Video: America's Time: Stormy Weather, 1929-1936


Business did well in the 1920s

1. Presidents.

All three were Republicans: Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover.

All three were pro–business ("The business of America is business").

2. Supreme Court.

Protected business and private property as it had in the Gilded Age.
Sheltered business from government regulation
Hindered organized labor from striking.

3. Congress. Responsive to corporate lobbying.

4. Welfare capitalism.

Corporations countered the appeal of unions by offering pensions, profit–sharing, picnics, and company-sponsored sports teams.

5. Consumerism

[We will see a replay of this consumerism when we look later at the 1950s.]

Consumer society.

Number of consumers increased by advertising (increased sophistication plus increased expenditures), credit, and higher wages

6. Automobile

Ford Model T

a. The car altered American life as much as the railroad had 75 years earlier.
b. Car registrations went from 8 to 23 million in the 1920s.
c. Car prices more affordable: mass production and competition
d. Automobile industry fostered growth of other industries

  • Items to make cars: steel, glass, rubber, textiles.
  • Roads: "good roads" movement.
  • Motels and diners
  • Oil drilling
  • Gas stations.

1928 Presidential Election

Hoover won the 1928 election against Al Smith

Hoover's administration

Not too successful.
Remedies relied upon self–help, not government assistance.
Traditional: tried to balance the budget

Hooverville=shanty town
Hoover blanket=an old newspaper used as a blanket
Hoover flag=an empty pocket turned inside out
[These descriptions are taken from:

Bonus Army March (1932)

Bonus Expeditionary Force
World War I veterans (15,000) camped in Washington

Demanded payment immediately of promised (1945) cash bonuses

President Hoover ordered the army to evict the veterans

Army, commanded by Douglas MacArthur, operated harshly

"Cheered in 1917, Jeered in 1932"

1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles
(Today in History, Library of Congress)


Stock Market Crash (1929)

Most of the 1920s saw an upbeat business climate. Then things went south.

Business context

1. Increasing flow of consumer goods: autos, radios, and household appliances

2. Installment credit increased sales

3. Optimism in the air
Unlimited prosperity would never end

Song that epitomized the upbeat mood during the early 1920s:
Irving Kaufman - Blue Skies (1927)

4. But the consumer–goods revolution contained seeds of its own collapse.

  • Factories produced more than country could consume.
  • Workers had insufficient purchasing power.
  • Farmers were particularly suffering.

5. Stock market crash in October 1929 burst the bubble.

Black Tuesday, Stock Market Crash Ushers in Great Depression (On This Day, Finding Dulcinea)

Beginning of the depression.

1. Between 1929 and 1932, industrial production declined by almost 45%
Decline of production led to plant closings and unemployment.

2. Unemployment rose quickly:
  • 1930—5 million (15% unemployment)
  • 1931—9 million (25%)
  • 1932—12 million (40%)

3. Bank failures rose steadily.

4. Protectionism

Smoot–Hawley tariff raised U.S. import duties to an all–time high.
Difficult for other countries to sell their products in U.S.
Difficult for them to earn dollars to buy American products.
Other countries raised their tariffs in retaliation.

5. Depression dominated American life for 10 years (1929–1939).

a. People postponed marriage; married couples postponed having children.
b. Malnutrition and deteriorating diets made people susceptible to disease.
c. Out–of–work fathers felt ashamed of their diminished roles.

1932 Presidential Election

Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) defeated Herbert Hoover

FDR's 1932 campaign song: Happy Days are Here Again

President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) (1933-1945)

Paralyzed nation strengthened by physically–handicapped President

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt

Details on her life.

Great advocate of social justice; admired by African-Americans.

Marion Anderson concert at the Lincoln Memorial, 1939

Depression Slang
Deal particularly with these two parts:Words for females; words for toilets


First 100 Days

Congress was in session for one hundred days before it adjourned.
During this period, FDR went fifteen for fifteen in major legislation.
Subsequent presidents are measured by this impossible standard.

Saving the Banks

Context: prior bank failures
FDR issued a decree closing all banks in America
This approach called a "banking holiday"

Emergency Banking Relief Act.

