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Politics and Prosperity
The conclusion of the Roarin’ Twenties
A Republican Decade
 Warren G. Harding, winner of the Election of
1920, called for a return to “normalcy.”
 “Normalcy” was very appealing to the
American people but the 1920’s proved to be
anything but normal.
 WWI was still a very fresh concept in the
minds of American’s as was the fall of Russia
to the Bolsheviks.
The Red Scare
 During WWI, Russia experienced 2
revolutions. The first with the fall of Czar
Nicholas II from this autocracy into the hands
of Alexander Kerensky. Kerensky vowed to
keep the Russians in the war; however,
workers and peasants were weary of war.
Thus they fell into more Radical hands- those
of Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks.
The Red Scare
 The Bolsheviks overthrew the Russian
Republican government in November, 1917.
 Civil War breaks out almost immediately
because of the establishment of a communist
 The Reds and the Whites would battle for 2
years before the USSR was formed.
 USSR= Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
The Red Scare
 Lenin made communism the official ideology
of Russia.
 Communism meant:
The Government owned all the land and all
the property
A single political party controlled the
The needs of the country always took priority
over the right’s of individuals.
The Red Scare
 Lenin believed the only way communism
would survive is if it spread.
 Lenin would pass away in 1924 and his
successor, Joseph Stalin would terrorize the
 American’s were very alarmed by Lenin’s
desire to spread communism especially since
American’s did not trust Europeans and with
them entering the country in great masses,
American fear reached new heights.
The Red Scare
 United States legislators began passing laws
to ease the fears of communism in America.
 Schenck v. U.S.- Charles Schenck was
convicted of breaking the Espionage Act
during WWI. The Supreme Court upheld the
ruling that it is ok to silence 1st amendment
rights when there is a “clear and present
The Red Scare
 Gitlow v. New York- Bernard Gitlow was
convicted of “criminal anarchy” after having
his freedom of speech and press stomped.
 The Palmer Raids- In 1919 A. Mitchell
Palmer, the Attorney General, was the victim
of a bomb that was sent through the mail.
Later that year, Palmer set up a special force
that would conduct raids and arrest
suspected “subversives.”
The Red Scare
 Sacco and Vanzetti
Labor Strikes
 A wave of labor strikes helped fuel The Red
 In March 1920, there were about 370 labor
strikes nationwide and many felt that the
communists ideals were the cause for the
labor unrest.
 The real cause was way more simple than
that. They wanted Higher Wages. They
wanted to keep the standard of living they
had grown accustomed to during WWI.
Labor Strikes
 The Boston Police Strike- The Boston police
force had not received a raise since the
beginning of WWI. 19 officers were fired for
union activity to gain higher wages; so the
rest of the force walked off the job. The city
of Boston went into complete riot mode.
Future President and Massachusetts
Governor Calvin Coolidge would make
national headlines for his firm response to the
Labor Strikes
 Steel and Coal Strike- Worked an average of
65 hours per week. They were backed by the
AFL (American Federation of Labor) when
the workers requested an 8 hour workday
and 48 hour work week.
 Most Americans viewed strikes unfavorably
saying that they are un-American and often
resulted in violence.
Republican Leadership
 The Harding Administration
Foreign Policy: Harding favored Isolationism
and opposed membership in the League of
Nations and wanted worldwide peace and
stability. He also called for Disarmament. He
would also pass high tariffs on all imports to
discourage American buyers from foreign
Republican Leadership
 The Harding Administration
Domestic Issues: Americans became
nativists. Nativism is a movement that favored
native-born Americans over immigrants. This
occurred for several reasons:
 Patriotism, Religion, Urban Conditions, Jobs, and the
Red Scare.
Republican Leadership
 The Coolidge Administration
Coolidge was the Vice President under
Harding. Harding would die in office and
Coolidge was sworn into office at 2:30 in the
morning by his father who was a justice of the
peace. He would finish out Harding’s term in
office and win the election in 1924 with the
slogan “Keep cool with Coolidge!”
Republican Leadership
 The Coolidge Administration
 He took a Laissez Faire approach to business
in the 1920’s. He felt that the government
should leave business alone and watch it
 Coolidge continued Harding’s approach to
international issues signing the Kellogg-Briand
Pact. Under this pact 15 nations agreed not to
declare war on one another. 60 nations would
eventually join the pact but it was unrealistic
because it had no provisions for enforcement!
Republican Leadership
 In the Election of 1928, Coolidge opted not to
run for a second term. The Republican’s
would nominate Herbert Hoover and he
would win against Alfred E. Smith of New
York. Smith was the first Catholic Candidate
to run for the Presidency and he opposed
Prohibition. Hoover supported it. This would
be the first time in a Presidential Election that
women would make a strong impact on
Business Boom
 The 1920’s became a consumer economy –
One that depends on consumer spending- for
a variety of reasons:
Higher Wages
Clever Advertising
New Products at lower cost
Widespread availability of CREDIT!
Gross National Product
 GNP is the total value of goods and services
a country produces annually. GNP is a
measure of productivity which rose greatly
due to new technology such as Henry Ford’s
Assembly line.
Henry Ford and the Model T
Henry Ford
 To “democratize the automobile” Ford
adapted the assembly line. He did not create
it only made it more efficient. The workers
would stand in place while the automobile
moved to them. Each employee specialized
in one aspect of car making. Critics of Ford’s
factories said that the assembly line strained
workers both physically and mentally. Ford
insisted that his employee’s enjoyed what
they did.
Henry Ford
 With the efficiency of the assembly line, Ford
was able to mass produce his Model T and
offer it a price that most people could afford.
 His success came partly because of Vertical
consolidation in which he owned the means
of production. His empire was built with the
profits he made on the Model T
Industrial Growth
 Because of the popularity and affordability of
the automobile, many other businesses arose
to serve the industry. Garages, Car
Dealerships, Gas Stations, Motels,
Campgrounds, and Restaurants all owed
their success to the automobile. The Housing
industry also got a great boost in that people
could now commute from the suburbs.
 Aviation expands, as does movies, radio, and
publishing all flourished in the 1920’s.
Bypassed by the BOOM
 Unskilled laborers, African Americans, and
Farmers experienced devastation as opposed
to prosperity.
 AA and unskilled laborers kept the same low
wages, and unsafe working conditions as
before WWI.
 Many farmers were devastated by low or no
profits on top of the debt they had already
accrued due to WWI.