WWI and 1920sThe Death of Progressivism

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					WWI and 1920s: The Death
    of Progressivism
Benjamin M. Friedman, The Moral
Consequences of Economic Growth (2005)
White middle-class basically conservative
Economic prosperityà willingness to expand
power/rights
– Prosperity 1900s-1917à Progressives
Economic hardshipà defend what little left
– Hardships 1890sà rise Jim Crow, Populists
Exception: 1930s
  I. “Fatal to Our Form of Government and
 American Ideals”: WWI on the Home Front

       A. War Capitalism
Mobilizationà unprecedented
involvement
Food Administration (produce +
conserve); Fuel Administration
(coal/gas)à shortages at home
(inflation/black market)
War Industries Board:
purchases, allocated, set prices
(all on business adviceà huge
profits)
National War Labor
Board mediates + AFL
cooperatesà few strikes
Enough men/ material in
E + full employment (but
cost living up)
Race riots (Chicago,
July 27-Aug 2, 1919):
“Negro invasion” (38 d,
537 i)
Total # women work not
grow muchà change
type of job
– 1,000s volunteer war
  effort + Alice Paul and
  National Woman’s Party
  embarrassmentà
  passage 19th
Paid for 1/3 in taxes; 2/3 bonds/loansà debt
$1B (1914)à $25B (1919)
$33.5B cost; interest + vet benefitsà 3x (Bonus
Army)
          B. War Democracy
“Once lead this people into war
  and they’ll forget there ever
  was a thing as tolerance. To
  fight you must be brutal and
  ruthless, and the spirit of
  ruthless brutality will enter into
  the very fibre of our national
  life, infecting Congress, the
  courts, the policeman on the
  beat, the man in the street.”
                  Woodrow Wilson
                        April 1917
Wilson silence dissentà
Committee on Public Information
(CPI)
CPI sought mind mobilization w/
propaganda:
Demonized Germany
Urged self-censorship & spied on
neighbors
Vigilantes harassed German-
Americans
State/ local governments,
businesses, & colleges fired
dissenters, banned German
culture (sauerkrautà liberty
cabbage)
Espionage Act (1917) banned
treasonous (loosely defined)
material from mail
Sedition Act (1918) banned
criticism of USG
– FBI to enforceà J. Edgar Hoover
USG crushed IWW, imprison
Eugene V. Debs (socialist)
Schenck v. U.S. (1919): “clear and
present danger”
à American Civil Liberties Union
Post-war: 4 million workers strike
(delayed demands) + growing
black militancy (DuBois, vets) +
Bolshevik Rev. (W sent troops)à
“Red” summerà Red Scare
à Palmer Raids
     Post-War Depression
1920-21: post-war dislocationsà 24% fall
GDP
Relatively quick recovery
Shaped attitudes Americans + Hoover in
1929
– 1929 GDP falls only 12%, short recovery
  before collapse
II. The New Era of the 1920s
Consumerism flourished b/c of advertising,
credit, & economic growth (compare 1990s)
Gov. fostered business growth (lobbyists)
 – Coolidge: “The chief business of the American
   people is business.”
 – Taft court abandoned Progressive era rulings
   + attacked unions
Mass entertainment grew further as big business,
technology (radio), and middle class expanded
Accelerated pop shifts (blacks, suburbs)
Some opposed modern changes (reactionary)
Decade ended w/ economic collapse
                   III. Economy
                   A. The Boom
Cost of living stable, earnings increased
Productivity gains: moving assembly line (1914),
electrification (1929, electricity in 2/3 of all homes)
“Welfare capitalism”
Car industry:
– 1900: 4,000 cars/year
– 1929: 4.8 million/yearà 1car/5 people (1/43 in UK)
As RxR: fuels other segments (steel, glass, oil,
construction), creates new biz (fast food, gas
stations), changes patterns (suburbs, roads)
Car symbol of social equality
                 B. Bust
1) Small business: corporate expansion
(gov’t support/acquiescence)à crushed
– 1918: 29,000 chain stores; 1929: 160,000 (i.e.
  WalMart)
2) Farmers: WWIà produce for Europeà
overproductionà price crash (Dust Bowl)
3) Workers: union decline (WWI + Red
Scare), wages not keeping pace
– 1929 (pre-Crash): $2500/yr family 4 decent
  living
– 2/3 tax paying Americans made less than
  $1500
              IV. Society
