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U.S. Hist. Ch. 7 and Ch. 8
Terms in this set (108)
a policy of aggressive military preparedness; the strong buildup of armed forces to intimidate and threaten other nations
loyalty and devotion to a nation; a feeling of intense pride in one's homeland. they place primary emphasis on promoting their homeland's culture and interests. They believe in the right of self-determination—the idea that those who share a national identity should have their own country and government.
the ruling or controlling of other peoples or nations through annexation, military conquest, or economic domination
goods whose importation, exportation, or possession is illegal; goods prohibited from shipment to Germany and its allies
a garden planted by civilians during war to raise vegetables for home use, leaving more of other foods for the troops
spying, especially to gain government secrets or to acquire government information
to select a person at random for mandatory military service
a group that travels with something, such as a ship, to protect it
the payment by the losing country in a war to the winner for the damages caused by the war
a strike involving all the workers in a particular geographic location or community
an economic theory that lower tax rates will boost the economy as businesses and individuals invest their money, thereby creating higher tax revenue
President Hoover's policy of encouraging manufacturers and distributors to form their own organizations and volunteer information to the federal government in an effort to stimulate the economy
a national policy of avoiding involvement in world affairs
the production of large quantities of goods using machinery and often an assembly line; large-scale manufacturing done with machinery
a production system with machines and workers arranged so that each person performs an assigned task again and again as the item passes before him or her
the money remaining to an individual after deduction of taxes
an amount or sum of money placed at a person's disposal by a bank on condition that it will be repaid with interest
a belief that one's native land needs to be protected against immigrants; hostility toward immigrants
a person who believes there should be no government; a person who opposes all forms of government
secret bars where alcoholic beverages were sold illegally
unconventional; not bound by the rules of society
roots of the causes of WWI
In 1914 tensions were building among European nations, stemming from events that dated to the 1860s. In 1864, the German kingdom of Prussia launched the first of a series of wars to unite the German states into one nation. By 1871, Prussia had united Germany and established the German Empire, which became one of the most powerful nations in the world, transforming European politics.
The Triple Alliance
In 1870, as part of its plan to unify Germany, Prussia forced France to give up territory along the German border. As a result, France and Germany became enemies. To protect itself, Germany signed alliances with Italy and with the huge empire of Austria-Hungary, which controlled much of southeastern Europe. This became known as the Triple Alliance.
The Franco-Russian Alliance
The new alliance alarmed Russian leaders, who feared that Germany intended to expand eastward. In addition, Russia and Austria-Hungary were competing for influence in southeastern Europe. A common interest in opposing Germany and Austria-Hungary led Russia and France to sign the Franco-Russian Alliance in 1894. Under the alliance, the two nations promised to come to each other's aid in a war against the Triple Alliance.
The Triple Entente
The alliances fostered militarism. Over time, German militarism led Britain to become involved in the alliance system. Britain's policy was to try to prevent one nation from controlling all of Europe. By the late 1800s, Germany had clearly become Europe's strongest nation. In 1898 Germany began building a large modern navy. The buildup threatened the British, who rushed to build warships. By the early 1900s, Britain and Germany were engaged in an arms race. The race convinced Britain to build closer ties with France and Russia. The British refused to sign a formal alliance, so the relationship became known as an entente cordiale, or friendly understanding. Britain, France, and Russia became known as the Triple Entente
In the 1800s, nationalism led to a crisis in the Balkan region of southeastern Europe. In the 1700s and 1800s, imperialism was how European powers built empires. For years the Ottoman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire had ruled the Balkans. But as nationalism spread in the late 1800s and early 1900s, national groups such as the South Slavs—Serbs, Bosnians, Croats, and Slovenes—began to press for independence. The Serbs, who were the first to gain independence, formed a nation called Serbia between the two empires. Serbia believed that its mission was to unite the South Slavs.Russia supported the Serbs, but Austria-Hungary worked to limit Serbia's growth. In 1908 Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia, which had belonged to the Ottoman Empire, outraging the Serbs. The annexation demonstrated that Austria-Hungary had no intention of letting the Slavic people in its empire become independent.
An Assassination Brings War
In June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, visited the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. As he and his wife rode through the city, Bosnian revolutionary Gavrilo Princip shot them dead. The assassination occurred with the knowledge of Serbian officials who hoped to start a war that would damage Austria-Hungary. Austria-Hungary decided the time had come to crush Serbia in order to prevent Slavic nationalism from undermining its empire. Knowing an attack on Serbia might trigger a war with Russia, the Austrians asked their German allies for support. Austria-Hungary then issued an ultimatum to the Serbian government. The Serbs counted on Russia to back them up, and the Russians, in turn, counted on France. On July 28, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. Russia immediately mobilized its army, including troops stationed on the German border. Within days Germany declared war on Russia and France. World War I had begun. Germany immediately launched a massive invasion of France, hoping to knock the French out of the war, so it could turn its attention east to Russia. But the German plan required forces to advance through Belgium. The British government, which had signed an earlier treaty with Belgium guaranteeing the country's neutrality, declared war on Germany when German troops crossed the Belgian frontier.
Those fighting for the Triple Entente (Russia, France, and Britain) were called the Allies. Italy joined them in 1915 from previously being in the Triple Alliance (Germany and Austria-Hungary) when they were promised control of Austro-Hungarian territory after the war.
The Central Powers
What remained of the Triple Alliance (Germany and Austria-Hungary) joined with the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria to form the Central Powers.
Germany quickly conquered much of France, but Russia was a fierce opponent to the east. When Russia invaded Germany, the Germans were forced to move some troops eastward to thwart the attack. The Western Front became a bloody stalemate along hundreds of miles of trenches, with British and French forces on one side and German forces on the other.
U.S. neutrality vs. favoring of the Allies
When the war began, President Wilson immediately declared the United States to be neutral. Despite his plea, many Americans took sides. American public opinion generally favored the Allied cause, although many German Americans and Irish Americans were hostile to Britain. For more than two years, the United States officially remained neutral. During this time a great debate began over whether the United States should prepare for war. Some believed that preparing for war was the best way to stay out of the conflict. Others, including Jane Addams, founded organizations urging the president not to build up the military. Many government officials, however, were decidedly pro-British, though Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan favored neutrality. In addition, many American military leaders believed that an Allied victory was the only way to preserve the international balance of power. British officials worked diligently to win American support. One method they used was propaganda, or information designed to influence opinion. The British cut the transatlantic telegraph cable from Europe to the United States so most war news would be based on British reports. The American ambassador to Britain endorsed many of these reports, and American public opinion swayed in favor of the Allies. Companies in the United States also had strong ties to the Allies, and many American banks invested heavily in an Allied victory. By 1917, American loans to the Allies totaled over $2 billion. Although other banks, particularly in the Midwest where pro-German feelings were strongest, lent some $27 million to Germany, the country's prosperity was intertwined with the Allies. If the Allies won, the investments would be paid back; if not, the money might never be repaid.
