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Studying for Christmas Exams, History

The American system of government

1. The USA has a written constitution which said how the country should be run
and how laws are to be made. They also have a bill of rights which lays down
essential freedoms for all citizens.
2. The USA is a democracy which means that all eligible adults can vote. They vote
for a president, congressmen, state governors, mayors etc.
3. America has a federal government which is in Washington and each state has its
own government.
4. The president is elected every four years and is the head of the gov. He chooses
advisers called secretaries.
5. The congress makes the laws. Two houses, the house of representatives, every
300000 people has their own congressman. The senate, two senators are elected
for each state and serve for six years.
6. The supreme court is made of 9 judges appointed by the president. They make
sure the president and the congress follow the rules of the constitution.

America in 1917

America was a Isolationist country. What is Isolationism? Why?

Isolationism means not to become involved in political and economic conflicts outside
the countries own borders. It did this because many immigrants from all over Europe had
come to the USA and they didn’t want to split the country by joining the war.

Why did America join the WWI even when it was a Isolationist government?

America joined WWI because of two main reasons, the sinking of the Lusitania by
Germany (this was a English ship with 128 American onboard, sunk by the German
because they thought it was transporting ammunition for the allies) provoked an Anti
German feeling. After this the Zimmerman telegram, the foreign minister to Germany
sent a telegram to the ambassador to Mexico. The telegram was intercepted and it was
giving instructions to make good relations with Mexico in the event of war against
America. In return they would be allowed to invade some southern states in America.

What did America gain out of the WWI?

American industry and agriculture prospered because they went to overproduction to

meet Europe’s deeds. This gave them a lot of money. The American banks also lent to
European countries at high rates of interest. America was able to make a lot of money
during the war and after the war. But some had devastating results later (farmers).
The American Success story

In the 1920s, the American economy was the most prosperous in the world. Electricity
had arrived. New inventions, such as the refrigerator, radio, vacuum cleaner and the
motor car, meant the American economy prospered.

New ideas like mass production reduced the amount of time it took to make a product and
this increased profits and reduced price of consumer goods and were made available to
larger market.

People were able to purchase these, even when they didn’t have the money: by new
inventions like the easy loans, hire purchase and because of these sales went into
millions. But there was one problem. If people started spending money like this, even
they didn’t have so much, one day they would accumulate so much debt that they
wouldn’t be able to buy any more. This would collapse the economy and this is what
happened in 1929.

Key Factors in America’s economic success

• The American gov. didn’t interfere with the economy, they reduced taxes and
abolished many regulations.
• The American economy benefited from world war 1. The industries supplied Europe
with goods and so became rich.
• The USA had abundant natural resources such as oil and fertile land.
• Development of the American west.
• American industries were protected by trade tariffs which kept out foreign goods.
• Advertising and marketing were efficiently used to sell new products. The growth of
hire purchase gave a boost to the new industries.
• Hire purchase and easy credit.
• New methods of manufacturing, for example mass production, meant that consumer
items were produced cheaply and in large numbers.
• Many entrepreneurs set up new industries.

The results of the boom

• Low unemployment
• Hire purchase
• Ads
• Republican rule
• Stock market surge
• Cinema+ Radio
• Consumer goods.
• Increased wages (not much for majority)
• Immigrants were a good source of cheap labor and they provided a lot of customers.
Two vital elements in the economic boom were the arrival of electricity and mass

The new industries

• The car industry introduced mass production.
• The car industry needed large amounts of raw materials. So many steel, glasses,
rubber and oil factories were set up. New roads, hotel and motels were built. Provided
plenty of jobs.
• The new electric consumer industries all used mass production.
• The radio captured the imagination of the public and it was used for ads.

Poverty in America

If there was a boom why was there poverty in USA?

While it was thought that all Americans were becoming richer, this was not true. Some
Americans (mostly people living in the cities) were enjoying the boom. Some others
were not. The profits from the industries were not evenly shared out. Profits from the
industries were shared among the top 0.3% of population and the wages of the worker in
the factories saw their wages rise by 8 cents in 9 years. However the skilled workers saw
their wages rise by up 40 %. This shows that the boom was supported by weak
foundations. And this was one of the reasons for the wall st. crash in 1929.

