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WWI and 1920s: The Death of Progressivism. Benjamin M. Friedman, The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth (2005) The Moral Consequences of Economic GrowthThe.

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Presentation on theme: "WWI and 1920s: The Death of Progressivism. Benjamin M. Friedman, The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth (2005) The Moral Consequences of Economic GrowthThe."— Presentation transcript:

1 WWI and 1920s: The Death of Progressivism

2 Benjamin M. Friedman, The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth (2005) The Moral Consequences of Economic GrowthThe Moral Consequences of Economic Growth White middle-class basically conservative Economic prosperity  willingness to expand power/rights –Prosperity 1900s-1917  Progressives Economic hardship  defend what little left –Hardships 1890s  rise Jim Crow, Populists Exception: 1930s

3 I. “Fatal to Our Form of Government and American Ideals”: WWI on the Home Front A. War Capitalism Mobilization  unprecedented involvement Food Administration (produce + conserve); Fuel Administration (coal/gas)  shortages at home (inflation/black market) War Industries Board: purchases, allocated, set prices (all on business advice  huge profits)

4 National War Labor Board mediates + AFL cooperates  few strikes Enough for men/ material in Europe + full employment (but cost living up) Race riots [Chicago, July 27-Aug 2, 1919: “Negro invasion” (38 d, 537 I; East St. Louis, May, June 1917, 40-200 killed] Total # women work not grow much  change type of job –1,000s volunteer war effort + Alice Paul and National Woman’s Party embarrassment  passage 19th

5 Paid for 1/3 in taxes; 2/3 bonds/loans  debt $1B (1914)  $25B (1919) $33.5B cost; interest + vet benefits  3x (Bonus Army)



8 “Once lead this people into war and they’ll forget there ever was a thing as tolerance. To fight you must be brutal and ruthless, and the spirit of ruthless brutality will enter into the very fibre of our national life, infecting Congress, the courts, the policeman on the beat, the man in the street.” Woodrow Wilson April 1917 April 1917 B. War Democracy

9 Wilson silence dissent  Committee on Public Information (CPI) CPI sought mind mobilization w/ propaganda: Demonized Germany Urged self-censorship & spied on neighbors Vigilantes harassed German- Americans State/ local governments, businesses, & colleges fired dissenters, banned German culture (sauerkraut  liberty cabbage)

10 Espionage Act (1917) banned treasonous (loosely defined) material from mail Sedition Act (1918) banned criticism of USG –FBI to enforce  J. Edgar Hoover USG crushed IWW, imprison Eugene V. Debs (socialist) Schenck v. U.S. (1919): “clear and present danger”  American Civil Liberties Union Post-war: 4 million workers strike (delayed demands) + growing black militancy (DuBois, vets) + Bolshevik Rev. (W sent troops)  “Red” summer  Red Scare  (A. Mitchell) Palmer Raids

11 Post-War Depression 1920-21: post-war dislocations  24% fall GDP Relatively quick recovery Shaped attitudes Americans + Hoover in 1929 –1929 GDP falls only 12%, short recovery before collapse

12 II. The New Era of the 1920s Consumerism flourished b/c of advertising, credit, & economic growth (compare 1990s) Gov. fostered business growth (lobbyists) –Coolidge: “The chief business of the American people is business.” –Taft court abandoned Progressive era rulings + attacked unions Mass entertainment grew further as big business, technology (radio), and middle class expanded Accelerated pop shifts (blacks, suburbs) Some opposed modern changes (reactionary) Decade ended w/ economic collapse

13 III. Economy A. The Boom Cost of living stable, earnings increased Productivity gains: moving assembly line (1914), electrification (1929, electricity in 2/3 of all homes) “Welfare capitalism” Car industry: –1900: 4,000 cars/year –1929: 4.8 million/year  1car/5 people (1/43 in UK) As RxR: fuels other segments (steel, glass, oil, construction), creates new biz (fast food, gas stations), changes patterns (suburbs, roads) Car symbol of social equality

