Life After WWI (1918 - 1929)

Social Revolution

  • during WWI, a political and social revolution took place
  • labour versus capitalists
  • the Bolshevik Revolution (Russia, early 1917)
    • led by Vladimir Lenin
    • his "April Thesis" defined the Bolshevik vision
    • favoured labour
    • the Bolsheviks renamed to the Communist Party and, March 1918, withdrew from the capitalistic world
  • Communism in America
    • a few individuals formed their own Communist Party, inspired by Russia
    • the US is so focussed on the war, they're not noticed
    • as in Russia, the American Communists appointed themselves as champions of the working class
    • took up the cause of labour and aligned themselves with unions throughout the US
    • fought for shorter hours, higher wages, etc.
  • many strikes occurred throughout the US following the war
    • the US wasn't prepared for the end of the war
    • government contracts expire and soldiers come home; men are out of work and looking for jobs
    • there's a small recession following the war
    • unions gains were lost, so they striked
    • unions and Communists began to be viewed the same in the eyes of the public
    • Feb 1919 - Seattle strike
      • Seattle was brought to a virtual standstill
      • the strikes were orderly, and they made only humble demands
      • number of Communists involved began to alarm the US and Seattle governments
      • the Seattle mayor called for federal troops to curb the "anarchy of Russia", despite peaceful protests
    • April 1919
      • the US Postal Service had intercepted 40 mail bombs addressed to Justice Holmes, Rockefeller, etc.
      • a bomb got through to US Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer; no one was injured, but his home was damaged
      • anarchist pamphlets spread, as well
      • these attacks were only done by a handful of anarchists, but anarchists, Communists, and unions became lumped together
      • began the first Red Scare, a "new witch hunt"

First Red Scare (1919-1920)

  • A. Mitchell Palmer led the search for radicals in many "Palmer raids"
  • General Intelligence Division was created, under the leadership of J. Edgar Hoover
    • begining of Hoover's career
    • ended up controlling more public officials in high places than anyone else in America
    • he had detailed information on everyone, and wasn't afraid to blackmail
    • this eventually led to the FBI
  • 7 Nov 1919 - Federal agents in 12 cities conducted the first raid
    • 650 arrested
    • raided meeting places of a union of Russian workers
    • those arrested lost all civil rights, and 250 were deported to Russia without judicial process
    • later, only about 40 were proven guilty
  • US people were thrilled with the idea, and thought they were getting rid of radicals
  • Palmer wanted the 1920 Presidential nomination
    • increased the number of raids and deportations
    • by Jan 1920, there were 6000 in custody
    • arrested visitors to those in custody - if you're visiting a radical, you're obviously a radical too
    • people began to lose interest, so to regain control Palmer warned of a massive terrorist protest to occur on 1 May 1920
      • cities prepared and federal troops were called in, but no protests occurred
      • people began to see Palmer as a nutcase; more of a threat than the radicals

Nativism and Racism

  • in the 1920s, immigration greatly increased
  • 1919: 110,000; 1920: 400,000; 1921: 800,000
  • native-born Americans resent the immigrants
  • push Congress to limit immigration
    • Emergency Quota Act 1921
      • limited new immigrants per country to 3% of those already in US as of 1920 census
      • not enough, people clamour for more
    • Emergency Quota Act 1924
      • further restricted immigration
      • based on census of 1890
      • around 1880/90 was the beginning of the influx of Southern and Eastern Europeans; this attempts to keep them out

Sacco and Vanzetti Trial

  • Sacco and Vanzetti were Italian immigrant workers, who were "known" atheists and anarchists
  • they were accused of the 1920 robbery and murder of a Massachusetts paymaster for a shoe factory
  • the jury and judged were biased against them - the judge was a better prosecutor than the prosecutor
  • the overtly prejudiced trial went on for 7 years, and became a world event - rallies were organised, etc.
  • in the end, both were executed by electrocution Aug 1927
  • all them evidence against them was very circumstantial
  • much later, modern technology identified the gun used as evidence in the trial to be the one that was used for the murder; however, the trial was still overtly prejudiced and unjust

KKK re-emerges

  • broadened their scope - hate blacks, foreigners, Catholics, Jews
  • led by William J. Simmons, a foreign preacher
  • only native-born white Protestants could join
  • they called the "melting pot" more of a "garbage can"
  • 1923: 5 million members
  • strongest support was in the Midwest and the South, but their message spread throughout America
  • rituals, demonstrations, burning crosses, vandalism, etc.
  • protected the ideal American life against Catholic/Jewish/foreign "corruption"
  • collapsed due to squabbles over money
  • people got tired of them; they will be reborn occasionally, though

