Insulating America Bloody war, treaty failure led U.S. toward isolationism. “Red Scare” of 1919-1921 caused by: Russian Revolution Communist Party in America General Strikes (Seattle) “Fighting Quaker” Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer led crusade (a.k.a. Palmer Raids): 6000 suspects held Due Process not followed Dec. 1919: 249 alien radicals deported to Russia.
Insulating America at Great Expense Criminal syndicalism laws: mere advocacy of violence for social change was criminalized Laws used to prosecute IWWs “wobblies”/radicals harmed free speech. 1920: 5 NY legislators denied seats because they were Socialists. Conservative business owners used scare against labor: “open” shop was “American plan”
Sacco and Vanzetti 1921: Liberals regarded conviction of Sacco & Vanzetti as a “judicial lynching” because they were Italians, atheists, anarchists, draft dodgers.
Prohibition “Experiment” 1919: Progressive reform led by churches, women resulted in 18th Amendment, Volstead Act. Where was prohibition popular? Why there?
Prohibition “Experiment” Problems with enforcement: Disillusionment over outcome of war raised questions about further self-denial. Legislators’ private drinking. Returning WWI soldiers disapproved. Poor workers upset that while they lost beer, rich could still buy illicit alcohol. Bootlegging, “bar hunts” popular with young & old.
Prohibition “Experiment” But northern cities full of immigrants resisted. Corner saloons replaced by “speakeasies”– preferred hard liquor Strained diplomatic relations with Canada Personal stills popular, but product was often dangerous.
Prohibition “Experiment” Despite problems, bank savings increased, work absentee rate declined. Less alcohol consumed than prior to prohibition.
Golden Age of Gangsters Profits from illegal alcohol led to rise of criminal gangs War in Chicago led to 500 killings Al Capone convicted of income-tax evasion, sent to prison. By 1930, organized crime was making $12-$18B/year, several times more than federal government.
Progress in Education More states requiring high school rate of high school completion doubled Dewey’s principle of progressive education or “learning by doing” led to more practical, attractive schools Scientific breakthroughs: Rockefeller Foundation program wiped out hookworm in South. Life expectancy grew from 50 to 59 from 1901-1929.
Monkey Business in TN But Fundamentalists fought new theories 3 Bible Belt states prohibited teaching evolution. Biology teacher Scopes (Dayton, TN) indicted for teaching evolution and violating Butler Law led to sensational “Monkey Trial.” Prosecutor W.J. Bryan Defense lawyer Clarence Darrow. Bryan Darrow
Monkey Business in TN Scopes found guilty, fined $100 fine waived on appeal Trial cast ridicule on cause of Fundamentalists: More Christians were coming to reconcile religion & science. Fundamentalism remained strong among Baptists, etc.
Mass-Consumption Economy 20s economy grew rapidly Electricity production & autos became huge new industries 30M cars by 1930. Advertising spawned by need of manufacturers to find new markets for products: used persuasion, seduction, etc. 1925: Ad industry founder Bruce Barton’s The Man Nobody Knows claimed that Jesus was greatest adman ever.
Mass-Consumption Economy Commercialization led to fame of sports stars Ruth/Grange/ Dempsey. Consumers could now buy new marvels refrigerators, vacuums, cars, radios etc. on installment plans. Economy now vulnerable to disruptions of credit structure.
The Second Industrial Revolution U.S. develops the highest standard of living in the world The twenties and the second revolution electricity replaces steam Henry Ford’s modern assembly line introduced Rise of the airline industry
The Automobile Revolution Auto makers stimulate sales through model changes- advertising Auto industry fostered the growth of other businesses Glass, paint, rubber, service stations, car dealerships, tool and die shops, roads etc Autos encourage movement and more individual freedom.
The Automobile Revolution Buses led to consolidation of schools/churches Suburbs spread Nation of commuters 1M dead by 1951–more than all wars. Cars contributed to declining morals Sexual freedom crime waves
Aviation Revolution 12/17/03: Gas engines led to Wright Bros. flight at Kitty Hawk. “Flying coffins” with stunt pilots were popular at fairs. Planes had moderate success in WWI. After war, private companies flew passengers, air mail. 1927: Cynical U.S. found hero in Lindbergh after Spirit of St. Louis transatlantic flight. Flight popularized flying, gave boost to aviation industry. Though early accidents, by 30s & 40s was safer than car. Another setback for RRs.
Radio brought Americans back to home, knitted nation together with favorite shows
Popularized sports, forced politicians to adapt.
Hollywood’s Fantasies 1903: 1st story sequence The Great Train Robbery was released to “nickelodeons.” Among 1st full-length movies was Griffith’s KKK-glorifying The Birth of a Nation (1915). Sunny Hollywood, CA became movie capital. Indecency in early movies outraged public, producers set up censorship code. 1927: 1st “talkie” movie, The Jazz Singer, was success. Movies became most popular entertainment stars made more $ than president. Culture was standardized, ethnic divisions reduced.
The Dynamic Decade 1920: More Americans now lived in urban areas. More opportunities for women: Jobs in cities, though low-paying “women’s work.” Margaret Sanger led birth control movement. Sexual openness used by advertisers & inspired “flappers.” Freud claimed sexual repression was harmful to health. Teenagers led assault on sexual taboos in theaters, cars.
The Dynamic Decade (2) Jazz was soundtrack of new era: Harlem-based Marcus Garvey founded UNIA to promote resettlement of blacks in Africa and sponsor black business.
Harlem Renaissance Large black community in Harlem sustained creative output “Renaissance” led by writers McKay, Hughes, Hurston & jazz artists Armstrong, Callaway. Argued for “New Negro” who was social equal to whites.
Literary Liberation 20s saw new generation of writers who were ethnically and regionally diverse. Critic H. L. Menken attacked patriotism, Puritanism, South, marriage, middle-class. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Gatsby (1925) and Dreiser’s An American Tragedy (1925) explored cruelty of achievement-oriented society. Disillusioned Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises (1926) and A Farewell to Arms (1929) discussed WWI & aftermath. Satirist Sinclair Lewis chronic-led midwestern life in Main Street (1920) & Babbitt (1922). Novelist William Faulkner penned The Sound and the Fury (1929) & As I Lay Dying (1930) about southern themes.
Literary Liberation (2) 20s innovation most obvious in poetry: “Make It New” Ezra Pound influenced T.S. Eliot, author of “The Waste Land” (1922). Robert Frost wrote of adopted New England. e.e. cummings used unorthodox diction & typesetting. Artistic center Greenwich Village home to playwright Eugene O’Neill: authored sex-themed Strange Interlude (1928) and A Streetcar Named Desire.
Big Bull Market Bank failures & collapse of Florida real estate scheme gave evidence that economy could crash from over speculation. Speculation w/ patriotic pitch drove stock market up wildly. Even barbers & elevator operators began buying on margin. But conservative federal government was focused on debt, not Wall St. 1921: Congress created Bureau of the Budget to prevent extravagant spending. Treasury Sec. Mellon saw sky-high taxes on rich as harmful to growth & government revenue. 1921-26: Led Congress to lower income, excise, gift, estate taxes. Mellon’s lower taxes on rich resulted in higher proportion of taxes paid by middle-class. Mellon reduced nat. debt from $26B to 16B: policies typified pro business regimes of 20s.