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USA 1919-1941 Revision
Transcript of USA 1919-1941 Revision
The USA, 1919-1941
Write the appropriate term from the list below next to each definition on your glossary.
How far did the US economy
boom in the 1920s?
Huge resources (coal, iron, timber, oil), which led to industry and farming growing steadily from the 1860s.
Growing population, including many immigrants willing to work hard.
Railways, mining and manufacturing all strong.
Believed in rugged individualism.
Profited from WWI, supplying loans, arms, and equipment before 1917.
Why was there an economic boom in the 1920s?
What do these pictures show?
What is the mood of the pictures?
What is the message of the picture on the right? Use the source and your own knowledge.
The First World War: The US didn't join WWI until 1917. Before this, they sold weapons, food, and goods to Britain and its allies. This created many jobs in the US and made businesses rich.
New ways to make things: Henry Ford's assembly line made it easier and cheaper to make goods (e.g. cars, radios, etc.)
New things to buy: In 1916, only 15% of American homes had electricity but nearly 70% had it by 1927. This meant workers could enjoy the ultra-modern electric goods being produced in factories.
New ways to buy things: New 'buy now, pay later' (credit), pay by installment, or hire purchase schemes meant more people could afford to buy goods.
Advertising: Colourful billboards, newspapers, and magazines urged people to buy the latest gadget and keep up with their neighbours.
Help from the US government (Republican policies): The Republican government in the 1920s put in low taxes and high import duties to help American businesses grow.
Factors contributing to the economic boom of the 1920s
Why did some industries not benefit from the economic boom?
Weaknesses in the American economy meant that not everyone benefited:
Traditional industries (e.g. coal and textiles) did not grow and modernise.
Farmers produced too much food and prices were very low. Many lost their farms.
Black Americans suffered from discrimination and often had the worst, lowest paid jobs in both cities and rural areas.
New immigrants also suffered from discrimination and had to take the worst, lowest paid jobs.
Wealth in the US was concentrated in a small number of hands. About 5% of the population owned 32% of the country's wealth while 42% of the population lived below the poverty line.
How far did US society change in the 1920s?
What made the twenties 'roaring'?
Americans who benefited from the economic boom didn't just get to own cars and electrical goods, they also began to enjoy themselves in new ways as new entertainments became available.
Radio exposed people to new kinds of music. Jazz music, first played by black musicians like Louis Armstrong, was particularly popular with young people.
Sports like baseball and boxing became very popular with athletes like Babe Ruth becoming national heroes.
Millions of Americans began to go to the cinema each week to see stars like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Mickey Mouse.
Radio, magazines, and newspapers created popular heroes (or celebrities), such as Charles Lindbergh, who was the first person to fly non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean.
Morals began to change, particularly related to sex. Cinema used sexy images to sell their movies, contraception became available for the first time, and sex outside of marriage became more common, although it was still unusual.
How did life change for women in the 1920s?
American women gained the vote after WWI. At the same time, women, particularly those living in cities, began working in greater numbers and making their own money.
A symbol of this new independence was the 'flapper', independent young women known for wearing short skirts, smoking and drinking, and going out dancing.
However, most women were still housewives, women who worked were paid less than men, and most women in rural areas saw little change in their lives.
Many Americans were afraid of communism. They thought immigrants from Eastern Europe and the US's own trade unions might start a communist revolution in the USA.
The government sent police and soldiers to break up trade union meetings and many people were arrested for being 'radicals', particularly from immigrant communities.
Sacco and Vanzetti were two Italian immigrants who were arrested and executed for murder because they were radicals. Most historians now believe they were innocent.
Why was prohibition introduced?
In January 1920, the 18th Amendment made it illegal to manufacture, distribute, or sell alcohol. This was called prohibition. It was introduced because:
There had been pressure to ban alcohol for a long time - devout Christians living in rural areas blamed drinking for immoral behaviour and families breaking apart.
Businessmen blamed alcohol for making workers unreliable.
During WWI, there was more support for prohibition as many breweries were owned by Germans.