Provided for government supervision and assistance to banks
Strong ones would be reopened with federal support
Weak ones would be closed
Deposit insurance ($5,000) would be available

Fireside chats

FDR made great use of radio to reach public.

Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA)

Farming in the 1930s
"Flour sacks for clothes"

Three million people left farms in the 1930s.
Agricultural Adjustment Act was designed to help farm problems:

Low prices paid for crops
Low income of farmers
Difficulty of paying mortgages
Rise in farm foreclosures

The act provided for the following:
Government paid subsidies to farmers who
a) Restricted crop acreage: wheat, cotton, corn, rice, or tobacco
b) Reduced number of livestock, particularly pigs.

Riding the Rails

Riding the rails

Life during the Great Depression


Who was Seabiscuit?

Horse Racing in the Depression

Dust Bowl

Drought and poor farming techniques led to dust storms.
Many from Oklahoma (Okies) and Arkansas (Arkies) fled to California.

Woody Guthrie wrote many songs about the Dust Bowl.

Dust Bowl (Finding Dulcinea)

Route 66

Route 66
Using this excellent exhibition by the Smithsonian, please read through each of the 10 screens (click on "Continue" at bottom right or on each of the ten red dots at the top).

John Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath

Grapes of Wrath

Grapes of Wrath "Two for a Penny" Movie Clip

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)

Job corps for young men, aged 18–25.
Supervised by U.S. army.
Workers paid $30 per month, of which $25 had to be sent to family.
Pumped $2 billion into economy (equivalent to $200 billion today).
Work planned by National Park Service:
Tree planting (North Dakota to Texas), flood control, road construction.

Opposition to the New Deal

a) Conservative critics.

Republicans did not like government control of the economy.

b) Liberal critics:

1) Father Charles Coughlin

Catholic priest from Detroit
Weekly radio sermons (30 million audience)
Criticized the New Deal
Proposed a National Union for Social Justice to counter the New Deal.
Anti-Semite: depression caused by international Jewish bankers.
Expressed support for Hitler's approach to running Germany.

2) Dr. Francis E. Townsend

Proposed an Old Age Revolving Pensions plan
Every person over age 60 would get a $200 per month pension.
His plan would cost 50% of national income to help 7% of population.

3) Huey Long.

Former Governor of and Democratic Senator from Louisiana.
Proposed a Share Our Wealth Society
Tax rich people heavily
Furnish each family an annual income of $2,500

Assassinated in 1935

Social Security Act

FICA deduction today.
Designed to prevent more radical alternatives (Townsend and Long)
Workers required to pay into it
Answer to critics of "relief"
Worker's payment matched by employer

Social Security Act (Finding Dulcinea)

Frances Perkins [read just the two introductory paragraphs]

Works Progress Administration (WPA)

WPA (Today in History, Library of Congress)

Emphasized under-consumption.
Massive public works programs for the jobless

Home relief (the dole) versus work relief.

Employed 3 million men as manual laborers: roads, hospitals, bridges.

Criticized by conservatives as make-work

Employed educated persons:
Federal Music Project
Federal Theatre Project
Federal Writers' Project

Presidential Election of 1936

FDR won a second term easily.

He got overconfident because of his massive victory margin.

FDR attempt at "Court Packing" (Supreme Court)

Court Packing (Finding Dulcinea)

FDR became overconfident after such an overwhelming victory in the 1936 election.
He began to overreach politically.

Supreme Court declared AAA and NIRA unconstitutional on 5-4 votes.
FDR wanted to appoint pro–New Deal justices
Proposed six new ones (one for every member over age 70).
Congress (both parties) opposed the plan
Felt he was overreaching and looking like a dictator.

Issue became moot: a swing justice changed his voting pattern.

The so-called "switch in time that saved nine"
One justice, Owen Roberts, changed his voting pattern.

Presidential Election of 1940

War had started in Europe on 1 September 1939 when Hitler invaded Poland.

FDR won historic third term.

