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Warren Harding

In 1920, this Republican presidential candidate promised "less government in business and more business in government" to help bring back prosperity after the recession and inflation that followed World War I. But prosperity was no substitute for leadership. After becoming president, he admitted to his friend, "I knew that this job would be too much for me." He was right. The widespread abuse of the public trust by his cronies shocked the nation. The most notorious abuse was the Teapot Dome scandal by Secretary of Interior, Albert Fall.

Andrew Mellon

In 1921, President Harding selected this man to be secretary of the treasury. He proved so competent at dealing with the broad range of complicated economic issues that he was retained in this position in the succeeding Coolidge and Hoover administrations. He reduced individual and corporate tax rates and substantially cut the federal budget. He also significantly lowered the national debt, from $24 billion to $16 billion. His policies were hailed by many Americans during the prosperous 1920s but drew criticism as the country sank into a deep depression in the early 1930s.

Teapot Dome Scandal

With the possible exception of the Watergate scandal, few political scandals in American history have stirred as much controversy as this scandal that took place during the presidency of Warren Harding. President Harding transferred control of naval oil reserves held at in Wyoming from the Navy to his friend Albert Fall, Secretary of the Interior, who subsequently leased them to oil companies in return for a bribe. Fall was eventually imprisoned in 1929, following a Senate investigation, the first Cabinet minster to be criminally convicted.

Calvin Coolidge

Harding's death in August 1923 made this man president. He moved quickly to neutralize the effects of the Harding scandals and secure the 1924 presidential nomination for himself. His victory seemed to confirm the popularity of the conservative policies that he claimed were responsible for a growing national prosperity. In the domestic policy sphere, his pro-business policies helped secure further cuts in federal taxes and expenditures, maintain a high protective tariff. Among his administration's diplomatic achievements were the Dawes Plan and the Kellogg-Briand Pact. In 1927 he announced that he would not run for president again.

Washington Naval Conference

This was an International diplomatic meeting 1921 to avert a naval arms race between the principal maritime powers: Britain, the USA, Japan, France, and Italy. The resultant treaty 1922 put a stop to naval competition by limiting the battleship strength of the five powers.

Kellogg-Briand Pact

In August 1928, representatives of a number of nations met in Paris to sign this pact to renounce war. It was subsequently adopted by over sixty governments. It represented the most ambitious attempt to outlaw war that the modern world had yet seen; at its heart lay the simple notion that war ought to be illegal. In the end, despite the noble intentions of those who promoted the Pact, its lack of any means of enforcement guaranteed its failure.

Clark Memorandum

This memorandum was written in 1928 by Calvin Coolidge's undersecretary of state. It rejected the view that the Roosevelt Corollary was based on the Monroe Doctrine and stated that the Monroe Doctrine was based on conflicts of interest between the United States and European nations, rather than between the United States and Latin American nations.

Good Neighbor Policy

This foreign policy stance was adopted by President Franklin Roosevelt to promote better diplomatic relations, especially with South America. The policy called for non-intervention in Latin America. As the Great Depression gripped the United States in the 1930s, this policy redirected U.S. funds from Latin American aid toward domestic programs. Roosevelt's policy helped the United States maintain good relations with Latin America and contributed to Latin America's support of the United States during WWII

Dawes Plan

This plan was presented by an American banker in 1924 to help Germany to meet the harsh financial terms imposed by the Allies at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919-1920. The plan included a graduated schedule of reparation payments and a huge foreign loan for Germany. In 1924, the architect of the plan was nominated by the Republican Party to be President Coolidge's vice president and he won the Nobel Prize the next year.

Herbert Hoover

During the campaign for president in 1928, the stock market soared, and this candidate said in a speech, "We are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of any land." He won the election in a landslide. In October 1929, less than a year after he took office, the stock market crashed and so too did his dream of presiding over a period of increasing prosperity. He failed as a president to lead the United States effectively during the Great Depression. Relief activities belonged, he believed, to state and local governments. From the perspective of those in need of immediate relief, it appeared as though he was helping the rich instead of the poor. His name became associated with the misery of the Great Depression.

October 29, 1929

This date is remembered as "Black Tuesday" when the stock market "crashed" and wiped out the fortunes and life savings of many investors. The event marked the end of the securities boom of the 1920s and the beginning of the Great Depression. Many investors lost their life savings, and many businesses and banks failed due to their losses. Ultimately, the crash triggered the reform of laws regulating the securities market and led to the establishment of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission which acted to enforce new reporting and listing requirements and other laws that aimed to end manipulative practices in securities trading.

Reconstruction Finance Corporation

This administration was established by President Herbert Hoover in 1932 to make emergency loans to banks and railroads in danger of defaulting as the Great Depression deepened. The agency dispensed $1.5 billion in its first year and was credited with contributing to the reduction in bank failures during the first half of 1932. As the financial situation worsened again Hoover's congressional opponents argued for direct federal grants to individuals, but Hoover opposed all such programs, convinced that direct relief was not the role of federal government.

Hawley-Smoot Tariff

In 1930, Congress enacted this tariff which raised U.S. tariffs on over 20,000 imported goods to record levels. Unable to earn American dollars in trade, Europeans could not make their war debt payments, which further aggravated the depression of both the American and European economies. Ensuing retaliatory tariffs by U.S. trading partners reduced American exports and imports by more than half. Some economists have opined that the tariffs contributed to the severity of the Great Depression

Hoovervilles

This was the name given to shantytowns that were occupied by those most severely hurt by the economic calamity. Poverty-stricken men and women were forced into tin shantytowns where they ate out of garbage cans and cooked on discarded scrap metal. These towns were nicknamed after the Herbert Hoover administration, which was blamed for failing to notice or remedy any underlying weaknesses in the apparently booming U.S. economy.

Bonus Army

In June 1932, these 20,000 World War I veterans marched on Washington, D.C., to demand immediate payment of their "adjusted compensation" bonuses voted by Congress in 1924. Congress rejected their demands, and President Hoover had the army forcefully remove them from their encampment. He feared their ranks were infested with criminals and radicals. The event proved to be the fatal blow to Hoover's political career; Franklin D. Roosevelt used the incident against him during the election of 1932.

Dust Bowl

This 150,000-square-mile area in the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma and portions of Colorado, Kansas, and New Mexico, was struck by a severe drought and high winds in the summers from 1934 to 1937. Those conditions caused the topsoil to blow into great clouds of dust. The dust clouds obscured sunlight, piled up in drifts as high as snow, and devastated agriculture and livestock in the region. For many farmers who were already suffering the effects of the Great Depression, the dust clouds were the final blow. They sold or abandoned their land and migrated west to California to start over.

Dorthea Lange

This documentary photographer is best known for her sensitive, impassioned images of depression-era poverty. Her achievements in photographic technique and her respect and compassion for the subjects of her portraits raised the level of art photography and the awareness of the plight of those most affected by the Great Depression.

New Deal

This was President Franklin D. Roosevelt's plan for, and active government response to, the Great Depression. It called for experimentation in providing relief for individuals, recovery of the economy, and reform of the American system. Numerous federal programs, such as the CCC, CWA, and TVA, illustrate this proactive, pragmatic legislative agenda.

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