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Section 1 – Post War Havoc The Main Idea Although the end of World War I brought peace, it did not ease the minds of many Americans, who found much to fear in postwar years. Reading Focus What were the causes and effects of the first Red Scare? How did labor strife grow during the postwar years? How did the United States limit immigration after World War I? Chapter 19 From War to Peace
THE FIRST RED SCARE After World War I ended, many people lost their jobs in the United States, and a deadly flu epidemic spread across the world. It became a time of fear. Wartime hatred of Germans led to a postwar movement called 100 Percent Americanism. The movement supported all things American and opposed or attacked ideas or people it viewed as foreign or anti-American. After World War I, many Americans viewed as enemies people identified as “reds” and socialists. In Russia the Red Army of the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir I.
Lenin, took control and later created the Soviet Union. This caused fear in Americans because the Bolsheviks believed in worldwide communism. One of the basic principles of communism is that everyone should share equally in society’s wealth. The Soviet Union wanted to replace capitalism with communism. Although capitalism was the foundation of American life, Communist parties formed here, too. Newspaper stories spread fear of “reds,” as Communists were called, across the nation. This caused the 1919 Red Scare.
During World War I, Americans hated the Germans. After the war, the new enemies were “reds” and other radicals. The government began an anti-Communist campaign. Widespread fear of communism resulted in the Palmer raids. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer rounded up suspected radicals in Palmer raids. Many radicals were aliens. These were people who lived in the United States but were foreign citizens. Many were faced with deportation, being sent back to one’s country of origin. Referring to nearly 250 aliens who were being deported, Leonard Wood once said “I believe we should place them all in ships of stone, with sails of lead.”
LABOR STRIFE GROWS The return from war of about 4.5 million soldiers increased the demand for jobs and unemployment rose. Many people suspected unions of being Communist. In 1919 some 4 million workers took part in over 3,000 strikes. In 1919 Seattle was virtually shut down because of a wide range of labor strikes. They almost always lost. Job seekers were plentiful, and striking workers could easily be replaced. In Boston, Governor Calvin Coolidge put down a police strike and suddenly became a national hero. A miners’ strike won wage increases but not a five-day work week or safer working conditions. The mine workers’ union leader, John L. Lewis, knew that their demands would have to wait.
LIMITING IMMIGRATION The Red Scare and lack of jobs led to nativism, the distrust of anything foreign. Both nativists and labor leaders wanted to limit immigration. In 1921 new federal laws reduced the number of immigrants allowed. In 1924 the numbers were set for specific countries, favoring immigrants from some places over others. The goal of the National Origins Act of 1924 was to reduce immigration to the United States from European countries.
Nativism helped revive the Ku Klux Klan, a hate group from the South. It also led to the unfair trial—for armed robbery and murder—of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. The two Italian immigrants were anarchists, people who want to destroy government. The trial focused on their backgrounds and political beliefs. Although the evidence against them was weak, they were convicted and, in 1927, executed.
Section 2 – A New Economic Era FORD REVOLUTIONIZES INDUSTRY Henry Ford’s success in the 1910s and 1920s inspired competitors and helped the economy grow. The first cars were made by hand. Only the wealthy could afford them. Henry Ford began making cars that most people could afford. He did this by making car manufacturing simpler and cheaper.
He used an assembly line, in which the car would pass through many work stations as workers at each station performed specific tasks. Ford also paid his workers well. This allowed the workers to buy the cars. Other automakers and industries learned from Ford. They began using assembly lines. This raised worker productivity, the amount of products a worker or machine can produce. The success of businesses in the 1920s led to the growth of welfare capitalism. They gave their workers extra benefits such as retirement pensions and recreation programs. They wanted to keep workers out of unions and away from higher pay demands.
