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1920s. 1918-1929. The End of the War. The first American troops arrived in France in the Spring 1918 The doughboys participated in the last great counteroffensive which marked the start of the end for Germany

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1920s

1918-1929


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The End of the War

  • The first American troops arrived in France in the Spring 1918

  • The doughboys participated in the last great counteroffensive which marked the start of the end for Germany

  • Initially the Americans were under the command of the French but they were later assigned to General John J. (Black Jack) Pershing

  • Before the end of the war President Wilson formulated his Fourteen Points as the basis for peace


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  • Germany signed the armistice on November 11, 1918 mainly because of the potential of the American forces

  • Wilson became a hero to the people of a liberated Europe

  • During the war partisan politics did not afflict Congress as the country united behind the war effort

  • In 1918 Wilson asked for a Democratic victory, but the Republicans ended up with a narrow advantage

  • Wilson went to Paris for the peace talks and left the country in the hands of a Republican Congress


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  • Wilson was the first president to travel to Europe but he alienated the Republicans by not inviting one republican to the Peace Conference

  • The chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts was particularly angered

  • Lodge and Wilson shared a mutual hatred

  • The Paris Conference was dominated by the Big Four – Wilson, Lloyd George of Britain, Orlando of Italy, and Clemenceau of France

  • The matter which caused the greatest concern was stopping the spread of Communism


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  • Wilson’s main goal was to establish a League of Nations alienated the Republicans by not inviting one republican to the Peace Conference

  • He imagined an organization of representative who would meet to discuss world problems

  • When Wilson returned to America he found that few, especially among the Republicans, shared his enthusiasm for a League of Nations

  • The Republicans declared they would not approve the League in its current form

  • Opposition from the Republicans weakened Wilson’s diplomatic power in Paris

  • When he did return to Paris he found that the opinion of the major powers had become much more aggressive


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The Versailles Treaty alienated the Republicans by not inviting one republican to the Peace Conference

  • France was determined to occupy the German-Rhineland and the Saar Valley

  • Wilson persuaded the French to accept occupation of the region by the League of Nations for 15 years

  • France also received a security pledge from Britain and America – both countries promised to help if Germany re-armed

  • The final treaty was given to the Germans to sign in June 1919


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  • When the Germans saw the treaty they were shocked to see so few of Wilson’s Fourteen Points, which had been the basis under which they had surrendered

  • Wilson had been forced to compromise his original ideals to keep the bickering Europeans happy

  • As soon as he returned to America, Wilson was confronted with a hostile Congress

  • Isolationists wanted no part of foreign treaties

  • Some thought the agreement did not punish Germany enough for starting the war

  • Irish-Americans, German-Americans and Italian-Americans all hated Wilson


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The End of Wilson few of Wilson’s Fourteen Points, which had been the basis under which they had surrendered

  • Wilson still felt confident the Versailles Treaty would be ratified. Even Lodge only wanted to make the treaty more “American”

  • The Treaty became bogged down in Senate as Lodge examined every page

  • Wilson set off around the country to muster public support – even though he was advised against such a move by his own physicians

  • While in Colorado in September, 1919, Wilson collapsed from exhaustion

  • He was quickly returned to Washington, but suffered a stroke only days later


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  • Wilson remained out of circulation for over six months few of Wilson’s Fourteen Points, which had been the basis under which they had surrendered

  • Lodge saw the opportunity to step up. Lodge had failed to get the Treaty amended but now was his chance

  • Critics were especially annoyed over Article X which promised the United States would give aid to any country that faced external aggression

  • Lodge attached a series of amendment to the original treaty so the Republicans could claim some of the credit

  • Wilson told the Democrats to vote against the amended treaty


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  • The treaty was defeated in the Senate few of Wilson’s Fourteen Points, which had been the basis under which they had surrendered

  • The public was angry and upset that the Senate could not agree on a simple resolution and they demanded a second ballot

  • The Democrats would have to accept the amended packet otherwise the whole treaty would fail

  • Wilson refused to compromise and ordered the Democrats to once again vote against the amended treaty