The U.S. draws toward war
Shortly after the war began, the British blockaded German ports. They forced neutral merchant ships sailing to Europe to land at British ports to be inspected for contraband. Although the U.S. government protested Britain's decision, the German response angered Americans even more. In February 1915, the Germans announced that they would use submarines called U-boats to sink without warning any ship they found in the waters around Britain. This decision went against an international treaty signed by Germany that banned attacks on civilian ships without warning. On May 7, 1915, a U-boat sank the British passenger ship Lusitania, killing over 1,000 passengers—including 128 Americans. The attack gave credibility to British propaganda and changed American attitudes about the war. Wilson tried to defuse the crisis by sending official protests to Germany insisting that it stop endangering noncombatants. But in March 1916, a U-boat torpedoed a French passenger ship. Wilson threatened to break off diplomatic relations with Germany, but then decided to issue one last warning demanding that the German government abandon its methods or risk war with the United States. Germany did not want to strengthen the Allies by drawing the United States into the war. It promised with certain conditions to sink no more merchant ships without warning. This pledge met the foreign policy goals of both Germany and President Wilson by delaying the entry of the United States into the war. President Wilson's efforts played an important part in his reelection bid in 1916. His campaign slogan, "He kept us out of war," helped the "peace" candidate win a narrow victory.
The U.S. enters the war
In January 1917, German official Arthur Zimmermann sent a telegram to the German ambassador in Mexico promising Mexico the return of its "lost territory in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona" if it allied with Germany. British intelligence intercepted the Zimmermann telegram, and it ran in American newspapers. Furious, many Americans concluded that war with Germany was necessary. Then, on February 1, 1917, Germany resumed unrestricted submarine warfare. German military leaders believed that they could starve Britain into submission if U-boats began sinking all ships on sight. They did not believe that the United States could raise an army and transport it to Europe in time if it decided to enter the war. Between February 3 and March 21, U-boats sank six American ships. Roused to action, President Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany on April 2, 1917. Within days the Senate and the House had voted for the resolution, and Wilson signed it. The United States was at war. Even so, 50 representatives and 6 senators had voted against declaring war.
As part of the war effort, Congress created new agencies staffed by business executives, managers, and government officials to coordinate mobilization and ensure the efficient use of national resources. These agencies emphasized cooperation between big business and government. The War Industries Board (WIB) coordinated the production of war materials. Early problems convinced President Wilson to expand the Board's powers. The WIB told manufacturers what they could produce, distributed raw materials, ordered new factory construction, and sometimes set prices.The Food Administration, run by Herbert Hoover, was responsible for increasing food production while reducing civilian consumption. The agency encouraged families to conserve food and grow their own vegetables in victory gardens. The Fuel Administration managed use of coal and oil. To conserve energy, it introduced daylight saving time, shortened workweeks for civilian goods factories, and encouraged Heatless Mondays.
Taxes during the war
By the end of the war, the United States had spent about $32 billion. To fund the war effort, Congress raised income tax rates, placed new taxes on corporate profits, imposed an extra tax on the profits of gun factories, and borrowed over $20 billion through the sale of Liberty Bonds and Victory Bonds. Americans who bought bonds were lending money to the government to be repaid with interest in a specified number of years.
The war effort also required the cooperation of workers. To prevent strikes from disrupting the war effort, the government established the National War Labor Board in April 1918. The NWLB often pressured industry to improve wages, adopt an eight-hour workday, and allow unions the right to organize and bargain collectively. In exchange, labor leaders agreed not to disrupt war production with strikes or other disturbances. As a result, membership in unions increased by over one million between 1917 and 1919.
Women's roles in WWI
With so many men in the military, employers were willing to hire women for jobs traditionally held by men. Some 1 million women joined the workforce for the first time, and another 8 million switched to better industrial jobs. Women worked in factories, shipyards, and railroad yards and served as police officers, mail carriers, and train engineers. When the war ended, however, most women returned to their previous jobs or stopped working. Yet the changes demonstrated that women were capable of holding jobs that many had believed only men could do. World War I was the first war in which women officially served in the armed forces, although they served only in noncombat positions. As the military prepared for war in 1917, it faced a severe shortage of clerical workers because so many men were assigned to active duty. Early in 1917, the navy authorized the enlistment of women to meet its clerical needs. Women serving in the navy wore a standard uniform and were assigned the rank of yeoman. By the end of the war, more than 11,000 women had served in the navy. Although most performed clerical duties, others served as radio operators, electricians, pharmacists, chemists, and photographers. Unlike the navy, the army refused to enlist women. Instead, it began hiring women as temporary employees to fill clerical jobs. The only women to actually serve in the army were in the Army Nurse Corps. Women had served as nurses in both the army and the navy since the early 1900s, but as auxiliaries. They were not assigned ranks and were not technically enlisted in the army or navy. More than 20,000 nurses served in the Army Nurse Corps during the war, including more than 10,000 overseas.
The role of different racial groups in WWI
Desperate for workers, Henry Ford sent agents to the South to recruit African Americans. Other companies quickly followed suit. Promises of high wages and plentiful work convinced between 300,000 and 500,000 African Americans to move north. This massive population movement became known as the Great Migration. The racial makeup of such cities as Chicago, New York, Cleveland, and Detroit changed greatly. Eventually, so did politics in the Northern cities, where African Americans were able to vote. The war also encouraged other groups to migrate. Between 1917 and 1920, more than 100,000 Mexicans migrated into the Southwest, providing labor for farmers and ranchers. Mexican Americans also found new opportunities in factory jobs in Chicago, St. Louis, Omaha, and other American cities. Like other immigrant groups before them, they faced hostility and discrimination. Mexican Americans tended to settle in separate neighborhoods, called barrios, where they could support one another. Of the nearly 400,000 African Americans who were drafted, about 42,000 served overseas as combat troops. African American soldiers encountered discrimination and prejudice in the army, where they served in racially segregated units, almost always under the supervision of white officers. Despite these challenges, many African American soldiers fought with distinction. For example, the African American 92nd and 93rd Infantry Divisions fought in bitter battles along the Western Front. Many of the soldiers in those divisions won praise from the French commander, Marshal Henri Pétain, and the United States commander, General John Pershing. An estimated 12,000 Native Americans and about 20,000 Puerto Ricans served in the armed forces. Thousands of Mexican Americans also served in the war, volunteering for service more than any other minority group in the United States. Some Asian immigrants fought on the side of the United States even before they were citizens. Though they faced discrimination, many Asians served in the U.S. Army with distinction, being granted citizenship in recognition of their contributions.
Progressives did not think that organizing the economy was enough to ensure the success of the war effort. They also believed the government needed to shape public opinion. Soon after Congress declared war, Wilson created the Committee on Public Information (CPI) to "sell" the war to the American people. Headed by journalist George Creel, the CPI recruited advertising executives, artists, authors, songwriters, entertainers, public speakers, and motion picture companies to help sway public opinion in favor of the war. The CPI distributed pamphlets and arranged for thousands of "four-minute speeches" to be delivered at movie theaters and other public places. Some 75,000 speakers, known as Four-Minute Men, urged audiences to support the war in various ways, from buying war bonds to reporting draft dodgers to the authorities. Nongovernmental groups also helped raise awareness and funds for the war. For example, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee raised $63 million in relief funds. The Jewish Welfare Board set up centers at home and abroad for Jewish servicemen.
The Espionage Act of 1917
In addition to using propaganda, the government passed legislation to limit opposition to the war and to fight espionage. The Espionage Act of 1917 made it illegal to aid the enemy, give false reports, or interfere with the war effort.