14 B. Bust 1) Small business: corporate expansion (gov’t support/acquiescence)  crushed –1918: 29,000 chain stores; 1929: 160,000 (i.e. WalMart) 2) Farmers: WWI  produce for Europe  overproduction  price crash (Dust Bowl) 3) Workers: union decline (WWI + Red Scare), wages not keeping pace –1929 (pre-Crash): $2500/yr family 4 decent living –2/3 tax paying Americans made less than $1500


16 IV. Society A. “Bound for the Promised Land”: Great Migration Blacks pulled North by WWI jobs ($48/day in factories vs. $2/day; paid cash vs. sharecropping), rights (blacks can vote de facto + de jure), and power (substantial voting blocs in cities  limited by machine patronage system/gerrymandering/white flight) 1.5 million left South, 1920s

17 Harlem Renaissance (NYC): explosion artistic expression [Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson (writer + NAACP), Alain Locke (The New Negro)] Continued discrimination/violence  Marcus Garvey (Universal Negro Improvement Assoc.) + call for black independence/separation –Black Star Line: “return” blacks to “motherland” of Africa

18 B. Women Working Number in workforce continued to increase post- WWI 10.8 million working women (1930) Job segregation (clerical); pay discrimination Most female workers single 3.1 million wives worked to help w/ consumption –1920: 23% female workers; 1930: 29% Many African, Japanese, & Mexican American wives worked to help their families survive –Worked as domestics or rural laborers

19 C. Suburbanization Prosperity & cars fueled suburban expansion (can + want) 1930 almost 1 out of 6 in suburbs; growing 2x speed cities Middle & upper classes fled urban problems (white flight) –Left behind worse off: jobs, capital, talent gone  gov’t turns back on center cities –Excluded blacks, Jews, Catholics, Hispanics (restrictive covenants) Cities & suburbs = centers of consumer culture –Shopping centers, fast food

20 D. Children and The Elderly Decrease # children: 1870-80 over half Am women 5+; 1920s 20% 5+  more time + resources for children Better nutrition/ sanitation increased life expectancy for most, but not all people –60 years by 1930 from 54 years in 1920 More people living past age 60 and forced retirements increased poverty among elderly US leaders rejected European-style pensions as socialistic Many states in 1920s adopted pensions & retirement homes to reduce elderly poverty

21 V. Culture A. Youth Culture: Sex, Drugs, Jazz Radios  homogenization culture Advertising: selling image, creates insecurity + fear (“A woman is only as old as her complexion”)  culture of consumption (rejection thrift + work; buy on credit) Cars: suburbs, end rural isolation, youthful freedom Movies: explosion # films + viewers; no censorship  changing attitudes sex Women’s roles: voting (more right than actually), clothing = Youth culture: generational chasm: youth embrace change, elders fear  parents irrelevant as model

22 Dating Victorian expectation marriage broken 1910s: minority engaged premarital sex 1920s: majority in 1930 Limits sexual rev.: limited to eventual husband or one other 1) spread of birth control, 2) economic/cultural (industrial  consumer), 3) Sigmund Freud

23 Drugs and Rock and Roll Smoking: tobacco companies begin to target women (weight control) Drinking: despite (because of?) Prohibition: majority college students “smart” thing to do Jazz: embrace black music (sexuality, drugs): “primitive” rhythms appealed to instincts mid class whites trying to control –Jazz + forms of dancing banned from schools

24 B. Images of Femininity “Flappers” remade image of femininity Stressed personal freedom & sexuality –Few actually became flappers Dress styles changed: 19.5 yards of cloth to 7 Some women asserted independence/ equality: Equal Rights Amendment (“Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction.”); run for office and form political organizations (League of Women Voters) –19 th did not dramatically change women’s voting habits

25 C. The Gay ’20s Homosexual culture more overt in some cities (Greenwich Village, NYC); greater freedom in speakeasies  illicit behaviors overlap (provide entertainment)  degree protection; still discrimination No sharp line: So long as man maintained “male” role in sex and did not take on the “female” role, he could cross back and forth –“On the down low”

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