INDUSTRY CHANGES SOCIETY The automobile industry led to the growth of spin-off industries. These were businesses that made the materials and parts for the cars such as glass, steel, and rubber. Ford and other carmakers were located around Detroit, Michigan. Their success led to Detroit’s growth. Between 1910 and 1930 Detroit’s population tripled. Other cities in the Midwest also grew, especially those with automotive spinoff industries. Akron, Ohio, for example, boomed because it was the center for tire manufacturing.
Because of cars, suburbs grew. These were smaller towns outside of cities. Cars allowed people to drive to work from a distance. People also began using their cars to visit parts of the country they had never been to before. In Florida this led to a land boom. The “tin-can tourists” from the 1920s shows that the mass production of the automobile opened vacation spots to people other than the wealthy.
THE NEW CONSUMER The business boom of the 1920s was fueled by consumers. New electrical products such as refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, and radios appealed to people. The thriving postwar economy especially benefited advertisers. The advertising industry persuaded people to buy more. Installment buying was introduced. Consumers paid for an item over time in small payments. This is also called credit, which is borrowing money. Listening to the radio connected people to the world. A new form of public transportation, the passenger airline, also connected people.
WEAKNESSES IN THE ECONOMY Not everyone in the United States was prosperous. Farmers had done well during the war, when there was not much competition from Europe. The European farm production begins to revive after the war. Prices then fall in the United States and farmers lose money, leading to a farm crisis. Prices only rose when the government passed a tariff on farm products. Nature also affected business. Cotton farmers faced boll weevils that destroyed their crops. Florida was hit by a severe hurricane, and the Mississippi River flooded, causing about a thousand deaths
Section 3 – The Harding and Coolidge Presidencies THE HARDING PRESIDENCY Warren G. Harding was elected president in He promised a return to normalcy. People understood this as a return to what the country was like before the war. Harding avoided taking a stand on the League of Nations. He favored business and the wealthy because he thought wealthy people started and expanded businesses and that would improve the economy.
The one thing he did to help struggling farmers, signing the 1921 tariff on European farm products, only helped for a short time. Harding chose some highly skilled people for his Cabinet. Other choices were not so good. Some in his administration were dishonest. There were many scandals. In the worst one, the secretary of the interior went to jail for accepting bribes to allow oil companies to drill on federally owned land. The land was called Teapot Dome. In 1923, as rumors of the scandals grew, Harding died suddenly. Calvin Coolidge, his vice president, took office.
THE COOLIDGE PRESIDENCY Coolidge had become nationally known for putting down the Boston Police Strike in Now his reputation for honesty helped him get rid of the corrupt officials from the Harding administration. His success helped him win the election of T The direct goal of most of President Calvin Coolidge’s policies was limiting government and supporting business. Coolidge believed that businesses would help the economy. He thought that business, not government, should support the arts and sciences, and fund charities.
Coolidge felt the role of government should be limited. He worked to reduce taxes and the federal budget. He stopped government plans to help farmers. He said the government should not provide bonuses to World War I veterans. In 1928, although popular, Coolidge chose not to run for re-election.
THE LINGERING EFFECTS OF WORLD WAR I During the war the United States had loaned European nations $10 billion dollars. The war-torn nations had difficulty paying it back, especially after the U.S. tariffs of To pay their debts, they turned to Germany’s reparations, or payments to make up for the damage of war. Germany was unable to pay and had to borrow money from the United States. Many Americans wanted the government to save money and reduce the threat of war by cutting the armed forces.
Great Britain and Japan were heading for a naval arms race, a competition by nations to build more and more weapons. In 1921, the United States called the Washington Naval Conference. Major naval powers, including the United States, agreed to reduce their navies. Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes said it was a great step towards keeping peace. Another move for peace was the Kellogg-Briand Pact, in which 60 countries promised not to use warfare to settle their problems. Meanwhile, Brigadier General Billy Mitchell was trying to convince the U.S. military to build up its air power. He was not successful and was court martialed. Later, in December of 1941, everything he said was proven true.