Topic 1: The Roaring 20’s
* After the First World War (1914-1918), people in Europe looked to the USA for leadership – both to help prevent wars and for financial assistance. * However the US failed to join the League of nations, and only in the later 1920’s provided any financial help to Germany. * Meanwhile, life within the USA flourished as industry expanded rapidly and people’s life style improved. * The life’s of farmers and African Americans was not so easy however, and by the end of the 1920’s everyone’s lives were affected by the financial collapse sparked by the Wall Street crash.
How and why did the USA achieve prosperity in the 1920’s?
The USA entered the First World War in 1918 with American soldiers fighting on the Western front.
President Woodrow Wilson played an important role at the peace talks. His fourteen points of 1918 were in theory the basis for the peace settlement.
He was also responsible for organising the League of Nations. He thought the League of Nations could act like a world parliament where the representatives of all the major powers would meet and discuss matters of international importance and affairs. He was sure that such an organisation could prevent another world war.
Therefore at the end of the First World War a league of nation was set up as part of the Treaty of Versailles.
Most Americans were not keen on the League of Nations. They did not want their countries involve in disputes taking place far away from their country. They believed the USA would have to bear the cost of keeping peace.
Americans had been against the USA getting involved in WW1 and were upset by the loss of American Lives.
They were worried that if America joined the League of Nations they would be obliged to interfere in conflicts that most Americans thought were none of their business.
The US had a lot of citizens who were German of Austrian immigrants. These people saw the league as linked to the hated Treaty of Versailles. They were opposed to the USA joining an organisation what was forcing Germany to pay reparations.
Americans were concerned that joining the League of nation would cost them money. They were worried that the League of Nations would drag American into expensive wars. Many Business men believed American would prosper by staying out of European affairs and that it should remain isolated from Europe.
Some Americans were suspicious of the French and the British. They were sure that League would come under British and French control and that America would be called up on to help these countries to defend their colonies - (A country or area under the full or partial political control of another country). Many Americans felt that colonies didn’t fit in with their ideas about freedom and democracy and should not be supported.
American simply wanted to be isolated from international affairs…
Reactions to the League
US American President, Wilson was a democrat and wanted to join the League of Nations. Problem was he needed approval from the US congress. The congress was opposed the League of nation and refused to join.
Wilson lost the presidential election of 1920 to the republican Warren Harding. Harding fought the election with the slogan “America first” .He talked of the need to return to “normalcy” a word he used to convey the idea of getting life back to normal, as it was before war. Since American refused to join the league it meant that America opted out of taking responsibility for the terms of the treaty of Versailles. Therefore USA started the 1920’s politically isolated from Europe.
The American economy had boomed as a result of the First World War. The USA exported weapons and food to Europe during the war. After the war, European countries whose industries had been damaged bought goods from American with the help of American Loans.
The country had huge resources (coal, iron and oil).It had growing