The dream that Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke of is a dream shared by many in the United States. Yet the American dream has many forms. It is the dream of freedom, equality, peace, and prosperity. It can be as grand as exploring the moon and as simple as buying a family home.
In the second half of the twentieth century, the United States has become the leading power in the world. From far and wide, people in other countries look to it as a symbol of liberty, economic opportunity, and hope for world peace. The future of liberty, equality, and democracy lies in the hands of the people of the United States.
George Washington never lived here. But every other President has. The gleaming city on the Potomac River also houses senators, representatives, and plenty of ordinary people. In a way, the nation's capital is home to every American. From across the United States, people visit the Capitol, where laws are passed, and marvel at the splendid rooms of the White House. Visitors grieve at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and honor the great work of Lincoln and other leaders. Most important, citizens shape the decisions made in Washington. How? By voting and volunteering. So will this home be a happy one? That's for you to decide
Describe some things you'd like to see and do on a trip to the nation's capital.
The story of Chapter 20 takes place during the first half of the 1900s. Look at the time line below. Through these years the United States faced conflict overseas as well as economic hardships at home. With the end of World War II, the country faced yet another great challenge. The Cold War, as it became known, would last for over 40 years and affect the lives of people throughout the United States and the world.
WORLD WAR I
READ TO LEARN
How did World War I change the United States
World War I
Treaty of Versailles
League of Nations
Booker T. Washington
W.E.B. Du Bois
"Send the word, send the word, over there, that the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming."
In a George M. Cohan song of 1917, "over there" meant "Europe," where a war was raging. Soon "the Yanks," or Americans, also would be fighting "over there."
In August 1914 World War I broke out in Europe. On one side were the Allied Powers, which included the countries of Britain, France, Italy, Belgium, and Russia. On the other side were the Central Powers, led by Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey. The bloody struggle among these countries would drag on for more than four years.
Few Americans were eager to involve the United States in a distant conflict. In fact, when President Woodrow Wilson was reelected in 1916, one of his campaign slogans was "He kept us out of war." Still the country would soon be drawn into world war.
DANGERS AT SEA
In addition to fighting on land, Germany and Great Britain fought over control of the seas. Each country hoped to prevent supplies from being shipped to the other. In the Atlantic Ocean the Germans used their new and deadly submarines known as U-boats. These underwater boats could sneak up on ships, rise to the surface, and sink them without warning.
On May 1, 1915, a British passenger ship called the Lusitania set sail from New York. Its cargo also included weapons for the British. On May 7 a German U-boat sank the Lusitania. Among the 1,198 people who died, 128 were United States citizens. People throughout the country were angered by the German attack.
Going to War
To protect American shipping and the Panama Canal from attack, the United States bought the Virgin Islands from Denmark for $25 million in 1917. Engineers then began building a naval base on these islands in the Caribbean.
From January to March 1917, the Germans sank eight American ships. In response, President Wilson asked Congress to declare war on the Central Powers. Four days later the United States was at war. Read the excerpt from Wilson's speech. What reasons does he give for going to war?
Newspapers warned passengers on the Lusitania about the dangers of traveling on the Atlantic.
Excerpt from Address to Congress by President Woodrow Wilson on April 12, 1917.
It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest to our hearts—for democracy, . . . the rights and liberties of small nations, [and] for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations.
The United States declared war on Germany on April 16, 1917. Thousands of American troops were rushed overseas in groups of ships that traveled together for safety. In May 1918, the number of American soldiers crossing the Atlantic reached almost 250,000.
The War Front
As the soldiers soon discovered, the war being fought in Europe was a new kind of war. Advances in technology had made combat more destructive than ever before. Bullets from machine guns hit dozens of soldiers at a time. Airplanes attacked from above. Armor-covered vehicles called tanks rumbled across the battlefield.
Another new and terrifying weapon was poison gas. If a soldier failed to wear a gas mask, he could be burned or blinded. An American named Jeremiah Evarts later recalled a German poison gas attack:
They fired so many mustard gas shells one night that an actual gas pond formed in a gully [ditch]. And that mustard stuff was horrible. Many times you wouldn't even know it was there until it had burned . . . you.
