakened US
financial stability
The Great Crash
• Banks
 Market crash weakened banks
 Banks had made loans to stock
speculators and invested depositors’
money in stocks
 To cover losses, banks drastically
reduced loans – businesses and
people unable to borrow money
 Some banks forced to close –
depositors lost all savings
 Bank Run - depositors went to banks
and withdrew all money
 Withdrawals exceeded cash reserves
causing more banks to fail
 By 1932, 1 in 4 banks closed
Roots of the Great Depression
• Factors Causing Great Depression
 Wealth Gap – fewer people could buy
 Overproduction – Factories/farms
produced more but low wages meant
people bought less
 Agriculture – farmers bought land &
equipment during WWI’s high demand.
End of war brought low prices wiping out
 Installment Plans (credit) – high cost
items bought on credit. People stopped
purchasing to pay off debt causing
factories to cut production & lay off
 Downturn caused ripple effect in
Roots of the Great Depression
 No unemployment insurance or
other safety nets
 Stock speculation cut loans to
foreign nations – foreigners could
not buy American products
 Hawley-Smoot Tariff – raised tariffs
to historical high
 Foreign nations retaliated w/high
rates – fewer US products
 Federal Reserve – kept interest
rates low encouraging risky loans.
Businesses expanded when sales
were falling. Reserve then raised
interest rates which tightened credit
The Depression Worsens
• Bank closures and business
bankruptcies continued into 1932
• People lost homes or were evicted
from rentals – many built temporary
houses out of trash on public lands
(shantytowns). People called them
Hoovervilles after President Hoover
• Hobos - homeless men and boys
wandered across country looking for
work or place to stay – many by
• Repatriation – some immigrants went
back to home countries, some forced
such as Mexicans. Many were actual
American citizens
The Dust Bowl
• Large-scale agriculture on Great
Plains caused erosion of topsoil
• High winds and drought caused
extreme dust storms
• During 1930’s, about 50 dust
storms hit prairie per year
• Crops were buried, livestock and
sometimes humans died due to
dust-clogged lungs
• Migration from affected areas
mostly to California (“Okies”)
Hoover’s Response
• Hoover believed that American “rugged
individualism” would keep US economy
• Tried to get businesses to maintain
employment/wages but most failed
• Funded public work projects – not enough
jobs generated
• Refused to spend money on direct relief –
finally relented and signed Emergency
Relief and Construction Act
• Asked Federal Reserve to print more
money – Fed refused
• Set up Reconstruction Finance
Corporation (RFC) to loan money to
businesses – did not loan enough
Angry Mood
• People growing desperate
• Increased instances of looting of
grocery stores
• Hunger marches sponsored by
Communist Party
• Communist Party saw biggest
increase in membership during
Great Depression
• ~One million farms foreclosed
• Farmers destroyed crops to raise
Bonus March
• WWI veterans promised $1,000 bonus
payable in 1945
• Desperation caused large group
(~15,000) to march on Washington DC
and demand payment now
• Marchers squatted in Hoovervilles in
city – occupied government offices
• Congress refused to pay bonus –
Hoover ordered army to remove
marchers from government buildings
• General Douglas MacArthur cleared
buildings and attacked/burned camps
– two veterans killed
• Hoover blamed for fiasco
Closing the Gates to New Immigrants
• World War I caused immigration to
dramatically increase
• Congress passed a quota system
that closed the gates to Southern
Europeans and Jews
• The National Origins Act caused
foreign-born percentage of
population to fall
• Jews subjected to increasing antiSemitism
New Urban Social Patterns
• By 1920, more Americans lived
in urban areas rather than rural
• Urban environment changed
family patterns- marriage a
partnership where women were
• Emergence of child expertsranged from rigid training to
• Urbanization loosened
constraints on sexuality
The Younger Generation
• Disillusionment over the Great War
and prudery of elders caused more
liberal expression
• Advent of dating versus courting
• Relations between the sexes
becoming more relaxed /
• Fashion and public behavior
• The Flapper – dressed and
behaved in a bold, unconventional
The New Woman
• After 1920 – more openness about
sex but contraception concern of
married women
• Margaret Sanger – Bohemian –
leader of birth control movement
• Birth control not constitutionally
protected until 1960s
• The passage of the 19th
Amendment caused rift in women’s
movement as some saw more work
needed while others saw the job as
Popular Culture: Movies and Radio
• The film industry became the 4th largest in
capital investment
• Films became new art: lighting, camera
angles, new methods of narrative
• New celebrities – American royalty?
• Impact of radio on common population
 Immediate communication
 Advertising
• 1934- FCC established to revoke licenses
that failed to operate in the public interest
The Golden Age of Sports
• People had more money to
spend and more time to fill
• Sports superstars and the
rise of professional sports
• Rise of school team sports
Jim Thorp
Babe Ruth
Urban-Rural Conflicts
• Changes mostly in urban areas
• Changes resented by rural areas –
seen as sinful, overly materialistic,
and unhealthy
• Radio and movies caused rural
areas to want new ways at same
time they spoke out against new
• Manifested in resurgence of
religious fundamentalism conservatism
Urban-Rural Conflicts
• Conflict illustrated by Scopes
“Monkey” Trial
 Darwin’s theories banned
 William Jennings Bryan versus
Clarence Darrow
 Biology teacher – John Scopes –
taught evolution
 Test case for ACLU
 Conviction
• Rural versus urban conflict –
• 18th Amendment – Prohibition
• Alcohol related crimes dropped
• Total abstinence caused many to
violate law
Bathtub gin
Alcohol “prescriptions”
Hypocrisy of officials
The Ku Klux Klan
• Revival in 1920’s – symptom of
social malaise (apathy)
• Targeted Blacks, Catholics, and
• Very little appeal in NE and cities –
most popular in mid-west and west
• Success caused factionalism and
squabbling over power and money
• Conviction of leader, David
Stephenson, for rape and death of
young woman caused dramatic
Sacco and Vanzetti
• Crime: 1921 robbery and murder of
shoe factory paymaster and guard
• Accused: Nicola Sacco and
Bartolomeo Vanzetti – Italian
immigrants and anarchists
• Convicted & sentenced to death
• Cause celebre
• Executed 1927 – disillusioned
The New Negro
• Disappointment after WWI gains
 Segregation
 Labor issues
• Marcus Garvey
 Separatism
 Back to Africa
• The Ghetto
 Concentrated political power
 Built self-confidence & brought
• Culture
 Jazz – Louis Armstrong
 Harlem Renaissance
Marcus Garvey
Economic Expansion
• Little government interference
• Federal Reserve kept interest rates
• Post-war demand for products
• Increased mechanization
• Increased use of electricity
• Assembly line
• “Taylorism”
Age of the Consumer
• Rise of advertising
• The installment plan
• The Automobile
 Biggest single impact on American
society in 1920’s
 Million+ cars produced per year –
cars cheaper
 New industries to supply parts for
 New road building
 Changes in family life and
recreational patterns
 Sense of freedom
The Airplane
• Internal combustion engine made
airplane possible
• Wright Brothers
• Most planes built before 1920
intended for military use
• Charles Lindbergh – solo flight
across Atlantic
• Glenn Curtiss – father of naval