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The 1920s was a decade in which the United States Government attempted to use their power of law in order to regulate the lives of people living in America. They tried to do so via Prohibition, de jure segregation, immigration restrictions, amongst many more things. In all things considered, this was a time of legal repression, carried out by the government of the United States.
One means of legal repression that the U.S. government tried was that of limiting immigration.
Various quotas were established, in an effort to slow the flow of immigrants into America. The first example of this was the Emergency Quota Act, passed in 1921. This established a quota of 3% of a nationalities’ U.S. population. Later, in 1924, the Immigration Act placed a new quota, restricting immigration to 2% of a nationalities’ population in 1890. This mainly favored Old Immigrants over New Immigrants. These were both acts that the United States used to halt immigration to the United States, exemplifying the idea of legal repression during the 1920s.
Prohibition was a tactic used in the 1920s in order to legally repress the people living in the United States. With the 18th amendment taking effect in 1920, the sale, consumption, and possession of alcoholic beverages was now illegal. Though Prohibition wasn’t all too effective, it was still an attempt of the Government to regulate American life. The law was largely ignored in this case, as there was corruption all around in government, and Mobs, among other organizations, kept the flow of alcohol steady.
Despite all of this, Prohibition was still a tactic with intent as a tool of legal repression. During the 1920s, de jure segregation laws continued to repress the rights of African Americans.
The government was under constant pressure by the second Ku Klux Klan. Through many marches, led by Hiram Wesley Evans, the KKK was able to influence the government to pass new legislation against any non-white non-Protestant group. Some of these laws were preventative of black-white integration in society, such as one that created separate neighborhoods for blacks and whites. Along with these, literacy tests continued and these were used to stop African Americans from voting. Through these means, the government was enabled, under the law, to repress the rights of African Americans.
Though the 1920s have been considered an era of a return to Progressivism, it can be seen through many restrictions on American life that this is untrue. The government sought to repress the rights of many groups, and prevent immigration, whether it be for the fear of Communism or simply blatant racism. Anyhow, the government used its power to do so, and this makes the 1920s an era of legal repression.
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