The Sedition Act of 1918
The Sedition Act of 1918 made it illegal to speak against the war publicly. In practice, it allowed officials to prosecute anyone who criticized the government.
Fear and shame
Wartime fears led to attacks on German Americans, labor activists, socialists, and pacifists. Ads urged Americans to monitor their fellow citizens. Some German Americans hid ties to their culture to avoid suspicion or abuse. Individuals and businesses changed their names, and many German-language newspapers ceased publication.
The draft of WWI
When the United States entered the war in 1917, the army and the National Guard together had slightly more than 200,000 troops. Many men quickly volunteered, but many more were still needed. Many progressives believed that forced military service was a violation of democratic and republican principles. Believing a draft was necessary, however, Congress, with Wilson's support, created a new system called selective service. Instead of having the military run the draft from Washington, D.C., the Selective Service Act of 1917 required all men between 21 and 30 to register for the draft. A lottery randomly determined the order in which they were called before a local draft board in charge of selecting or exempting people from military service. The thousands of local boards were the heart of the system. The members of the draft boards were civilians from local communities. Progressives believed local people, understanding community needs, would know which men to draft and would do a far better job than a centralized government bureaucracy. Eventually, about 2.8 million Americans were drafted. Not all American soldiers were drafted. Approximately 2 million men volunteered for military service. Some had heard stories of German atrocities and wanted to fight back. Others believed democracy was at stake. Many believed they had a duty to respond to their nation's call.
The flu brings death
Although the horrors of war soon became apparent to the American troops, their morale remained high, helping to ensure victory. More than 50,000 Americans died in combat, and over 200,000 were wounded. Another 60,000 soldiers died from disease, mostly from the influenza epidemic of 1918 and 1919. The flu epidemic was not limited to the battlefield. It spread around the world and made more than a quarter of all Americans sick. The disease killed an estimated 25 to 50 million people worldwide, including more than 500,000 Americans.
Early offensives demonstrated that warfare had changed. Powerful artillery guns placed far behind the front lines hurled huge explosive shells onto the battlefield. More people were killed by artillery fire than by any other weapon. To protect themselves from artillery, troops began digging trenches. On the Western Front—where German troops fought French, British, and Belgian forces—the troops dug a network of trenches that stretched from the English Channel to the Swiss border. Both sides used barbed wire and a new weapon, the machine gun, to guard against the enemy. Attacks usually began with a massive artillery barrage. Soldiers then raced across the rough landscape toward enemy trenches. Troops used any weapon available to kill the enemy. The new style of fighting, which both sides eventually utilized, resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of men and a stalemate on the Western Front. Offensive and defensive moves by the Allies and the Germans failed to be particularly successful.
New technologies in the war
Breaking through enemy lines required new technologies. The Germans first used poison gas in 1915, and the Allies soon followed. Gas caused vomiting, blindness, and suffocation. Both sides developed gas masks to counter fumes. In 1916 the British introduced the armored tank, which could crush barbed wire and cross trenches. But there were still too few of the slow, unreliable machines to revolutionize warfare. World War I also marked the first use of aircraft in war. Early in the war, the Germans used giant rigid balloons called zeppelins to drop bombs on British warships in the North Sea. At first, airplanes were used to spy on enemy troops and ships. Then the Allies equipped them with machine guns and rockets to attack the German zeppelin fleet. Other aircraft carried small bombs to drop on enemy lines. As technology advanced, airplanes shot down other airplanes in battles known as dogfights. But early military aircraft were difficult to fly and easy to destroy. A combat pilot had an average life expectancy of about two weeks.
American admiral William S. Sims proposed that merchant ships and troop transports travel in groups called convoys. Small, maneuverable warships called destroyers protected convoys across the Atlantic. If a ship was sunk, other ships in the convoy could rescue survivors. Convoys greatly reduced shipping losses and ensured that American troops arrived safely in time to help the Allies on the Western Front.
Russia Leaves the War
In March 1917, riots broke out in Russia. Czar Nicholas II, the leader of the Russian Empire, abdicated his throne, and the Russian Revolution began. A temporary government took command whose leaders wanted Russia to stay in the war. However, the government was unable to deal adequately with the problems afflicting the nation, so Vladimir Lenin's Bolshevik Party seized power and established a Communist government in November 1917. Germany's military fortunes improved with the Bolshevik takeover. Lenin pulled Russia out of the war to concentrate on establishing a Communist state. Lenin agreed to the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany on March 3, 1918. Under this treaty, Russia gave up the Ukraine, its Polish and Baltic territories, and Finland. With the Eastern Front settled, Germany could concentrate its forces in the west.
American troops to the Allies' armies
At the time World War I began, many Americans believed they owed the French a debt for their help in the American Revolution. General John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF), arrived in Paris on July 4, 1917. British and French commanders wanted to integrate American troops into their armies. Pershing refused, and eventually only one unit, the 93rd Infantry Division—an African American unit—was transferred to the French.
Germany's Last Offensive
On March 21, 1918, the Germans launched a massive gas attack and artillery bombardment along the Western Front. Strengthened by reinforcements from the Russian front, the Germans pushed deep into Allied lines. By early June, they were less than 40 miles from Paris. In late May, as the offensive continued, the Americans launched their first major attack, quickly capturing the village of Cantigny. On June 1, American and French troops blocked the German drive on Paris at the town of Château-Thierry. On July 15, the Germans launched one last massive attack in an attempt to take Paris, but American and French troops held their ground.
The Battle of the Argonne Forest
With the German drive stalled, French marshal Ferdinand Foch, supreme commander of the Allied forces, ordered massive counterattacks. In mid-September American troops drove back German forces at the battle of Saint-Mihiel. On September 26, 1918, the most massive offensive for the American Expeditionary Force was launched in the region between the Meuse River and the Argonne Forest. Although the Germans inflicted heavy casualties, their positions slowly fell to the advancing American troops. By early November, the Americans had opened a hole on the eastern flank of the German lines. All across the Western Front, the Germans began to retreat.
The fighting stops
Meanwhile, a revolution had engulfed Austria-Hungary. In October 1918, Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia declared independence. By early November, the governments of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire had surrendered to the Allies. In late October, sailors in Kiel, the main base of the German fleet, mutinied. Within days, groups of workers and soldiers seized power in other German towns. The German emperor stepped down, and on November 9, Germany became a republic. Two days later, the government signed an armistice—an agreement to stop fighting. On November 11, 1918, the fighting stopped.
