America from 1919 to 1939 experienced the highs and lows of life. The Jazz Age dominated the 1920’s along with Prohibition but the glamour of this period came to a shattering halt with the Wall Street Crash of October 1929. The Depression of 1930 to 1933 was followed by the New Deal of F D Roosevelt as America strove to pull herself out of the economic quagmire she was in. The period had started off in high hopes.
At the end of 1918, USA was the world’s wealthiest nation. Thousands of immigrants flocked to the nation in the “pursuit of happiness”. No country in Europe could act as an economic rival to America as the First World War had devastated the region and left America with a free hand which made her even more wealthy.
To protect America’s economy, the government introduced tariffs. These were taxes that any foreign country had to pay to America to get their goods into America. This made all foreign imports more expensive than American goods so people in America naturally bought home produced goods. This further boosted the American economy and lead to huge employment but foreign countries retaliated by introducing taxes (tariffs) against American goods going into Great Britain, for example.
However, the American market was so strong that this did not hurt her and America moved into what was called a policy of isolation. America isolated herself from the rest of the world and continued to gain prosperity – though not everyone benefited.
The expansion of the American economy (protected by the Fordney-Macunder Act which introduced the aforementioned tariffs) lead to masses of jobs being created and this was to attract many to emigrate to America. To combat so many coming into America, the government decided to introduce literacy tests and in 1921 the Immigration Quota Act stated that no more than 357,000 immigrants could enter America each year. This figure was cut to 150,000 by 1929.
America was governed by a president who had to operate under the Constitution (a list of rules on how the country had to be governed). The 2 main parties were the Republicans and the Democrats. Each state had the right to govern certain issues within that state such as education, gambling etc and even speed limits.
Certain issues were governed only by the president who worked with the Congress. They would decide on issues like foreign policy as the whole country had to be at war not just individual states. The president worked at the White House in Washington and he served for a term of 4 years when a new election would be called. For all his power, the president had to always be wary of the power of the Supreme Court; this was made up of 9 judges who ensured that all the president did was in line with the Constitution. Any potential law which they felt went against the Constitution was classed as unconstitutional and had to be re-drawn.
During 1918-33, America had 5 presidents:
|Woodrow Wilson: a Democrat who was president until 1921
Warren Harding : a Republican who died suddenly in 1923
Calvin Coolidge: a Republican who was president until 1929
Herbert Hoover: a Republican who was president until 1933
Franklin Roosevelt: a Democrat who was president until 1945
In America an election is held in November. However, the victorious president does not take over untilJanuary of the following year to allow the government to ‘run-down’ and the incoming president time to pick his team i.e. there was an election in November 1928 but Herbert Hoover did not take office until January 1929. If the same president wins the election then obviously this procedure is not used though he still had/has to take an oath of allegiance.
As president you were also commander-in-chief of armed forces. As America has no king or queen, she is a republic. America is also a democracy where individual rights are safeguarded in the Bill of Rights and the whole Constitution.