The Great Depression: Before & Beyond Causes & Effects of Two World Wars and Everything In-Between
Table of Contents • Introduction • Progressive Reform & World War I • The Roaring 20s • The Stock Market Crash & The Great Depression • World War II & Japanese Internment Camps • The Cold War, Korea & Vietnam • Conclusion • References
Introduction • Major events such as World Wars I and II, the Stock Market Crash of 1929, etc. are the result of many changes happening all at once. • Often, groups of people are unhappy with the way others are running an organization or even a country, and the result is reform. • Change can be violent or peaceful, gradual or all at once. It can affect different people in many different ways.
Progressive Movement • The Progressive Era of the early 20th century was a collection of many different movements, all centered around making America a “better and safer” place to live (The Learning Page, 2002a), and to decrease the “widespread political corruption” (Green & Carlson, 2005, chap. 8, p. 130) in the country. • U.S. Constitution made Amendments giving women the right to vote, establishing federal income tax, and creating a policy where the people elected U.S. Senators (as opposed to simply being appointed by the government.)
Prohibition • This was an attempt to make illegal (prohibit) the production and sale of all alcoholic drinks in the United States. • Reasons: Alcohol was “responsible for much of the abuse of women and children”; it was responsible for much crime; and it wasted money that could have been used for food (Green & Carlson, 2005, p. 130).
18th Amendment • This made alcohol illegal all over the U.S. • Americans did not take the ban seriously. British Columbia “rumrunners” smuggled in liquor, since it was still legal north of the border. Alcohol was consumed in private clubs/road houses, called “blind pigs”, since police (“pigs”) were bribed to ‘turn a blind eye’ to alcohol consumption. • 1933: Prohibition repealed after 14 years.
Legislative Reform • William U’Ren of Oregon was a very dynamic leader regarding getting legislative changes made in Oregon (later adapted in Washington). • Created the initiative (citizens could pass their own laws by gathering signatures and having them placed on a ballot to be voted on), and the referendum (citizens could vote for laws already passed by the legislative branch of government). Also the recall, where voters could have an official removed from office.
Business Regulation • Government began charging fees for people to use railroads and utilities. • Laws also passed that limited the amount of hours that people could work – women, for example, could only work 8 hours per day. • Children were also required to attend school now, instead of working all day in mines and factories.
Women’s Suffrage • Suffrage: The right to vote. • Granting women the right to vote was considered one of WA’s most significant victories of the time. • Washington was the fifth state to pass an Amendment allowing this; ten years later, all women in the U.S. could vote.
Industrial Workers of the World, a.k.a., IWW • Created in 1905, the IWW enjoyed the notion of “One big union”. • IWW set itself against capitalism, a system of government involving private ownership of land, property, and businesses. Capitalists were known to hire workers for very low wages, making their own profits larger. • The IWW was one of the first groups to welcome African-Americans as well as women. IWW union members were called “Wobblies”.
Radical Change • The Wobblies felt that real reform could only come from radical change. They agreed to strike if there was a need for it. • Fought for rights to speak freely to employers, and also for safer working conditions and higher wages. • Spoke on street corners and in public parks, and gathered much sympathy for their cause (Green & Carlson, 2005, p. 132).
Wobblies Lingo • Bindle: Blanket roll • Bindle Stiff: Worker who carries his bedding • California Blankets: Newspapers used for bedding • Dingbat: A tramp considered “homeless, helpless, and harmless” • Fink: An informer or strikebreaker • Jungle: A place, usually near a railroad yard, where migrants cooked/slept • Rattler: Fast freight train • Scab: Person who takes the job of a striking union member • Skid Road: An area of town with saloons, gambling and prostitution
The Everett Massacre • IWW was willing to get violent to achieve its goals. Literature openly discussed sabotage – destroying a company’s tools/materials to force it out of work. • In Everett, Wobblies were giving speeches criticizing World War I/capitalism, and were arrested/beaten by police and vigilantes – citizens who take it upon themselves to punish criminals. • A boat of 300 Wobblies landed at Everett to lend support; their effort was met with gunfire. Five workers and two vigilantes were killed in the scuffle. Though 74 Wobblies were charged with murder, no one could tell who fired the first shot, and they were freed.
