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1920 - Warren Harding elected president

1921 - Immigration Act

1923 - Calvin Coolidge becomes president after Harding's death

1924 - Dawes Plan

1925 - Scopes Trial

1927 - Sacco and Vanzetti executed

1928 - Herbert Hoover elected president

1928 - Kellogg-Briand Pact

1929 - Stock Market collapses (Depression)



Booming economy

  • Followed a brief postwar recession (1921)

  • US emerged from WWI as a creditor nation.

  • Industrial production rose dramatically because of new worldwide demand

  • Prices dropped

  • Standard of living for the average American was higher than in any other nation.

Mass-consumption society

  • Modern advertising

  • Drew on tactics used by the Committee of Public Information (Creel, WWI propaganda)

  • Many families could afford cars (see Ford) and appliances

  • Refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, electric stones, irons etc.

  • Many consumers bought on credit to keep up with neighbors

  • By 1930 2/3 of homes had electricity and indoor plumbing was common.

Mass culture

  • World War I

  • Patriotism (united against an enemy)

  • Fighting for shared American ideals (Democracy, 14 Points)

  • Assimilation of immigrants

  • Radio and film industry

  • Connected Americans through common entertainment and evangelism

  • Celebrities became trend setters

  • Affordable automobiles (Ford)

  • Connected communities, reduced isolation, creation of suburbs

  • Consumerism

  • Advertising

  • Cheaper consumer goods

  • Expensive goods (stoves, refrigerators etc. ) bought in installments



  • Presidents in the 1920s generally supported big business and laissez-faire.

  • Harding began 12 years of conservative Republican rule


WARREN G. HARDING (1921-1923)

Back to "normalcy" after World War I (see quote)

Ohio Gang/Poker Cabinet

  • Harding surrounded himself with his friends.

  • Andrew Mellon - Sec. of Treasury

  • Wall Street financier

  • Wanted to slash government spending, reduce national debt and cut income taxes - especially for the rich (first "trickle down")

  • Charles Evans Hughes - Sec. of State

  • Former Supreme Court Justice

  • Herbert Hoover, Sec. of Commerce

  • Former Head of Food Administration (WWI)

  • William Howard Taft, Supreme Court Justice

  • Former President

  • Albert B. Fall, Sec. of Interior


  • Harding presidency seen as most corrupt in history

  • Teapot Dome Scandal 1923

  • Sec. of Interior, Albert Fall and Attorney General Harry Daugherty

  • Secretly and illegally leased government oil reserves near Teapot Dome, Wyoming

  • To two businessmen who wanted to drill for oil on the land.

  • In exchange for bribes of cash and cattle

  • Fall, who took about $400,000 in bribes

  • Charged with fraud, served 1 year in prison

  • First cabinet official in history to be charged with a federal offenc

Death 1923

  • While on a goodwill tour of the Pacific Northwest, Harding died of pneumonia




  • Harding's VP

  • Was popular as Massachusetts governor in 1919

  • Because he broke the Boston police strike

Won reelection in 1924

  • Against Dem. John Davis

  • And Progressive Robert La Follette ("Wisconsin Plan")

"Silent Cal"

  • Coolidge believed silence was good politics.

  • Believed in limited government

  • Little was accomplished in the White House

  • Cut spending to the bone

  • Including cancelling bonuses for World War I vets

  • And vetoing the McNary-Haugen Bill of 1928

  • Would have helped farmers if crop prices fell

Favored business (see quote)


  • Sec. of Treasury , Andrew Mellon

  • Increased income through import duties (Fordney-McCumber Tariff,1922)

  • And excise taxes on new cars.

  • Govt. spending cut in half

  • By 1929 federal budget surplus was $600 million



During WWI

  • War Labors Board

  • Increased wages

  • Gave workers the right to join unions

  • Union membership doubled

After War

  • Employers cut wages


  • 1919 - Rash of strikes

  • Seattle: 60,000 unionists joined shipyard workers in peaceful strike for higher pay

  • Boston Police strike

  • To protest the firing of a few police officers who tried to unionize.

  • Massachusetts Governor, Calvin Coolidge, sent in National Guard to break the strike

  • U.S. Steel Corporation strike, state and federal troops sent, violence

  • Strikes in 1919 caused businesses to be suspicious as ever of laborers.

  • 1927, Gastonia, NC

  • Most famous strike of decade, 2,500 mill hands in Gastonia walked out.

  • 1928

  • Only 628 strikes, a record low for the nation.