  • The treaty died in the Senate


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The Election of 1920 few of Wilson’s Fourteen Points, which had been the basis under which they had surrendered

  • The Republicans eventually selected Senator Warren G. Harding of Ohio with Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge as his running mate

  • Coolidge had made a name for himself by defeating the police strike in Boston

  • Democrats nominated Governor James M. Cox of Ohio with Franklin D. Roosevelt as his running mate

  • In the first election that included women, (Nineteenth Amendment – 1920) the Republicans won 404-127


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  • Harding gained over 7 million more popular votes few of Wilson’s Fourteen Points, which had been the basis under which they had surrendered

  • Socialist Eugene V. Debs ran as a Third party from the Atlanta penitentiary and gained almost 1 million votes

  • The public had shown they were tired of Wilsonian politics and European affairs – they wanted what Harding promised – a return to normalcy

  • Unfortunately Harding was a poor choice and proved to be an even worse president, mainly because of his poor choice of appointments


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The Red Scare few of Wilson’s Fourteen Points, which had been the basis under which they had surrendered

  • In 1917 the Bolshevik Revolution forced Russia out of the war, changed the Russian government, created a small Communist party in America, and caused fear and concern among non-Communist nations

  • In the wake of the war the country was gripped by a series of strikes

  • Most people assumed the strikes were part of a Communist/Bolshevik plot

  • The “red scare” of 1919 created political careers, ruined some lives, caused pain and anguish to anguish to many innocent people


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  • In 1919 a bomb exploded at the home of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer (the Fighting Quaker) who had been leading the campaign against possible Bolsheviks

  • The explosion caused Palmer to increase his efforts and gained him enormous public support

  • In December 1919 the government deported 249 suspected aliens and Bolshevik sympathizers on the Buford

  • The following year another bomb exploded on Wall Street and killed nearly forty people

  • Many states joined together to pass “anti-red” legislation


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  • Critics of the paranoia protested that basic American rights were been ignored

  • But the red scare served the conservatives and businessmen well – they could now complain about troublemakers and unions and associate them with the Bolsheviks

  • Unions found it hard to even exist. Any appeal for a union was seen as un-American

  • The most notorious case of anti-foreign sentiment was the Sacco-Vanzetti case in Massachusetts


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Sacco and Vanzetti were been ignored

  • Nicola Sacco a factory worker and Bartolomeo Vanzetti a fish seller were convicted in 1921 of murdering a Massachusetts paymaster and his guard

  • The defendants were of Italian descent and known as anarchists and atheists

  • The case lasted six years before both men were convicted and sentenced to death

  • They were executed in 1927


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Prohibition were been ignored

  • One of the greatest social experiments in American history was the attempt to prohibit alcohol in the 1920s

  • The Eighteenth Amendment (1919) (and the Volstead Act) tried to abolish the manufacturing, sale, and transportation of alcohol

  • The Act was very popular in the South and the West, but in the East there was strong opposition

  • But the idea was flawed because many people, especially foreign-born Americans found was around the law


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  • The authorities had not really considered how to enforce a law that so many people opposed and that had been a large part of normal society

  • Speakeasies with secret passwords and tiny windows sprouted in major cities

  • Illegal alcohol was shipped from the West Indies or from Canada by gangsters determined to supply the thirsty market – and make a fortune

  • Bootleggers produced homemade alcohol that often caused blindness or death

  • But there were some benefits to the Prohibition era

  • Absenteeism from work decreased and people saved more money

  • The “noble experiment” failed because so many people simply refused to accept the law


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Isolationism law that so many people opposed and that had been a large part of normal society

  • The large number of immigrants that were entering the country from Europe worried many people

  • The Emergency Quota Act of 1921 was attempt to limit immigration by only allowing a certain quota from each country – 3% of that nationality living in America in 1910

  • Favored those from Southern and Eastern Europe

  • Congress approved the Immigration Act of 1924 which cut the quota of foreigners from 3% to 2% and changed the date to 1890 from 1910


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  • This new changed favored immigrants from Northern Europe at the expense of those from the South and East who called the legislation discriminatory

  • Nativist believed a stronger, better America could be attained though people with light hair and blue eyes