The Treaty of Versailles
Although the fighting had stopped, World War I was not over. In January 1919, delegates from 27 countries traveled to the peace conference at the Palace of Versailles, near Paris. The treaty with Germany that resulted came to be called the Treaty of Versailles. The conference also negotiated the Treaty of Saint-Germain, ending the war with Austria-Hungary. Negotiations on the Treaty of Versailles lasted five months. The most important participants were the so-called "Big Four": President Wilson of the United States, British prime minister David Lloyd George, French premier Georges Clemenceau, and Italian prime minister Vittorio Orlando. Russian representatives were not invited to the conference because Allied leaders refused to recognize Lenin's government as legitimate. The Treaty of Versailles, reluctantly signed by Germany on June 28, 1919, included many terms designed to punish and weaken Germany. Germany's armed forces were greatly reduced and its troops were not allowed west of the Rhine River. The treaty also specifically blamed "the aggression of Germany" for the war. This allowed the Allies to demand that Germany pay reparations. A commission decided that Germany owed the Allies about $33 billion. This sum far exceeded what Germany could pay all at once and was intended to keep its economy weak for a long time. Wilson had somewhat better success in promoting national self-determination. The Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Russian Empire, the German Empire, and the Ottoman Empire were dismantled, and new nations created. In general, the majority of people in each new country were from one ethnic group. But both Poland and Czechoslovakia were given territory where the majority of the people were German, and Germany was split in two in order to give Poland access to the Baltic Sea. This arrangement helped set the stage for a new series of crises in the 1930s. The Treaty of Versailles ignored freedom of the seas, free trade, and Wilson's goal of a fair settlement of colonial claims. No colonial people in Asia or Africa received independence. France and Britain took over colonial areas in Africa and the Middle East, and Japan assumed responsibility for colonies in East Asia. The treaty did, however, call for the creation of a League of Nations. League members promised to reduce armaments, to submit all disputes that endangered the peace to arbitration, and to aid any member who was threatened with aggression.
Wilson's Fourteen Points
President Wilson arrived in Paris in 1919 with a peace plan known as the Fourteen Points. It was based on "the principle of justice to all peoples and nationalities." In the first five points, Wilson proposed to eliminate the causes of the war through free trade, freedom of the seas, disarmament, an impartial adjustment of colonial claims, and open diplomacy. The next eight points addressed the right of national self-determination, the idea that the borders of countries should be based on ethnicity and national identity. Supporters of this idea believed that when borders are not based on national identity, nations are more likely to go to war to resolve border disputes. This principle also meant that no nation should keep territory taken from another nation. This required the Central Powers to evacuate all invaded countries and Germany to restore the French territory of Alsace-Lorraine, taken in 1871. The fourteenth point called for the creation of a League of Nations. The League's members would help preserve peace by pledging to respect and protect each other's territory and political independence. Wilson was willing to give up his other goals in exchange for support for the League. Wilson's popularity in Europe put him in a strong negotiating position. The peace conference decided to use the Fourteen Points as the basis for negotiations. But not everyone was impressed by Wilson's ideas. Premier Clemenceau of France and British prime minister Lloyd George wanted to punish the Germans for the suffering they had inflicted on the rest of Europe. Additionally, Britain refused to give up its sizable naval advantage by agreeing to Wilson's call for freedom of the seas.
The U.S. Senate Rejects the Treaty
President Wilson was confident the American people would support the Treaty of Versailles. But he had badly underestimated opposition to the League of Nations in the Senate. One group of senators, nicknamed the "Irreconcilables," assailed the League as the kind of "entangling alliance" that the Founders had warned against. A larger group of senators known as the "Reservationists" agreed to ratify the treaty if it was amended to say that any military action by the United States required the approval of Congress. Wilson refused, fearing the change would undermine the League's effectiveness. Wilson decided to take his case directly to the American people. Starting in September 1919, he traveled some 8,000 miles and made more than 30 major speeches in three weeks. Soon afterward he suffered a stroke. Although bedridden, Wilson still refused to compromise on the treaty. The Senate voted in November 1919 and in March 1920, but both times it refused to give its consent to the treaty. After Wilson left office in 1921, the United States negotiated separate peace treaties with each of the Central Powers. The League of Nations took shape without the United States.
An Economy in Turmoil
After the war ended, government agencies removed their controls from the economy. People raced to buy goods that had been rationed, while businesses raised prices they had been forced to keep low. The result was rapid inflation that greatly increased the cost of living—the cost of food, clothing, shelter, and other essentials. With orders for war materials evaporating, factories laid off workers. Returning soldiers found that jobs were scarce.
Inflation Leads to Strikes
While workers wanted higher wages to keep up with inflation, companies resisted because inflation was also driving up their operating costs. During the war, union membership had increased greatly. Business leaders, however, were determined to break the power of the unions. By the end of 1919, more than 3,600 strikes involving more than four million workers had taken place.
The Seattle General Strike
In Seattle, some 35,000 shipyard workers walked off the job demanding higher wages and shorter hours. Other unions in Seattle soon organized a general strike of more than 60,000 people that paralyzed the city for five days. The strikers returned to work without making any gains, but their actions worried many Americans because the general strike was a common tactic of Communists and some radical groups in Europe.
The Boston Police Strike
One of the most famous strikes of 1919 occurred in Boston, where roughly 75 percent of the police force walked off the job. Riots and looting forced Governor Calvin Coolidge to call in the National Guard. When the strikers tried to return to work, the police commissioner instead fired them. Despite protests, Coolidge agreed that the men should be fired, declaring: "There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, anytime." Coolidge's response earned him widespread public support and convinced the Republicans to make him their vice-presidential candidate in 1920.
The Steel Strike
Soon after the police strike, an estimated 350,000 steelworkers went on strike for higher pay, shorter hours, and recognition of their union. U.S. Steel refused to talk to union leaders and set out to break the union. It blamed the strike on foreign radicals and called for loyal Americans to return to work. Meanwhile, the company hired African American and Mexican workers as replacements. Clashes between company guards and strikers were frequent. In Gary, Indiana, a riot left 18 strikers dead. The strike collapsed in 1920, setting back the union cause in the steel industry for more than a decade.
Postwar economic turmoil also contributed to widespread racial unrest. Many African Americans had moved north during the war to take factory jobs. As people began to be laid off and returning soldiers found it hard to find work and affordable housing, many blamed African Americans for taking their jobs. Frustration and racism combined to produce violence. In the summer of 1919, 25 race riots broke out across the nation. The riots began in July, when a mob of angry whites burned shops and homes in an African American neighborhood in Longview, Texas. A week later in Washington, D.C., gangs of African Americans and whites fought each other for four days before troops got the riots under control. The worst violence occurred in Chicago. On a hot July day, African Americans went to a whites-only beach. Both sides began throwing stones, and an African American teenager drowned as a result. A full-scale riot then erupted. Angry African Americans attacked white neighborhoods while whites attacked African American neighborhoods. The riot lasted for almost two weeks until the government sent in National Guard troops to impose order. By the time the rioting ended, 38 people had been killed—15 white and 23 African Americans—and more than 500 had been injured. The race riots of 1919 disillusioned some African Americans who felt their wartime contributions had been for nothing. For others, however, the wartime struggle for democracy encouraged them to fight for their rights at home. For the first time, African Americans organized and fought back. The NAACP experienced a surge in membership after the war, and in 1919 it launched a new campaign for a federal law against lynching.
The Red Scare
Since the late 1800s, many Americans had accused immigrants of importing socialist and communist ideas and had blamed them for labor unrest and violence. Events in Russia seemed to justify fears of a Communist revolution. The strikes of 1919 fueled fears that Communists, or "reds," might seize power, leading to a nationwide panic known as the Red Scare. Many people were particularly concerned about workers using strikes to start a revolution.