  • Union membership shrank from 5 million (1921) to 3.5 million (1929)

National Association of Manufacturers (1921)

  • Launched "American Plan" to end "closed shops" (only union members are hired)

  • "Closed Shop" became illegal with Taft-Hartley Act in 1947

  • Instead forced workers to sign "Yellow Dog Contracts" (agreeing not to join union)

  • Refused to hire anyone who didn't sign them.

Welfare Capitalism

  • About 5% of employers began treating their workers well.

  • Mostly skilled workers (hardest to replace)

  • Gentler side of "American Plan" -- more socially conscious business leadership

  • Companies like GE and Bethlehem Steel

  • Pledged to take care of their employees

  • And give them incentives to work hard.

  • Built clean, safe factories

  • Presidents in the 1920s generally supported big business and laissez-faire.

  • Installed cafeterias, hired dietitians

  • formed baseball teams and glee clubs

  • Some allowed workers to buy company stock

  • Established company "Kiss Me" clubs

  • Offering health and safety insurance

  • A grievance procedure

  • Representation for African-Americans, women, immigrants

  • National Labor Relations Act (1935)

  • Created National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to reduce strikes

Henry Ford

  • Borrowed idea of assembly line from meatpacking industry

  • Cut production time in half

  • Model T only in one color (black) (GM offered many types/colors)

  • Price of Model T dropped from $845 to $290 by 1925

  • "Doctrine of high wages"

  • Paid workers $5 a day (very high at the time)

  • And limited workweeks to 40 hours (not 48) and 5 days a week (not 6)

  • Ford also had spies, kept strict rules, visited employee homes

  • And Americanized the workforce

  • Hired 10,000 African-Americans

  • Consequences of car

  • Other industries involved (rubber, steel, service stations, roadside inns etc.)

  • 1 in 5 workers were employed to service car industry

  • Caused urban sprawl (and moves to suburbs)

  • Ended isolation = standardization of dialects, manners, tourism




  • Not much immigration during war

  • But influx of immigrants (many from Eastern Europe) after the war.

Dillingham Commission Report, 1911

  • Commission to study immigration.

  • Concluded that immigration from southern and eastern Europe posed a serious threat to American society and culture and should be reduced.

  • Recommendation: literacy test to limit undesirable immigration

Sacco and Vanzetti

  • Italian anarchists

  • Arrested in 1920 for robbery and murdering two men

  • Controversial trial

  • Bad evidence

  • Bigoted judge

  • Jury found them guilty anyway

  • Sacco and Vanzetti were executed in 1927

  • Illustrated America's intolerance for foreign ideas and individuals

Immigration Acts

  • 1921 (Emergency Quota Act)

  • Limit of 3% from each national group in the U.S. based on 1910 census

  • 358,000 total immigrants

  • 1924 (National Origins Act/Asian Exclusion Act)

  • Limit of 2% from each group based on 1890 census

  • When there were more western Europeans than eastern Europeans.

  • 154,000 total immigrants

  • Severely restricted immigration of Africans

  • Banned immigration of Arabs and Asian

  • No alien ineligible to become a citizen could be admitted (Chinese and Japanese

Ku Klux Klan

  • Old KKK

  • Based in South and West

  • Targeted blacks

  • New KKK

  • In cities in north as well as south

  • Targeted Catholics, Jews, immigrants, anarchists, communists and others.

  • Won political power.

  • Three million members (including many women)

  • Birth of a Nation

  • Movie that glorified Reconstruction-era Klan

  • Shown in the White House under Woodrow Wilson

  • New KKK declined nationally after 1925



Russian Revolution, 1917

  • ​Bolsheviks under Lenin had taken over the Russian government.

  • Set off fears of Communists taking over America

  • Especially with rise in labor strikes.

  • Also resulted in fear of anarchists and foreigners.

Palmer Raids 1919

  • Letter bombs

  • In 1919, 30 letter bombs were sent to prominent government officials were found

  • Letters came from followers of anarchist Luigi Galleani (Galleanists)

  • Second wave of letter bombs sent

  • Included one to home of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer in Washington DC


  • In reaction, Palmer decided to create a special office under J. Edgar Hoover.

  • President Wilson had had a stroke and didn't participate

  • To gather information on radicals

  • The organization later became FBI

  • Palmer Raids (Nov. 1919 - Jan. 1920)

  • Palmer also ordered mass arrests of anarchists, socialists and labor agitators

  • Over 6,000 people arrested - based on limited information.

  • Most of the suspects were foreign born who had no legal protection.

  • 500 of them (including radical activist Emma Goldman) were deported.

