1920s Lecture 2


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1920s Lecture 2

  1. 1. Harding and Coolidge – Need for Normalcy 26/01/2009 14:07:00 ←REVIEW: What was happening during the beginning of the 1920’s? During the election of 1920 what might people be looking for? ← ←The nations desire for normalcy and its support for American business was reflected in two presidencies – Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge ←HARDING ←THE ELECTION • Election of 1920 – Warren Harding sensed something about the country – people had been living in times of chaos and fear and wanted to feel familiar and safe o Woodrow Wilson’s presidency ended in chaos o Harding wasn’t the leading candidate for the Republicans but he offered a coherent message o Plus there was no real party leader, the prior one, Teddy Roosevelt died the year before the election o He declared that the nation needed healing, restoration and normalcy – no fear of labor conflicts, communists, factory or farm troubles – normalcy o His opponent, James Cox, also from Ohio o Voters preferred Harding, won 60% of vote by avoiding taking firm stance on League of Nations, etc. o The Republican took office – different from his democratic predecessor ←AS PRESIDENT • Harding was from Marion, Ohio and worked as a newspaper publisher ←Why do you think a newspaper publisher would be good at running for president? – Because he knows what people want to hear • In his hometown people were proud of their small-town values, didn’t want the government to solve their problems • But he isn’t remembered for being a hard-worker but for his love of leisure – took a casual approach to governing • Elected as a U.S. Senator from Ohio in 1914 o Skipped more sessions than he attended o Missed historic debates on Prohibition, women’s suffrage
  2. 2. • As President – regarded his job as a lot of ceremony as opposed to big decision making – but his tendency to avoid taking positions on issues made him popular ←HARDING’S POLICIES • Pro-business o His answer to the postwar economic troubles was his slogan “Less government in business and more business in government” o Cut the federal budget o Reduced taxes on the wealthiest Americans  Believed that the wealthy started and grew business, so taxing them less would help business grow and pull the nation out of hard times ←What recent President or presidential candidate does this sound like? • Little help for farmers o Did sign the Fordney-McCumber Tariff which raised the cost of foreign farm products  Helped U.S. farmers in the short-term  Hurt Europeans by making it harder to pay back war debts o Believed that “The farmer required no special favors at the hands of government.” ←SCANDAL OF HARDING PRESIDENCY • Harding appointed many highly skilled people to his cabinet o Making up for his lack o Treasury Secretary – Andrew Mellon – multimillionaire businessman, philanthropist o Secretary of State – Charles Evans Hughes o Commerce Secretary – Herbert Hoover • Also appointed old friends from Ohio to many lower-level positions o Members of this group, called the Ohio Gang, later convicted of taking bribes • Worst scandal involved Secretary of Interior – Albert Fall o Accepted bribes for allowing oil companies to drill federal oil reserves on a piece of federal land known as the Teapot Dome in Wyoming
  3. 3. • Harding was never found to be personally connected to the scandals o Took a trip to Alaska to escape the rumors of all the scandals  During a speech in Seattle at the end of the trip he collapsed  Doctors said it was just indigestion, but it was really a heart attack  Later that week, in San Francisco – he died overnight • At the end of his presidency he was popular, but overtime the corruption of his administration and his own failings soured his reputation ←What was Harding’s goal with regard to business when he became president? ← ←THE COOLIDGE PRESIDENCY • On August 2nd, Calvin Coolidge was awakened by his father, shocked with the news of Harding’s death o Walked across town to call Sec. of State Charles Evans Hughes  Who urged him to take the oath of office o In the early morning hours, John Coolidge, his father, a notary public, administered the oath to his son  And John Calvin Coolidge became the 30th president ←COOLIDGE BACKGROUND • Modest upbringing in rural Vermont o His father ran a local store, active Republican o Graduated from college in Amherst, MA and took up law and politics – worked his way up in the Republican Party o Elected governor of MA in 1918 ←Where have we heard of Calvin Coolidge before? • Became famous in his dealings with the Boston police strike o Gave him national attention and eventually as VP candidate ←TAKING OFFICE • His honesty helped him deal with the erupting Harding’s scandals o Got rid of all the officials suspected of corruption o Proven when he defeated democrat in 1924 election • Also believed in the power of business and industry
  4. 4. o “Those who build a factory build a temple of worship.” “Those who work in the factory, worship there.” o Believed that business would provide energy, resources to fuel America’s growth  It would promote arts and sciences  It would fund charities o Also that the role of government should be strictly limited  Gov. did not produce things of value, only took away resources that could be used to build businesses o Believed in lowering taxes, reducing federal budget  No budget increases between 1923-1929 o “Active inactivity” Proposed few laws or policies  Stopped congressional plans to help farmers  Vetoed a bill to provide bonus to WWI veterans – too  expensive  Worked to weaken regulations on industry o Did introduce the Indian Citizenship Act stating that all Indians born in the United States were granted citizenship  Long struggle for Native Americans who had battled for citizenship since the creation of the U.S. despite the fact that they were first natives ←SHOCKING END • Coolidge known as “silent Cal” o Hated small talk, but played practical jokes on White House Staff – resembled good times of the era • Stunned the nation as election year 1928 approached • On vacation declared “I do not choose to run for President in 1928”
  5. 5. 26/01/2009 14:07:00 ←
  6. 6. 26/01/2009 14:07:00 ←