As a result of prohibition, bars and saloons were closed down and the US government hired over 1500 agents, which later increased to over 2800, to enforce the law.
How did prohibition lead to crime?
Millions of dollars were made trading in illegal alcohol. Prohibition led to a massive rise in organised crime. Corruption was also a problem, as many law enforcement officers were also involved in the liquor trade.
What was the Wall Street Crash?
Wall Street is the major financial centre in New York. Stocks and shares are bought and sold there.
On Thursday, 24th October 1929, the price of shares on the New York stock market fell. Confidence in the stock market began to be lost, so prices continued to fall.
The drop in prices led to a panic. Investors lost enormous amounts of money, businesses began to go bankrupt, and people rushed to withdraw their money from banks, which caused many banks to go bust, too.
What were the causes and consequences of the Wall Street Crash?
Causes of the Wall Street Crash
Consequences of the
Wall Street Crash
Why did Franklin D. Roosevelt win the 1932 presidential election?
Hoover was seen as a 'do nothing' president in the face of the Great Depression.
Roosevelt was the popular governor of New York. He was seen as well educated, passionate, and talented - just the man to get the USA out of trouble.
Roosevelt campaigned promising a 'New Deal' for Americans - Relief, Recovery, and Reform.
How successful was FDR's New Deal?
The 'Hundred Days' was the first period of Roosevelt's term in office, during which he introduced many new acts to try and address the economic problems facing the US. He created many new agencies, often called the Alphabet Agencies. The most important were:
FERA: The Federal Emergency Relief Administration gave $500 million to state and local government for emergency relief. This was to give direct help to the poor, for example give dole payments and set up soup kitchens.
CCC: The Civilian Conservation Corps provided work for thousands of unemployed men aged 18-25, mostly in environmental projects in national parks. Around 2.5 million young men were helped by this scheme.
PWA: The Public Works Administration paid for public works projects (e.g. schools, roads, hospitals) to create jobs.
AAA: The Agricultural Adjustment Administration paid farmers to limit their food production in order to raise food prices and helped farmers modernise and organise their businesses.
NRA: The National Recovery Administration reformed industry. It set standards for workers like minimum wage and the eight hour work day. It relied on the voluntary co-operation of businesses.
HOLC: The Home Owners' Loan Corporation helped people in danger of having their homes repossessed by giving them new, longer term loans.
TVA: The Tennessee Valley Authority focused on the Tennessee Valley, one of the poorest regions of the country. Projects to build dams and power stations created work, improved agriculture, and brought industry into the area.
The Second New Deal
In 1935, Roosevelt updated some laws and created further legislation where needed. The Hundred Days, or New Deal, was about fixing the economy. The Second New Deal focused on social welfare, in order to make society fairer.
The Social Security Act gave old age pensions to Americans over 65, set up unemployment benefit which employers and employees both paid into, and set up schemes to help the sick and disabled.
The Wagner Act gave workers the right to join trade unions in order to protect their rights after the NRA was declared illegal.
The Works Progress Administration (WPA) replaced the PWA. It continued the building works started by the PWA and also created jobs for actors, artists, photographers and musicians.
Opposition to the New Deal
Business leaders were unhappy about the New Deal because:
They did not want regulations on working conditions, such as minimum wage and maximum length of working day.
Trade unions would give more power to workers, negotiating on their behalf with business leaders.
The new welfare programs, such as unemployment benefits, were funded by raising taxes on wealthy people.
Individual state governments were concerned about the New Deal because:
Agencies like the TVA interfered with the rights of individual state governments to make decisions for the people living in their state.
Some states feared that the federal (national) government was becoming too powerful.
Republican politicians opposed Roosevelt. They thought he was making the government too powerful and giving too much help to people who should be more self-reliant (rugged individualism).
Even some Democrats opposed Roosevelt (also a Democrat) because they thought he was going too far.
Some radicals, for example Huey Long, thought Roosevelt wasn't going far ENOUGH. Long wanted to tax the rich and give the money directly to the poor.
