• After World War I, the U.S. returned to an isolationist foreign policy. They refused to join the League of Nations, worrying they would get involved in European wars again.
• Warren Harding became president, promising a “return to normalcy.”
Nativism and the Red Scare
• In the 1920s, immigrants were blamed for many of America’s problems.
• Opponents of immigration were called nativists.
• Americans feared the spread of communism, so they arrested and deported many immigrants who were suspected of being communist. This was called the Red Scare.
• The U.S. passed a quota law in 1924. A quota limits the number of immigrants from certain countries.
• Reformers blamed alcohol for crime and other social problems. In the 1920s, they convinced Americans to ratify the 18th Amendment, which prohibited alcohol.
• Prohibition led to illegal sale of alcohol by bootleggers (gangsters) in speakeasies (secret bars). Organized crime gangs like the Mafia also developed.
Great Migration and Harlem Renaissance
• Fed up with the South’s racism, blacks moved to northern cities. This movement was called the Great Migration.
• Blacks in Harlem produced poets (e.g. Langston Hughes) and music (jazz) that became popular. The development of black culture was called the Harlem Renaissance.
• The economy grew as people spent more money on consumer goods like refrigerators, electric stoves, and cars.
• Many people bought products on credit, also known as buying on margin.
Stock Market Crash and the Great Depression
• People also bought stocks on credit. This helped to cause a stock market crash in 1929.
• The stock market crash led to the Great Depression, a time of unemployment and poverty in the 1930s.
• The Dust Bowl added to the problems of the depression. A drought in the Midwest (Great Plains) led to dust storms and farm failures.
Presidents Hoover and Roosevelt Respond
• Hoover didn’t spend federal money to aid the poor. He was blamed for doing too little to fight the depression. Villages of shacks became known as Hoovervilles.
• Roosevelt became president in 1933, promising a New Deal. He convinced Americans he cared by giving reassuring radio speeches called fireside chats.
The New Deal
• Roosevelt decided the government had to help the poor, so he created the New Deal: a set of dozens of federal programs that gave aid and put people back to work.
• The Social Security Act is a New Deal program that still exists. It gives unemployment insurance and pensions for retired workers.