Key Events, Legislation, and Organisations: Boom, Bust and Recovery

Main Events


March 4 1913 - March 4 1921

Russian Revolution of 1917

February 1917 - October 1917

The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a pair of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which dismantled the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Russian SFSR. The Emperor was forced to abdicate and the old regime was replaced by a provisional government during the first revolution of February 1917 (March in the Gregorian calendar; the older Julian calendar was in use in Russia at the time). In the second revolution, during October, the Provisional Government was removed and replaced with a Bolshevik (Communist) government.

World War One

April 6 1917 - November 11 1918


March 4 1921 - August 2 1923


Aug 3, 1923 - March 4 1929


Mar 5, 1929 - March 4 1933

Wall St. Crash

October 24 1929 - October 29 1929

First New Deal

1933 - 1934


Mar 5, 1933 - April 12 1945

Second New Deal

1935 - 1938

In the spring of 1935, responding to the setbacks in the Court, a new skepticism in Congress, and the growing popular clamour for more dramatic action, the Administration proposed or endorsed several important new initiatives. Historians refer to them as the "Second New Deal" and note that it was more liberal and more controversial than the "First New Deal" of 1933–34.

Roosevelt reelected

November 1936

Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected to a second term as president, winning in a landslide over Republican Alf Landon. Roosevelt wins every state but Maine and Vermont.

Roosevelt re-elected to third term

November 1940

In the presidential election, Democrats break with the two-term tradition and renominate Franklin D. Roosevelt for a third term. Republicans nominate Wendell L. Willkie, a public-utilities executive who shares FDR's views on the war in Europe. Franklin D. Roosevelt defeats Wendell L. Willkie by nearly 5 million popular votes.


December 1941


Apr 13, 1945 - January 20 1953

End of WWII

August 1945

Cold War begins


Mao victorious in China

October 1949

Chairman Mao declares victory in the Chinese Civil War, creating the Communist People's Republic of Chin

Korean War

25 June 1950 - 27 July 1953


Jan 21, 1953 - January 20 1961

Politics, Opposition and McCarthyism

Radio Priest


"Radio Priest" Charles Coughlin's weekly broadcast draws an average of 30-45 million listeners.

First Fireside Chat

March 1933

Franklin D. Roosevelt conducts his first "Fireside Chat," going on the radio to communicate directly with the American people. Roosevelt reassures the country that its banks are now safe for business.

Upton Sinclair publishes treatise

September 1933

Upton Sinclair publishes I, Governor of California and How I Ended Poverty: A True Story of the Future, a fictionalized political treatise that lays out the agenda of a communitarian movement Sinclair calls EPIC—End Poverty In California.

Townsend proposes Pension Plan

September 1933

Dr. Francis Townsend sends a letter to the Long Beach Press-Telegram proposing state-funded pensions for the elderly to boost consumption and employment.

Townsend Plan Incorporated

January 1934

Dr. Francis Townsend formally incorporates Old Age Revolving Pensions, Ltd., to lead the Townsend Plan movement.

Share Our Wealth Society founded

February 1934

Huey Long founds the Share Our Wealth society, advocating outright seizure of the "excess fortunes" of the rich to redistribute to the poor.

Longshoremen strike

May 1934

A West Coast longshoremen's strike, conducted with significant aid from the Communist Party, paralyzes shipping and trade in California, Oregon, and Washington. The strike ends with a victory for the longshoremen's union; cooperation between the longshoremen and West Coast Communists represent a first successful venture of the so-called "Popular Front" between Communists and liberals, which won't officially be authorized by the Comintern in Moscow until 1935.

Sinclair wins primary

August 1934

A surprising groundswell of support for Upton Sinclair's EPIC movement gives Sinclair a runaway victory in the Democratic gubernatorial primary in California.

Sinclair defeated

November 1934

Following a two-month campaign in which EPIC is subjected to ferocious attack by both Republicans and Democrats terrified by its radical communitarian agenda, Upton Sinclair is soundly defeated by conservative Republican Frank Merriam for governor of California. Sinclair writes of the experience in I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked.

Coughlin Establishes the National Union for Social Justice

November 1934

Townsend support grows

January 1935

More than 5000 Townsend Clubs nationwide together represent more than 2 million members. An estimated 25 million Americans have signed petitions asking their representatives to back the Townsend Plan in Washington.

Huey Long support grows

February 1935

Huey Long's Share Our Wealth society has expanded to 27,000 clubs nationwide, with a mailing list of 7.5 million Americans.

Huey Long assassinated

September 1935

AAA ruled unconstitutional

January 1936

In United States v. Butler, the Supreme Court rules that the Agricultural Adjustment Act is unconstitutional.

Judiciary Reform Bill proposed

February 1937

The Judicial Procedures Reform Bill was a legislative initiative proposed by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt to add more justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. Roosevelt's purpose was to obtain favorable rulings regarding New Deal legislation that the court had ruled unconstitutional.

During Roosevelt's first term the Supreme Court struck down several New Deal measures as being unconstitutional. Roosevelt sought to reverse this by changing the makeup of the court through the appointment of new additional justices who he hoped would rule his legislative initiatives did not exceed the constitutional authority of the government.