Airplanes (top) and machine guns (above) were among the new weapons used in World War A United States poster (right) asked young men to sign up for the war.
These weapons took a terrible toll on human lives. During the Battle of Meuse-Argonne (MYOOZ ahr GUN) in 1918 almost 30,000 Americans lost their lives. About 896,000 United States troops fought in this battle, which helped the Allied Powers win the war.
By the end of the war, about two million Americans had served in the military. The soldiers had come from every part of our country. One army division included men from 26 different states. It was nicknamed the "Rainbow Division." Blacks, however, were not permitted to fight alongside whites. The military would remain segregated for years to come.
The "Home Front"
Americans on the "home front" also made contributions to the war effort. The army needed weapons, food, clothing, and fuel. To speed production, the government took over the railroads and telegraphs. Many factories worked overtime. Almost ten million Americans worked in the war industries. With so many men fighting in the war, jobs that had been closed to women and African Americans became available to them for the first time. Over 100,000 women went to work in weapons factories.
People also helped the war effort by saving scarce products or doing without them. Many people responded to the government's request for "Wheat-less Mondays" and "Meatless Tuesdays" so more would be available for troops.
The war effort even affected the way people set their clocks. In 1918 Congress adopted daylight saving time. By setting their clocks an hour earlier, Americans gained an extra hour of daylight and saved tons of fuel needed for the war.
Newspapers worldwide announced the war's end.
The continuing arrival of American troops, money, and supplies weakened the Central Powers. On November 11, 1918, they finally surrendered. In the United States we celebrate this day as Veterans Day.
The "war to end all wars" had come to an end. The costs had been terrible for both sides. At least 10 million soldiers were killed on the battlefield. Over 100,000 were American soldiers.
In 1919 representatives of the Allied Powers met at Versailles (vair Si) near Paris, France. There they created a peace agreement that placed responsibility for the war on Germany. The Treaty of Versailles took away Germany's colonies, redrew its national borders, and demanded that Germany pay heavy fines to the Allied Powers.
At the same time President Wilson persuaded the Allied Powers to create the League of Nations, the first organization of countries designed to prevent future wars. According to Wilson, the League of Nations would ensure "political independence and territorial integrity [wholeness] to great and small" countries alike.
Many Americans, however, were concerned that membership in the League of Nations would draw the United States into other wars. Congress rejected Wilson's plans to join the League.
The artist Jacob Lawrence painted many scenes of the Great Migration (left). Booker T. Washington (below) stressed education as a way to fight discrimination.
THE GREAT MIGRATION
In the 1890s many African Americans from rural areas in the Southeast had begun moving to urban areas in the Northeast and Middle West. Historians call this the Great Migration. Most African Americans moved north to escape discrimination and poverty. Discrimination is an unfair difference in the treatment of people.
As more jobs became available during World War I, the number of African Americans migrating north increased greatly. In Chicago the African American population climbed from 44,000 to 110,000 in the years 1910 to 1920. About 500,000 African Americans went north during the war years.
For many African Americans factory jobs were a great improvement over farm work. A popular African American newspaper called the Chicago Defender encouraged African Americans to move north with the slogan "The Defender Says Come."
Struggles for Justice
Although African Americans still faced problems in both the North and South, they were making progress. In 1881 a former slave named Booker T. Washington founded the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. At Tuskegee, African Americans were taught skills such as printing, bricklaying, and teaching, which would help them rise out of poverty.
To fight discrimination, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP, was founded in 1909 by both blacks and whites. By 1920 the NAACP had 90,000 members. W.E.B. Du Bois (doo BOYS), one of its founders, wrote that an African American wished to keep from "having the doors
of opportunity closed roughly in his face." Du Bois, an educator and historian, was one of the first leaders to urge African Americans to join together to fight prejudice. His books are still used today.
Another founder of the NAACP was Ida Wells-Barnett. A former slave, Wells-Barnett became a reporter and part owner of Free Speech, a newspaper in Memphis, Tennessee. Her articles about violence toward African Americans inspired others to work to end it. "Can you remain silent," she wrote ". . . when [African Americans are being killed] in our own community and country?"
WHY IT MATTERS
World War I strengthened the role of the United States in international events. The war also produced much suffering and sadness. Once the "war to end all wars" was over, Americans looked forward to happier times.