  • Palmer discredited

  • Palmer warned that a huge riot would take place on May Day 1920

  • It didn't, causing people to focus concerns on the loss of civil liberies



Great Migration

  • During and after World War a wave of black migrants moved from South to North

  • Less discrimination in the north, war jobs available

  • And fewer immigrants to fill the jobs

Race riots

  • ​The migration of black families to northern ities during the war increased racial tensions.

  • Whites resented increased competition for jobs and housing.

  • Race riots

  • 1917 East St. Louis, Illinois

  • 1919 Riots around the country

  • Worst one was in Chicago: 40 killed, 500 injured

  • Even black WWI soldiers in uniform were killed

Harlem Renaissance

  • Harlem

  • In 1910, Harlem, in upper Manhattan, New York, was an upper-middle class white community

  • By 1925, it became a mecca for the "New Negro"

  • Cotton Club

  • Oasis of permissibility, races could mingle

  • Music

  • Jazz

  • Louis Armstrong

  • Literature

  • Langston Hughes

  • Zora Neale Hurston

  • Collected folktales, songs, prayers of black southers

  • Art

  • Aaron Douglas

Black pride

  • Marcus Garvey

  • From Jamaica

  • Founded Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA)

  • Dedicated to black self-determination and self pride

  • And repatriation to mother Africa

  • Created a shipping company (Black Star Line)

  • Oversold stock options through the mail

  • Garvey was convicted of mail fraud - prison 5 years.

  • Rastafarian



18th Amendment

  • Manufacture, sale and transportation of alcohol prohibited

  • Private possession and consumption was allowed.

Volstead Act

  • Set down methods for enforcing the 18th Amendment

  • Defined which intoxicating liquors were prohibited and which were exclusion for medical or religious perpuses

  • Called the "Noble Experiment"

  • Alcohol consumption dropped in rural areas but rose in urban areas.


  • Illegal drinking establishments.



  • At first bootleggers and speakeasies were tolerated.

  • Changed with gangster violence (in 1929, 64 gang-related murders)

Al Capone ("Scarface")

  • Italian immigrant who grew up in Brooklyn, NY

  • Called "Scarface" because his faced by slashed by the brother of a woman he insulted while working as a bouncer.

  • Took over from his boss, Johnny Torrio in 1925.

  • In Chicago, Capone ran 10,000 speakasies, gambling, prostitution rings

  • Known for ruthlessly killing competitors

  • Profits - $60 million a year by 1927

St. Valentine's Day Massacre, February 14, 1929

  • Chicago bootlegging gang associated with Capone disguised as police officers

  • Faked a police raid in order to gun down rival gang members (George "Bugs" Moran)

  • Resulted in violence on St. Valentine's Day (7 killed)

  • Al Capone was generally believed responsible

  • Capone was arrested by FBI agent Elliott Ness and his "Untouchables"

  • For tax evasion in 1931

  • Sentenced to 11 years in Alcatraz but let out because of Syphilis.

  • Prohibition was finally repealed in 1933 (21st Amendment)

  • Because of the difficulty of enforcing it.



World War I

  • Young couples got married or engaged in sex before men sent off to war.

  • Women worked abroad as nurses

  • Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), 1919

  • Members included Jane Addams

  • REaction to brutality of war.

  • Denounced imperialism, proposed social justice

  • Came under attack because of Red Scare (some members were socialists)

19th Amendment

  • Women received right to vote in 1920

  • National Woman Suffrage Assoc. disbanded.

  • League of Women Voters

  • Founded in 1920 by Carrie Chapman Catt

  • 6 months before 19th Amendment ratified

  • Encouraged women to vote.

Women in politics

  • Miriam "Ma" Ferguson - Governor of Texas

  • Nellie Ross - Governor of Wyoming

  • Jeannette Rankin - First woman in Congress, HOR (1917-1919 and 1941-1943)

Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), 1923

  • Alice Paul, founder of the National Woman's Party

  • Persuaded congress to consider an Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

  • State that "men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States.

"New Women"

  • Women won rights to more easily divorce.

  • Bobbed hair, smoked, danced

  • Clothing: short skirts, flattened breasts

  • "New Women" hung out in speakeasies

  • Pre-Prohibition saloons didn't allow women to enter

  • Flappers (named for the dance that looked like birds flapping wings.


  • Women were freed from drudgery of housework

  • Smaller apartments = less housework

  • Appliances (washing machines, electric irons etc.)

  • More bakeries, delicatessens, laundries etc.