Contemporary observers broadly viewed Roosevelt's initiative as political manoeuvring. Its failure exposed the limits of Roosevelt's abilities to push forward legislation through direct public appeal. Roosevelt ultimately prevailed in establishing a majority on the court friendly to his New Deal legislation, though some scholars view Roosevelt's victory as pyrrhic.

Republicans regain Congress


In the mid-term Congressional elections, conservative Southern Democrats and Northern Republicans regain control of the House and the Senate.

Nazi Rally in NYC

February 1939

The German-American Bund stages a huge rally of fascist sympathizers supporting what they call "True Americanism" in Madison Square Garden in New York. Anti-Semitic Hitler admirer and Bund leader Fritz Kuhn calls Franklin Roosevelt "Frank Rosenfeld," the New Deal "The Jew Deal."

McCarthy takes office

January 1947

Joseph McCarthy takes office as a Republican senator from Wisconsin.1 In a primary election, McCarthy had defeated Sen. Robert La Follette Jr., son of one of the icons of American liberalism. Branding himself as “Tail Gunner Joe,” McCarthy had run a vicious, negative campaign against his opponent with accusations that La Follette was a war profiteer.

Truman Doctrine


Truman pledged to contain communism in Europe and elsewhere and impelled the US to support any nation with both military and economic aid if its stability was threatened by communism or the Soviet Union. The Truman Doctrine became the foundation of the president's foreign policy and placed the U.S. in the role of global policeman. As Foner reminds us, the Truman Doctrine "set a precedent for American assistance to anticommunist regimes throughout the world, no matter how undemocratic, and for the creation of a set of global military alliances directed against the Soviet Union".

Executive Order 9835

March 1947

The order established the first general loyalty program in the United States, designed to root out communist influence in the U.S. federal government. Truman aimed to rally public opinion behind his Cold War policies with investigations conducted under its authority. He also hoped to quiet right-wing critics who accused Democrats of being soft on communism. At the same time, he advised the Loyalty Review Board to limit the role of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to avoid a witch hunt. The program investigated over 3 million government employees, just over 300 of whom were dismissed as security risks.

Hollywood Ten

November 1947

The House of Representatives issues citations for Contempt of Congress to the Hollywood Ten—John Howard Lawson, Alvah Bessie, Herbert Biberman, Lester Cole, Edward Dmytryk, Ring Lardner Jr., Albert Maltz, Samuel Ornitz, Adrian Scott, and Dalton Trumbo. On November 25, the Motion Picture Association confirms the blacklisting of the Hollywood Ten from employment in the film industry.

Communist Party leaders arrested

July 1948

In the first attack on the legality of the Communist Party, the leaders were arrested for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government and their political intentions became negatively connotated all over America. The trials were nothing less than what was expected of the era, with the prosecution paying witnesses and jailing the defence lawyers for contempt of court to impress a jury. These trials became symbolic of the period and have been seen to mirror the ensuing McCarthy investigations.

Alger Hiss Convicted

January 1950

Alger Hiss is convicted for perjury after a jury concludes that he made false statements in denying Whittaker Chambers' allegations that the two men had known each other as Communists in the 1930s. Hiss will serve more than three years in federal prison.

Joseph McCarthy Claims Targets

February 1950

Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy gives a speech in Wheeling, Virginia, dramatically claiming, "I have in my hand a list of 205 cases of individuals who appear to be either card-carrying members or certainly loyal to the Communist Party" within the United States State Department.

McCarran Internal Security Act

September 1950

The Act required Communist organizations to register with the United States Attorney General and established the Subversive Activities Control Board to investigate persons suspected of engaging in subversive activities or otherwise promoting the establishment of a "totalitarian dictatorship," either fascist or communist. Members of these groups could not become citizens and in some cases were prevented from entering or leaving the country. Citizens found in violation could lose their citizenship in five years. The Act also contained an emergency detention statute, giving the President the authority to apprehend and detain "each person as to whom there is a reasonable ground to believe that such person probably will engage in, or probably will conspire with others to engage in, acts of espionage or sabotage."

It tightened alien exclusion and deportation laws and allowed for the detention of dangerous, disloyal, or subversive persons in times of war or "internal security emergency".

Rosenbergs convicted

March 1951

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are convicted of passing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union.

McCarthy reelected

January 1952

Press coverage, focusing mostly on McCarthy’s diatribes against his political opponents, helps McCarthy win re-election.14 He defeats Len Schmitt in the Republican primary and Democratic challenger Thomas Fairchild in the general election.

LaFollette Suicide

February 1953

Robert La Follette Jr., McCarthy’s opponent in the 1946 campaign, is found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. La Follette had told friends that he feared he might have to testify before McCarthy about Communist infiltration of the committee he chaired while he was in Congress.

Rosenbergs are exceuted

June 1953

Radulovich Story

October 1953

CBS broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow, host of the popular show “See It Now,” airs the story of the wrongful discharge of Air Force Lt. Milo Radulovich. Radulovich becomes an example of the negative consequences of McCarthy’s anti-Communist hysteria. Within a month of Murrow’s report, the Air Force reinstates Radulovich.

