The 1920’sProblems & Issues of Concern -Prohibition -Nativism -Intolerance
Prohibition • Volstead Act – Prohibition Bureau in Treasury Dept. • 1920- 18th Amendment • The manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages was legally prohibited • Support – rural south and West • Repealed by 21st Amendment in 1933
Causes • Various religious groups thought drinking was sinful • Reformers believed that the govt. should protect the public’s health. • Reformers believed alcohol led to crime, wife and child abuse, and accidents on the job. • During WWI, native-born Americans developed a hostility to German-American brewers and toward other immigrant groups that used alcohol.
Effects of Prohibition • Consumption of alcohol declined • Disrespect for the law developed. • An increase in lawlessness, such as smuggling and bootlegging, was evident. • Criminals found a new source of income. • Organized crime grew.
Organized Crime • Prohibition generated disrespect for the law. • Chicago – home of Al Capone • Capone netted over $60 million a year • Bloody gang killings • By mid 1920’s only 19% of Americans supported Prohibition
Al Capone Headed criminal empire in Chicago. Controlled through bribes & violence. Bootlegged whiskey from Canada. Controlled 10,000 speakeasies. Called “the Big Fellow” Worth $100 million Arrested in 1931 for tax evasion. Released & died at age 48.
Scopes Trial • ACLU – hired Clarence Darrow • Special Prosecutor: three time Democratic candidate for president and a devout fundamentalist – William Jennings Brian • Scopes Trial: fight over evolution and the role of science and religion in public schools and in American society. • July 10, 1925 – A media frenzy • Darrow called Bryan as an expert on the Bible.
The Trial: • Darrow – “You claim that everything in the Bible should be literally interpreted? • Bryan – “I believe everything in the Bible should be accepted as it is given there. Some of the Bible is given illustratively. For instance, ‘Ye are the salt of the earth.” I would not insist that man was actually salt or that he had flesh of salt, but it used in the sense of salt as saving God’s people.” • Darrow – Asked Bryan if he agreed with Bishop James Ussher’s calculation that the earth was created in 4004 B.C. did Bryan know that ancient civilizations had thrived before 4004 BC? Did he know the age of the earth? Do you think the earth was made in six days? • Bryan – “Not six days of 24 hours.” • Scopes found guilty, fined $100. • Tennessee Supreme Court later changed verdict on a technicality, but the law remained.
Science & Religion clash • Fundamentalism: a literal interpretation of the Bible • -skeptical of some scientific discoveries & theories • -argued that all important knowledge could be found in the Bible. • They believed the Bible was inspired by God, and that the details were truth. They believed, as the Book of Genesis reveals, that God made the world and all its life forms in six days. • They rejected Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. • Darwin’s Theory – Plant and animal species had developed and changed over millions of years. Humans had evolved from apes.
The Scopes Monkey Trial • March, 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee • Tennessee – It was a crime to teach evolution • ACLU – looked for teacher to test the law • John T. Scopes – biology teacher accepted the challenge. • Quoted: “We have now learned that animal forms may be arranged so as to begin • with the simple one-celled forms and culminate with a group which includes man himself.” • Scopes was arrested.
The Red Scare • Russian Revolution, Nov. 1917 • Soviets formed the Communist International (or Comintern), to export revolution around the world • American Communist Party was formed in 1919 • Series of bombings in spring of 1919 • Wall Street – 30 killed • Bomb damaged home of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer • Wanted “100% Americanism” – Nativism • On New Year’s Day, 1920 Palmer & his assistant, J. Edgar Hoover, led raids on alleged radical centers and arrested more than 6,000 people. • Some were deported.
Sacco and Vanzetti • Charged with murder of a paymaster in Braintree, MA. • Evidence was questionable. • Both were anarchists. • Judged was a bigot. Sentenced to death. • All requests for a new trial or a pardon were denied. • August 23, 1927, amid world wide protests, they died in the electric chair.
The New Klan • 1915, Stone Mountain, Georgia • Leader – William J. Simmons • Concerns about Jews, Catholics, and foreigners • Membership exploded – Indiana/largest membership • By 1924 – approximately 4 million members • Why? • D.W. Griffiths film: BIRTH OF A NATION, glorified the Klan • Leo Frank, a Jewish factory mgr. in Atlanta convicted in 1914, on flimsy evidence of murdering a female employee, He was lynched. Declined in power by 1925 b/c of internal struggles & scandals. Indiana leader, David Stephenson committed horrific crimes.