The Palmer Raids
In April the postal service intercepted more than 30 parcels containing homemade bombs addressed to prominent Americans. The next month, a parade in Cleveland to protest the jailing of American Socialist Party leader Eugene Debs turned into a series of riots. Two people were killed and another 40 were injured. In June eight bombs in eight cities exploded within minutes of one another, suggesting a nationwide conspiracy. One of these bombs damaged the home of United States attorney general A. Mitchell Palmer. Palmer took action, establishing a special division within the Justice Department, the General Intelligence Division, which eventually became the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Although evidence pointed to no single group, Palmer's agents targeted the foreign-born. On November 7, 1919, Palmer ordered a series of raids on offices of the Union of Russian Workers in 12 cities. Less than seven weeks later, a transport ship left New York for Russia carrying 249 immigrants who had been deported or expelled from the country. In January 1920, Palmer ordered another series of raids on the headquarters of various radical organizations. Nearly 6,000 people were arrested. Palmer's raids continued until the spring of 1920, and authorities detained thousands of suspects. Palmer's agents often ignored the civil liberties of suspects. Officers entered homes and offices without search warrants. Some suspects were jailed indefinitely and were not allowed to talk to their attorneys. Many of the nearly 600 immigrants who were deported never had a court hearing. For a while, Palmer was regarded as a national hero. But his raids failed to turn up any hard evidence of revolutionary conspiracy. The Red Scare, however, greatly influenced people's attitudes during the 1920s. The New York state legislature expelled five members of the Socialist Party in January 1920, and within a few months, nearly 30 states passed sedition laws making it illegal to join groups advocating revolution. Many linked radicalism with immigrants, which led to calls to limit immigration.
The Election of 1920
Economic problems, labor unrest, racial tensions, and the fresh memories of World War I created a general sense of disillusionment in the United States. During the 1920 campaign, Ohio governor James M. Cox and his running mate, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt, ran on a platform of progressive ideals. President Wilson tried to convince the Democrats to make the campaign a referendum on the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations. The Republican candidate, Warren G. Harding, called for a return to "normalcy," arguing that the country needed to return to the days before the Progressive Era reforms. Harding won the election by a landslide. Many Americans hoped to put racial, labor, and economic troubles behind them and build a more prosperous and stable society.
Changes in working
Real per capita earnings soared 22 percent between 1923 and 1929 even as work hours decreased. In 1923 U.S. Steel cut its daily work shift from 12 hours to 8 hours. In 1926 Henry Ford cut the workweek for his employees from six days to five, and farm machinery company International Harvester instituted an annual two-week paid vacation for employees. Mass production made these changes possible by increasing supply and reducing costs. Workers made more and the goods they bought cost less.
Harding's early days
Born in 1865 in Corsica, Ohio, Warren G. Harding began his career in Ohio state politics. In 1898 voters elected Harding to the Ohio General Assembly, where he fit in comfortably with the powerful Ohio Republican political machine. In 1903 he was elected lieutenant governor. He became a U.S. senator in 1914. After serving one term, Harding ran for and won the presidency in 1920. In his campaign, Harding promised "a return to normalcy" following the war. His genial manner endeared him to the nation. People applauded the easygoing atmosphere of the Harding administration replacing the reform and war fervor of President Wilson's last years.
Harding made several notable appointments to the cabinet. These included former Supreme Court justice Charles Evans Hughes as secretary of state, former Food Administrator Herbert Hoover as secretary of commerce, and business tycoon Andrew Mellon as secretary of the treasury. Many of his other appointments, however, were disastrous. He gave cabinet posts and other high-level jobs to friends and political allies from Ohio. Harding felt comfortable among his old friends, known as the Ohio Gang.
Scandals during Harding's presidency
Colonel Charles R. Forbes, an Ohio acquaintance of Harding's, sold scarce medical supplies from veterans' hospitals and kept the money for himself. He cost the public about $250 million. In June 1923, while traveling from Alaska to California, Harding became ill with what was probably a heart attack. He died in San Francisco on August 2, shortly before the news of the Forbes scandal broke. Early the next morning, the vice president, Calvin Coolidge, took the oath of office and became president. The most famous scandal, known as Teapot Dome, began in early 1922. Harding's secretary of the interior, Albert B. Fall, secretly allowed private interests to lease lands containing U.S. Navy oil reserves at Teapot Dome, Wyoming, and Elk Hills, California. In return, Fall received bribes from these private interests totaling more than $300,000. After the Wall Street Journal broke the story, the Senate launched an investigation that took most of the 1920s to complete. In 1929 Secretary Fall became the first cabinet secretary to go to prison. Attorney General Harry Daugherty was investigated for accepting bribes from a German agent seeking to buy a German-owned company that had been seized by the U.S. government during World War I. Daugherty refused to open Justice Department files to a congressional committee. He also refused to testify under oath, claiming immunity, or freedom from prosecution, on the grounds that he had had confidential dealings with President Harding. Daugherty was later dismissed by President Coolidge.
Calvin Coolidge was very different from Harding. Coolidge quickly distanced himself from the Harding administration. However, he asked the most capable cabinet members—Hughes, Mellon, and Hoover—to remain. Coolidge believed that prosperity rested on business leadership and that government should interfere with business and industry as little as possible. In the year following Harding's death and the revelations of the scandals, Coolidge avoided crises and adopted policies intended to keep the nation prosperous. He easily won the Republican nomination for president in 1924. The Republicans promised the American people that the policies that had brought prosperity would continue. Coolidge won the election easily.
Mellon's beliefs on taxes
Andrew Mellon, a successful banker and industrialist, was secretary of the treasury under President Harding and the chief architect of economic policy. When Mellon took office, he had three major goals: to balance the budget, to reduce the government's debt, and to cut taxes. Mellon argued that if taxes were lower, businesses and some consumers would spend and invest their extra money. This would cause the economy to grow, and Americans would earn more money. The government then would collect more in taxes. This idea is known today as supply-side economics. At Mellon's urging, Congress dramatically reduced tax rates. By 1928, Congress had reduced the income tax rate most Americans paid to 0.5 percent, down from 4 percent. They cut the rate for the wealthiest Americans to 25 percent, down from 73 percent. The federal budget fell from $6.4 billion to less than $3 billion in seven years.
Hoover's cooperative individualism beliefs
Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover also sought to promote economic growth. He tried to balance government regulation with his philosophy of cooperative individualism. This idea involved encouraging businesses to form trade associations that would voluntarily share information with the federal government. Hoover believed this system would reduce costs and promote economic efficiency.
Most Americans, tired of being entangled in the politics of Europe, favored isolationism. This is the idea that the United States will be safer and more prosperous if it stays out of world affairs. To many, it appeared that the United States had become isolationist. It had not ratified the Treaty of Versailles and had not joined the League of Nations. But in fact, the United States was too powerful and too interconnected with other countries economically to be truly isolationist. Instead of relying on armed force and the collective security of the League of Nations, the United States tried to promote peace by using economic policies and arms control agreements.
The Dawes Plan
America's former allies, Britain and France, had difficulty making the payments on their immense war debts. Meanwhile, Germany was trying to make huge cash payments to these nations as punishment for starting the war—payments that were crippling the German economy. To address this problem, in 1924 American diplomat Charles G. Dawes negotiated an agreement with France, Britain, and Germany. American banks would make loans to Germany to help it to make reparations payments. In exchange, Britain and France would accept less in reparations and pay back more on their war debts to the United States.