New Deal coalition

Democratic Party then consisted of the following:

Urban immigrants
Organized labor

White southerners

Northern blacks
Ever since the Civil War, blacks had usually voted Republican.
Big shift occurred during the New Deal: blacks began voting for Democrats

This New Deal coalition held together until the 1960s, when the civil rights movement created internal tension in the Democratic Party.

New Deal assessed

New Deal failed in its fundamental purpose: to put people back to work and end the depression.

Depression only ended due to World War II.

But New Deal gave Americans back their psychological will to overcome.

In the past, federal government had served as an economic regulator.
During New Deal, it became an economic guarantor and stimulator as well.

Congressional Republicans are currently trying to limit the size of government, much of which began with the New Deal.


Video: Crash course [John Green] (13:12)


Japan became a major threat to U.S. goals in Asia:

(1) Japan's "New Order" in Asia

Wanted a sphere of influence in Asia
Similar to United States in Latin America
U.S. unwilling to permit such Japanese influence.
United States had major interests at stake in Asia:
Philippines and various Pacific islands
Religious missions
Trade and investments
Open Door in China.

(2) Japanese seized Manchuria (1931)

American response: Stimson Doctrine of nonrecognition
Mere moral lecture
U.S. had neither the means nor will to use military force.


Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany (1/30)

Franklin Roosevelt became President of the United States (3/4)

U.S. recognized Soviet Union. To increase trade. To halt Japanese expansion.


U.S. Neutrality Acts. Neutrality Acts an expression of isolationist sentiment.

Congress sought to protect the nation by outlawing the contacts that had compromised U.S. neutrality during World War I.


Expansion in Europe by Germany, 1930s

Germany reoccupied the Rhineland (3/7)

1936 Summer Olympics held in Berlin (August)
Jesse Owens

Civil war in Spain. (1936-1939)


Democratically-elected (left-wing) Spanish government: supported by Soviet Union and international mercenaries (Abraham Lincoln brigade from America)

Challenger: General Francisco Franco (right-wing) supported by Germany and Italy (fascists).

Franco eventually won.

Britain, France, and U.S. looked the other way.


Beginning of World War II in Asia.

Japanese invasion of mainland China (7 July 1937)

China then was a U.S. ally.

Nanking Massacre


Continued expansion in Europe by Germany, 1930s

1. German invasion and annexation of Austria (12 March 1938)

2. Munich agreement (Chamberlain/Hitler) (15 September 1938).

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler

Czech Sudetenland to Germany.

3. Appeasement issue: not stopping a dictator early on

In defense of Neville Chamberlain, hindsight’s most battered punching bag


1. Germany occupied remainder of Czechoslovakia (March)

2. German-Russian Non-Aggression Pact (8/23)

The odd couple: fascists and communists. Agreed not to attack each other.

3. German invasion of Poland (1 September 1939). Beginning of World War II in Europe

Nazi Germany Invades Poland, Starting World War II (On This Day, Finding Dulcinea)

4. U.S. declared neutrality (5 September 1939). U.S. still trying to stay out of war

The Neutrality Acts, 1930s

5. American Isolationism in the 1930s


1. German "blitzkrieg" (lightning warfare) [today we call it "shock and awe"]

Combination of dive bombers, tanks, and mechanized infantry.

2. Germans invade Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium

3. Dunkirk: British and French evacuated from beach (6/4)

Dunkirk: animated history

4. France conquered (6/5-6/25)

14 June 1940 German troops enter Paris (BBC On This Day)

5. Hitler's conquests and attacks in Europe made French, Dutch, and British colonies in Asia vulnerable to Japanese attack.

Japan had been at war in China since 1937.

Japan will not attack Pearl Harbor until December 1941.

6. Blitz and Battle of Britain: Germany attacked Britain by air (June-December 1940).

"Blitz." Prelude to expected German invasion.

7 September 1940 London Blitzed by German Bombers (BBC On This Day)

US needed to help Britain hang on against possible Nazi invasion.

US was still neutral (or at least not involved in any fighting) at this point.

