The Roaring 20s - Isolationism

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League Of Nations: America did not join the League of Nations for 5 reasons - remember LOTS (of) Money:

  • Loss of American lives in WWI - 100,000,
  • Obilged to join wars they were not involved in,
  • Treaty of Versailles; German and Austrian immigrants associated the League with the treaty,
  • Suspicious of imperialistic French and British colonies that went against their values,
  • Money; many Americans were worried about how much the League would cost.
  • ALTHOUGH, polls suggest 80% of  the American public supported the idea of the League. 


  • 1917: Immigration Law: all immigrants had to prove they could read English, and had to pay $8 to enter America. No one was allowed to enter from Asia.
  • 1921: Quota Act: 357,000 immigrants were allowed to enter per year, and the number of immigrants from 'the eastern hemisphere' could not exceed 3% of the numbers from that country that were in the USA in 1910.
  • 1924: Reed-Johnson Act: immigration number reduced to 154,o00, and percentage dropped to 2% from the 1921 Quota Act.

'America must be kept American.' - Calvin Coolidge - 30th American President.

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Isolationism II


  • 1922: Fordney McCumber Tariff Act: Many were worried that cheap European labour, post WWI, would lead to cheap European exports, therefore the act was introduced on imports to ensure foreign goods were always more expensive than American goods, and thus Americans would buy American products. The highest duty was 400%; the highest in history. 

Sacco and Vanzetti 

Sacco and Vanzetti were two anarchist Italian immigrants, and in 1920 they were arrested and charged for an armed robbery in a shoe factory. Upon arrest, both were found with guns and anti-government posters in their cars. Despite 107 witnesses claiming they were elsewhere during the crime, and even though another man later confessed to commiting said crime, both were executed by electrocution seven years later. 

The Red Scare

After the Russian revolution in 1917, many were scared of the communists; rumours were spread that there were 150,000 communists living in America, and many worked in the governement. Consequently, up to 6,000 were arrested in suspicion, and they did not get trials, however, they were eventually released when the scare died down. 

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