The USA up to 1920
Black factory workers in the 1920s
Chinese miners in the 1920s
A scene from the 1921 film "The Sheik" staring Rudolph Valentino.
Are you surprised by this source? Use the source and your own knowledge to answer. 
Alphabet Agencies, American Dream, Assembly Line, Bootleggers, Celebrities, Congress, Economic Boom, F.D. Roosevelt, Flapper, H. Hoover, Henry Ford, Ku Klux Klan, Monkey Trial, Organised Crime, Prohibition, Republican Policies, Rugged Individualism, Sacco and Vanzetti, Share Croppers, The Hundred Days, The New Deal, Wall Street Crash
The Red Scare
How widespread was intolerance in US society?
After WWI, the USA tried to slow down the flow of immigrants by passing the 1921 Immigration Act. They believed the 'wrong kind' of immigrants were flooding into the USA, for example those from Eastern Europe or Asia.
In 1924, an amendment to the Immigration Act allowed immigrants from Britain, Ireland, and Germany in but restricted those from Eastern Europe and Italy.
By 1929, immigration had fallen from 850,000 (before WWI) to 150,00.
The Ku Klux Klan was a group formed after the American Civil War to terrorise African Americans after they had been freed from slavery. The Klan also attacked white people who treated black people well, Catholics, and Jews. They were particularly strong in the southern USA.
Black people also had to put up with unfair laws which restricted what they could do and where they could go. These laws, which also existed mostly in the south, were known as Jim Crow laws. They kept black people segregated from white people, for example making it illegal for them to go to the same schools.
In what is known as the 'Bible Belt' of the USA, new scientific ideas like evolution were rejected because they contradicted religious teachings. Teaching these ideas in schools became illegal.
In 1925, a teacher called John Scopes deliberately let himself get arrested for teaching about evolution. The trial which followed became known as the Monkey Trial. Scopes was found guilty, but his lawyers had succeeded in making the law look foolish.
Why was this source published? Use the source and your own knowledge. 
Moonshiners made alcohol illegally.
Hijackers stole alcohol being smuggled by other people and sold it themselves.
Bootleggers and rum-runners smuggled alcohol in from Europe, the West Indies, Canada, and Mexico, where alcohol continued to be legal.
Speakeasies were illegal bars and clubs that sold alcohol. You had to know a password to get through the door.
How far does this source prove that prohibition was successfully enforced? Use the source and your own knowledge. 
Chicago became particularly famous for gangs and corruption during prohibition. There were almost 1300 murders in Chicago between 1926 and 1929. One of the most famous gang leaders was Al Capone.
Al Capone took over from a leading Chicago gangster, Johnny Torrio, in 1925.
He made a fortune, $60 million a year, from selling black market alcohol. He also made around $45 million a year from gambling, dance halls, and race tracks.
He used a private army of thugs to intimidate voters and fight rival gangs. In 1929, he was behind the St Valentine's Day Massacre, where 7 members of a rival gang were machine-gunned to death.
Capone was sentenced to 11 years in prison for tax evasion in 1931. He retired in poor health and died of syphilis in his Florida mansion in 1947.
Why was prohibition repealed in 1933?
Prohibition began to be seen as a failure. Instead of convincing people to stop drinking, prohibition seemed to be causing crime as gangsters stepped in to sell illegal alcohol. The 18th Amendment was repealed (canceled) in 1933 because:
Prohibition was impossible to enforce.
People still wanted alcohol and were willing to break the law to buy it, especially in cities.
Prohibition was making gangsters rich and encouraging increasingly violent crime.
Prohibition encouraged corruption - policemen and judges took bribes or became involved in the liquor trade themselves.
By making alcohol legal again, the government could make money by taxing it instead of letting gangsters get rich by smuggling it.
After the Wall Street Crash and the beginning of the Depression, it made economic sense to end prohibition. Legalising alcohol would create jobs, raise tax revenue, and free up money tied up in the impossible task of trying to enforce prohibition.
