America’sGovernment in the 1920s and 1930s
Afterits involvement in the Great War conflagration, it was time forAmerica to “return to normalcy,” as Warren Hardin termed it, bydealing with its domestic affairs. The early 1920s of America wasfaced with the eruption of new movements regarding foreign policy,culture, society, economics, and politics which continued to theGreat Depression Decade. In the 1930s, America was faced with seriouseconomic problems that challenged the American capitalistic ideology.Major changes in the American society are linked to as back as theoccurrences of the 1920 and the 1930s.
The“Decade of Optimism” began shortly after 1918 when Americatogether with the Allies defeated the Germans in World War1. Theonset of this decade was faced with a series of new inventions thatdefined a new wave of life in America (Turner 25). Mobility wasimproved by automobiles additionally, the national culture wasinaugurated by the invention of the radio and motion pictures. It wasin 1920 when the 19thAmendment was enacted, issuing women the right to vote in a federalelection. Following the war, women were allowed to smoke and drink inpublic moreover, women increasingly participated in professions andbusinesses that were traditionally considered as masculine.
Inthe 1920s, America elected three different Republican presidents.Conservative Warren Hardin won the 1920 presidential election by alandslide, but his rule was associated with scandals such as the OilReserve Scandal (Turner 28). Following the death of Hardin in 1923,Engineer Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929) succeeded the office ofpresident. Herbert Hoover (1929-1933) was later elected as a resultof his soundness and deep faith in capitalism, which according toHoover, was a full representation of individualism.
Thecrash of the stock market in 1929 marked the onset of the greateconomic catastrophe. The “Depression” of the 1930s led to highlevels of unemployment dropping the national income grid to more thana half by 1933, 15 million Americans were unemployed and the rate ofindustrial production declined by a whole third as compared to therate in 1929 (Turner 32). Following the national despair, franklinRoosevelt easily won the 1932 elections against Herbert Hoover.Roosevelt’s authority was associated with visionary reforms set tospecifically revive the American collapsed economy, and protect theAmerican capitalism ideology that was under criticism.
InRoosevelt’s recovery mission, the First New Deal of 1933 to 1935was aimed at discouraging the existing unhealthy competition, andencouraging farmers and business proprietors to work in unison andestablish fair prices that would and upward turn and generate profitsto all involved parties. The terms of the First New Deal weremonitored by governmental organizations such as the AgriculturalAdjustment Administration (AAA), and the National RecoveryAdministration (NRA) (Turner 36). The fruits of Roosevelt’s effortswere seen as early as 1935 where the economy seemingly embarked onthe new plateau however, by then, 10million Americans were stillunemployed. The spirit of capitalism throughout the decade resultedto series of new Neutrality Acts between 1935 and 1937 (“Officeof the Historian”).These Neutrality Acts advocated for an arms embargo, by prohibitingthe government from loaning belligerents and also denying the sale ofammunitions to belligerents.
TheSecond New Deal of 1935 to 1938 was fashioned to be a pro-consumerand an anti-business reform. Under the Works Progress Administration(Turner 39), Roosevelt increased relief expenditure so as to improvethe consumer purchasing power, and in turn, boost the economy. In1933, Roosevelt enacted the Monetary Policy that set the price atwhich the American Government would purchase gold to thirty-fivedollars per ounce (Turner 41). This was aimed at reviving America`sstock market and expanding currency forms accessible to the economythis strategy increased the gold stock market in the country to athird by 1940 following the great flow of gold into the nation(“Officeof the Historian”).The impacts of this new deals to the American government were perhapsthe most profound and lasting of all reforms.
TheNew Deals were seen by most Americans to define minimum livingstandards for instance, the Social Security Act issued provisionsfor disability and old age pensions, direct assistance to thecrippled and the blind, monthly payments to single mothers withneeding children, and unemployment insurance also, the Fair LaborStandards Act was set to enforce limitations on maximum hour andminimum wages for social workers, including prohibitions to genderassault and child labor (Turner 43). However, by the end of the1930s, it was difficult for President Roosevelt to introduce newprogram following the end of the New deal, as a result of the greatopposition, and war threats he received. 1941 marked the onset WorldWar2 after the Japanese bombed the Pearl Harbor. America entered thewar, simulating the end of the Great Depression.
Turner,Frederick Jackson, and Allan G. Bogue. “The Decade of Optimismand the Decade of Depression.” Thefrontier in American history3.2 (2010): 23-45.
"The Great Depression and U.S. Foreign Policy 1921-1936." 2013. Office of the Historian. < https://history.state.gov/milestones/1921-1936/great-depression>.