Formed in 1866, the organisation reformed and attacked Catholics and Jews as well as African Americans. In the early 1920s it was hugely popular with 5 million members. White Americans saw the negative consequences of the racial and cultural mix of the USA. Many Jews fled Europe before and during the First World War. KKK supporters believed that the USA’s greatness was founded on the achievements of WASPS. WASPS = White Anglo Saxon Protestants (other religions were seen as inferior) Sometimes the KKK paraded at night times as well as during the day. Wearing white hoods and white sheets. The KKK’s aims were to terrorise African Americans and other ‘hated’ groups like Jews and Catholics. African Americans feared the KKK.
They suffered the acts of violence such as being beaten, raped or even lynched. The courts were on side with the whites, as many police and judges were members of the KKK. KKK members decreased in the later 1920s. A well published court case led to one of the leaders being convicted of the kidnap, rape and murder of a woman on a train. Even so, there was still much racism in the USA.
Segregation – Keeping a group separate from the rest of society.
The USA entered the First World War in 1917. President Wilson played important roles in peace talks. Woodrow Wilson had fourteen points. Some of these fourteen points were:
* A ban on secret treaties and a reduction in arms.
* Countries should not claim other countries (colonies without consulting each other and the local inhabitants) * Self determination for countries that were once part of the Turkish and Austro-Hungarian empires. * Independence for Belgium.
* France to regain Alsace-Lorraine.
* Independence for Poland with access to the sea.
* Set up of the League of Nations (the fourteenth point). Fordney McCumber
This tariff rose the rates on imported foreign goods in hope that domestic manufacturing would prosper. It intended on protecting American industry. This worked well in the 1920s. Not so effective in the long term though, as it encouraged foreign governments to retaliate and put tariffs on American goods.
Developments of entertainment
* Films became a national obsession
* Millions of Americans went to the cinema each week
* Hollywood was the centre of a multimillion dollar industry * Jazz music became a ‘craze’
* The USA became the centre of the world entertainment industry * Radio and gramophone records helped jazz music to spread widely * Radio stations also increased popularity on sports
* There was also car ownerships
* And new dances, such as the ‘Tango’ and ‘The Black Bottom’ Hoover.
President Hoover was unsuccessful in solving problems.
Most Americans blamed Hoover for the ‘Wall Street Crash’.
‘Prosperity is just around the corner’ he said.
Hoover showed little sympathy.
He believed in:
Laissez-faire – Interfering in business as little as possible. (Laissez-faire means ‘hands off’ in Latin)
Rugged individualism – believing that individuals were responsible for their own lives. Unemployment of often led to failure to pay mortgages and banks repossessing homes. Many homeless people wandered the streets and slept on park benches. Unplanned camps were set up on the edge of towns and cities, which came to be known as ‘Hoovervilles’. Hoover became very unpopular with many Americans by 1932. This was partly unfair. There had never been similar crisis on this scale, and Hoover’s government was ill-prepared to deal with it.
The episode of the bonus marchers in 1931 made Hoover’s reputation worse. * Soldiers who had fought in the First World War and suffered disabilities
were being paid an annual pension. * In addition, it had been agreed that they should be paid an extra sum – a bonus – in 1945. With the Depression hitting many of them badly, 20,000 of these soldiers and their families marched into Washington and demanded their bonus payments to be paid immediately. * They squatted outside the White House. The President feared that there would be violence, and the army forcibly removed them. * There were many injuries and two babies died from the effects of the tear gas that was used to dispense them. Why Roosevelt won the election
Roosevelt was very different in character from President Hoover. He had been born into a wealthy family, was well-educated, became a lawyer and then a Senator. However in the 1920s he contracted polio, which left him with weak legs. For much time he had to be in a wheelchair. In spite of this he became Governor of New York State in 1928. He gained reputation for taking action. During the presidential election in 1932, he promised: * Government schemes to provide more jobs
* Action to help industry and agriculture
* Help for the poor and unemployed
* The end of prohibition.
He was a good speaker and impressed many people with his outgoing character and determination, especially as he was coping with the effects of polio. People intended not to notice that there was very little detail provided in his promises. Roosevelt won the election by a large margin, winning in 42 of the 48 states. However, many people voted for Hoover, who still had the support of many powerful people and interest groups how wanted to see a return to life as it had been for the rich in the 1920s.
Hoover – 12,759,930
Roosevelt – 22,825,539
Roosevelt’s fireside chats started in 1933 when Roosevelt became president. These ‘fireside chats’ were radio broadcasts to the American people. He spoke in a friendly and simple way, and gained enthusiastic support from
many Americans who were not used to this direct approach. It was important to gain public confidence at this time because of the banking crisis, which had to be solved before anything else could be achieved. Later in the same month, Roosevelt brought prohibition to an end, The brewing of beer was legal again. This was an important indication that there was a change of direction in government.
The opposition to the New Deal
The result of the 1936 election showed that the majority of people supported Roosevelt. However, over 6 million people had voted against him. Many people, for a variety of reasons, criticised his policies. Business leaders were very unhappy about various aspects of the New Deal: * regulations on working conditions
* the growth of the trade unions and their increasing power * the huge cost of the welfare programmes (which came from taxes paid by Americans) Some states were concerned about the New Deal because:
* measures like the TVA cut right across the rights of individual states * they feared that the Federal Government was becoming too powerful TVA = Tennessee Valley Authority (Recovery – reviving the economy by getting industry doing and people working) Problem of the TVA – Agricultural overproduction and regular flooding had ruined livelihoods of farm workers in Tennessee Valley. No alternative jobs in industry. Area covered parts of six states and was too big for any one state to deal with. Action of the TVA – Huge public works project: dams, irrigation, canals and water transport. Hydroelectric power created thousands of jobs. Farmers given loans and training in soil conversation. New housing built. Some politicians opposed the New Deal:
* Republicans bitterly opposed the Democrat Roosevelt. They thought he was making the Government too powerful and quashing traditional reliance on self-help. * Even some conservative Democrats opposed him.
* Some radicals in the USA, like Huey Long believed that the New Deal did
not go far enough. Another critic, Father Couglin, a Catholic priest, broadcast his ideas on Sunday evening radio to over 40 million people. He criticised Roosevelt for not doing enough to help the poor. The Supreme Court clashed with Roosevelt.
* Its judges (mainly old and Republican) ruled that several of the New Deal measures were illegal. For example, they argued that the Constitution did not allow a president to control businesses. They said that the rights of individual states were being lost to the increasing power of the federal government. * Matters came to a head in 1937 when Roosevelt wanted to appoint six new judges to alter the political balance of the Court in favour of the Democrats. This plan failed but afterwards Supreme Court opposition lessened.