A. “Bound for the Promised Land”: Great
                    Migration
Blacks pulled North by WWI jobs ($48/day in
factories vs. $2/day; paid cash vs.
sharecropping), rights (blacks can vote de
facto + de jure), and power (substantial
voting blocs in citiesà limited by imp.
patronage)
1.5 million left South, 1920s
Harlem Renaissance (NYC): explosion
artistic expression [Langston Hughes,
James Weldon Johnson (writer + NAACP),
Alain Locke (The New Negro)]
Continued discrimination/violenceà
Marcus Garvey (Universal Negro
Improvement Assoc.) + call for black
independence/separation
– Black Star Line: return blacks to “motherland”
  of Africa
       B. Women Working
Number in workforce continued to increase post-
WWI
10.8 million working women (1930)
Job segregation (clerical); pay discrimination
Most female workers single
3.1 million wives worked to help w/ consumption
 – 1920: 23% female workers; 1930: 29%
Many African, Japanese, & Mexican American
wives worked to help their families survive
 – Worked as domestics or rural laborers
          C. Suburbanization
Prosperity & cars fueled suburban expansion (can
+ want)
1930 almost 1 out of 6 in suburbs; growing 2x
speed cities
Middle & upper classes fled urban problems (white
flight)
– Left behind worse off: jobs, capital, talent goneà gov’t
  turns back on center cities
– Excluded blacks, Jews, Catholics, Hispanics (restrictive
  covenants)
Cities & suburbs = centers of consumer culture
– Shopping centers, fast food
  D. Children and The Elderly
Decrease # children: 1870-80 over half Am
women 5+; 1920s 20% 5+à more time +
resources for children
Better nutrition/ sanitation increased life
expectancy for most, but not all people
– 60 years by 1930 from 54 years in 1920
More people living past age 60 and forced
retirements increased poverty among elderly
US leaders rejected European-style pensions as
socialistic
Many states in 1920s adopted pensions &
retirement homes to reduce elderly poverty
                    V. Culture
          A. Youth Culture: Sex, Drugs, Jazz
Radiosà homogenization culture
Advertising: selling image, creates insecurity + fear (“A
woman is only as old as her complexion”)à culture of
consumption (rejection thrift + work; buy on credit)
Cars: suburbs, end rural isolation, youthful freedom
Movies: explosion # films + viewers; no censorshipà
changing attitudes sex
Women’s roles: voting (more right than actually), clothing
= Youth culture: generational chasm: youth embrace
change, elders fearà parents irrelevant as model
               Dating
Victorian expectation marriage broken
1910s: minority engaged premarital sex
1920s: majority in 1930
Limits sexual rev.: limited to eventual
husband or one other
1) spread of birth control, 2)
economic/cultural (industrialà consumer),
3) Sigmund Freud
   Drugs and Rock and Roll
Smoking: tobacco companies begin to
target women (weight control)
Drinking: despite (because of?)
Prohibition: majority college students
“smart” thing to do
Jazz: embrace black music (sexuality,
drugs): “primitive” rhythms appealed to
instincts mid class whites trying to control
– Jazz + forms of dancing banned from schools
    B. Images of Femininity
“Flappers” remade image of femininity
Stressed personal freedom & sexuality
 – Few actually became flappers
Dress styles changed: 19.5 yards of cloth to 7
Some women asserted independence/ equality:
Equal Rights Amendment (“Men and women shall
have equal rights throughout the United States
and every place subject to its jurisdiction.”); run
for office and form political organizations (League
of Women Voters)
 – 19th did not dramatically change women’s
   voting habits
              C. The Gay ’20s
Homosexual culture more overt in
some cities (Greenwich Village,
NYC); greater freedom in
speakeasiesà illicit behaviors
overlap (provide entertainment)à
degree protection; still
discrimination
No sharp line: So long as man
maintained “male” role in sex and
did not take on the “female” role,
he could cross back and forth
 – “On the down low”

				
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posted:2/18/2014
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