12.1 Americans Struggle with Postwar Issues How did Americans adjust to the end of the war? Postwar Trends and Fears • Much of the American public was divided about the League of Nations • The end of the war hurt the economy; returning soldiers took jobs away from many women and minorities • Waves of nativism and isolationism swept over Americans who were suspicious of foreigners and who wanted to pull away from world affairs Fear of Communism • Americans saw communism, or an economic and political system that supports govt. control over property to create equality, as a threat to their way of life • Communists came to power in Russia through violent revolution, and the new govt. wanted to overthrow capitalism • In America, about 70,000 people joined the Communist Party, or the “Reds” • A fear of communism, or a “red scare”, swept over the U.S. Continued • Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer set up an agency in the Justice Department to arrest communists, socialists, and anarchists, who opposed all forms of govt. • This agency later became the FBI • Palmer’s agents trampled on civil rights; most radicals were sent out of the country without trial • One case involved two Italian immigrants who were arrested for murder and robbery in Massachusetts Continued • Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti admitted they were anarchists, but denied committing any crime • The case against them was weak, but they were convicted anyway • Many believed they were convicted based on a fear of foreigners • The two were executed in 1927 Limiting Immigration • Some used the Red Scare as an excuse to act against any who were different • The Ku Klux Klan saw a revival during this time that targeted African Americans, Jews, Roman Catholics, immigrants, and union leaders • They used violence to keep these groups ‘in their place’ Continued • As a result of nativism, Congress passed the Emergency Quota Act of 1921, which established a quota system, which set a limit on how many immigrants from each country could enter the U.S. every year • This limited mostly immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe as well as Japan; people from the Western Hemisphere still entered the U.S. in large numbers Labor Unrest • Strikes were not allowed during WWI because they may have hurt the war effort • Three main strikes in 1919 revolutionized workers, the most successful of which was led by John L. Lewis, the president of the United Mine Workers • When Lewis’ workers closed the coal mines, President Wilson tried to help end the dispute and the workers got higher wages Negative Times for Workers • Overall, the 1920s was a bad time for unions • Union membership declined from 5 million to 3.5 million for the following reasons: – Immigrants were willing to work in poor conditions – Language barriers made organizing people difficult – Farmers who had migrated to cities were used to relying on themselves – Most unions excluded African Americans – Ryan Walz is the coolest kid in the whole world!!