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To what extent was America in the 1920's a 'Divided society'?

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Introduction

To what extent was America in the 1920's a 'Divided society'? America was born from immigrants and during the 1920's it was called a 'melting pot' due to the increase in social, political and economic differences from all these new races. During the 1920's, America went through a number of test cases to determine to what extent America was divided. It was obvious that America was gong through some changes as it had just emerged from the Great War as the world's leading superpower. Although there were an immense amount of change in all aspects of society-socially, politically and economically-there was evidence that America did want to be united. These encompassed Prohibition. The first test case America went through was the treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations. Its outcome would enable us to see America's view on foreign affairs, mainly to do with Europe. The influx of immigrants had an effect on society which led to the Palmer Raids and finally the Sacco and Vanzetti case which exemplified the statement, 'was America a divided society?'. Also the Great Migration of blacks showed disunity as the division between WASPs (White Anglo Saxon Protestants) and the backs grew and also the spread of the Ku Klux Klan activity spreading with the increase in foreigners and blacks to new parts of America. Another issue that concerned the statement was the division of wealth as the WASPs seemed to have the majority of the wealth with blacks and new immigrants at the bottom of the pile. ...read more.

Middle

Also there was evidence that the 'natives' made the immigrants feel that their nationality was awful as Al Capone was ashamed of his Italian connection and remained adamant that he was 100% American. The 1921 Quota Act and the 1924 Johnson-Reed Act put into place to restrict immigration. It showed Americans knew they were divided and wanted to prevent more division. It had the similar idea of the League of Nations. America wanted to stay out of Europe. 'Native' Americans felt that this was better as there was less undesired immigrants but recent immigrants saw it as unfair. These all show signs of a divided society but between new immigrants and 'native' Americans. The Russian Revolution of 1917 scared America so much that A Mitchell Palmer led raids on suspected anarchists, people who are against a government who enforce a set of rules. He also started the Red Scare which increased the Americans fear of anything similar to the Russian revolution. These were groups such as trade union or the Communist party. He passed two acts to 'spy' on these groups, the Sedition Act (1918) and the Espionage Act (1917). On 7 November 1919, Palmer arrested over 10 000 suspected communists and anarchists. There was no evidence found against any of them, but 247 were deported to Russia. Again, in January 1920 there were some Palmer Raids. Many of whom were arrested were members of Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). ...read more.

Conclusion

Also America did have the same attitude towards Prohibition. Three quarters of the states voted for Prohibition showing that the majority of the country again was united in their fight against alcohol. This also showed in their need to 'Americanise' the immigrants, showing their desire to be united. The Scopes Trial also showed that America wanted to make it united as it tried to fight the states preventing any part of the US Constitution. Also the fact that America realised that it was breaking the constitution by its attitude towards anarchists showed that it realised it was divided. The immigration laws also show this and that America wanted to prevent it becoming anymore divided. The statement, 'to what extent was America in the 1920's a divided society', is concluded with the fact that there many aspects of American life that there was at least a small division, but there were areas where there were big divisions, especially with their attitude towards immigrants, blacks and the division of wealth. It also failed to uphold its image of being the 'land of the free' and was not able to conceal the disparity between what it wanted to be and what it was. But they were not fully divided as they stayed united with their thoughts in the League of Nations and in prohibition. America was a 'melting pot' of races which had a series of cracks in it. Ambareen Naqvi 12E Wednesday 29 October 2003 Mrs. French 1 ...read more.

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