The IWW Today • The IWW still exists today, boasting on its official website (iww.org) about its 102-year history. • To the left, a union member protests policies of the Starbucks company in Seattle, WA.
World War I (WWI) • Also called the Great War; raged from 1914-1917 before the U.S. became involved. • Central vs. Allied Powers. Central = Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey; Allied = England, France, Italy, Russia, and eventually the United States. • U.S. became involved when Germany sunk a ship carrying American tourists using submarines/U-boats.
Liberty Sausage For All! • Germans were the enemy in Europe during WWI. Many Americans felt that those of German-American heritage were not to be trusted. • German-Americans were beaten up, and often had their farms/businesses vandalized. German language was banned in many schools. • Things with German names were given American names; hamburger, for example, was “liberty sausage”, and sauerkraut became “liberty cabbage” (Green & Carlson, 2005, p. 135).
Selective Service Act • All men 21-30 were required to sign up for the military. • In World War I, about 75,000 Washington men were “drafted”. • To the left is a poster of Uncle Sam, a national personification of the United States, urging men to sign up for the Army.
Sedition Act • This was Congress’ attempt to suppress, or silence criticism by prohibiting any speech it felt was “disloyal, profane, … or abusive” (Green & Carlson, 2005, p. 135-136) about the government, the flag, the Constitution, or the Armed Forces. • The IWW campaigned often against the war; as a result, many Wobblies were arrested for violation of the Sedition Act.
Communism & the Red Scare • In Russia during World War I, times were hard; food and fuel were scarce, and the czar, Nicholas II was eventually overthrown. • Communism: Government ownership of all land, property and business. Not successful in Russia. • Striking workers in U.S. considered part of a worldwide conspiracy against democracy – caused nationwide hysteria.
Economic Boom • The war created lots of jobs – prior to WWI, there was one ship building company, for example. At the end of it, there were 25. • The Boeing Company became the largest company in Washington, after building airplanes for the government. • Jobs existed for people fighting in the war and even women and minorities who remained at home. The war was terrible, but business was booming (Green & Carlson, 2005, p. 136-137).
From Boom to Bust • When the war ended, there was a “sharp” drop in farm and lumber prices. Women and minorities were no longer an intricate part of the work force. • Seattle General Strike: Shipyard workers went on strike for wage increases that were forbidden during the war. • “People could not get a ride on a streetcar, or a meal in a restaurant” (Green & Carlson, 2005, chap. 8, p. 138).
The Age of Jazz • The 1920s go by many names – the Age of Jazz, the pursuit of pleasure, the Roaring Twenties, etc. • Women’s fashion drastically changed – short, bobbed hair, short skirts, rouge, nylons with seams down the back. Men slicked their hair back and “tried to look as modern as the ladies” (Green & Carlson, 2005, chap. 8, 139).
The Two Dears • A postcard featuring a woman from the 1920s in a traditional bathing suit of the time period. (The Authentic History Center, 2007). • During the Roaring 20s, “bathing-beauty contests” (Green & Carlson, 2005, chap. 8, p. 139) were a very popular form of entertainment.
The Modern Decade • Some inventions of the 1920s included the following (Green & Carlson, 2005, chap. 8, p. 139-140): • Electric power • Telephones • Phonographs • Radios • Washing machines • Motion pictures • Automobiles (pictured: Henry Ford’s Model T)
Racial Intolerance • The 1920s was also known as the “Intolerant Decade”, because of the United States’ people’s intense distrust and fear of foreigners. • Many Japanese residents barred from owning and leasing land in Washington/Oregon. • Ku Klux Klan – Felt that Catholics, Jews and African-Americans were responsible for all the problems in the U.S. and terrorized those they were trying to get rid of. A large gathering of the KKK existed in the Yakima Valley in the 1920s.
