Account for the growing social tensions in US society during the 1920s
Despite the 1920s being referred to as the ‘Roaring twenties’ due to the prosperous changes in the social and economic way of America, further study of the nation in the decade reveals the growing social tensions, and a country ‘driven by social conflict and confused by social change.’ (Catton) The bitterness stemmed from the white Anglo Saxon Protestants (WASP) and their reaction to the flood of immigrants, Catholics and the migration of the African-Americans. These groups’ tensions rose over the introduction of prohibition, immigration restrictions, fundamentalism and the emergence of a second Ku Klux Klan.
The debate over immigration, and its restriction, was a cause of major social tensions in the decade of the 1920s. The multicultural society of the 20s was threatening the majority of white, Anglo-Saxon, protestant Americans.
WASPS believed social changed stemmed from the flood immigrants into the US not from industrial, technological and urban changes. Farming was in crisis, WASPs blamed the immigrants for the u/e rate 110,000 immigrants in 1919 – increased to 430,000 in 1920 – more than 800,000 in 1921 Emergency quota Act 1921: reaction to the threat immigrants placed on WASP livelihoods and their image of America. 1924 congress tightened restrictions when basing the quota system of the 1890 census decreasing the southern Europeans who could immigrate. “This is a very clear example of the institutional racism of the time.” (Willoughby) Sacco and Vanzetti trial 1921: anti-foreign attitude. Judge and jury appeared overtly prejudice due to their immigrant background and their political beliefs. 7yr trial, rallies resulted around the world demanding a new trial for the two doomed men. Aug 23 1927 they were executed. “They organized protests and flooded the judge and prosecutor with hostile letters…seven hundred per week – including death threats.” (Bortman)
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