World War I also helped make the Great Migration possible. Some African Americans who moved north were able to make better lives for themselves and their children. Today many African Americans are returning to the South because of new economic opportunities there. Organizations like the NAACP continue to fight for equal rights.
• The United States entered World War I in 1917 and helped the Allied Powers win the war. President Wilson helped create the League of Nations in 1919, although the United States did not join.
• The Great Migration of African Americans from the Southeast to cities of the Northeast and Middle West increased during World War I.
THINK ABOUT IT
1. Why did the United States enter World War I?
2. Why was World War I so much more destructive than earlier wars?
3. FOCUS How did World War I change the United States?
4. THINKING SKILL Name one cause and one effect of the Great Migration. Give reasons for your choice.
5. WRITE Write a newspaper editorial supporting or opposing membership in the League of Nations.
THE ROARING TWENTIES
READ TO LEARN
Why are the 1920s known as "the Roaring Twenties"?
League of Women Voters
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Susan B. Anthony
Carrie Chapman Catt
Calvin Coolidge, the President from 1923 to 1929, called the 1920s "a new era of prosperity." For many Americans this description was "right on the money."
THE BIG PICTURE
For about ten years after World War I, the United States enjoyed a time of prosperity. Although many people struggled to earn a living, incomes were rising. A growing number of people made fortunes by buying and selling stocks. Millions of Americans enjoyed better living conditions than ever before.
Along with more money, people gained more free time in which to spend their money. Why? For one thing, labor unions fought for a shorter workday. In 1923 United States Steel Corporation was one of the first companies to change to an eight-hour workday. Soon the eight-hour workday became widespread. At the same time industries were producing new products. They included new electrical appliances—such as washing machines, irons, and vacuum cleaners—that made household chores easier to perform.
The prosperity and excitement of the decade led to the nickname, the Roaring Twenties, for these years. In the following pages you will learn more about this exciting period.
After the hardships of the war, Americans were eager to enjoy themselves. During the 1920s people also began listening to a new kind of music called jazz. Rooted in African American culture, jazz is full of striking rhythms and sounds. One of the composers who brought this new music to audiences across the country was Duke Ellington. Ellington helped to give the decade yet another nickname, "the Jazz Age."
An Inspiring Decade
Many American writers tried to capture the special feeling of the Roaring Twenties. One such writer, F. Scott Fitzgerald, once described the 1920s as "the greatest, gaudiest spree [liveliest party] in history." His full name, Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, was given in honor of a famous ancestor. Today Fitzgerald is remembered for writing stories and novels that described life in the 1920s. Other writers who became known during this period were Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, and Dorothy Parker.
A cultural movement called the Harlem Renaissance reflected African American life during the 1920s. Harlem is a neighborhood in New York City. The writer Langston Hughes used rhythms of African American music in his poetry. In "Harlem Night Song," Hughes wrote about his own sense of the decade:
Night-sky is blue.
Stars are great drops
Of golden dew.
In the cabaret [nightclub]
The jazz-band's playing ...
Other writers of the Harlem Renaissance were Countee Cullen and Zora Neale Hurston.
Duke Ellington (below) composed jazz music tunes that many young people (left) enjoyed.
Charlie Chaplin (hanging upside down) was a popular comic actor in the silent films.
New technology helped shape the Roaring Twenties. The automobile brought people closer together, and electricity put entertainment at their fingertips. The widespread use of the automobile, indeed, changed life in the United States and the world.
A Revolution on Four Wheels
During the 1920s many people with moderate incomes owned automobiles for the first time. By the end of the 1920s, there was one car on the road for every five people. The automobile linked the city and country more closely. Children in rural areas could travel to school without difficulty. Farmers could bring their crops to market quickly in reliable trucks. In addition, people could shop more easily. The first shopping center with a parking lot opened in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1924.
The automobile also encouraged tourism. Many people—whose jobs allowed for vacations for the first time—explored the country by car. In fact, the word motel—meaning a hotel for motorists—first appeared in 1925.