Religion: Fundamentalist v. Modernist

  • America is greatly changing
  • mass migration to cities - census of 1920 declared the nation to be an urban society
  • education became a priority - it's always been important, but they increased the effort
  • required school until 16 years old, but enforcing is difficult, especially during Great Depression
  • John Dewey (Columbia professor)
    • promoted "learning by doing"
    • he thought teachers should educate on traditional subjects as well as practical, life skill topics
  • Darwin - biological evolution challenged Genesis creation
  • Marx said that all history was motivated by economics
  • rejection by religious fundamentalists of evolution highlights modernists v. fundamentalists
    • want to eliminate scientific advances of the last century regarding the origins of the universe and humankind
    • argue that it will lead to a moral breakdown

Scopes Trial

  • three Southern states prohibited teaching of theories that deny Biblical creation
  • the American Civil Liberties Union (founded 1920, New York) announced that it would finance a challenge to the Constitutionality of these laws
  • Dayton, Tennessee teacher John Scopes taught evolution and was arrested
  • William Jennings Bryan defended for the state of Tennessee
    • Presbyterian fundamentalist
    • accomplished speaker
    • became the face of the Fundamentalist movement
  • Clarence Darrow - agnostic Chicago lawyer hired by the ACLU
  • huge, media-hyped circus - creates an economic boom for Dayton
  • Darrow insinuates that the magnitude of the trial goes far beyond the legal issue
    • civilisation is on trial
    • no man's beliefs will be safe if Scopes wins
    • however, everything will go against him
  • in a last-ditch effort, he asks Bryan to take the stand as a Bible expert
    • Bryan has a large ego - he accepts
    • Darrow made him look like a fool
    • points out literal beliefs - fish and Jonah, Joshua stopped sun, etc.
    • made Bryan appear irrational
  • Darrow was clearly victorious - he doesn't get the verdict, but is clearly the winner
  • technically, Scopes loses - $100 fine
  • the state Supreme Court overturned the fine on a technicality
  • Bryan died five days after the trial of a stroke attributed to stress from the trial and the heat of the courtroom

Jazz Age

  • in addition to political/social transformations of Prohibition, fundamentalism, etc., there were dramatic cultural changes
  • this occurred in postwar cities, where new forms of recreation and entertainment developed
  • consumerism also made great strides
  • literature and music made new strides
  • women's rights pushed forward
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald was a writer who captured this era in his stories

Women's Rights

  • the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920
  • the League of Women's Voters developed to push women's rights issues
  • women developed more chances to work outside the home, but were restricted to clerical/service jobs
  • values changed - "flappers" changed styles of dress and divorce grew more common as some women tried to assert their independence and a new model of life

African-Americans

  • labour shortages from the war caused a mass migration to the North
  • in the North, they developed new cultural and political influence
  • post-Reconstruction musical traditions were blended to become jazz, which gained widespread popularity
  • the Harlem Renaissance was led by black poets and authors, spreading new ideas about their culture
  • Marcus Garvey founded the United Negro Improvement Association, which promoted black business and communities

Literature: the "Lost Generation"

  • disillusioned expatriates - optimism before the war, then the reality of war
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald
    • This Side of Paradise - popular with young flapper culture
    • The Great Gatsby
    • overnight success; typified the "lost generation"
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • William Faulkner
  • T. S. Eliot

Spectacular Economic Growth

  • the 1920s witnessed growth in industry, business expansion, and consumerism
  • the government returned to laissez-faire
  • the Fed let interest rates be as low as possible
  • generated more electricity by 1920 than the combined output of the rest of the world
  • cars, vacuums, radios, refrigerators, etc.

Ford Motor Co.

  • founded 1903
  • $850 Model T in 1908 (a lot for the time)
  • with mass production and electricity, the price was lowered to $290 by 1924
  • a finished product rolled off the assembly line every 10 seconds
  • workers no longer had to live in cities - built houses, suburbs
  • concept of mass production greatly spurred growth
  • the price drop of the Model T opened the door to the car no longer being a novelty of the wealthy
  • by 1903, over 30 million Americans owned cars

Scientific Management - Frederick Taylor

  • time and motion studies
  • complete analysis of a business
  • tried to adjust to operate more efficiently
  • further increased production

Credit

  • advertising grew, and created the idea that people "couldn't live without" an item
  • credit enabled people to obtain these items immediately, and pay later
  • almost everything could be bought for "a dollar down, a dollar a week"
  • this was considered a positive - people had never before considered being able to buy items without having the money for them

Recreation

  • people began to seek leisure time activities
  • recreation areas open
  • Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, Gertrude Early (1926 swam English Channel) - professional sports grow, and pro sports heroes develop
  • 1921 - radios began to become common in houses; a new form of entertainment
  • 5 cent theatres - silent motion pictures
  • the first talking movie came out in 1927
  • growth of Hollywood
  • movie stars eclipse the salary of the President (Rudolph Valentino, etc.)
  • films became huge business - beginning of a new industry; by 1929 Hollywood was 10th largest corporation in America
  • life in America is good - growing beyond what anyone thought it could do
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