  • The Act also stopped completely the immigration of Japanese

  • Exempt from the quota system were Canadian and those from Latin America – because they were needed to take the lowest paying jobs

  • Act ended the belief that all were welcome


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The Ku Klux Klan the expense of those from the South and East who called the legislation discriminatory

  • Another element of the anti-foreign campaign was the reemergence of the KKK

  • The KKK had been around since the middle of the nineteenth century, but after the Civil War it had become known as an antiblack movement

  • In the 1920s, the new KKK reinforced the nativist spirit that was sweeping the country – they were anti-foreign, antiblack, anti-Jewish, anti-Communist, anti-Catholic, anti-international, anti-birth control, anti-drinking, and anti-gambling


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  • They were pro-American, pro-Anglo-Saxon, pro-Protestant – they were ultra-conservative and dedicated to maintaining traditional American morals, standards, and culture

  • The new KKK had a great deal of support, especially in the southern “Bible Belt” states

  • At its height of popularity it claimed to have over 5 million members

  • The organization collapsed in the late twenties when it was investigated for corruption and embezzlement

  • The KKK was a realization of what can happen when people are confronted with social change


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The Fordney-McCumber Tariff (1922) they were ultra-conservative and dedicated to maintaining traditional American morals, standards, and culture

  • Mellon also wanted higher tariffs

  • The Fordney-McCumber Tariff increased tariffs against chemicals and metal products that were been imported from Germany

  • During the war the United States had moved from a creditor to a debtor nation

  • The tariff made it harder for European nations to sell in America and consequently prevented them from making money and repaying their war debt


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  • Harding appointed Republicans dedicated to his ideals to all the main committees

  • In 1923 news was leaked about members of the administration robbing the Veteran’s Bureau

  • The official ran away to Europe

  • Other cronies were charged with a variety of crimes

  • The biggest scandal was the Teapot Dome scandal


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Crime the main committees

  • Prohibition created untold opportunities for criminals to make money

  • In many major cities like Chicago, virtual gang wars erupted as rival crime bosses competed for the millions of dollars associated with alcohol

  • The most famous crime boss was “Scarface” Al Capone who controlled a crime empire that was worth millions of dollars

  • The gangsters were hard to catch and harder to prosecute

  • Capone was eventual found guilty of tax evasion


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The “Ohio Gang” the main committees

  • Many of Harding’s appointments were members of a group called the “Ohio Gang”

  • Harding met with the “Ohio Gang” on a regular basis and often in places outside the White House

  • They earned a reputation as drinking, women, and gambling even during a time of Prohibition

  • Once in office the administration started dismantling Progressive legislation, especially the social reforms

  • Harding was able to appoint four Supreme Court justices


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McNary-Haugen Bill the main committees

  • Farmers suffered in the post-war years as they could not sell their products

  • Many looked to farmer cooperatives and associations to protect their interests and give them greater political leverage

  • In 1924 Senator McNary and Representative Haugen introduced a bill to help the framers

  • The idea was to dump surplus crop on the world market to raise domestic prices

  • In 1927 and 1928 the bill passed both Houses but was vetoed by Coolidge


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  • It was clear that the administration was pro-business the main committees

  • Secretary of Treasury Mellon reduced government spending and lowered taxes mostly for the rich

  • Mellon believed that by giving money to the rich they would have more to invest and that would stimulate the economy

  • In 1921 he persuaded Congress to pass the Budget and Accounting Act, which created the Bureau of Budget

  • The Revenue Act of 1926 lowered taxes even more for the rich


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Teapot Dome the main committees

  • Oil reserves under the Teapot Rock in Wyoming had been set aside by Albert Fall of the Interior Department for the naval oil reserves

  • Fall signed contracts with private companies letting them use the oil reserves

  • Fall’s standard of living skyrocketed including a “loan” of $400,000 from the oil companies which was delivered in a bag

  • Harding claimed to have had no knowledge of the extent of the scandals, but he obviously knew there was a problem


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  • In 1923 Harding went to Alaska Territory and on the way back he stopped in Seattle