Explain why some industries did not benefit from the boom?
Some industries were in the decline like the cotton industry because of shorter clothes
and new synthetic fabrics. The new clothes were produced in new factories which needed
less workers. As the big corporations became more efficient they cut down on the number
of workers. Large companies took over smaller ones and people lost jobs.

Who were the underprivileged groups in society?

Immigrants didn’t enjoy a good life in the USA because they were poorly educated, many
didn’t speak English and were paid low wages. They also suffered increased prejudice.
Many lived in ghettos of the major cities. The number of immigrants arriving were
reduced by the immigration quotas (which preferred immigrants that could speak
English) and this was due to the red scare (fear of socialists and communism) and
because of changing social acceptance. The native born whites thought they were
responsible for all the crime, violence and caused Americans to lose their jobs because
.the large number of immigrants worked on low wages

Black Americans most lived in the south. They were the decedents of slaves. They lived
in slums and were share croppers which meant they worked on land belonging to a white
and had to pay rents and were tricked by the whites because the blacks were illiterate.
They suffered discrimination in very harsh ways. They were segregated from whites and
a group of laws called the JIM CROW LAWS made this possible. They were badly
educated and had poor services which were available to whites. They were also murdered
by whites and this was ignored by the police. Organizations like the KKK tormented
them and made their lives as bad as possible. Some moved to the north to escape the
intolerance. In the north it was less but still there. They were paid less ( but the wages
were reasonable) had more respect and more jobs more education. Some shops didn’t let
them in (informal) and in the army they were made to do all the tedious jobs
(compulsory). They were unable to vote.

Why did trade unions have limited power?

Trade Unions had limited power because not many workers were part of unions because
big employers like Ford didn’t like them. If not many people were in the unions, then the
union wouldn’t be able to do much “there is strength in number”. The reason why people
didn’t join trade unions was because if people did, they were likely to be fired by the
employer and the union couldn’t do much.

Old and new in America

How did young people spend their time?

They listened to jazz music (Bessie Smith), drank, danced (Charleston), listened to sports,
new fashion meant more shopping, watched movies (110 million people were going to
the cinema each week), were interested in short time crazes beauty contests, dance
marathons, the emergence of a mass media (new magazines and radio).

How did Lindy symbolize the spirit of the times?

Lindy was a mixture of all the legendary American qualities: ruggedness, bravery,
strength, tough, self reliance and ambitious.

Why was the Hollywood star System so successful?

1. It was cheap entertainment for the millions
2. It provided an escape for many people
3. The stars showed the public a the style and manners of the high society. Many
aspired to this life style in the roaring 20s.

Why did some of the older people disapprove the young people behavior?
They disapproved the young people’s behavior because they though they were too casual,
listening to devils music, dancing new dances, drinking, reading different types of
magazines which were not approved and they were too un religious. They mainly hated
the new trends because it was not like this when they were younger. The Anti – Flirt
league was an example of people’s dislike for flappers.

Racial Intolerance

What was the KKK?

KKK STANDS for Ku Klux Klan. This was a secret group which indulged in making the
lives of Catholics, Jews, Radicals, communists, immigrants and especially black
Americans horrible. It started out after the civil war. They soon discovered that the robes,
hoods and rituals of the club terrified black people in the south. This fact appealed to
racist whites. The Klan’s main focus was to terrorize blacks. They wanted to maintain
white supremacy and they did so by making sure the blacks were segregated and if they
weren’t able to, they would beat them and murder them in the south. There were many
lynches in the south.

What kind of People joined the Klan?

White racists joined the Klan. They thought they were holding up traditional American
values against all kinds of enemies.

Why did the Klan get really powerful?

Large number of people joined the Klan and its power grew. They ranged from normal
workers to police officers, judges and politicians which made it possible for the Klan to
do anything and get away with it in the South. Many were too frightened to offend the
Klan in any way because if they did, they would be beaten up or hurt in some manner,
sometimes find that he has lost his job or if he is a shop owner, find that no one came to
your shop any more and you are put out of business. Therefore the Klan had intense
power which they used to frighten black and make sure they were segregated.

