Sources of Freedom Exercises

This chapter concentrates on the history of the 1920s. The chapter opens with the Sacco-Vanzetti case, which encapsulated divisions within the larger society. Nativists dwelled on the defendants’ immigrant origins. Conservatives insisted that these alien anarchists must die, despite the lack of evidence. By contrast, prominent liberals, such as a future Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter and Socialist Eugene Debs, rallied around the convicted men.

Despite these divisions, the 1920s was a decade of economic prosperity for many, as the business of America became business. Illustrating the meaning of freedom as linked to prosperity is Andre Siegfried’s Atlantic Monthly piece in Voices of Freedom. The chapter looks at the decline of labor, the shift in the women’s movement after the nineteenth Amendment, and the predominance of the Republican Party overseeing business prosperity and economic diplomacy.

The birth of civil liberties is explored next, discussing Hollywood, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the Supreme Court. The divisions within society are examined again, within the context of the culture wars. The fundamentalist revolt is seen most vividly through the Scopes trial. In the wake of the anti-immigrant hysteria of World War I, the Ku Klux Klan emerged again, targeting Catholics and Jews, as well as blacks. The anti-immigrant sentiment is capped with the 1924 Immigration Act that strictly limited immigration. On the other hand, cultural pluralism and the Harlem Renaissance celebrated the diversity and pluralism of America. The chapter concludes with the stock market crash of 1929 and Herbert Hoover’s attempts at relieving the strains of the Great Depression.

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