US Attitudes after WWI

  • Created by: Lily
  • Created on: 08-05-13 17:56

An Age Of Intolerance - How did this happen?

1. Nature of original English-speaking Americans and their society

  • More influential than immigrants
  • Powerfully represented politically at a state and federal level
  • Threatened by urbanisation/immigration

2. US Entry into WWI and it's aftermath

  • Slowdown in the economy/strikes due to cancellation of war contracts and opposition to the war and race riots led to social unrest. People wanted to find a scapegoat

3. Impact of the Russian Revolution

  • Fear of Communism
  • Criticism/unrest in countries where the economy had been disolocated was branded as communism
1 of 6

The Red Scare & Palmer Raids

  • Although the Socialist Party had never been popular in the USA, as a result of the Bolshivek Revolutionn in 1917, there were fears of communism spreading
  • In 1919 an American Communist party was established. 
  • The party was small but as Russia proved, a tiny minority could prevail
  • The legacy of the war left many social problems, especially with anarchy, this disorder was blamed on communists

FEDERAL LEVEL - Sedition & Espionage Acts were passed to clamp down on radical thinking. Using these acts Mitchell Palmer launched a series of raids to "purge the US of foreign born subversives & agitators"

1919 - 250 arrested across 12 cities      1920 - 4,000 were arrested across 33 cities

The raids caused mass hysteria. Many cities prohibited communist banners. In Washington there was acts of vigilanties and in New York 5 socialist members were disqualified from taking seats. In the end, Palmer was mocked by newspapers as it was highlighted that evidence wa gained illegally. The Communist party gradually fell and reformed into the Workers Party.

2 of 6

Immigration - the door shuts!

Why was restriction so popular? - doubts over loyalty, political impact of mass groups, blamed for political radicalism, fitted with isolationist attitudes, popularity of eugenics (need to exclude inferior groups), cheap labour, antisocial behaviour

Who supported restriction? - Big businessmen, workers, some in Congress, war veterans

How was it restricted? - "pull the drawbridge up then slam the door shut" 2 key pieces of legislature (1921 & 1924) that restricted both the numbers & types of immigrants

  • 1921 Quota Act restricted immigration to below 350,000 but in 1923 522,919 entered
  • 1924 Johnson Reed Act restricted to below 165,000 but in 1927 335,175 entered
  • However, by the end of the 1920's immigration had fallen significantly.

(Also with the Depression America was no longer so attractive!)

3 of 6


  • The First KKK 1865 - left behind a legacy, reaction to 13/14/15th Amendments which gave some rights to African-Americans. Declined as a result of the Jim Crow Laws
  • The Second KKK 1915 - targets now included: jews, roman catholics, african-americans, immigrants, asians, bootleggers, athiests, adulterers, trade unionists.
  • Was it popular? By 1925 had between 3-5 million members. Influence varied geographically
  • How did people react? - newspapers exposed their violent natures/methods. Although there was hearings in Congress, they were adjourned without action
  • Why did it decline? - Grand Dragon found guilty of ****/manslaughter, some issues being addressed in Government e.g immigration, publicity less effective.
  • Why did it grow so rapidly???
  • 1. Legacy of First KKK - wanted to carry it on even more
  • 2. Impact of WWI - anarchy and social unrest
  • 3. Publicity - the more they were criticised, the more people knew of them
  • 4. New Trends of the 1920's - womens independence, alcoholism etc
  • 5. Respectability - many people were attracted to their party as it was advertised for "morality"
4 of 6


  • Science had begun to challenge faith. Some protestants accepted this but some didn;t.
  • Fundamentalists wanted a literal interpretation of the bible, became very popular in the South, West and other rural ares (for many farmers their only book was a bible). Boosted by the influx of Catholic/Jewish immigrants

The Debate: Led by Jennings Bryan, the Worlds Christian Fundamentals Association succeeded in passing bills which made it "illegal to teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as told in the bible"

JOHN SCOPES TRIAL - A biology teacher named John Scopes tested the Butler Law in 1925 and read a description of the Evolutionary Theory to his class. He was then arrested and charged. William Jennings Bryan was on the prosecution whilst the infamous Clarence Darrow was on the defence. In the end Scopes was found guilty and fined $100.

5 of 6


Why was it introduced? - safeguard wartime production, decrease criminal activity and antisocial behaviour e.g drunk & disorderly/drunk driving, healthier societies, better industry production e.g sober workers leading to a safer & more efficient production

How was it enforced? - 1919 Volstead Act enabling the enforcment of Prohibition. (18th Amendment in 1917). Pressure groups e.g Womans Christian Temperance Union & Anti-Saloon League.

Was it a total failure? - The Volstead A|ct was widely ignored leading to an increase in criminal activity/corruption and also a loss of respect for the law. It also led to a huge loss in industry and a widened division between classes. However, did lead to better health.

The Repeal - Once Franklin D Roosevelt came into power, by linking prosperity to alcohol, the 2st Amendment was propsed. In 1933 the Beer Tax Act, which authorised the sale and manufacture of beverages containing not more than 3.2%. December 1933 21st Amendment ratified.

6 of 6


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all America - 19th and 20th century resources »