Hydropower • Pacific Northwest produced about 40% of the country’s hydropower – that is, power harvested by dams. • Public Utility District (PUD) – Established public power systems and replaced private companies. Voted down in 1929, approved a year later; eventually established in 29 of WA’s 39 counties.
Grand Coulee Dam • Proposed as a way to bring irrigation to land. Supporters were called “pumpers”. • Opposition: Washington Water Power Company (WWP); pumpers led by James O’Sullivan. • WWP proposed a gravity canal that would leave them mainly in control of water power. • 1928, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers researched the Columbia River system and determined that the pumping plan was the most efficient.
Stock Market Crash: Who Dunnit? • Many factors that actually led up to the Stock Market Crash of 1929 (Gusmorino, 1996): • Growing gap between the rich and middle class (unstable economy) • Excessive spending on credit (lack of immediate incoming funds to companies) • Major economies (radio advertising and automobiles) slowed down, taking the rest of the country with them • Other countries could not pay back money they had borrowed from U.S. right away • Eventually, product sat in warehouses and stock prices fell drastically
Black is the New Black • Black Thursday (October 24, 1929): Stocks began to rise tentatively after Richard Whitney bought 10,000 shares of U.S. Steel at $205 each. • Black Monday (October 28, 1929): People began to sell shares blindly; economists began to prepare themselves for what seemed like an inevitable crash. • Black Tuesday (October 29, 1929): Stock market loses 40% of its original value (Woodard, 2007).
Effects of the Great Depression • Banks closed first during the Depression – anyone who had invested money there became broke almost overnight. • Factories and businesses closed because nobody had the money to buy anything; this also led to a shortage of jobs. • Those who could afford to buy anything found very good deals. In Cheney, WA, a resident recalls seeing a block of twelve housing lots selling for $38 (Green & Carlson, 2005, chap. 9, p. 147).
Hoovervilles • Many people became homeless during the 1930s – WA State alone had 24 homeless shelters, or “poor farms”, though many were turned away due to lack of room. • President Herbert Hoover unprepared for the Depression when it hit. Many U.S. citizens blamed him for not doing enough to help him, and built their own shacks out of scrap lumber, metal and cardboard. They called them “Hoovervilles”.
The Dust Bowl • Occurred in 1928 in the Great Plains (pictured on the map as the central-most part of the U.S., as well as parts of Canada and Mexico). • Already dry farming regions turned the land into a “dust bowl” by strong winds. Lasted roughly 12 years.
Effects of the Dust Bowl • Drought reached the Pacific Northwest, increasing fires in the area. In 1936, the Forest Service reported 450,000 acres of national forest in the Northwest had burned up. • Agriculture destroyed – crops rotted because harvesting did not turn a profit; sheep slaughtered and fed to buzzards or coyotes because harvesting meat/wool did not pay enough. WA farmers even burned fruit trees for the fuel. • Migrant workers came to the Northwest because the grim conditions here were still better than in the Great Plains – by 1940, 400,000 had migrated to the N.W. • In 1939, the federal government provided housing and medical clinics for migrant workers (Green & Carlson, 2005, chap. 9).
Roosevelt’s New Deal • President Roosevelt (FDR) took office as President in 1933, after promising to create a “New Deal” for America to help end the Depression during his campaign. • New Deal, also called “alphabet soup” (Gupta & Lee, 1996), was a collaboration between FDR and Congress whose main goal was to put people back to work, and also “stimulate economic recovery” in U.S. (Gupta & Lee, 1996). • By 1939, the worst of the Great Depression was over (Green & Carlson, 2005, chap. 9).