The Washington Conference
Despite their debts, the major powers were involved in a costly postwar naval arms race. In 1921 the United States invited representatives from eight major countries—Britain, France, Italy, China, Japan, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Portugal—to Washington, D.C., to discuss disarmament. Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes proposed a 10-year halt on the construction of new warships. The result was the Five-Power Naval Limitation Treaty between Britain, France, Italy, Japan, and the United States. But the conference also angered the Japanese because their navy was required to be smaller than those of the United States and Britain.
The Kellogg-Briand Pact
The Washington Conference inspired U.S. secretary of state Frank Kellogg and French foreign minister Aristide Briand to propose a treaty to outlaw war altogether. On August 27, 1928, the United States and 14 other nations signed the Kellogg-Briand Pact. All signing nations agreed to abandon war and to settle all disputes by peaceful means.
The London Naval Treaties
From January to April 1930, five nations met in London to extend the Washington Conference. The United States, Britain, France, Italy, and Japan agreed on ratios for war ships, halting the arms race through 1936. In 1934 Japan announced it would not extend the treaty past 1936, so the five nations met again in December 1935. The United States, Britain, and France again signed the treaty. Japan and Italy declined to sign the treaty.
Ford, the Assembly Line, and the Model T
The moving assembly line divided operations into simple tasks and cut unnecessary motion to a minimum. In 1913 automaker Henry Ford installed the first moving assembly line at a plant in Highland Park, Michigan. Ford's assembly line product, the Model T, demonstrated the economic concept of elasticity, or how sensitive product demand is to price. In 1908, the Model T's first year, the car sold for $850. In 1914 mass production reduced the price to $490. Ford also increased his workers' wages in 1914 to $5 a day—doubling their pay—and reduced the workday to eight-hour shifts. He took these dramatic steps to win workers' loyalty and to undercut union organizers. By 1924, Model Ts were selling for $295, and Ford sold millions of them.
Ford's mass-production methods opened the door for new companies to manufacture cars. By the mid-1920s, General Motors and Chrysler competed successfully with Ford. The auto industry also spurred growth in the production of steel, petroleum, rubber, plate glass, nickel, and lead. Cars revolutionized American life. They eased the isolation of rural families and let more people live farther from work. A new kind of worker, the auto commuter, appeared. Other forms of urban transportation, such as the trolley, became less popular.
In response to rising disposable income, many other new goods came on the market. Americans bought such innovations as electric razors, facial tissues, frozen foods, and home hair color. Mouthwash, deodorants, cosmetics, and perfumes became popular products. Companies created many new products for the home. As indoor plumbing became more common, Americans' concern for hygiene led to the development of numerous household cleaning products. New appliances advertised as labor-savers—such as electric irons, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, and refrigerators—changed the way people cleaned their homes and clothing and prepared meals.
Birth of the Airline Industry
After the Wright brothers' first successful flight in 1903, the aviation industry began developing. Leading the way was American inventor Glenn Curtiss, who invented ailerons—surfaces attached to wings that could be tilted to steer the plane. Ailerons made it possible to build rigid wings and much larger aircraft. The federal government began to support the airline industry. In 1918 the postmaster general introduced the world's first airmail service. In 1925 Congress passed the Kelly Act, authorizing postal officials to hire private airplane operators to carry mail. The Air Commerce Act of 1926 provided federal aid to build airports. The transatlantic solo flight of former airmail pilot Charles Lindbergh in 1927 banished doubt about the potential of aircraft. By 1928, 48 airlines were serving 355 American cities.
The Radio Industry
In 1913 American engineer Edwin Armstrong invented a special circuit that made it practical to transmit sound via long-range radio. The radio industry began a few years later. In November 1920, the Westinghouse Company broadcast the news of Harding's landslide election victory from station KDKA in Pittsburgh—one of the first public broadcasts in history. That success persuaded Westinghouse to open other stations. In 1926 the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) set up a network of stations to broadcast daily radio programs. By 1927, almost 700 stations dotted the country. Sales of radio equipment grew from $10.6 million in 1921 to $411 million in 1929, by which time more than 12 million radios were in use across the country. In 1928 the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) assembled a coast-to-coast network of stations to rival NBC. The two networks sold advertising time and hired musicians, actors, and comedians from vaudeville, movies, and the nightclub circuit to appear on their shows. Americans experienced the first presidential election campaign to use radio in 1928, when the radio networks sold more than $1 million in advertising time to the Republican and Democratic Parties.
Easy Consumer Credit
One notable aspect of the economic boom was the growth of individual borrowing. Credit had been available before the 1920s, but most Americans had considered debt shameful. Now attitudes toward debt started changing, as people began believing in their ability to pay their debts over time. Many listened to the sales pitch "Buy now and pay in easy installments," and began to accumulate debt. Americans bought 75 percent of their radios and 60 percent of their automobiles on the installment plan. Some started buying on credit at a rate exceeding their income.
To attract consumers, manufacturers turned to advertising, another booming industry in the 1920s. Advertisers linked products with qualities associated with the modern era, such as progress, convenience, leisure, success, and style. Advertisers also preyed on consumers' fears and anxieties, such as insecurities about one's status or weight.
The Managerial Revolution
By the early 1920s, many industries had already created modern organizational structures. Companies were split into divisions with functions such as sales, marketing, and accounting. Managers were hired to run these divisions, freeing executives and owners from the day-to-day running of the companies. The large numbers of new managers helped expand the middle class, adding to the nation's prosperity. These new developments in business organization generated more business profit, which improved the nation's standard of living.
Not all Americans shared in the economic boom. For example, thousands of African Americans who held factory jobs during World War I were replaced by returning servicemen. Native Americans, though granted citizenship in 1924, were often isolated on reservations where there was little productive work. Also, many immigrants had difficulty finding work. Most were farmers and factory workers with pitifully low wages. Many people in the Deep South were also left out of the economic boom as the traditional agricultural economic base there eroded after the war.
The Farmer Recession
American farmers did not share in the prosperity of the 1920s. On average, they earned less than one-third of the income of other American workers. Technological advances in fertilizers, seed varieties, and farm machinery allowed them to produce more, but higher yields without an increase in demand meant that they received lower prices. Between 1920 and 1921, corn and wheat prices declined considerably. Costs for improved farming technology, meanwhile, continued to increase. Many factors contributed to this "quiet depression" in American agriculture. During the war, the government had urged farmers to produce more to meet the great need for food in Europe. Many farmers borrowed heavily to buy new land and new machinery to raise more crops. Sales were strong, prices were high, and farmers prospered. After the war, however, European farm output rose, and the debt-ridden countries of Europe had little money to spend on American farm products. In addition, Congress passed the Fordney-McCumber Act in 1922, making matters worse by raising tariffs dramatically. This dampened the American market for foreign goods and sparked a reaction in foreign markets against buying American agricultural products. Congress tried to pass legislation to help farmers sell their surpluses, but President Coolidge vetoed the bills. He argued that with money flowing to farmers under the proposed law, they would be encouraged to produce even greater surpluses. Agriculture remained in recession throughout the 1920s.
hostility toward immigrants
The fear and prejudice many felt toward Germans and Communists during and after World War I expanded to include all immigrants. This triggered a general rise in racism and nativism. During World War I, immigration to the United States had dropped sharply, but by 1921, it had returned to prewar levels. Many Americans blamed the bombings, strikes, and recession of the postwar years on immigrants. Many believed immigrants were taking jobs that would otherwise have gone to soldiers returning home from the war.