Republican 'laissez faire' policies: The government believed that the economy should sort itself out and did not get involved, even when things were going badly.
Overproduction: Industry was producing more than people could buy. Unsold goods built up, manufacturers began to lay off staff, and unemployment increased.
Problems on the stock market: Speculation on the stock market was common. This was like gambling. People borrowed money from banks to buy stocks when they were cheap and then sold them when prices went up. When the market crashed, people could not pay back the loans.
Unequal distribution of wealth (poverty): The richest 5% of Americans had 35% of all the money in the USA. Most people were poor and could not afford to buy all the goods being produced by factories. Many went into debt buying things on credit.
Barriers to trade: The USA put high tariffs on foreign goods and in return, European countries put high tariffs on American goods. European workers earned less than American workers and couldn't afford to buy America's surplus goods, anyway.
The Wall Street Crash destroyed confidence. People lost money and savings, businesses went bankrupt, and unemployment soared.
Around 20,000 businesses folded in 1932 alone.
5000 banks collapsed between 1929 and 1932, losing $3.2 billion.
Unemployment reached 13 million (1/4 of the workforce) by 1933.
Food prices fell, so it cost farmers more to produce and ship food than they could make selling it. Farmers, who had not benefited from the economic boom anyway, went deeper into debt and many lost their farms.
The Crash led to the Great Depression and terrible poverty.
Thousands were made homeless. Some built shanty towns to live in. These were nicknamed Hoovervilles after President Hoover, who many people felt was not doing enough to fix the economy.
Migrant farm workers roamed around the countryside looking for work. They were nicknamed 'Okies' and 'Arkies', because many came from Oklahoma and Arkansas. Their situation was made worse because of a drought that turned the middle of the country into a 'dust bowl.'
President Hoover, a Republican, believed in rugged individualism (the idea that people should overcome their own problems through hard work, without government help). Hoover insisted that the economic situation was not too serious and that "prosperity is just around the corner."
Although he lent money to banks, industries, and agriculture through the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to try and make jobs, most people felt he did not do enough to try and fix the Depression. He would not give money to individuals.
In 1932, thousands of World War I veterans calling themselves the Bonus Army marched on Washington to demand their war bonus (a kind of pension) early. Although they protested peacefully, Hoover refused to meet with them. Troops and police fired tear gas at them and burned their camps. This reflected badly on Hoover.
Franklin D Roosevelt and the Democrats won the election with 22 million votes to Hoover's 15 million votes.
Roosevelt's first Hundred Days
The Supreme Court
The Supreme Court clashed with Roosevelt, who they thought was doing things beyond his power as president to do.
The judges of the Supreme Court, mostly old and Republican, ruled that several New Deal measures were illegal. For example, they closed down the NRA as unconstitutional.
In 1937, Roosevelt asked Congress to allow him to put six Democratic judges on the Supreme Court, but most Americans felt that this would be unconstitutional and Roosevelt backed down.
After this, the Supreme Court began to be more positive about Roosevelt's New Deal measures, but their objections did succeed in delaying some of Roosevelt's policies.
Successes and Failures of the New Deal
The Depression did not lead to extreme movements in the USA, unlike in Germany where the Nazis took over.
Many millions of jobs were created and relief (food, clothing, shelter) provided to the poor.
Agriculture and industry benefited from improved roads and services created by the work of the Alphabet Agencies.
When Roosevelt cut back his programmes in 1937, unemployment rose dramatically.
He reduced unemployment in the 1930s, but unemployment was only really solved when the USA joined WWII in 1941.
The USA's trade did not recover to pre-Depression levels.
Roosevelt never convinced even his own supporters of the need to change the organisation of the Supreme Court to stop it opposing his reforms.
Black Americans gained relatively little from the New Deal.
Despite the debate over whether or not Roosevelt's New Deal was successful or not, Roosevelt remained very popular with American voters. He was re-elected in 1936, 1940, and 1944, making him the only President ever to serve four terms in office. His weekly 'fireside chats' over the radio were listened to by 60 million Americans.