It is accurate that the Twenties was a decade of friction and conflict between the values of urban and rural America. Traditional, rural Americans were conservative, and as a result feared change advocated by the new urban Americans who brought forth new attitudes and ideas. Both clashed on the lines of immigration, politics, religion, and women's rights.
In an analysis of the 1920s, William, E. Leuchtenburg wrote the Perils of Prosperity and in it stated that there were different two Americas at that time, rural and urban America. Rural America wanting to preserve their old US began to attack urban America based on radicals, religion, and prohibition of alcohol.
During World War 1, Americans were asked by the federal government to do two things: despise Germans and to not go on strike. After the war ended, two things consequently followed. First, American emotions still persisted and more people were included now: blacks, Catholics, foreigners, to name a few. Second, by not striking, workers felt that they fell behind in wages, therefore, a record number of strikes (3,600) occurred in one year. Third, with the success of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, Americans began to fear Communism, known as the Red Scare, and associated it with not only foreigners, but with the new union strikes and with a few acts of violence which involved 3 separate letter bombs, where in one case 38 people were killed in Wall Street. All of the American accusations proved to be ludacris. Nevertheless, these were the main causes of the intolerance toward urban America during this decade.
There were many efforts to cleanse America of the Bolsheviks, or radicals. A. Mitchell Palmer, the attorney general, launched a nationwide crusade to purge the country of the communists. On January 1st, 1920 6,000 suspected radicals were captured during simultaneously conducted raids. These raids proved to be in vain as 90% of the suspects were innocent Americans, but nonetheless 600 were deported back to Europe on "Noah's Ark"
In a similar attempt, 2 Italians were convicted for murder and robbery of a factory paymaster and sentenced to death. Many trials were conducted on behalf of the dubious, but they are executed in 1922, even after worldwide protest. There were many holes in the case with the judges also being biased, but many believed they were executed because of the public hysteria on communism. Even today, the case is still unproven, but this would eventually end the Red Scare of this period.
The federal government also responds to the public fear by passing restrictions on immigration. The notion was that millions of Europeans would emigrate to escape their devastated countries and within these immigrants would be Bolsheviks. The first of three restriction acts is the Emergency Quota Act of 1921. Here, each country received a quota of 3% of their population living in America in 1910. To the Americans, though, it was still too much. The passing of the Immigration Act of 1924 was the response. This law is the same as the last, but it is 2% of the population in 1890. This date was specifically chosen since very few Southeastern European immigrants lived in the US at this time. But, once again, the American public still feel insecure. The last is the National Origin Act of 1927 which allows no more than 150,000 immigrants. Each country gets a percentage of the total depending on how many Americans are from that country based on the 1920 survey. These acts successfully blocked the arrival of radicals, if any, but it in fact marks a change in US immigration where more people leave the country than enter.
With the government not making much progress, the public take matters into their own hands and re-formed the Ku Klux Klan in 1915 under William J. Simmons. This organization not only targeted blacks, but to return the dominance of the ratio of white Anglo-Saxon protestants to others including foreigners, Catholics. The clan quickly grows...
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