New Deal Programs • Emergency Banking Act/Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), 1933 - Helped re-establish America's faith that they could put money in the bank and not lose it. • Civil Works Administration (CWA) - Gave unemployed persons jobs building/repairing roads, parks, etc. • Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) - Put people to work maintaining and restoring forests, beaches and parks. Pay was little, but free room/board and training was offered, first to men, and then eventually to women as well. • Indian Reorganization Act, 1934 - Ended sale of tribal lands and restored ownership to rightful Native American groups. • Public Works Association (PWA) - Launched projects such as the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River.
New Deal Programs (cont.) • Works Progress Administration (WPA), 1935-1943 - Provided work for 8 million Americans by constructing/restoring schools, hospitals, etc. • Farm Security Administration (FSA) - Loaned more than $1 billion to farmers and set up camp for migrant workers. • Fair Labor Standard Act, 1938 - Banned child labor and set a minimum wage. • Social Security Act - Provided aid for the elderly, for family members of those who were killed in industrial accidents, for mothers and children, and for the blind/physically disabled. Did not cover farm and domestic workers, but the SSA did help many Americans feel more protected. • Though not always 100% positive, the New Deal did a great deal in helping end the Great Depression (Gupta & Lee, 1996).
Unions At War • Federal laws passed giving workers the right to organize their own unions. • American Federation of Labor (AFL) and Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) fought both management and themselves in “a series of bitter strikes” (Green & Carlson, 2005, chap. 9, p. 152). • “Goon squads”: Groups of paid thugs who acted as violent mediators between the AFL and CIO unions. At the time, Washington became one of the most unionized states in the country.
Adolf Hitler and Nazi-ism • Though the U.S. economy was improving, by the late 1930s, trouble loomed in other parts of the world. • Adolf Hitler – dictator of Germany; believed Germans were a superior race. Set out to “cleanse” Europe of anyone he considered inferior, namely Jewish people, as well as Gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and homosexuals (Wikipedia, 2007k). • Six million Jews killed in concentration camps, either from gas chambers or starvation. Referred to as the Holocaust (Green & Carlson, 2005, chap. 9).
World War II (WWII) • WWII raged in Europe for years before America became involved. • America sent ships and supplies to Allies (England, France, Russia); Germany conquered Poland, and was eventually joined by Italy & Japan. President Roosevelt adamant about staying out of the war.
Attack on Pearl Harbor • December 7, 1941: Japanese fighter planes dropped bombs on U.S. ships in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The next day, President Roosevelt declared war on Japan. • Right: A ship called the USS Shaw is blown up by Japanese bombs (Naval Historical Center, 2001).
Another Economic Boom • With WWII came war-related jobs and economic prosperity. • Hydroelectric power: Bonneville and Grand Coulee Dams on Columbia River created cheap power. • Aluminum: Five new manufacturing plants created, including ones in Spokane, Longview & Tacoma. • Shipbuilding: 100,000 employed at Kaiser’s shipbuilding yards in Portland-Vancouver region. Other local shipbuilding in Seattle, Tacoma, Bremerton & Bellingham. • Fish, farming, lumber production in WA turned into aluminum, airplanes and ship-building industries.
The Hanford Area • FDR received word from Jewish scientist Albert Einstein that Germany may be building an atomic bomb. Roosevelt started the secret Manhattan Project, designed to produce an atomic bomb for America. • Hanford – one of the Project’s research facilities. Hanford Area produced plutonium used for bombs, with plant reactors (powered by dams) supplying water used for cooling. • Richland, WA was a “mystery city” of some 51,000 people. Voluntary censorship/secrecy was crucial to the Project’s success. • After the war, when U.S. dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, Hanford became a public realization.
Social Change • War brought migrants to places like the Pacific Northwest in record numbers. • African-Americans in Seattle increased from 3,700 in 1940 to 30,000 by 1945. Racial discrimination still rampant – many families had trouble finding housing, and renovated chicken coups, garages, empty service stations and tents/cars to live in. • Bracero program: Response to need for growers in WA. Mexican men allowed to work temporarily in U.S. as farm laborers. Many brought their families (Green & Carlson, 2005, chap. 9).