United States History – From Reconstruction to the Second World War

From Reconstruction to the First World War

After the assassination of Lincoln by an irreducible Southerner, the North imposed the abolition of slavery through military occupation, granting citizenship and civil and political rights to the black population (13th, 14th and 15th amendments), but without assigning land to it. The Republican party expanded in the South mainly thanks to former slaves, provoking the reactions of whites with even violent organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan. In 1867 the reconstruction based on the economic leadership of the North allied with the Republican party began. The advancement of the border was favored by the development of the railway network, with the consequent impetus of the steel industry. Above all, an economic integration of the country was favored with the formation of a national market, which marginalized the social classes linked to politics and the local economy (professionals, skilled workers of the North-East) to favor new men who created enormous industrial empires from scratch, drawing labor from an underclass formed by immigrants from Europe. Native Americans were excluded from this verticalized society who, except for a few episodes (massacre of General Custer’s column at Little Big Horn, 1876), were confined to reserves, and also the former slaves of the South, which the white elite progressively deprived of their rights. politicians (Jim Crow Laws, 1887). The integrated market system affected the small peasants of the great plains, whose rebellion through the People’s party (1891) was unsuccessful. The post-1880 immigration wave, made up of Italians and Poles and other Eastern Europeans, many of them Jewish, constituted a reservoir of cheap unskilled labor and a mass of maneuvering for political corruption. Furthermore, the American Federation of Labor (AFL) organized skilled workers and rejected any class appeal, so that the American socialist movement (Socialist party of America, formed in 1901 by EV Debs) never took the reins of the labor movement. With the presidency of W. McKinley (1896) monopoly capitalism reached its peak with tycoons such as A. Carnegie in steel, N. Rockefeller in oil, BH Hill in railways and P. Morgan in finance. ● A progressive movement advocating reforms in favor of popular participation and modernizing efficiency expressed by the middle class responded to monopoly capitalism and the corruption deriving from the mixture of politics and business. The progressive drive was embodied in T. Roosevelt, president from 1901 to 1909, in favor of trusts, but also of their regulation in favor of consumer rights (Pure food and drugs, 1905), as well as openly expansionist with the policy of the big stick (➔ # 10132;) in foreign policy (Cuban war with occupation of Puerto Rico and the Philippines; annexation of Hawaii; constitution of the independent state of Panama in which to build the canal of the same name). In the presidential elections of 1912, Roosevelt founded the Progressive party against the republican WH Taft and the democrat W. Wilson, expression of the ethical and individualistic progressivism that moved against the trusts, which prevailed. Despite a series of reform laws, such as the one that put monetary policy in order in 1913 by establishing the Federal reserve system, Wilson’s two presidencies were marked above all by foreign policy, both on the occasion of the Mexican Revolution and, once the proclaimed neutrality was overcome, in the First World War, with the intervention of 1917 which was decisive both militarily and economically. At the Versailles Peace Conference, Wilson sought to use his position of strength to get a peace based on his 14 points, culminating in the proposed creation of the League of Nations, being accepted.

From the ‘red fear’ to the Second World War

However, the ‘red fear’, which developed in 1919-20 following the Russian Revolution, produced a conservative return that overwhelmed Wilson, hitting hard even the AFL union in its effort to sensitize steel workers and not sparing the persecution of communists and anarchists. (the Industrial Workers of the Words union, the conviction of N. Sacco and B. Vanzetti in 1921). The 1920s were marked by conservative elements with moralistic traits such as prohibition (1919) and nativism (anti-immigrant laws and the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan). At the same time, however, there was an economic boom, driven by the consumer goods industries, advertising and the entertainment industry. The woman (who had been granted the right to vote in 1920) was pushed into the world of work, there were changes in the family and in morals and entertainment (music, cinema, sport, fashion) entered daily life. GDP, average per capita income and industrial production increased on the basis of self-regulation and market agreements between consortium companies (trade associations); the role of mediator between the various interests was played by the government, according to HC Hoover’s thinking. C. Coolidge, which had severely repressed the strikes. His successor was precisely Hoover, who however found himself facing the unexpected crisis of 1929 which was combined with the speculative effects of the boom on the stock market that had lasted since 1926, the decline of the textile and coal industries, and agricultural overproduction. ● Linked to his idea of ​​arbiter government above the parties, Hoover did not undertake a policy of government aid and during the ‘great depression’ his power wasted until his defeat in the 1932 presidential elections to Democrat FD Roosevelt. At the beginning of his mandate with the collapsing country, Roosevelt, convened Congress in extraordinary session and prevented the collapse of the banking system, he launched his New Deal program which invested the federal government with the task of intervening in stimulating economic activity and incentivizing individuals. On this basis, agencies such as the Public Works Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps acted, the latter aimed at young people. Overall, the New Deal initially remained faithful to the principle of cooperation between economic and social groups, albeit led by the state, and with the National Recovery Ad; ministration (NRA) sought to revitalize industrial prices and production with the ‘Fair Competition Codes ‘of the sector, which divided the market between companies on the basis of agreements between companies, trade unions and the government. But in 1935 a further initiative was needed in a progressive and Keynesian sense with the Works project administration, social security and the progressiveness of the tax system and control over large holding companies. Reaching the peak of popularity in the 1936 elections with the support of the middle class, the policy of the New Deal experienced a crisis starting the following year, in which the Supreme Court invalidated some provisions that were not shared even by the conservatives of the Democratic Party., impressed by the strikes that the industrial unions, federated in the Congress of Industrial Organization (CIO), had managed to organize in the steel and automotive industries. Roosevelt reaffirmed the super partes character of the government and concluded the New Deal policy in 1938 with the Fair Labor Standard Act, which banned labor juvenile and set minimum wages in industry.

United States History - From Reconstruction to the Second World War