American Life in the "Roaring Twenties"
ran high even after the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, which spawned a communist party in America.
" of 1919-1920 resulted in a nationwide crusade against those whose Americanism was suspect.
Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer
was chosen to round up immigrants who were in question.
In 1919-1920, a number of states passed
criminal syndicalism laws
that made the advocacy of violence to secure
social change unlawful. Traditional American ideals of free speech were restricted.
were reflected in the criminal case of Nicola Sacco
and Bartolomeo Vanzetti
two men were convicted in
of the murder of a Massachusetts paymaster and his guard. Although given a trial,
the jury and judge were prejudiced against the men because they were Italians, atheists, anarchists, and draft
dodgers. Despite criticism from liberals and radicals all over the world, the men were electrocuted in
Hooded Hoodlums of the KKK
Ku Klux Klan
Knights of the Invisible Empire
) grew quickly in the early 1920s. The Klan was antiforeign,
anti-Catholic, anti-black, anti-Jewish, antipacifist, anti-Communist, anti-internationalist, antievolutionist,
antibootlegger, antigambling, antiadultery, and anti-birth control. It was pro-Anglo-Saxon, pro-"native" American,
The Klan spread rapidly, especially in the Midwest and the South, claiming 5 million members.
It collapsed in the late 1920s after a congressional investigation exposed the internal embezzling by Klan officials.
The KKK was an alarming manifestation of the intolerance and prejudice plaguing people anxious about the
dizzying pace of social change in the 1920s.
Stemming the Foreign Blood
Isolationist Americans of the 1920s felt they had no use for immigrants. The "
" of the 1920s
caused Congress to pass the
Emergency Quota Act of 1921
, restricting newcomers from Europe in any given year
to a definite quota, which was at 3% of the people of their nationality who had been living in the United States in
Immigration Act of 1924
replaced the Quota Act of 1921, cutting quotas for foreigners from 3% to 2%.
Different countries were only allowed to send an allotted number of its citizens to America every year. Japanese
were outright banned from coming to America. Canadians and Latin Americans, whose proximity made them easy
to attract for jobs when times were good and just as easy to send back home when times were not, were exempt from
The quota system caused immigration to dwindle.