the politics of boom and bust 1920 1932 pp 751 757 n.
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The Politics of Boom and Bust: 1920-1932 pp. 751-757. Hiking the Tariff Higher.

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hiking the tariff higher
Hiking the Tariff Higher
  • American businessmen did not want Europe flooding American markets with cheap goods after the war, so Congress passed the Fordney-McCumber Tariff Law, which raised the tariff from 27% to 35% to protect American businesses.
    • Presidents Harding and Coolidge, granted with the authority to reduce or increase duties, were always sympathetic towards big industry and were much more
    • prone to increasing tariffs than decreasing them.
  • However, this protectionary device did present a serious problem: Europe needed to sell goods to the U.S. in order to get the money to pay back its debts and begin its economic recovery from WWI, but when it could not sell, it could not repay, thus ensuring continued economic depression of the European states, thus encouraging a panicky citizenry from those countries, thus encouraging…….uh, I hope you see where this is heading……..
  • In a nutshell, the U.S. policy of raising tariffs sky-high in the 1920s:
  • Led the European nations to raise their own protectionary tariffs.
  • Meant that the postwar chaos in Europe was prolonged.
  • Meant that international economic distress deepened.
  • Led to a decline in American foreign trade.
the stench of scandal
The Stench of Scandal
  • Scandal rocked the Harding administration in 1923 when Charles R. Forbes was caught with his hand in the money bag and resigned as the head of the Veterans’ Bureau.
  • He and his accomplices looted the government for over $200 million.

Forbes

teapot dome scandal
Teapot Dome Scandal
  • The Teapot Dome Scandal was the most shocking of all and involved the corrupt mishandling of naval oil reserves.
  • Secretary of the Interior Albert B. Fall leased land in Teapot Dome, Wyoming, and Elk Hills, California, to private oilmen Harry F. Sinclair and Edward L. Doheny, but not until Fall had received a “loan” (actually a bribe) of $100,000 from Doheny and about three times that amount from Sinclair to keep quiet about this clearly illegal transaction.
  • This greedy deal put the American people at risk during any potential upcoming war. Traitor!
harding scandals
Harding Scandals
  • There were reports of the underhanded doings of Attorney General Harry Daugherty, in which he was accused of the illegal sale of pardons and liquor permits.
  • President Harding died in San Francisco on August 2, 1923, of pneumonia and thrombosis, so fortunately, he didn’t have to live through much of the uproar of the scandal.

Harry Daugherty

silent cal coolidge
“Silent” Cal Coolidge
  • New president Calvin Coolidge was serious, calm, and never spoke more than he needed to.
  • A very morally clean person, he was not touched by the Harding scandals, and he proved to be a bright figure in the Republican Party.
    • It was ironic that in the “Roaring” Twenties, the “Age of Ballyhoo” or the “Jazz Age,” the U.S. had a very traditional, old-timey, and some would say, boring president.

Calvin Coolidge

frustrated farmers
Frustrated Farmers
  • World War I had given the farmers a rare time of prosperity, as they’d produced much needed food for the soldiers.
    • New technology in farming, such as the gasoline-engine tractor, had increased farm production even more dramatically than usual.
    • However, after the war, these products weren’t needed as much, and the farmers fell back into their traditional poverty due to the classic problem of overproduction of farm goods (ie. Too much food without enough mouths to sell it to).
  • Farmers looked for relief, and the Capper-Volstead Act, which exempted farmers’ marketing cooperatives from antitrust prosecution, and the McNary-Haugen Bill, which sought to keep agricultural prices high by authorizing the government to buy up surpluses and sell them abroad, helped a little.
    • Uh, however, Coolidge vetoed the bill - twice.
    • In addition, the Norris-LaGuardia Act, intended to benefit labor unions was also shot down by Coolidge.
a three way race for the white house
A Three-Way Race for the White House
  • Coolidge was chosen by the Republicans to run in 1924, while Democrats nominated John W. Davis after 102 ballots in Madison Square Garden.

Davis

Coolidge

La Follette

slide9
Senator Robert “Fightin’ Bob” La Follette returned and led the Progressive Party as the third party candidate.
  • LaFollette’s Progressive Party advocated a return to the Progressive Era reforms:
  • government ownership of railroads.
  • Relief for farmers.
  • Opposition to anti-labor injunctions.
  • Opposition to monopolies.
    • He gained the endorsement of the American Federation of Labor and the shrinking Socialist Party, and he actually received 5 million votes.
    • However, Calvin Coolidge easily won the election.
foreign policy floundering
Foreign-Policy Floundering
  • Isolationism continued to reign in the Coolidge era, as the Senate did not allow America to join the World Court, the judicial wing of the League of Nations.
  • Yet in the early 1920s, one glaring exception to America’s general indifference to the outside world was its armed intervention in the Caribbean and Central America.
  • U.S. troops were withdrawn from the Dominican Republic in 1924 but remained in Haiti from 1914 to 1934.
  • Coolidge took troops out of Nicaragua in 1925 but then sent them back the next year.
  • In 1926, he defused a situation with Mexico where the Mexicans were claiming sovereignty over oil resources.
  • However, Latin Americans began to resent the American dominance of them.
  • Meanwhile, the European debt to America also proved tricky.
unraveling the debt knot
Unraveling the Debt Knot
  • Because America demanded that Britain and France pay their debts, those two nations placed huge reparation payments on Germany, which, in order to pay them, printed out loads of worthless paper money…..causing inflation to soar!
    • At one point in October of 1923, a loaf of bread cost 480 million German marks!
dawes plan
Dawes Plan
  • Finally, in 1924, Charles Dawes engineered the Dawes Plan, which provided a solution to the tangle of war-debt and war-reparations payments. In essence, the plan called for a rescheduling of German reparations payments and paved the way for American private loans to Germany.
    • Essentially, the payments were a huge circle from the U.S. to Germany to Britain/France and back to the U.S. All told, America never really gained any money or was properly repaid .
    • Also, the U.S. gained bitter feelings from France and Britain who were angry over America’s apparent greed and careless nature for their plight.
the triumph of herbert hoover 1928
The Triumph of Herbert Hoover, 1928
  • In 1928, Calvin Coolidge said, “I do not choose to run,” and his logical successor immediately became economics genius Herbert Hoover.
  • Hoover spoke of “Rugged Individualism” which was his view that America was made great by strong, self-sufficient individuals, like the pioneers of old days trekking across the prairies, relying on no one else for help. This was the kind of folk America still needed, he said.
  • Hoover was opposed by New York governor Alfred E. Smith, a man who was blanketed by scandal (he drank during a Prohibitionist era and was hindered politically by his NY accent and Roman Catholicism).

Herbert Hoover

Alfred Smith

slide15
Radio turned out to be an important factor in the campaign, and Hoover’s personality sparkled on this new medium, compared to Smith and his accent which turned off many southerners.
  • Hoover had never been elected to public office before, but he had made his way up from nothing to prosperity, and believed that other people could do so as well.
  • As usual, there was plenty of below-the-belt hitting on both sides, as the campaign took an ugly turn.
  • Regardless, Hoover, running on the prosperity of the times (“A car in every garage, and a chicken in every pot!”) triumphed in a landslide, with 444 electoral votes to Smith’s 87.