After the day of the armistice, peope in Washington found it impossible to place a long distance call. The lines were jammed with officials canceling government war contracts. The fighting ended sooner than anyone had anticipated, without warning, without planning, the nation was launched into the difficult task of economic reconversion. At first, the wartime boom continued. But the postwar prosperity rested largely on the lingering effects of the war and on sudden, temporary demands. The postwar boom was accomplanied by high inflation. through 1919 and 1920 prices rose 15%+ a year. Finally in the 1920s inflation began killing the market for consumer goods. Between 1920 and 1921, the gross national product declined nearly 10%; 100,000 businesses went bankrupt; 453,000 farmers lost their land; nearly 5 million Americans lost their jobs.external image dorothea-lange-unemployment-line.jpg external image unemployment.jpg
In this unpromising economic environment, leaders of organized labor set out to consolidate the advances they had made in the war, which now seemed in danger of being lost. the raging inflation of 1919 wiped out the modest wage gains workers had achieved during the war; many laborers worried about job security as hundreds of thousands of veterans returned to the work force; terrible working conditions such as the twelve hour day in the steel industry continued to be a source of discontent. Employers used the end of the war to rescind benefits they had been forced to concede to workers in 1917 and 1918. Therefore in the year of 1919 numerous strikes occured, more than 3,600 in all, involving over 4 million workers.

The nearly 400,000 black men who had served in the armed forces during the war came home in 1919 and marched down the main streets of the industrial cities with other returnin troops. And then they marched through Harlem, led by jazz bands, cheered by thousands of African Americans.They thought that a new age had come, that the glory of black heroism in the war would make it impossible for white society ever again to treat african americans as less than equal citizens. However nothing farther could be from the truth, blacks fighting in the war had almost no impact at all on white attitudes. But it did have a profound effect on black attitudes: it accentuated African American bitterness and increased black determination to fight for their rights. By 1919 the racial climate had become savage and murderous. In the South. there was a sudden increase in lynchings: more than 70 blacks, some of them war veterans, died at the hands of white mobs. In the NOrth, black factory workers faced widespread layoffs as returning white veterans displaced them from their jobs. Black veterans found no significant opportunities for advancement. As black migrants to northern cities encountered white communities unfamiliar with and gereally hostile to them; and as whites became convinced that black workers with lower wage demands were hurting them economically, animosity grew rapidly. The Wartime riots in East St. Louuis and elsewhere were a prelude to a summer of much worse racial violence in 1919. In Chicago, a black teenager swimming in Lake Michigan happened to drift toward a white beach. Whites on shore allegedly stoned him unconscious; he sank and drowned. Angry blacks gathered in crowds and marched into white neighborhoods to retaliate; whites formed even larger crowed and roamed into black neighborhoods shooting, stabbing, and beating passerby, destroying homes and properties. In the end, 38 people died(15 whites, 23 blacks) and 537 were injured, while over 1,000 people were left homeless.external image 41635569.jpgexternal image 0008_1_lg.jpg

Converns about the communist threat grew in 1919 when the Soviet government announced the formation of the Communist International, whose purpose was to export revolution around the world. And in America itself, there were a modest number of real communists. The American Communist Party began its life in 1919, and there were other radical groups. Some of these radicals were presumably responsible for a series of bombings in the spring of 1919 that produced great national alarm. In April, the post office intercepted several dozen parcels addressed to leading businessmen and politicians that were triggered to explode when opened. Several of them reached their destinations, and one of them exploded. Two months later eight bombs exploded in eight cities within minutes of one another, suggesting a nationwide conspiracy. One of them damaged the facade of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer's home in Washington. In 1920, there was a terrible explosion in front of the morgan bank on Wall Street, 30 people were killed. THe bombings crystallized what was already a growing determination among many middle class Americans to fight back against radicalism. This antiradicalsim accompanied and reinforced, the already strong commitment among old stock Protestants to the idea of "100 Percent Americanism." And it produced what became known as the Red Scare. On New Year's Day, 1920, Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer and his ambitious assistant, J. Edgar Hoover, orchestrated a series of raids on alleged radical centers throughout the country and arrested more than 6,000 people. The Palmer Raids had been intended to uncover huge caches of weapons and explosives; they netted a total of three pistols and no dynamite. Most of those arrested were ultimately released, but about 500 who were not American citizens were deported.
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On August 26,1920 the nineteenth Amendment, guarented women the right to vote, became part of the Constitution. TO the woman suffrage movement, this was the culmination of nearly a century of struggle. To many progressives it seemed to promise new support for reform. Because of woman suffrage, members of Congress passed the Shepard Towner Maternity and Infancy Act in 1921, one of the first pieces of federal welfare legislation, that provided funds for supporting the health of women and infants. Convern about womens bote also appeared to creat support for the 1922 Cable Act, which granted woment hte rights of U.S citizenship independent of their husbands' status, and for the proposed 1924 constitutional amendment to outlaw child labor.
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Ch.24 The New Economy
Ch.24 The New Culture
Ch.24 Social Change
Ch.24 A Conflict of Cultures
Ch.24 Republican Government