  • He suffered food poisoning and died

  • The public was distraught as they didn’t know the extent of the problems

  • Calvin Coolidge was sworn in as president

  • Coolidge promised to return the White House to the Gilded Age philosophies

  • Even more than Harding, “silent Cal” advocated supporting big business “the man who builds a factory builds a temple”

  • He distanced himself from the scandals and became the Republican nominee for 1924


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The Election of 1924 he stopped in Seattle

  • The Democrats were divided and nominated John Davis a Wall Street lawyer

  • A farmer-labor coalition third party appeared

  • The Progressive party led by Robert La Follette from Wisconsin was backed by the Socialist party and the American Federation of Labor

  • Coolidge accused La Follette of wanting to turn America into a communist and socialist state

  • Coolidge won easily with Davis only winning the South – the Progressives gained the most third party votes


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Scope Monkey Trial (1925) he stopped in Seattle

  • By the 1920s many states required students to wait until they were 16 before graduating

  • The type of education and the quality of education had changed dramatically as new philosophies swept the teaching field

  • But there was always an issue about how to teach evolution

  • Fundamentalists believed the one true way was to reinforce biblical teachings about creationism

  • Science leaned more toward Darwin and evolution


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  • Several states, including Tennessee, passed laws prohibiting the teaching of evolution

  • In 1925, at Dayton Tennessee, a high school biology teacher, John T. Scopes was indicted for teaching evolution

  • Scopes was defended represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and by famed trial lawyer Clarence Darrow an agnostic

  • The Fundamentalists hired former presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan to lead the prosecution

  • Bryan defending creationism was made to look foolish in the cross examination


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Foreign Policy fine was eventually set aside on a technicality

  • Washington Naval Conference (1925) - attempted to prevent a naval arms race among United States, Britain, and Japan. Also included France, Italy, the Netherlands, China, and Portugal and created 3 treaties


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  • 1. fine was eventually set aside on a technicalityThe Five-Power Pact (1922) - U.S., G.B., Japan, Italy, and France agreed to build no more warships for 10 years. Also limited naval tonnage:5 tons for U.S. and G.B.3 tons for Japan1.75 tons for France and Italy

  • 2. Nine-Power Pact - Promised to maintain China’s territorial integrity and support the “open door” policy

  • 3. Four-Power Pact - U.S., G.B., France, and Japan agreed to respect each other’s rights in the Pacific and promised to settle disputes through negotiations


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Dawes Plan fine was eventually set aside on a technicality (1924)

  • After World War I the European nations owed $26 billion

  • Hyperinflation in Germany (1923-4) caused them to default on their payments forcing other nations to default

  • The French occupied the Ruhr - the Germans stopped working in protest

  • American banker Charles Dawes negotiated large loans from American banks to help Germany

  • Britain and France reduced the amount of reparations over 5 years


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  • Geneva Naval Disarmament Conference fine was eventually set aside on a technicality (1927) - Initiated by Coolidge to construct smaller warships, but only attended by U.S., G.B., and Japan. No agreement was reached

  • Kellogg-Briand Pact (1928) - Negotiated by French Foreign Minister Briand and Secretary of State Kellogg. It outlawed war as an instrument of national policy. Signed by 48 countries, but no means of enforcement

  • Young Plan (1929) - Reworked the Dawes Plan to reduce the payments even more and allow Germany even more time


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Consumerism fine was eventually set aside on a technicality

  • Business and industry saw the election of Coolidge as a vindication of their practices

  • The American economy changed dramatically as consumerism became the order of the day

  • Leisure and advertising became huge enterprises as the economy moved from thrift and saving to spending and consumption


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  • During the first part of the decade many people invested in real estate, especially in Florida

  • People eager to make money gambled with property, but in 1926 the bubble burst

  • Treasury Secretary Mellon reduced more taxes to keep the economy flowing

  • People shifted their money to Wall Street and purchased stock on margin

  • For a small payment investors could buy stocks with a promise of paying later

  • Between 1927 and 1929 the number of broker loans doubled

  • But consumption was reaching saturation point


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The Election of 1928 real estate, especially in Florida