Why Klan lose its support towards the end of the 20s?
It lost its support because the grand Dragon of the Klan was involved in a scandal. He
was found guilty of rape and mutilation. The public were outraged and the Klan was
destroyed except for a few die- hard cells but racism did not cease to exist.

Religious intolerance

After the WWI many American took to a fundamentalist for of Christianity which took
the words of the bible literally. They formed the anti evolution league to be against
Darwin theory of evolution and got many states to ban it in school.
Learn the scopes trial

The Red Scare

Who are Anarchists?

They are people who believe that there should be no government or Laws.

Who are communist?

Communists were people who thought that all services should be owned by the

Who are capitalists?

In a capitalist state people can do what ever they want. This is America.

Why were communists hated by capitalists?

Because capitalist people would lose the their freedom.
What was the red scare?
In America, in 1920s, people were scared about communists immigrants spreading their
ideas and changing society. Over 6000 people were arrested after a series of bomb
outrages in the Palmer raids. In 1920, 2 Italians, Sacco and Vanzetti, anarchists were
falsely charged for a murder and were executed. It is believed that they were found guilty
because of what they were rather than what they were supposed to have done.

Prohibition and the Gangsters

What is Prohibition?

In October 1919, the American Congress passed the Eighteenth Amendment to the
constitution. This was a change in the law that led to the Prohibition, or banning of all
alcohol, in the United States. It came into force on 16 January 1920, and remained until
December 1933. The law stated that :”the manufacture, sale and carriage of alcoholic
liquors for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited”. This meant that alcohol was still sold
for religious and medicinal purposes and it was not illegal to buy it or drink it.

What is the Volstead Act?

The Volstead Act defined that by alcohol, the gov. meant anything that is more than 5 %

Why was Prohibition introduced?

Prohibition was introduced mainly because – religious leaders and temperance societies
had been demanding since the 1930s.They believed alcohol was responsible for ill health,
crime, violence and poverty. Many women believed that the consumption of alcoholic
beverages presented a serious threat to the integrity of their most vital institutions,
especially the institution of the family – Husbands would flout their salaries on drinks
and create tensions in the household both financially and fights between the husband and
wife were increased because of drunkenness.

Why then (if the Temperance societies were demanding for Prohibition since 1830)
did prohibition take place in 1919?

Prohibition was introduced in 1919 because women got the right to vote in the 1920
election and hoping to get their vote many politicians pushed for prohibition in 1919.
This was also during the time of progressive era when many such reforms were made to
better the USA. During world war I it was patriotic not to drink alcohol because the
country was at war and people couldn’t afford to be late for work (there was money to
made by selling ammunition and food to Europe) and due to the anti- German feeling (the
German born citizens controlled the drinks trade). Some industrialists also wanted
Prohibition because they thought it could improve efficiency during the boom.

What were the practical difficulties in enforcing the law?

• Alcoholic drinks were easy to make and the ingredients were easily available.
• It was illegal to make or transport alcohol but not drink or buy it.
• It remained socially acceptable to drink alcohol.
• Speakeasies were set up to sell illegal alcohol.
• It created a new world for organized crime: Gangsterism.
a. The smuggled alcohol from neighboring countries
b. The USA had long border and rumrunners (ships) landed in quiet coves
and trucks carried their cargo to the city bars.
c. The prohibition bureau had less than 2000 agents for the whole country.
They were under paid and so gangsters paid them not to enforce the law.
d. Politicians and police chiefs were bribed for their silence.
e. Juries were paid not convict.
f. They fought each other to gain control over the drinks trade. Al Capone, a
gangster, killed over 500 people.
• The alcohol sold in the speakeasies were of poor quality and some were
dangerous to health.
• In 1925, there were 10000 speakeasies in Chicago.
• Due to corruption judges and jury did not convict gangsters.

What were the main effects Prohibition?

There were four main features or effects of Prohibition.