Radios and "Talkies"
Electricity brought a greater variety of entertainment into the homes of anyone who could buy a radio. The first radio station started broadcasting in 1920. Within 20 years people were listening to the radio on an average of four and a half hours every day. People gathered around radios of all shapes and sizes to listen to music, news, sporting events, comedy shows, and the first "soap operas."
At the same time Thomas Edison's invention, the "talking picture," was sweeping the country. People in the United States had been enjoying silent films since the early 1900s. When Al Jolson's The Jazz Singer appeared in 1927, this first "talkie" won a whole new audience. By 1930 more than 80 million Americans went to movie theaters every week. They cheered at westerns and laughed at comedians like Charlie Chaplin.
The Media Explosion
Radio and film were only part of the rapid growth of media in the United States. We use the word media to describe methods of communication that reach large numbers of people. The media includes radio, newspapers, and magazines. During the Roaring Twenties, all these forms of media began to boom like never before. Of course, there was no television yet. Many magazines you see today—such as Reader's Digest and Time—started during the decade of the 1920s.
The media explosion gave birth to the advertising industry. Manufacturers saw an opportunity to reach the public through newspapers, magazines, and radio. Soon people were humming tunes from commercials and using advertising slogans in their conversations.
The 1920s also saw the rise of media celebrities. The fame of some people was spread to even the most remote places by newspapers, radio, and newsreels, or short films about current events.
One of the most famous people of the decade was Charles Lindbergh. In May 1927 the young pilot made the first nonstop, solo airplane flight across the Atlantic Ocean. In 33 hours and 29 minutes, he flew from New York to Paris, France. Six other pilots had died trying to accomplish this feat.
In any era people would have admired Lindbergh's skill and bravery. In this decade, however, "Lucky Lindy" instantly became a national hero. People waited by their radios to hear news of his flight. The papers were brimming with photographs, articles, and poems about the 25-year-old pilot.
Similar fame awaited another pilot, Amelia Earhart. In 1928, on the 25th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' flight, Earhart became the first woman to cross the Atlantic. Like Lindbergh, she caught the spirit of the age with her adventurousness. Thanks to the media, she too became famous to Americans.
The radio (left) and the home heater (above) brought new entertainment and comfort to many American homes.
After years of protest (below), the Nineteenth Amendment gave women the vote. This magazine celebrates the victory (left).
WOMEN FIGHT FOR SUFFRAGE
Amelia Earhart was only one of millions of women who were reaching new goals in the 1920s. After more than 50 years of struggle and hard work, women had finally won the right to vote in national elections.
The fight for suffrage, or the right to vote, began with the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, which you have read about in Chapter 16. Leaders of the convention believed that women could use the vote to gain other rights for themselves. As Susan B. Anthony argued, suffrage was "the pivotal [crucial] right, the one that underlies all other rights."
The suffrage movement gained strength in 1872 when the Fifteenth Amendment granted African American men the right to vote. That year Anthony and a group of women marched into a polling place in Rochester, New York, and cast their votes in a presidential election. The women were arrested and fined. Six years later, in 1878, a women's suffrage amendment was introduced in Congress.
The Nineteenth Amendment
The women's suffrage amendment did not pass the first year that it was introduced. The women did not give up. The amendment was reintroduced in every session of Congress for the next 40 years.
Many suffrage leaders like Carrie Chapman Catt crisscrossed the country giving speeches, writing articles, and organizing workers. Catt led a "suffrage army" of one million volunteers. She made expert use of the media to spread her arguments.
In 1919 these efforts finally paid off. Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. On August 26, 1920, the states approved this amendment, which guaranteed every adult woman the right to a voice in the government of the country.
For Carrie Chapman Catt and her supporters, however, other battles still remained. In 1920 Catt helped to found the League of Women Voters. Since the 1920s this organization has helped to inform both women and men about political issues.
Women in the Workplace
Although women had won the right to vote, they made little progress in the workplace during the 1920s. During World War I with most men serving as soldiers, many women went to work in factories and other businesses. After the war, however, many women returned to their homes. By 1920 fewer women worked outside the home than had done so a decade earlier. Most women worked at home as homemakers.
Even so the Census of 1930 listed women in jobs ranging from lawyers to house painters. There was also a woman governor in 1924—Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming. Yet most employed women worked in important but low-paying jobs such as nursing, teaching, housekeeping, and office work.