  • Women wanted to work to have money to buy goods

  • Women more concerned by appearance (beauty parlors)



  • Tennessee law prohibited the teaching of evolution

  • John T. Scopes

  • ​Biology teacher

  • Taught evolution

  • He was arrested

  • ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union)

  • Formed in 1920 to "defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States"

  • Hired Clarence Darrow to represent Scopes in the trial

  • William Jennings Bryan

  • Popular because of "Cross of Gold Speech"

  • Represented fundamentalist Christians

  • Used the Bible to demonstration



  • Modernists v. Fundamentalists

  • Modernists

  • Liberal Protestants who applied science to evangelical Christianity

  • Fundamentalists

  • From book "Fundamentals" (1910-1915)

  • By oil tycoons, Lyman and Milton Stewart

  • Going back to the "fundamentals" of belief

  • Virgin birth, resurrection of Jesus, literal Bible

  • Movement grew in 1920 as counter to "Modernists"

  • Religious revival made full us of radio.

  • Leading radio evangelists

  • Bill Sunday

  • Former baseball player

  • In 1880s became evngelist

  • Attacked drinking, gambling, dancing

  • Aimee Semple McPherson

  • Founded Foursquare Church

  • Pioneer in use of modern media - used radio

  • Sermons at Angelus Temple

  • ​In Los Angeles, one of the first megachurches

  • In 1926, she was purportedly kidnapped from Venice Beach (CA)

  • Possibly a hoax

  • Faith healer

  • Most publicized Christian evangelist, surpassing Billy Sunday




  • Most movies were made in California (sunshine year round)

  • Gave the New Woman notoriety

  • Theda Bara (anagram of Arab Death) appeared in The Blue Flame in 1920.

  • First "Vamp" - epitome of sex, wickedness and evil

  • Hollywood set standards of physical attraction, fashion etc.

  • Appealed to masses because no literacy was needed.

  • Nickelodeons (1889)

  • Short movies for a nickel

  • The Great Train Robbery (1903)

  • First feature-length film

  • Attracted middle-class audience.

  • By 1926, 20,000 movie houses, 50 cents or less.


  • Frank Conrad

  • Established first amateur radio station in his home in 1919

  • Transmitted phonograph music and baseball scores to local wireless operators.

  • Local department stores advertised wireless sets to receive Conrad's transmissions

  • Westinghouse

  • Realized commercial value of radio

  • Opened first licensed broadcasting station, KDKA in 1920

  • Aired results of Hardin-Cox presidential election

  • Radio Act 1927

  • Defined radio broadcast as public utility that required government supervision

  • Since it was in people's homes

  • Federal Radio Commission

  • ​Precursor to Federal Communications Commission, FCC)

  • Empowered to give and deny licences to radio operators.

  • Obscenity and profanity was forbidden.



Washington Naval Conference, 1921

  • International conference called by the U.S. to limit the naval arms race

  • And to work out security agreements in the Pacific area.

  • Four-Power Pact (U.S., GB, Japan, France), 1921

  • All would be consulted if a controversy arose over any Pacific question.

  • Five-Power Naval Limitation Treaty (U.S., GB, Japan, France and Italy), 1922

  • Grew out of a proposal by US Sec. of State Charles Evans Hughes

  • To scrap almost 190,000 tons of warships belonging to the Great Powers.

  • Halted post-WWI race in building warships

  • First disarmament treaty in modern history.

Dawes Plan, 1924

  • Treaty of Versailles

  • Germany had to pay France and Great Britain $33 billion in reparations.

  • Germany fell behind

  • France occupied Ruhr Valley (Germany's most concentrated industrial region)

  • Germany printed money causing inflation

  • Britain and France agreed to reduce reparation

  • If Coolidge persuaded U.S bankers to forgive some of the debts they owed the US

  • Coolidge refused

  • Charles Dawes

  • Brokered agreement to get French out of Ruhr

  • And reschedule payments

  • By pledging American loans to Germany.

  • Dawes Plan

  • Created circular flow of money that benefited American bankers

  • Money was loaned to Germany

  • Germany used the money to pay reparations to France and Britain

  • France and Britain used money to pay back American bankers.

Kellogg-Briand Pact, 1928

  • Major nations of the world (excluding the USSR) outlawed war



  • Republicans

  • Coolidge decided not to run for reelection.

  • Republicans chose Herbert Hoover

  • Not a politician but an administrator.

  • Self-made millionaire

  • Secretary of Commerce

  • "Republican prosperity" made it difficult for any Democrat to win

  • Democrats

  • Split between rural supporrers in South and West, ethnic laborers and urban Northeast

  • Dems. chose NY governor Al Smith

  • Smith had NY accent

  • Pledge to enforce Prohibition

  • Was a Catholic

  • Appealed to immigrants but many Protestants were prejudiced against Smith.

  • Election

  • Use of newspaper advertisements and radio spots.

  • Democrats created first public relations department.

  • Deterioration of party loyalty.

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