The Sacco-Vanzetti Case
The Sacco-Vanzetti case reflected the prejudices and fears of the era. On April 15, 1920, two men robbed and murdered two employees of a shoe factory in Massachusetts. Police subsequently arrested two Italian immigrants, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, for the crime. The case created a furor when newspapers revealed that the two men were anarchists, or people who oppose all forms of government. They also reported that Sacco owned a gun similar to the murder weapon and that the bullets used in the murders matched those in Sacco's gun. The evidence was questionable, but the fact that the accused men were anarchists and foreigners led many people to assume they were guilty, including the jury. On July 14, 1921, Sacco and Vanzetti were found guilty and sentenced to death. After six years of appeals, Sacco and Vanzetti were executed on August 23, 1927.
The KKK returns
The Ku Klux Klan was the group that most wanted to restrict immigration. The old KKK began in the South after the Civil War and used threats and violence to intimidate newly freed African Americans. The new Klan also targeted Catholics, Jews, immigrants, and other groups said to be "un-American." William J. Simmons founded the new Klan in 1915, with a pledge to preserve America's white, Protestant civilization. With the help of professional promoters to sell Klan memberships, more and more people joined. By 1924, membership was close to 4 million as it spread beyond the South into the North and West. Klan membership began to decline in the late 1920s, mainly due to scandals and power struggles among its leaders. In addition, new restrictions on immigration deprived the Klan of one of its major issues.
National Origins Act
American immigration policies became more restrictive in response to nativist groups like the KKK. Even some business leaders, who had favored immigration as a source of cheap labor, now saw the new immigrants as radicals. In 1921 President Harding signed the Emergency Quota Act, which restricted annual admission to the United States by ethnic group. In 1924 the National Origins Act made immigration restriction a permanent policy. The law set quotas at 2 percent of each national group represented in the U.S. Census of 1890—long before the heavy wave of Catholic and Jewish immigration from southern and eastern Europe. As a result, new quotas deliberately favored immigrants from northwestern Europe.
Employers still needed immigrants, a source of cheap labor, for agriculture, mining, and railroad work. Mexican immigrants could fill this need because the National Origins Act exempted natives of the Western Hemisphere from the quotas. Large numbers of Mexican immigrants had already begun moving to the United States due to the Newlands Reclamation Act of 1902. The act funded irrigation projects in the Southwest and led to the creation of large farms that needed thousands of workers. By the end of the 1920s, nearly 700,000 Mexicans had migrated to the United States.
The "New Morality"
Groups that wanted to restrict immigration also wanted to preserve what they considered to be traditional values. They feared that a "new morality" was taking over. This trend glorified youth and personal freedom and brought big changes—particularly to the status of women. While many Americans embraced the new morality, others did not welcome these changes and feared that the country was losing its traditional values.
Changes for Women
Having won the right to vote in 1920, many women sought to break free from traditional roles. Women who attended college often found support to pursue careers. Many working-class women took jobs because they needed the wages, but work was also a way to break away from parental authority and establish financial independence. Romance, pleasure, and friendship became linked to successful marriages. Sigmund Freud's theories also affected people's ideas about relationships, especially his theories about human sexuality. Women's fashions changed during the 1920s: women "bobbed," or shortened, their hair and wore flesh-colored silk stockings. Some women, known as flappers, smoked cigarettes, drank prohibited liquor, and wore makeup and sleeveless dresses with short skirts. Many professional women made major contributions in science, medicine, law, and literature. In medicine, Florence Sabin's research led to a dramatic drop in death rates from tuberculosis. Public-health nurse Margaret Sanger believed that families could improve their standard of living by limiting the number of children they had. She founded the American Birth Control League in 1921 to promote knowledge about birth control. During the 1920s and 1930s, the use of birth control increased dramatically, particularly in the middle class.
Many joined a religious movement known as Fundamentalism.
Fundamentalists believed the Bible was literally true and without error. They rejected Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, which said that all life forms had developed from lower forms of life over millions of years. Instead, they embraced creationism—the belief that God created the world as described in the Bible.
The Scopes Trial
In 1925 Tennessee outlawed any teaching that denied the story of the Divine Creation of man, and outlawed the teaching of "man descended from a lower order of animals." The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) advertised for a teacher willing to be arrested for teaching evolution. John T. Scopes, a biology teacher in Dayton, Tennessee, volunteered. At Scopes's trial, William Jennings Bryan, a three-time presidential candidate, was the prosecutor representing the creationists. Clarence Darrow, one of the country's most celebrated trial lawyers, defended Scopes. Scopes was found guilty and fined $100, although the conviction was later overturned on a technicality. The trial had been broadcast over the radio, and Darrow's blistering cross-examination of Bryan hurt the Fundamentalist cause.
The movement to ban alcohol sales grew stronger in the early 1900s. When the Eighteenth Amendment went into effect in January 1920, the Volstead Act gave the U.S. Treasury Department the power to enforce Prohibition, marking a dramatic increase in federal police powers. In the 1920s, Treasury Department agents made more than 540,000 arrests, but Americans still ignored the law. People flocked to secret bars called speakeasies to purchase alcohol. Liquor also was readily available in rural areas through bootlegging—the illegal production and distribution of alcohol. Huge profits could be made smuggling liquor from Canada and the Caribbean. Organized crime became big business, and gangsters used their money to corrupt local politicians. Al Capone, one of the most successful and well-known gangsters of the era, had many police officers, judges, and other officials on his payroll. The battle to repeal Prohibition began almost as soon as the Eighteenth Amendment was ratified. The Twenty-first Amendment, ratified in 1933, repealed the Eighteenth Amendment. Though diseases and some social problems were reduced, Prohibition did not improve society as dramatically as its supporters had hoped.
Art and Literature
During the 1920s, American artists and writers challenged traditional ideas as they searched for meaning in the modern world. Many artists, writers, and intellectuals flocked to Manhattan's Greenwich Village and Chicago's South Side. The artistic and unconventional, or bohemian, lifestyle of these places allowed artists, musicians, and writers greater freedom of expression.
Modern American Art
European art movements greatly influenced the modernists of American art. Perhaps most striking was the diverse range of artistic styles, each attempting to express the individual, modern experience. American painter John Marin drew on the urban dynamics of New York City for inspiration. Painter Charles Sheeler applied the influences of photography and the geometric forms of Cubism to urban and rural American landscapes. Edward Hopper revived the visual accuracy of realism. His paintings conveyed a modern sense of disenchantment and isolation in haunting scenes. Georgia O'Keeffe's landscapes and flowers were admired in many museums throughout her long life and are still admired today.
