Roaring 20's Notes

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1. After World War I, America turned inward, away from the world, and started a policy of “isolationism.” Americans denounced
“radical” foreign ideas and “un-American”
lifestyles.
2. The “Red Scare” of 1919-20 resulted in Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer (“Fighting Quaker”) using a series of raids to round up and arrest about 6,000 suspected Communists. 3. In December of 1919, 249 alleged alien radicals were deported on the Buford. 4. The Red Scare severely cut back free speech for a period, since the hysteria caused many people to want to eliminate any Communists and their ideas.

* Some states made it illegal to merely advocate the violent overthrow of government for social change. * In 1921, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were convicted of murdering a Massachusetts paymaster and his guard. The two accused were Italians, atheists, anarchists, and draft dodgers, and the courts may have been prejudiced against them.

5. In this time period, anti-foreignism (or “nativism”) was high. 6. Liberals and radicals rallied around the two men, but they were executed. II. Hooded Hoodlums of the KKK
1. The new Ku Klux Klan was anti-foreign, anti-Catholic, anti-black, anti-Jewish, anti-pacifist, anti-Communist, anti-internationalist, anti-revolutionist, anti-bootlegger, anti-gambling, anti-adultery, and anti-birth control.

2. More simply, it was pro-White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) and anti-everything else. 3. At its peak in the 1920s, it claimed 5 million members, mostly from the South, but it also featured a reign of hooded horror. * The KKK employed the same tactics of fear, lynchings, and intimidation. * It was stopped not by the exposure of its horrible racism, but by its money fraud. III. Stemming the Foreign Flood

1. In 1920-21, some 800,000 European “New Immigrants” (mostly from the southeastern Europe regions) came to the U.S. and Congress passed the Emergency Quota Act of 1921, in which newcomers from Europe were restricted at any year to a quota, which was set at 3% of the people of their nationality who lived in the U.S. in 1910. *This policy still really favored the Slavs and the southeastern Europeans in comparison to other groups. So, a new policy was sought…

* A replacement law was found in the Immigration Act of 1924, which cut the quota down to 2% and the origins base was shifted to that of 1890, when few southeastern Europeans lived in America.
* This change clearly had racial undertones beneath it (New Immigrants out, Old Immigrants in). * This act also slammed the door against Japanese immigrants. * By 1931, for the first time in history, more people left America than came here. 1. The immigrant tide was now cut off, but those that were in America struggled to adapt. * Labor unions in particular had difficulty in organizing because of the differences in race, culture, and nationality. IV. The Prohibition “Experiment”

1. The 18th Amendment (and later, the Volstead Act) prohibited the sale of alcohol, but this law never was effectively enforced because so many people violated it.
2. Actually, most people thought that Prohibition was here to stay, and this was especially popular in the Midwest and the South. 3. Prohibition was particularly supported by women and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, but it also posed problems from countries that produced alcohol and tried to ship it to the U.S. (illegally, of course).

4. In actuality, bank savings did increase, and absenteeism in industry did go down. V. The Golden Age of Gangsterism
1. Prohibition led to the rise of gangs that competed to distribute liquor. 2. In the gang wars of Chicago in the 1920s, about 500 people were murdered, but captured criminals were rare, and convictions even rarer, since gangsters often provided false alibis for each other.

* The most infamous of these gangsters was “Scarface” Al Capone, and his St. Valentine’s Day Massacre....
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