1. Bootlegging
2. Gangsters
3. Speakeasies
4. Corruption

Bootlegging involved making and importing illegal alcohol and selling it to eager
customers ready to pay the going rate. Rumrunners, fleets of ships landed on quiet coves
and illegal alcohol was unloaded into trucks and transported to city bars. Alcohol was
also made in the homes. It is estimated that in 1929 700 gallons of alcohol were made in
homes and children were regularly drinking alcohol.

Gangers were members of lawless gangs (eg: Mafia) in organized crime. Supplying
alcohol was an opportunity to make money. Competition between the various gangs led
to ‘gang wars’ eg. Valentine’s Day massacre when Al capons Henchmen killed 7 from the
Bug’s Moran gang in 1929.
Speakeasies were illegal bars during the prohibition which some times served bad quality
alcohol. They were located in the cities and each city had many of them. To enter one you
needed to know the password. Prices were high and alcohol known as MOONSHIE was
doctored from industrial alcohol.

Corruption made speakeasies and bootlegging all possible. Gangster were responsible for
these. They bribed the politicians and police chiefs not to enforce the law and Judges and
the jury were paid not to convict.

Thanks to these 4 problems, people continued to drink alcohol and in some cases more
than before Prohibition.


Features of
the Speakeasie
Prohibition s


Who is Al Capone?
Al Capone, the famous Italian American gangster, also known as scarface. He was one of
the many gangsters during the Prohibition era. He saw a golden opportunity to make lots
of money by selling illegal alcohol. But alcohol wasn’t the only criminal activity he was
involved in - he also sold drugs and he implied prostitution’s. Prohibition made gangsters
rich because people were willing to pay high sums for alcohol and so naturally gang wars
started. Al Capone was one of the most notorious figures and he killed over 500 people
himself. He was never caught because police and judges were bribed by him.

What did the gov try to do to fight back?

The gov. set up the Prohibition bureau to deal with these problems. But it under funded
and had only 2000 agents for the whole country and the agents were poorly paid. The
Bureau itself was soon involved in scandals : Gangsters bribed the agents not enforce the
law and the agents agreed because they not being paid well to enforce the law.

The Bureau of Investigation was latter set up in 1924 to tackle the problem. It was more
successful and it was led by J. Edgar Hoover. They met the gangster on their own ground
and used tougher methods for enforcing the law. It was the bureau that finally put Al
Capone behind bars for income tax evasion.

How Prohibition died off?

Prohibition died off in 1933. The depression finally killed off the Prohibition as the wet
supporters argued that it would create more jobs. President Roosevelt was firmly against
Prohibition. He abolished with the 21st amendment to the constitution.

Did Prohibition work?

No it didn’t. In many cases it increased the consumption of alcohol. Like in Chicago in
1925, there were 16,000 more arrests for Drunkenness than in the whole of the UK. The
number of illegal speakeasies doubled over the number of legal bars before prohibition.
And it didn’t abolish Crime (in fact increased it), violence, poverty, or ill health. Over the
years the number of illegal still captured by police increased.

The role of women

Before 1917, women’s campaigners had fought for women’s right to vote. Society’s
attitude changed after the WWI. American women gained the same voting rights as men,
by the 19th amendments in 1920.

Who were Flappers?

Flappers were young women who smoked, wore make-up, drank in speakeasies and had
jobs. They also represented the economic success of the 20s.

Margaret Sanger was a campaigner for birth control.

The new inventions gave women more time and freedom.
Pressure groups came to the being, like the league of women’s voters.

Many from the older generations were shocked by this new behavior- the Anti flirt
League. This was an organization that aimed to undermine the works of the flapper.

How much did the role of women really change after the First World War?
Before 1914, women in the American society had a lower status than men. Most women
didn’t have jobs and were housewives, but most important of all they couldn’t vote (19th
amendment). WWI allowed women to do work traditionally done by men and prove their
skills. So during the 20s, a new generation of women, began to change the attitudes of
women. They were known as the flappers. Some had jobs, smoked, drunk, and wore new
fashions. But this shocked the older generations as they believed flappers actions were
breaking the boundaries of society. Mass production of household goods meant that many
women gave many women more time to do other things than chores. Many turned their
attention to pressure groups, which were trying to further improve the position of women
or stop flappers from getting their way and spoiling the image of all women. Although
many women had jobs, they still occupied the lower jobs, such as librarian.

