Write an essay in which you explain the trajectory of political economy in the U.S. over the course of the 1910s and 1920s.

Published by Jeannie R. Ferrell

Nov 17, 2022


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Midterm for The United States, 1914-1945
(due at the beginning of class, Thursday, October 27; Directions: Answer both of the questions below. Each essay should run about 4-5 pages. Be sure to cite the readings for the course.
1. During Woodrow Wilson’s first term in office, Congress passed legislation regulating the economy that was unprecedented in its scope and depth, and that suggested to many people that a new era was beginning in which the federal government would play a more active role in directing the economy with the goal of creating a more equitable and harmonious society. During WW I, the government, in partnership with the labor movement and the business community, managed the economy to a far greater degree than it had ever before, which gave many Progressives further hope that a new era of cooperation between capital and labor had arrived. Yet the 1920s were marked by the dominance of business in the economy, with government acting more as the handmaiden, than the regulator of business, and with the labor movement in steep decline.
Write an essay in which you explain the trajectory of political economy in the U.S. over the course of the 1910s and 1920s. In particular, you should consider to what extent the expanding consumer economy of the 1920s played a role in securing corporate hegemony, even as most of the population saw its economic position either decline or improve very little. But you should keep in mind there are many more factors – such as the backlash against the government-managed economy of World War I, and the role of the Red Scare in weakening the labor movement – that will help you account for the course of political economy between 1913 and 1929.
2. The period 1917-1929 was marked by intense ethnic, racial, cultural, religious, and, for a time, class, conflict. It was also a time of profound social and cultural change, although some of the most salient changes, such as the development of a consumer culture and the loosening of sexual strictures, were already at least partially evident before World War I.
Write an essay in which you describe these conflicts and changes and show how and why they came about, and then go on to explain why many of these conflicts seem to be on the decline by the late 1920s. Among the issues you should discuss are the race riots of the war years and 1919, Prohibition, the Red Scare, the battle over the teaching of evolution, the widespread appeal of the Ku Klux Klan, immigration restriction, and, more generally, the reaction against the growing influence of non-WASPs and modern values.
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