  • Coolidge decided not to seek re-election in 1928

  • The Republicans nominated Herbert Hoover

  • The Democrats nominated Governor Alfred Smith of New York

  • Hoover represented big business and middle America

  • Smith, the son of immigrants and a Catholic represented big cities

  • Hoover won 444-87 in a vindication of Republicanism


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  • 1929 promised continued prosperity, but there were some signs of problems

  • Also in 1929 Congress passed the Agricultural Marketing Act, which created the Federal Farm Board to allow loans to farmers

  • The Hawley-Smoot Tariff of 1930 sent duties to an all-time high

  • Over 1,000 economist petitioned Hoover to veto the bill as it would hurt consumers

  • Hoover ignored the appeal


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Life in the Roaring Twenties signs of problems

  • Life in the twenties was based on a fast-paced, big city mentality. Living in small towns with small town values was frowned upon

  • In 1920 Sinclair Lewis wrote Main Street about the cramped life of a prairie town

  • F. Scott Fitzgerald dubbed the twenties the Jazz Age symbolized by experimentation with music and sexuality

  • African and European music blended to form jazz which became popular with the younger crowd


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  • New music meant new dances and the gyrations of the Charleston and the Black Bottom became all the rage

  • The development of the radio allowed people all over the country to be connected

  • Now ideas from one area could be spread almost immediately across the country

  • People listened to jazz and rag time, but even more popular were sporting events

  • The movies became the entertainment of choice as people thrilled at action on the big screen

  • In 1927 the introduction of sound increased the popularity of movies


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  • One of the biggest changes witnessed during the decade came from a shift in morality

  • Traditional values of what was acceptable were cast aside as the twenties created a “new woman”

  • Novels, magazines, and the movies quickly showed the public what life was going to be like for these independent females who wore make up, smoked, drank, and were often kissed in public.

  • At the start of the decades skirts were expected to be just off the ground. By 1927 skirt length was at the knee.


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  • The women who wore these short skirts were called “flappers” and they came to represent the new feminism of the twenties

  • The most controversial issue of the 1920s was birth control

  • Margaret Sanger promoted the use of birth control in 1912.

  • Sanger opened the first family- planning clinic in New York in 1916 by asking women if they could afford to keep having large families?

  • By 1920 women found themselves able to gain access to contraception

  • In 1921 she started the American Birth Control League


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Women’s Right “flappers” and they came to represent the new feminism of the twenties

  • Women had supported the plight of emancipation and rights for the former slaves and many were disappointed when they were not included in legislation

  • The women’s suffrage movement which had started much earlier became a focal point in the years prior to the 1920s

  • In 1912 Alice Paul became the head of the National American Woman Suffrage Association’s Congressional Committee

  • Paul was very militant and urged woman to go on the offensive for their rights


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  • Carrie Chapman Catt became the head of the National Suffrage Association in 1915

  • In 1916 Alice Paul helped create the Woman’s party which copied the tactics of British suffragettes

  • In 1917 Paul and some followers were arrested for picketing the White House. In prison they went on hunger strike

  • President Wilson avoided the issue until 1916 when he supported women’s suffrage as part of the Democratic platform

  • In 1918 the “Anthony Amendment” passed the House but failed in the Senate by 2 votes


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  • Eventually it was passed in 1919, but was not ratified as the Nineteenth Amendment for another 14 months

  • In 1919 the League of Women Voters was formed

  • After attained the franchise many women stopped working for more rights

  • Paul and the Woman’s party introduced an Equal Rights Amendment into Congress in 1923, but her amendment would not be adopted until 1972


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African Americans the Nineteenth Amendment for another 14 months

  • Starting in roughly 1915 thousands of African Americans migrated north to the cities to work in the factories

  • With the sudden and large increase in African Americans there were some noticeable changes in society, particularly in politics

  • Blacks felt more inclined to participate in the political process in the North

  • In addition to an economic and political change there was a social change


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  • The Harlem Renaissance was a rebirth of the black cultural spirit

  • Claude McKay wrote Harlem Shadows (1922)was one of the first writers to participate in the Renaissance spirit

