Saving the Dream
To Europeans and Americans at the time, it was the “Great War,” the largest and costliest conflict in the history of the old continent and the event that propelled the United States, at least for a time, into an international system from which it had long remained aloof. To President Woodrow Wilson and to those who shared his vision it was “the war to end all wars” a cataclysm that would force the nations to construct a new world order free from the barbarism of the old. To historians, however, it is simply World War I, a terrible conflict that solved few problems which had caused it and served as a prelude to an even greater war a generation later.
Beginning in 1921, the American economy began a period of unprecedented prosperity and expansion that continued almost uninterrupted for eight years. To observers from around the globe the American economy came to seem one of the wonders of the world. The nation’s industrial capacity grew at an unparalleled rate. The income of its citizens soared. America’s position in world trade became one of unrivalled supremacy .
In the aftermath of the frightening stock market crash in October 1929, and a gradual weakening of the economy that had been in progress for many months before it , the imposing industrial edifice collapsed and the nation plunged into the severest and most prolonged economic crisis in its history
Politically, the contrast between the 1920‘s and 1930‘s was almost equally striking. The election of 1920 brought to office a Republican administration determined to restore to American life what the new President, Warren G Harding, called ‘normalcy.‘ In practise that meant rejecting many of the progressive assumptions of the previous decades of reform. Throughout the 1920‘s therefore, the policies of the federal government worked largely to promote the interests of the business world. Taxes and federal spending were sharply reduced; new, collusive arrangements between business and government and among businesses themselves were tolerated, even encouraged.
The Great Depression discredited such notions and launched a new era of reform. The Democratic Party - the minority party for most of the previous 75 years- returned to power and achieved a dominance in both local and national politics that it would not relinquish for decades. A new President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, quickly became one of the most important, and controversial leaders in American history.
By the end of the 30‘s, the Roosevelt administration had drawn the broad outlines of much of the political world Americans know today. It had built the beginnings of a modern welfare system. It had extended federal regulation over numerous areas of the economy. One thing the New Deal did not do, however, was to end the Great Depression. It helped stabilise the economy, in the early, desperate months of 1933, and kept things from getting worse. But by the end of 1939, another World War erupted and created a new prosperity before which all previous eras of growth quickly paled.
Through the 1920‘s and 30‘s the fragile world order established in the aftermath of World War I suffered a series of of devastating economic, political and military blows. By the late 1930‘s, in the face of a new world crisis provoked by the expansionist aims of Germany and Japan, the order collapsed.
The United States moved slowly, even then - partly because the government itself was not certain how to act, partly because it was aware of how strongly much of the public opposed any involvement in international conflicts, but America by then was deeply entangled in the affairs of the world. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941, only confirmed what was obvious for some time . Four years later, with the victory over Germany and Japan complete, it was clear to all that the United States of America was the greatest industrial and military power in history.
Wilson presents League of Nations. Paris Feb. 14 1919
President Wilson presented his final draft for a proposed League of Nations today. In Paris for a meeting of the victorious Allies, the President outlined his concept of an international organisation formed and dedicated to the preservation of global peace and prosperity. The league would consist of all the nations of the world each having an equal vote. There would be a council of 5 small nations and France, Britain, Italy, Japan and the United States.
When Wilson arrived in France, he was met by hundreds of thousands of well-wishers who cried out “Vive Wilson”.
Versailles Treaty Signed. Paris June 28 1919.
The Great War was officially ended today as representatives of both the Allied and Central Powers formally accepted the Versailles Treaty. Meeting at the old royal palace near Paris, the signatory nations agreed to an accord according to the 14 points program of President Wilson. It strips Germany of its colonial empire and war reparations of $130 million reducing it essentially to a small, powerless, agrarian nation. This treaty unquestionably has flaws, but perhaps gives the world an opportunity to get on with the business of living.
2 West-East Flights make it to Europe. Ireland June 15, 1919.
“The wonder is that we are here at all” said a dazed Captain John Alcock as he emerged from the wreckage of his Vickers-Vimy biplane today in an Irish bog. Together with American navigator Lt. Arthur W. Brown, the British pilot had just completed the first non-stop flight across a storm-tossed and fog-bound Atlantic, from Newfoundland to Clifton, Ireland in 16 hours and 12 minutes . Back in May 27th, al Lisbon cheered as a U.S. Navy NC-4 seaplane roared overhead, having just done the first ocean crossing by air.
Jack Dempsey takes World title with TKO.Ohio July 4, 1919.
