Al Capone

Prohibition went into effect in January 1920. It made alcohol illegal but had little effect in keeping people from consuming it. When the law was first passed it had the support of the middle class who considered themselves progressives. The law was loosely enforced. The government hired 1,500 agents to enforce the law. These agent had a hard time getting police to help. Bootlegging became a huge business. Competition between bootleggers turned into violence. One of the most notable bootleggers is Al Capone who built an illegal empire based on the sale of alcohol. Public support for the 18th Amendment quickly dissipated but it wouldn't be until 1933 that it was repealed.

Religious Fundamentalism
The Fundamentalist movement was the response of staunch religious personalities to people leaving traditional beliefs of the Bible for science. The Fundamentalist were unhappy because people were moving away from traditional believes and were adapting the Bible. They insisted the Bible was to be interpreted literally. This movement gained local political support. In 1925 Tennessee passed a law that forbade teaching anything that went against the Bible. Most famous was an incident when John T. Scopes, a biology teacher in Tennessee, was arrested for teaching evolution. The case was broadcasted through the radio. In it they made William Jennings Brian, who was brought in as an expert on the Bible, look like a fool. Scopes case was fined $100 but it was later dismissed by a higher court. The case put an end to Fundamentalist involvement in politics.

Nativism and the Klanexternal image e0020274_49b62e107eee6.jpg
Nativism was embraced and begun by Americans who wanted to stop immigration to the United States. In 1921 Congress passed an immigration act. It was a quota system for immigrants from any country for the year. Later the National Origins Act of 1924 was passed to stop immigration from east Asia. It also made it harder for southern and eastern Europeans to immigrate. In addition to immigration laws, the Ku Klux Klan became a major force of American society. Originally founded to discriminate against African Americans, the Klan began discriminating against just about anyone who was not Protestant and/or Aryan during the 1920's. Klan membership was at an all time high during the 1920's. Even films were made, like the Birth of a Nation, to glorify the Klan.

The Democrats' Ordeal
During the 1920's Democrats had little success due to the large amount to factions within the political party. This problem was most evident during the presidential nominations. In 1924 the Urban Democrats supported Alfred E. Smith, the Irish Catholic Tammanyite, and the Rural Democrats, William McAdoo. Eventually they settled on John W. Davis. Again in 1928 conflicts rose inside the Democratic party when Al Smith was nominated for presidential election. He was unable to unite the party during the election and became the first Democratic candidate who was unable to carry the south after the civil war.


A Survey: American History, 12th Edition, by Alan Brinkely