The Wall street Crash

What was the wall street crash of 1929?

The crash of 1929 was a sudden, dramatic event that sparked off the great depression in
the USA. By the summer of 29, stocks of unsold goods were piling up in factories. When
people realized that the profit were going down, they started selling their stocks in the
masses causing the prices to fall rapidly ruining many.

Important days: 23OCT = 26 million share sold at falling prices.

24th OCT = Black Thursday, 13 million shares sold, prices plummeted, banks called in
25th Prices steadied out because of the bankers tried to restore confidence.
28th = 9 million shares traded
29th = Terrifying Tuesday, 16 million shares sold. $8000 million lost.
November 13th = lowest levels reached. A slow recovery began total lose 30-40000

What were the main reasons for it?

of wealth
bought things
on HP)
Rapid selling Laissez faire-
caused the leave it to the
prices to fall. business men.
People had No policies to
taken loans to control
buy shares. growth

Reasons for
Wall Street
Loss of Overproduct
confidence- the
ion – by 29
main thing that
kept prices high. all the people
Lost when they who could
saw afford fridges
overproduction had fridges.
falling profits
Speculation –
to make a
quick profit
from the
profits of the

+trade tariffs were introduced by other countries.

What are the 3 most important reasons?
Overproduction, Speculation (which resulted in the loss of confidence) and unequal
distribution of wealth.

What happened to the share holders and brokers?

Many stockbrokers and shareholders were ruined because they had bought shares on HP
and when the prices fell, they were forced to sell before prices fell even more. The huge
debt had to be paid back to the banks. To do this, they had to use a lot of their savings.
But they didn’t have much because they had invested in the stock market so when banks
called in their loans, they were unable to pay it back, causing many banks to fail with the
money of some savers. Some try to raise money and repay as much as possible by selling
their processions. Many ended up without out money and suffered the effects of the
depression (no money, lost job no food, lost homes etc.)
What did the Wall Street crash trigger?
The crash triggered the depression but not cause it because the crash was an event in
which the prices of shares fell. The fall in prices were caused by the economic weakness
of the 20s which led to the depression.

Why was the crash a real shock?

In the roaring 20s there was a rapid growth in the economy which continued to the late
20s and people expected it to grow. This caused a stock market surge. People thought the
boom would last for ever and were confident about the future of the economy. They also
knew that America was the richest country in world. See things like this, people really
believed in the future but they didn’t see the economic weaknesses that build up. Buying
stocks was seen to be a risk free thing but when the companies hinted that they weren’t
doing well as expected, stock prices plummeted. This was shocking because of the fact
that many rich people had lost everything overnight and that it was also shocking that no
one had seen these before and the effects were also shocking.

What were the action of bankers?

On black Thursday, 6 of the richest bankers met to decide on a plan to restore calm and
confidence. They sent 6 representatives with $240,000,000 to buy stocks to restore
confidence and steady prices. Although the bakers had artificially steadied the prices it
started to go down again because industries weren’t doing well. So when the prices were
steady many shareholders sold their shares and price fell again. So the aim of the bankers

Loss of confidence led to share prices fell, led to the fact that some investors couldn’t
repay debts, led to banks collapsing, borrowing became more difficult so more companies
failed or laid of workers so there is less spending and more companies close and there is
more un employment and farmers unable to sell produce.

Agricultural problems?
1. WWI created a temporary demand which died down after the war leading to over
farming and the fall of prices and farmers unable to repay debt.
2. During depression, people couldn’t afford to buy foods farmers continued to
suffer but they tried to bring the prices but it didn’t work. Because people didn’t
have cash for buying food and the farmers were still overproducing.
3. Some farmers affected because of bad crop management and crop rotation and
made the soil into dust.
4. Banks repossessed their farms

The Great Depression

What is the Great depression?