World War II lineup leaders:

A. The Allies

1. United States: Franklin D.Roosevelt

2. Great Britain: Winston Churchill

3. Soviet Union: Josef Stalin

U.S.-Soviet Alliance, 1941–1945

4. France: Charles DeGaulle

5. China: Chang Kai–Shek

B. The other side: Axis

1. Germany: Adolf Hitler

2. Italy: Benito Mussolini

3. Japan: General Hideki Tojo; Emperor Hirohito


Lend–Lease Act

U.S. became the "arsenal of democracy" by lending and leasing American military goods to those fighting against the Axis powers.

American unemployment dropped as our industries geared up to produce war material.

Lend-Lease and Military Aid to the Allies in the Early Years of World War II

Germany invaded the Soviet Union (June 22)

Major mistake.

22 Jun 1941: Hitler invades the Soviet Union (BBC News On This Day)

Japan attacked Pearl Harbor (December 7)

Japan, China, the United States and the Road to Pearl Harbor, 1937–41

Japanese initial victories:

Philippines, Malaya, Thailand, Hong Kong.

Remember: the war between China and Japan going on simultaneously.


Doolittle raid on Tokyo (4/18)

US stuck back at Japan after the shock of Pearl Harbor

Internment of Japanese-Americans

Photo essay: Japanese-American internment

Battle of Midway

U.S. wins. Turning point in Pacific war

7 Jun 1942 Japanese beaten in Battle of Midway (BBC On This Day)



Turning point of the war in Europe.

2 Feb 1943 Germans surrender at Stalingrad (BBC On This Day)

Soviets can now go on the offensive.

Tehran Conference (1943)

Dispute over when/where Europe would be invaded.

Soviets demanded a second front in western Europe to take Nazi pressure off USSR

Soviets bore the brunt of land war until mid–1944.

Decision was finally made on a cross-channel invasion against Europe mainland in 1944

Eisenhower was named to be Supreme Commander of Allied Forces

The Tehran Conference, 1943


D-Day==Normandy invasion==Operation Overlord==6 June 1944

Biggest invasion armada in world history (5,000 ships, 150,000 men).

Animated Map: The D-Day Landings
Read the description for each of the four maps:
The Atlantic Wall, Concentration of Forces, The Landings, Securing the Beachheads

Military Life

GI Joe: US Soldiers of World War Two

Battle of the Bulge (December 1944)

Map showing the "bulge"

17 Dec 1944 Germany attacks in Ardennes (BBC On This Day)


Yalta Conference (February 1945

Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt meet in Yalta (located in the Crimea)

Soviets would control most of Eastern Europe.
Germany would be divided.
Soviets would fight Japan three months after German surrender

Yalta Conference (BBC On This Day)

Iwo Jima (February-March)

23 Feb 1945: US flag raised over Iwo Jima (BBC On This Day)

Okinawa (April)

Attacks by 3,000 kamikaze planes on U.S. fleet.

21 Jun 1945: US troops take Okinawa (BBC On This Day)

Victory in Europe

FDR died (12 April 1945)

Hitler killed himself (30 April 1945)

Germany surrendered (7 May)=VE Day (Victory Europe)

Victory against Japan

Factors involved in the decision to drop the atomic bombs on Japan:

1. Fear that the Soviet Union would soon enter the war against Japan

2. Concern that a land war in Japan would result in massive American casualties


1. First atomic bomb: Hiroshima (6 August 1945)

6 Aug 1945: US drops atomic bomb on Hiroshima (BBC On This Day)

2. Soviets entered war in Pacific with 1.5 million troops (8 August 1945)

3. Second atomic bomb: Nagasaki (9 August 1945)

4. Japanese surrendered (2 September 1945)

Emperor allowed to keep his throne.

Allied Supreme Commander Douglas MacArthur would rule Japan.

American and the Holocaust

What did America know as the Holocaust unfolded. Quite a lot, as it turns out.

Death Toll of World War II

World–wide: 55 million
United States: 405,000
Soviet Union: 21 million (one–ninth of Soviet population).

Postwar position of the U.S.

We suffered little damage to our own land.
We emerged as the world leader