Poets and Writers
Writers of the 1920s varied greatly in their styles and subject matter. Illinois poet and writer Carl Sandburg used common speech to glorify the Midwest. So did the novels of Pulitzer Prize winner Willa Cather, such as The Song of the Lark. Sinclair Lewis poked fun at small-town life in Main Street. Edith Wharton criticized upper-class ignorance and pretensions in her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Age of Innocence. In Greenwich Village, another Pulitzer Prize winner, Edna St. Vincent Millay, wrote about women's inner lives. Several poets influenced poetic style and subject matter. Some—such as Amy Lowell, Ezra Pound, and William Carlos Williams—used clear, concise images to express moments in time. Others, such as T. S. Eliot, criticized what they saw as a loss of spirituality in modern life. Among playwrights, Eugene O'Neill was probably the most innovative. His plays, filled with bold artistry and modern themes, portrayed realistic characters and situations, offering a modern vision of life that often touched on the tragic. Long Day's Journey Into Night is a memorable example. Some American writers, disillusioned by World War I and the emerging consumer society, moved to Paris, a center of artistic activity. American experimental writer Gertrude Stein dubbed them a "Lost Generation." Her Paris apartment became a home away from home for many writers. Among them was Ernest Hemingway, who wrote moving novels about war and its aftermath, such as A Farewell to Arms. Another visitor was F. Scott Fitzgerald. He criticized society's superficiality in The Great Gatsby
Movies and Radio Shows
During the era of silent films, theaters hired piano players to provide music during the feature, while subtitles explained the plot. Audiences gathered to see such stars as Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., and Rudolph Valentino. In 1927 the golden age of Hollywood began with the first "talking" picture, The Jazz Singer. Famous songwriter Irving Berlin worked in New York City's Tin Pan Alley, where composers wrote popular music. Berlin's famous songs include "Puttin' on the Ritz" and "White Christmas." Radio broadcasts offered everything from classical music to comedy. In the popular show Amos 'n' Andy, the troubles of two African American characters (portrayed by white actors) captured the nation's attention. The mass media fostered a sense of shared experience that helped unify the nation.
Sports such as baseball and boxing reached new heights of popularity in the 1920s, thanks to motion pictures and radio. Baseball star Babe Ruth became a national hero, famous for hitting hundreds of home runs. Fans also idolized boxer Jack Dempsey, who was world heavyweight champion from 1919 until 1926, when he lost the title to Gene Tunney. When Dempsey attempted to win back the title in 1927, one store sold $90,000 worth of radios in the two weeks before the event. Newspaper coverage helped build enthusiasm for college football. One of the most famous players of the 1920s was Red Grange of the University of Illinois. He was known as the "Galloping Ghost" because of his speed and ability to evade the opposing team. The triumphs of Bobby Jones, the best golfer of the decade, and tennis players Bill Tilden and Helen Wills also thrilled sports fans. When swimmer Gertrude Ederle shattered records by swimming the English Channel in a little over 14 hours in 1927, Americans were enchanted.
The Harlem Renaissance
During World War I and the 1920s, hundreds of thousands of African Americans joined the Great Migration from the rural South to industrial cities in the North. Populations swelled in large Northern cities. Nightclubs and music filled these cities, particularly the New York City neighborhood of Harlem. Artistic development, racial pride, and political organization combined in a flowering of African American arts. This became known as the Harlem Renaissance.
Claude McKay was the first important writer of the Harlem Renaissance. In his 1922 poetry collection, Harlem Shadows, McKay expressed a proud defiance and bitter contempt of racism. These were two major characteristics of Harlem Renaissance writing. Langston Hughes was a prolific, original, and versatile writer. He became a leading voice of the African American experience in America. Zora Neale Hurston wrote some of the first major stories featuring African American women as central characters. Other notable writers of the Harlem Renaissance include Countee Cullen, Alain Locke, and Dorothy West.
Jazz and Blues of the Harlem Renaissance Theater
New Orleans native Louis Armstrong moved to Chicago in 1922. There he introduced an early form of jazz, a musical style influenced by Dixieland and ragtime, with syncopated rhythms and improvisational elements. In Chicago, Armstrong broke away from the New Orleans tradition of group playing by performing highly imaginative solos on the cornet and trumpet. Composer, pianist, and bandleader Edward "Duke" Ellington also had a special sound, a blend of improvisation and orchestration using different combinations of instruments. Like many other African American entertainers, Ellington got his start at the Cotton Club, the most famous nightclub in Harlem (but one that served only white customers). Years later, Ellington reflected on the music of the era by saying, "Everything, and I repeat, everything had to swing. And that was just it, those cats really had it; they had that soul. And you know you can't just play some of this music without soul. Soul is very important." Bessie Smith seemed to symbolize soul. She became known as the Empress of the Blues. Smith sang of unfulfilled love, poverty, and oppression—the classic themes of the blues, a soulful style of music that evolved from African American spirituals.
Theater of the Harlem Renaissance
Theater also flourished during the Harlem Renaissance. Shuffle Along, the first musical written, produced, and performed by African Americans, made its Broadway debut in 1921. The show's success helped launch a number of careers, including those of Florence Mills and Paul Robeson. Robeson received wide acclaim for his performance in the title role of Eugene O'Neill's Emperor Jones. He also gained fame four years later for his work in the musical Show Boat. Robeson often appeared at the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem. Josephine Baker transformed a childhood knack for flamboyance into a career as a well-known singer and dancer on Broadway. She later moved to Paris and launched an international career.
Growing Political Power in the North
World War I set the stage for African Americans to reenter American politics. The Great Migration of African Americans to the North had a significant impact as well. As their numbers grew in city neighborhoods, African Americans became an influential voting bloc. In 1928 African American voters in Chicago helped elect Oscar DePriest. He was the first African American representative in Congress from a Northern state.
The NAACP Battles Injustice
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People battled hard against segregation and discrimination against African Americans. Its efforts focused primarily on lobbying public officials and working through the court system. The NAACP's persistent protests against the horrors of lynching led to the passage of antilynching legislation in the House of Representatives in 1922. The Senate defeated the bill, but the NAACP's ongoing protests kept the issue in the news. This probably helped reduce the number of lynchings that took place. In 1930 the NAACP joined with labor unions to launch a highly organized national campaign against the nomination of Judge John J. Parker to the U.S. Supreme Court. The North Carolina judge allegedly was racist and antilabor. By a narrow margin, the Senate refused to confirm Parker's nomination. This proved that African Americans had become a powerful political force.
While the NAACP fought for integration and improvement in the economic and political position of African Americans, other groups began to emphasize black nationalism and black pride. Some began calling for African Americans to separate from white society.
A dynamic leader from Jamaica, Marcus Garvey captured the imagination of millions of African Americans with his "Negro Nationalism." Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association, aimed at promoting black pride and unity. He was inspired by Booker T. Washington's call for self-reliance. The central message of Garvey's Harlembased movement was that African Americans could gain economic and political power by educating themselves. Garvey also advocated separation and independence from whites. In 1920 he told his followers they would never find justice or freedom in America. He proposed leading them to Africa. The emerging African American middle class and intellectuals distanced themselves from Garvey and his push for racial separation. The FBI saw UNIA as a dangerous catalyst for African American uprisings. Convicted of mail fraud in 1923, he served time in prison. In 1927 President Coolidge used Garvey's immigrant status to have him deported to Jamaica. Despite Garvey's failure to keep his movement alive, he instilled millions of African Americans with a sense of pride in their heritage and inspired hope for the future. These feelings reemerged strongly in the 1950s and played a vital role in the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
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