Great Depression in the United States, worst and longest economic collapse in the history
of the modern industrial world, lasting from the end of 1929 until the early 1940s.
Beginning in the United States, the depression spread to most of the world’s industrial
countries, which in the 20th century had become economically dependent on one another.
The Great Depression saw rapid declines in the production and sale of goods and a
sudden, severe rise in unemployment. Businesses and banks closed their doors, people
lost their jobs, homes, and savings, and many depended on charity to survive.

Who were affected?

Refer to note book, learn diagram on depression

The New Deal

What is the New Deal?

The New Deal is the name given to the project introduced by FDR to combat the
problems created by the depression, especially the high unemployment. The new deal had
3 main objective, Relief, recovery and reform.

The first new deal (1933) was based on Relief and recovery. The relief was aimed at the
homeless and unemployed of the depression. The recovery was needed for the industry
and agriculture.

The second New deal (1033 – 1940) was based more on reform and prevent another
depression from happening again and introducing social changes.

The New Deal also involved the federal government in the affairs of the individual states
and ordinary people. New Deal meant direct government action which was ruled out
illegal by the supreme court.

FDR followed some policies similar to what J.M.Keynes said. He said:

• Increase employment by spending vast amounts on public works.
• Spend money to help people spend money.
• Give grants and cheap loans to help businesses.
• Critics argued that Keynes polices meant too much interference.

How did FDR restore confidence in banks?

After he became president, FDR first restored faith in the banks. If he did this people
would invest in industry. So 2 days after his inauguration, he ordered all banks to close
and issued the emergency banking act. This allowed officials to check the accounts of all
banks and those with sufficient funds were only allowed to reopen. This immediately
restored confidence and people once again put their saving in banks.

What were the use of a fire side chat?

FDR was able to speak to the people using radios and he spoke to them in a comforting
and encouraging way that gave confidence to the American people.
The first New Deal

During the first 100 days congress passed a number of new laws to help with relief and
recovery. He introduced many acts and alphabet agencies which cut down on
unemployment, ended prohibition, helped farmers, give money to the poor and to help
the poor relief schemes set up (considered wrong because money was given not lent),
helped home owners, and to improve conditions for workers (Blue eagle badge).

Criticisms- many people hated trade unions because it meant that they couldn’t run
business the way they wanted. NRA USED TO PUSH UP PRICES.

New Deal and Farmers.

Income for farmers had further fallen. The dust bowl meant land couldn’t be used and
farmers migrated to California.

He helped farmers and the price of produce doubled in 193p. He was popular with
farmers and helped him to be reelected. The AAA was passed to control production and
raise prices (they did by paying farmers). The FCA refinanced mortgages. FSA help
sharecroppers find home and loans. The TVA also helped.

TVA helped farmers because it taught farmers how to regenerate soil without fertilizers.
Prevent soil erosion by planning trees.

The second New Deal

After 1933, FDR concentrated on reform to provide those affected by the depression. He
also wanted to give more protection to the working population.

Did what the CWA and the PWA did. But it went further by helping writer and actors.

Securities and Exchange commission

Set up to prevent another Wall Street Crash. It regulated the prices and people had to
make 50-60% of the price then.

National Labor relations act

The Act replaced the NIRA. Gave right to join trade unions. To protect the rights of the

The SSA provided pensions for old, help for people in need and a national system of
insurance for the unemployed.

Soil conservation Act

Replaced the AAA. It gave grants to farmers who improved soil quality.
Fair Labor Standards Acts Minimum wage and maximum hours.

Many unions joined together. But big companies refused to let people join so strikes.
Companies hired Goon squads to stop them.

The enemies of the New Deal

Arguments against the New Deal

1. The gov. was spending vast amounts on unnecessary projects.
2. Attack on free institutions and interfered too much business and industry.
3. Destroys peoples initiative.
4. Fed. Gov becoming too powerful and was taking over in areas that was the
responsibility of the sates. The president had too much power.

The Roosevelt Recession?

Read text book.