Warren G. Harding "Return to Normalcy," Boston, MA, May 14, 1920
Could the nation return to what life was before the United States’ involvement in WWI? Let’s take a look at the United States in 1919 …
“My Fellow Countrymen: the armistice was signed this morning…. It will now be our fortunate duty to assist by example, by sobering friendly counsel, and by material aid in the establishment of just democracy throughout the world.” We would not have our politics distracted and embittered by the dissensions of other lands. We would not have our country’s vigor exhausted, or her moral force abated, by everlasting meddling and muddling in every quarrel which afflicts the world.” Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr. (R-MA)
Nothing is too good for you, my boy! What would you like? Returning soldiers faced unemployment or took their old jobs away from women and minorities. A job.
Product1914 Price1919 Price Milk9 cents per Quart 15 Cents per quart Steak27 cents per lb.42 cents per lb. Butter32 cents per lb.61 cents per lb. Eggs34 cents per dozen 62 cents per dozen
“The nation went on thinking with a mind of a people at war. They had learned during the preceding nineteen months to strike down the thing they hated; not to argue or hesitate, but to strike. Germany had been struck down, but it seemed that there was another danger on the horizon. Bolshevism was spreading from Russia through Europe; Bolshevism might spread to the United States. They struck at it – or at what they thought was it.” - Frederick Lewis Allen Only Yesterday
Where does it come from? 1919 revolutionaries led by Vladimir Lenin overthrew the monarchical czar government Established a communist state Waved a symbolic red flag – a.k.a. “Reds” Cried out for worldwide revolution that would abolish capitalism everywhere
Where did it show up here? Communist Party forms Some members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Union joined the Communist Party
A Series of bombs being sent to government and business leaders increased fears of the spread of communism. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer’s residence was bombed
Attorney General Palmer appointed J. Edgar Hoover as special assistant Hunted down suspected Communists, socialists, anarchists
Nativism – Favoring the interests of native- born people over foreign-born people Need for unskilled labor decreased 1919-1921 immigration increased from 141,000 to 805,000 (600%)
Quota System – maximum number of people who could enter the US from each country Limited immigration to 2% of a country’s nationals living in the US in 1890. Discriminated against Eastern and Southern European countries Prohibited Japanese immigration
“100 percent Americanism” Discriminated against blacks, Jews, Roman- Catholics, immigrants, Communists, unions, saloons 4.5 Million members
During WWI the government did not allow strikes and unions promised to adhere to this policy in support of our nation at war. Following WWI – Management wanted a return to laissez-faire Workers pressed for higher wages, etc.
Boston Police Strike Demanded higher wages Leaders fired; Officers strike Governor Calvin Coolidge brings in National Guard to end strike Striking police replaced U.S. Steel Mill Strike Demanded higher wages and shorter work hours Managements refused to negotiate 300,000 workers on strike Management used propaganda to paint strikers as Communists Public report displayed poor conditions – workers got 8- hour work day, but no Union
Coal Miner’s Strike Led by John L. Lewis demanding better wages and shorter workdays Disobeyed court order to stop strike President Wilson appointed an arbitrator Coal Miners received wage increase
Much of the workforce were immigrants willing to work in poor conditions Immigrants spoke many different languages making it difficult to organize Migrating farmers used to hard work Most unions excluded African Americans Connected publicly to Communists
Why did Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer launch a series of raids against suspected Communists? He believed Communists wanted to overthrow the government and ruin our economy. He also may have hoped to ride the wave of public support all the way to the White House.
Communism – Economic and Political system based on a single-party led by a dictatorship Bolshevism – Majority, Worker – Name attributed to the communist revolution in that it was a “worker’s revolution.” Arbitrator - a person chosen to decide a dispute or settle differences Anarchist – one who believes in no established government