The Most Popular Movements of 1919

America First

             The twentieth century demonstrated that the unionization of common workers against the ownership of industries they were striking gave strength to that the word and power of the many can overwhelm the will of the elite. Workers lobbied and succeeded in the obtaining of shorter working days and increased wages. This can be examined through the coal and steel strikes of 1919 and how they both played their specific parts in the betterment of working conditions for the future of American workers. These strikes on one hand were successful in the obtainment of sanctions like better working conditions and shorter working weeks, however, this forced the common person now more than ever to be heavily involved with their ideologies of conservatism and liberal idea. Conservative and liberal ideas where clashing at this time in American history as well, throughout the century especially in the first fifty years, these conflicting ideologies led Americans to decide on issues like the involvement in wars, building projects, economical situations, and tax distribution. An example of this is the establishment of the America First party in the year of 1943. This political party is conservatively established based on putting the country of America and all-American civilians first over every other person and problem in the world. This party was against the involvement in the second world war and deliberately stated that the involvement in other countries wars should not be the priority of America and its people and that only domestic situations should be dealt with in America over the issues of others. This conservative America first attitude and its underlying ideology of the purity and fortune of the United States can also be the baking of why some individuals within the United States reverted to racist action towards minorities within the country to conserve this pure American identity.


           America in the twentieth century had faced a plethora of impediments sociologically, which undoubtedly exhibited the truth of just how racist a decent number of white individuals were towards the African Americans living in the communities along-side them throughout the century which unfortunately continues in American society today. African Americans were subject to harsh conditions within the United States not only from blatantly racist acts like lynching’s and beatings from members of the ruthless Ku Klux Klan, but African Americans also dealt with governmental laws that were implemented onto them based off the color of their skin. These laws were known as the “Jim Crow Laws” based on the cartoon misrepresentation of an African American man named “Jim Crow” who is depicted with brown skin and mocking features of African Americans based on racial stereotypes. These laws that were placed on African Americans during this time restricted African Americans from integrating with white Americans living within the country. Some of these laws for example did not allow African Americans to go to the same schools as whites, not drink from the same fountains, use the same bathrooms, eat at the same restaurants, or shop at the same stores. African American people were also subject to living in designated ghettos in certain communities away from the rest of the white communities. These different implementations on American society within the twentieth century show the extent to which the country was trying to progress but at the same time exemplifies the way in which the country was and, in some cases, still is tied to its old identity and ways of living. These popular movements within the century at this time in American history like the reform of work within the country is an example of the nation taking one step in the right direction however the examples of the racist and radical notions of the unpopular movements to the conservation of the nations white dominated culture keeps the progression of the nation to a standstill which I time has developed to change but hints of these racist views still remain in American society today.

The Eugenics Movement

           The eugenics movement in America is often overshadowed by the enormous losses of the Holocaust in Nazi controlled Europe. Although, before Nazis changed the view of eugenics the movement was popular across Europe and America. In America, for the first half of the twentieth century, people with “superior” genes were encouraged to reproduced while those with less desirable attributes were discouraged from procreation and sometimes sterilized. The idea that people with desired characteristic had “positive eugenics” perpetuated the stereotypes that oppressed people with mental illnesses, African Americans, and other groups of people. There were also monetary stakes involved; tax payers were contributing to the institutions that supported the struggling members of society. Therefore, the elimination of “unfit” members of society was economically beneficial to most of the country. The eugenics movement was more than just an ideology, it was a scientific field. Doctors were exploring the science through testing and sterilization; those who fell victim to this were mostly poor people, African Americans, and people with disabilities.

The Peace Movement

          One of the most popular social movements of the twentieth century was the Peace Movement. Following World War I many Americans supported isolationism that would decrease the chances of the country being involved in another war. The most influential and well known organizations of the movement was the Woman’s Peace Party. The party was fiercely opposed to the first World War and constantly promoting anti war ideas throughout America. The founders of the Woman’s Peace Party were Jane Addams, Carrie Chapman Catt, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Crystal Eastman. The party was formed on January 10, 1915 in direct protest of the Great War and continued their work until after the war ended in 1920. When the war had begun in 1914 the organization immediately took a stance against the war, using their network to push members of Congress to support peace. The Woman’s Peace Party hosted events such as the Woman’s Peace Parade, the 1915 International Congress of Women, and countless conventions to promote their agenda. The Woman’s Peace Party was also in frequent contact with President Woodrow Wilson over the course of his presidency in an effort to prevent him from inserting America into the war. Another anti war attempt was Henry Ford’s Peace Ship. Despite Ford’s invitations being sent out to prominent Americans to join him on the journey to Europe, most of the people in attendance were low profile advocates and reporters. The Peace Ship was viewed as a failure because of arguing between activists and an influenza outbreak. The ship continued despite the departure of Henry Ford soon after the ship landed in Europe. Those still on board held peace conferences across the continent, but the work was overshadowed by the bad press at the beginning of the journey.