1920’s Understanding Post war tensions U.S. History Gonzalez
Postwar Economic Downturn • After WWI, U.S. economy went down. National income dropped from $79 Billion to $63 Billion, personal annual income went from $835 to $672. Why? Wartime production created millions of jobs but no war no production. • Women were needed for wartime production but were pushed out jobs after war to make room for returning male workers.
African-Americans • Between 1910 and 1930, about 2 million African-Americans migrated and settled in northern cities. • Detroit’s black population grew from 5,000 to 41,000. • Chicago doubled their population to 109,500. • Left south because of rigid Jim Crow segregation laws and lynching for the “Land of Hope” in northern states. • Just as WWI ended many people had lost their good paying jobs and were forced out of industry.
Competition for jobs • Because most jobs were tied to the war, many jobs were lost once the war was over and led to competition of resources and jobs amongst classes and races. • White supremacy groups v. minority groups • Scientist v. religious fundamentalists over teaching of evolution.
Harding and Political Scandals • Warren G. Harding (1921-1923) considered the worst president of U.S. History. • Harding’s administration was very corrupt and didn’t fire them but supported them. • Teapot Dome Scandal: Secretary of Interior, Albert Fall leased the U.S. Navy’s petroleum reserves to private interest for a bribe. Evidence in the Teapot Dome scandal implicated Harding with assisting Fall, turning the public against the president.
Labor Unrest • During 1919, 4 million workers held 3,000 strikes protesting wage cuts and long hours with no overtime pay. • Most workers faced violent opposition from companies, government, and the public. Government would send troopers to end the strikes. • Discouraged many workers got out of unions.
Labor linked to Anti-Communist Fears • 1917 Russian Revolution, communist leaders took power in Russia and pledged to inspire worldwide revolution among the working class. Many Americans feared that striking laborers were really communist trying to take over the country, especially since a large portion of working class were Russian and eastern Europeans.
American Radicalism • Radical: extreme change • There were various radical groups that wanted to change the political structure of the U.S. • Communist: promotes the end of private property to common ownership of property • Socialist: government ownership of property. • Anarchist: no rules
Bombings • Small portion of radicals delivered a series of bombs to political officials’ homes and offices nationwide. • Caused public hysteria against all communist and radicals. • Massive bomb killed 33 people and injured 200 others on Wall Street, the U.S. symbolic center of capitalism.
Red Scare • Government orchestrated organized attacks on radicals and foreigners that became known as the “Red Scare” • Atty. Gen. A. Mitchell Palmer organized thousands of federal, state, and local officials to deport “Reds.”In these “Palmer Raids”4,000-10,000 radicals were arrested without formal charges. 600 people were deported, 249 sent to Russia on a “Soviet Ark.”
Anti-Immigration Laws • 1921 Johnson Act: limited immigration from southern and eastern Europe by placing limits on the annual immigration of any given nationality to 3% of number of immigrants from that nation living in the U.S. in 1910. • National Origins Act: 2% quota of each nationality residing in U.S. in 1890. • Anti-immigration lobby pushed for more restriction on Asians.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) • Majority of Americans supported the Palmer Raids and anti-immigration legislation, some citizens protested the illegal methods and prejudices targeted at foreigners and radicals. • ACLU lawyers defended immigrants and other “undesirables” in court to try to ensure that the government upheld individuals’ constitutional rights.
The Trial of Sacco and Vanzetti • People of Massachusetts v. Sacco and Vanzetti robbery resulted in death of paymaster and guard. Three weeks later, a shoe worker Nicola Sacco and Bartolommeo Vanzetti, both whom were Italian immigrants and anarchist, were charged with the murders. • Prosecution case was weak, but Sacco and Vanzetti were unable to secure a written alibi. Both were sentenced to death by electric chair.
Evidence and circumstance of trial • Arrested them because of subscriptions to and anarchist newspaper rather than at the scene of crime. • Judge Webster Thayer and Atty. Gen. Palmer believed that foreigners and anarchists “deserved no consideration.” • Walter Ripley, foreman for jury, believed that regardless of men’s actual innocence or guilt, “Damn them, they ought to hang anyway.”
Nationwide Racial Discrimination • California: • Carpenter union barred Japanese laborers from membership. Complained Asian immigrants as “Yellow Peril.” • Kids threw rocks at American-born Asian shouting, “Go back to China.”
The New Ku Klux Klan • To be truly American, a person must belong to one race, religion, and political and economic philosophy. • Hiram Wesley Evans served as the “Imperial Wizard” of KKK. • Evans denied that the KKK centered around hatred of others, but that it was a patriotic, benevolent organization that supported education, morality charity and honoring the American flag.
Lynching • 1920, 53 blacks and 8 whites were lynched. • Lynchings usually attracted thousands of spectators who traveled to the scenes “waiting for the show to start.” • Lynchings were horrific illustrations of racist violence, but those involved “justified” their actions by claiming that black victims deserved to die for whistling at white women.
Questions for Strange Fruit • What is the mood of this song? • How does the song make you feel? • What is the “strange fruit” the song speaks of? • How does the song describe the horrors of lynchings? • What do you think those ivolved in writing and performing the song hoped to accomplish? • Do you think their goals were realized in the 20’s?
“Strange Fruit” Southern trees bear a strange fruit Blood on the leaves, and blood at the root Black bodies swingin’ in the southern breeze Strange fruit hangin’ from the popular trees Oh, oh, oh Pastoral scene of the gallant south Of the bulgin’ eyes and the twisted mouth Scent of magnolia, sweet and fresh And the sudden smell of burning flesh Here is a fruit for the crows to cluck For the rain to gather and for wind to suck For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop Oh here is a strange and bitter crop
Black Pride and Separation • African-Americans looked for new leaders with alternative solutions to accepting white supremacy in the U.S. • MLK Jr. referred to Garvey as “the first man on a mass scale to give millions of Negroes a sense of dignity and destiny.” • Garvey promoted a separatist vision of blacks returning to Africa to regain the continent they had lost to European imperialist.
Science and Fundamentalism • Where did people come from? • Science: evolutionary beginnings of humans, Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species. • Christian Fundamentalist: literal interpretation of Bible, God created the world in six days.
Scopes Trial • The Scopes Trial put this debate, Fundamentalism and Science, on national spotlight. • In Tennessee, new state law forbid teachers to teach about evolution in classroom.