  • James Weldon Toomer and Langston Hughes became widely read black authors

  • There was also a new spirit of “Negro nationalism” which allowed people like Marcus Garvey to express the importance of black culture and the uniqueness of being black

  • Garvey formed the Universal Negro Improvement Association in 1916


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  • Garvey told blacks to liberate themselves from the whites and his words found a receptive audience in the racially-heated twenties

  • Not all black leaders agreed with Garvey’s rhetoric – W.E.B. DuBois called Garvey an enemy of the Negro race

  • Garvey spoke at the UNIA convention in 1920 and told blacks that their best hope was to leave America and move back to Africa

  • He was found guilty of mail fraud and sentenced to prison in 1925 where he stayed until President Coolidge pardoned him in 1927 and sent him to Jamaica


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  • The organization Garvey started would reemerge much later in the form of the Black Power Movement

  • A more influential organization was the National association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) which was founded in 1910

  • The organization focused on getting public attention on the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments – the Amendments intended to allow the black man to vote

  • Gradually through the work of the Supreme Court the NAACP was able to make significant changes to the voting laws


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The Automobile the form of the Black Power Movement

  • The policies of Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon favored those who were willing to invest and invest heavily

  • Capitalists looked for industrialists and industrialists looked for a product and a market

  • The greatest symbol of American ingenuity was Henry Ford’s assembly line which turned out a new car every 10 seconds

  • Perhaps nothing symbolizes the 1920s and the new culture of America than the automobile


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  • By the middle of the decade Ford’s Model T (the Tin Lizzie) was cheap enough that most workers could afford one

  • By the end of the decade there were almost 30 million automobiles in the United States

  • Thousands of new jobs were created to accommodate the new automobile industry

  • Production of rubber, glass, and steel all increased dramatically – roads had to be laid – motels appeared by the side of the road as did gas stations

  • Demand for oil was gripped the nation

  • Once a luxury, the automobile became seen as a necessity


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  • On a weekend American families would climb into their cars and visit the countryside

  • No longer were city dwellers confined to the cities

  • Great areas of the country suddenly became popular as tourism became a major industry

  • Workers no longer had to live in the cities they could travel to work, so living in the suburbs became fashionable


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Flight and visit the countryside

  • In 1903 Orville and Wilbur Wright created a plane that stayed in the air for 12 seconds – the door to air travel had been kicked open

  • During the First World War airplanes were commonly seen above the battlefields – although they were poorly used and referred to as “flying coffins”

  • After the war private companies started offering travel by airplane and the first commercial flights from New York to San Francisco started in 1920


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Sports to east across the Atlantic Ocean

  • In the 1920s baseball became America’s game

  • Babe Ruth, who had been sold by the Boston Red Sox, became a living legend in New York playing for the Yankees

  • Yankee Stadium became commonly known as the “house that Ruth built”

  • In 1921 Jack Dempsey knocked out Georges Carpentier in front of the first crowd to pay a million dollars to see a fight


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The Arts to east across the Atlantic Ocean

  • The first real movie was The Great Train Robbery, made in 1913 and shown in theaters called “nickelodeons” because they charged five-cents

  • D. W. Griffith produced The Birth of a Nation in 1915 about the Ku Klux Klan during Reconstruction was one of the first full-length movies

  • Southern California quickly became the center of the movie making business


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The Wall Street Crash to east across the Atlantic Ocean

  • By 1929 many advised caution but making money seemed almost too easy

  • The president even urged the Stock Market to discourage speculation

  • The Federal Reserve Board raised the interest rate but with no effect

  • In September prices dropped but it was seen as a slight adjustment and not a problem

  • October 29 became the most devastating single day for the market

  • People unable to meet their margin were forced to sell at a loss


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  • During October over a third of the value was lost to east across the Atlantic Ocean

  • In September the New York Times stock average was 452, in July 1932 it was 52!

  • As prices fell companies started laying people off and increasing unemployment

  • Without work there was no income

  • Banks started to close, farmers went bankrupt, and factories closed

  • The crash did not cause the Great Depression but the policies of the government and the reluctance of the administration to interfere with business practices prevented any form of recovery


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