Jess Willard the huge champion who regarded “little” Jack Dempsey as a joke, found the joke was on him today. In fact, Dempsey was all over him and battered the champion 70 pounds heavier, into submission in three rounds. Willard was unable to answer the bell for the fourth round, unaware that Dempsey, by then, was also exhausted.
Palmer raid nets thousands of leftists. Washington Jan. 2, 1920
In bowling alleys and pool halls, cafes, homes and offices, leaders of local radical groups across the nation were seized today. “The Department of Justice” said Attorney General A. M Palmer, “has undertaken to tear out the radical seeds that have entangled American ideas” Nearly all the 4,000 arrested are foreign-born. By the General Intelligence Offices estimate, aliens make up 90% of the American radical movement. Immigration rules allow deportation without trial. Wary of filing criminal suits against people whose only crime may be their political convictions, the Justice Department has left native suspects to local officials. Palmer and his deputy J. Edgar Hoover promise at least 2,700 deportations will result.
Prohibition begins: America goes dry. Washington DC Jan 16,1920
At 12.01 this morning, the good ship America entered the dry dock. Of Prohibition. To the country’s many jubilant temperance workers, it signalled heaven on earth, the Anti-Saloon League proclaiming it “dry America’s first birthday.” To those suddenly deprived of their “giggle-water” it was something else. The many farewell parties so widely predicted were generally subdued mock funerals.
With the post- Civil War founding of the Prohibition Party, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and the Anti-Saloon League, the movement took a legal tack and its arguments became more practical.
Billy Sunday “buries” John Barleycorn“. Virginia Jan 16, 1920.
No sooner had Prohibition killed John Barleycorn than Billy Sunday performed the ‘burial.‘ With 10,000 of his followers gathered here, the noted evangelist met a special train from Milwaukee carrying John Barleycorn’s simulated coffin. Ever a consummate showman, Sunday sent off his nemesis with the words ”Goodbye, John. You were God’s worst enemy, and Hell’s best friend, I hate you with a perfect hatred.“ Sunday comes by the burial rights honestly; he was once an assistant to an undertaker. After he was ordained as a Presbyterian minister, he hit the ‘sawdust circuit’ of evangelism.
White Sox blackened by charges they threw World Series. Chicago Nov. 20, 1920.
Can Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis restore the tarnished image of baseball. Blackened by the indictment of eight Chicago White Sox players on charges that they “threw” the 1919 World Series?. Landis was appointed baseball commissioner in an effort to win back the confidence of an American public shaken by the worst scandal in the history of the sport. The eight accused Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver, Eddie Cicotte, Lefty Williams, Swede Risberg, Happy Felch, Chick Gandil and Fred McMullin were banned. The most shocking indictment was that of Jackson, who had won public sympathy for his ability to rise above the background of a Southern cotton-picking family to rank with Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker as one of baseballs greatest hitters.
Psychoanalysis is on everybody’s mind United States 1921.
When Sigmund Freud visited this country in 1909, he was amazed that “even in prudish America” his work was well known. Today, the descendants of Puritan repression are fixated on his theories. The young and wild welcome Freud as a scientific excuse for pursuing the pleasure principle. But even the generation that grew up with Queen Victoria is considering that sex may be more powerful than Shakespeare. To break down defence mechanisms, mass market therapy offers books like “Ten Thousand Dreams interpreted or Sex Problems Solved.” Those who can afford it, run off to Europe or corner psychiatrists at parties and ask for analysis as though it were palm reading.
Sacco and Vanzetti held guilty of murder Dedham Mass. July 14, 1921
In a most controversial decision, a jury has declared Nicola Sacco and Bartomeo Vanzetti guilty of first degree murder. The case concerns the slaying of a paymaster and his guard at a South Braintree, Mass. Shoe factory last year. Nearly $16,000 was stolen at the time, none of which has ever been found or traced to Sacco or Vanzetti. The month-long trial has attracted national attention, with many liberal and labour groups rallying to support the Italian born defendants. The defendants were arrested when they went with two others to claim a car linked to the crime. Both were found to be carrying guns and made false statements upon arrest.
Miss America pageant held in Atlantic City. New Jersey, Sept. 7, 1921.
Miss Margaret Gorman, a blue-eyed blond 16 year-old, has won the title “Miss America” in this resort city’s first major beauty pageant. Miss Gorman stands 5‘ 1“ and weighs 108 pounds .; her measurements are 30”-25“-32”. She won out over six girls but there was a separate competition for women who fit the category of “professionals” actresses and shapely athletes. Atlantic City businessmen and reporters concocted the contest to encourage tourists to remain in town beyond Labour Day weekend while boosters say that the event offered the most beauteous maidens in the country, actually nobody in the competition came from farther west than Philadelphia.
