Politics of the Roaring Twenties

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Chapter 20: Politics of the Roaring Twenties

Section 1: Americans Struggle with Postwar Issues
-A desire for normality after the war and a fear of communism and “foreigners” led to postwar isolationism.

Postwar Trends
-The economy was down.
*Nativism- prejudiced against foreign-born people.
*Isolationism- a policy of pulling away from involvement in world affairs.

Fear of Communism
*Communism- an economic and political system based on a single party government ruled by a dictatorship. -In order to equalize wealth and power, Communists would put an end to private property, substituting government ownership of factories, railroads, and other businesses.

The Red Scare

-Began in 1919, after the Bolsheviks overthrew the czarist regime in Russia. -Led by Vladimir Lenin.
-A Communist Party formed in the US and the American public grew fearful that Communists were taking over.

-US Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer took action to combat this “Red Scare.” -In 1919, Palmer appointed J. Edgar Hoover as his special assistant. Palmer Raids
-Palmer, Hoover, and other agents hunted down suspected communist, socialist, and *Anarchists- people who oppose any form of government.

*Sacco and Vanzetti- although short-lived, the red scare had people suspicions of foreigners and immigrants. These were two of the most famous victims. -In May 1920 the men (both Italian) were arrested and charged with robbery and murder of a factory paymaster and his guard in MA. -Even though the evidence against them was circumstantial, the jury still found them guilty and sentenced them to death.

Limiting Immigration
-The Klan Rises Again- as a result of the red scare.
-The Quota System- 1919 to 1921, immigration in the US had grown almost 600%. *Quota System- 1921 established the maximum number of people who could enter that the US from each foreign country. -Goal: was to sharply cut European immigration to the US.

-The law prohibited Japanese immigration, causing much ill will between the two nations. (Remember the gentleman's agreement of 1907)

A Time of Labor Unrest

-After the war, striking became common once again.
-Employers labeled striking workers as Communists.

-Three strikes in particular grabbed public attention:

1. The Boston Police Strike- over a pay raise - Governor Calvin Coolidge called out the National Guard. The strike ended, but the strikers could not return to work.

2. The Steel Mill Strike- (September 1919 - January 1920)
-Wanted shorter working hours and a living wage.
-Over 300,000 workers walked off their jobs. Police, federal troops, and state militias beat the strikers. -Again, the strikers were propagandized as communists.
-In the end, the steel companies agreed to an 8-hour day, but the steelworkers remained without a union.

3. The Coal Miners Strike- (November 1919)
The United MineWorkers of America, with their new leader, *John L. Lewis, they pushed for a raise and shorter working hours. -The court ordered the miners back to work and Wilson appointed an arbitrator to put an end to the dispute.

-During the 1920, labor union movements lost their appeal. Membership decline for several reasons: • Much of the work force consisted of immigrants willing to work for less in poor conditions. • Since immigrants spoke a multitude of languages, unions had difficulty organizing. • Farmers who had migrated to cities to find factory jobs were used to relying on themselves. • Most unions excluded African-Americans.

Section 2: The Harding Presidency (1921–1923)

-The Harding administration appealed to America's desire for calm and peace after war, but resulted in scandal.

Harding Struggles for Peace
-In 1921, Harding invited several major powers to the Washington Naval Conference. (Russia was mad because they were not invited.)
*Charles Evan Hughes- Secretary of State - urged that no more warships be built for 10 years. -He suggested that the 5 major...
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