Polio strikes FDR. Campobello, Nww Brunswick, 1921.
Tragedy has crippled the rising political star Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The former vice presidential candidate has fallen ill with poliomyelitis and doctors say he may never walk again. He won a New York State Senate seat in 1910, gained national recognition as assistant navy secretary under President Wilson and has hinted at plans to run for governor of New York. Now many speculate that his political aspirations may be scrapped.
2 lynchings a week and legislation fails Washington May 6, 1922
There have been more than 50 lynching’s of Negroes this year. In 30 of the cases, the Negroes were taken from the police by mobs. The most dramatic incident occurred in Kirvan, Texas, when 500 whites gathered to watch the burning of three Negroes. Meanwhile the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill failed in the Senate today following a long filibuster by Southerners. The bill, which called for the fining of law officers who allow lynchings to take place, had been passed in the House.
Boston puts ban on Isadora Duncan. Oct.24, 1922.
Mayor James Curley has banned Miss Isadora Duncan from further performances here after her pro-Communist remarks and exposure of her person last night. The 24-year-old dancer had offered a passionate rendition of Marche Slave when she suddenly told her unresponsive audience “life is not real here!” Then she removed a red sash from her waist (at the same time exposing herself) and held it aloft. “This is red!” she said. “So am I.” It is the colour of life and vigour“ She was booed off the stage.
The American-born dancer, a supporter of Bolshevism, began a dance school in a house in Moscow given her by Soviet leader Lenin. She is married to Sergei Essenin, a Russian poet.
President Harding dies Sa Francisco Aug. 3, 1923.
American grieves the death of its 29th President, Warren G. Hading. After a tiring transcontinental trip, he stopped here to rest. Yesterday, his wife was reading him a favourable article on his presidency, A Calm Review of a Calm Man, when he fell into his pillow, dead of apoplexy at 57. A likeable man, Harding will probably be recalled as a hapless leader. Corruption surrounded him; He once said, “My God, this is a hell of a job! I have no trouble with my enemies my goddamn friends, they’re the ones that keep me walking the floors at night”.
KKK terror spurs martial law in Oklahoma Sept. 15, 1923.
As the result of increasing racial violence, Governor Walton today activated the Oklahoma National Guard. Walton also issued an executive decree that placed the entire state under martial law. As he ordered more than 6,000 Oklahoma guardsman to duty, h specifically blamed the rising tide of racial hatred on the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan is a powerful force in Oklahoma. Its member direct their philosophy o hate against not only Negroes, but Indians, foreigners, Catholics and Jews.
You may get a picture in your radio set. New york Dec. 23 1923
Imagine a picture being transmitted through your radio set. It may some day be possible. Russian-born engineer Vladimir Zworykin has demonstrated his new invention, called Iconoscope, which may make possible widespread transmission of pictures even moving pictures. The 34-year-old engineer has produced a crude but workable system, though a commercial application may be years away. Zworykin, who learned his craft in Russia and at college in France came to the US after the war.
Watson’s firm gets new name: I.B.M. New York, Feb. 14, 1924.
The Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, which produces machines that help compile such complex statistics as the United States Census, took a new name today: Intercontinental Business Machines. Thomas J. Watson, president of the company, is successor to the founder, Herman Hollerith, I.B.M. Machines are now used world wide.
Immigration is cut back. Washington May 26, 1924.
Congress has passed the Johnson Reed Act establishing more severe limitations and regulation of immigration than the Emergency Quota Act of 1921. Quotas based on the population of each ethnic group present in 1890 cut the maximum number of European immigrants to 164,000 per year, half of what was allowed under the Quota Act of 1921.
The quota based on 2% of the 1890 census, will particularly affect Eastern Europeans, who have recently increased in number but were not a large contingent in 1890. Racist groups across the nation have been advocating the legislation, and among its most diligent supporters was the Ku Klux Klan. “The United States once admitted everybody”, claimed one advocate of the act, “but we found out that we were becoming an insane asylum”.
Americans dominate Olympics in Paris. July 14, 1924.
Paavo Nurmi, the Flying Finn, was the star of the show, but Americans won overall honours in the Olympic Games here. In a major upset, Charley Paddock was beaten at the 100 metres by Harold Abrahams a cigar smoking, ale drinking Britisher.
Voters “Keep cool With Coolidge”1924. Since assuming the presidency when Harding died, Calvin Coolidge has won the hearts of Americans with his wry wit and calm manner. He and running-mate Charles G. Dawes of Illinois scored a 482-136 electoral victory over John Davis
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