Murrow Reports

March 1954

On “See It Now,” Murrow reveals weaknesses in McCarthy’s bombastic rhetoric by splicing together contradictory statements from the senator’s own speeches.19 One example of McCarthy’s inflammatory nature was his insistence that the Fifth Amendment was a “shield for the guilty.”

Army hearings begin

April 1954

The Army-McCarthy hearings begin, broadcast live in their entirety by ABC television. The hearings were held for the purpose of investigating conflicting accusations between the United States Army and Senator Joseph McCarthy. The Army accused chief committee counsel Roy Cohn of pressuring the Army to give preferential treatment to G. David Schine, a former McCarthy aide and a friend of Cohn's. McCarthy counter-charged that this accusation was made in bad faith and in retaliation for his recent aggressive investigations of suspected Communists and security risks in the Army.

Joseph Welch Accuses “no sense of decency”

June 1954

Army attorney Joseph Welch, disgusted by McCarthy's attacks against his own assistant counsel, asks the senator, "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?"

McCarthy condemned

December 1954

The Senate votes 67 to 22 in favor of condemning – but not censuring – McCarthy for false accusations and his crass demeanor throughout the Army-McCarthy hearings. Vice President Richard Nixon, presiding over the Senate, strikes the word “censure” from the resolution’s title at the last minute at the behest of McCarthy’s die-hard supporters who, as author Haynes Johnson put it, “launched an effort to discredit the proceedings and diminish the meaning of what took place.”23 Not a single act of espionage or subversion was ever found by McCarthy’s subcommittee.

McCarthy dies

May 1957

War and Liberty

Selective Service Act

May 1917

An Act allowing the federal government to raise an army via conscription.

Espionage Act

June 1917

Punishes "acts of interference with foreign relations", espionage and interference with military operations.

The Lever Act

August 1917

Created the United States Food Administration and the Federal Fuel Administration.

War Revenue Act

Oct 1917

Greatly increased federal income tax rates while simultaneously lowering exemptions. Top tax bracket was raised to 67%.

Sedition Act

May 1918

Forbade the use of "disloyal or profane" language about the United States' government or war effort, or interfered with the sale of war bonds.

Palmer Raids

November 1919 - January 1920

The Palmer Raids were a series of raids in late 1919 and early 1920 by the United States Department of Justice intended to capture, arrest and deport radical leftists, especially anarchists, from the United States. Though more than 500 foreign citizens were deported, including a number of prominent leftist leaders, Palmer's efforts were largely frustrated by officials at the U.S. Department of Labor; they had authority for deportations and objected to Palmer's methods.

Debt Funding Commission

February 1922

The United States federal World War Foreign Debts Commission Act of February 9, 1922 authorized the creation of a commission, working under Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon, to negotiate repayment agreements with Great Britain and France in the aftermath of World War I.

The Commission placed the Allied debt principal to the United States at $11 billion; payments were to be made in graduated 62 annual installments; however, the accrued interest on these payments over a period of 62 years would have increased the debt to approximately $22 billion, although the U.S. did agree to lowered interest rates. Great Britain’s debt was reduced 19.7% to $4.6 billion with the interest rate reduced from 5% to 3% for the first ten years of payment to be raised to 3½% thereafter. France’s debt was reduced by 52.8% to $4 billion, without any interest for the first five years of payment. It was then to be increased gradually to 3½%.

Dawes Plan


The Dawes Plan (as proposed by the Dawes Committee, chaired by Charles G. Dawes) was an attempt in 1924 to solve the reparations problem, which had bedevilled international politics following World War I and the Treaty of Versailles.

The Allied occupation of the Ruhr industrial area contributed to the hyperinflation crisis in Germany, partially because of its disabling effect on the German economy. The plan provided for an end to the Allied occupation, and a staggered payment plan for Germany's payment of war reparations. Because the Plan resolved a serious international crisis, Dawes shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1925 for his work.

It was an interim measure and proved unworkable. The Young Plan was adopted in 1929 to replace it.

Execution of Sacco & Vanzetti

August 1927

Kellogg-Briand Pact

August 1928

Fifteen nations, including the United States, sign the Kellogg-Briand pact "outlawing" war. The unenforceable pact will be made a mockery through the rise of European fascist states in the 1930s.

Young Plan


The Young Plan was a program for settling German reparations debts after World War I written in 1929 and formally adopted in 1930. Amongst other provisions, the plan called for an international bank of settlements to handle the reparations transfers. The resulting Bank for International Settlements was duly established at the Hague Conference in January.

Between agreement and adoption of the plan came the Wall Street Crash of 1929, of which the main consequences were twofold. The American Banking system had to recall money from Europe, and cancel the credits that made the Young Plan possible. Moreover, the downfall of imports and exports affected the rest of the world. By 1933, almost two-thirds of world trade had vanished.

Under such circumstances, U.S. President Herbert Hoover issued a public statement that proposed a one-year moratorium on the payments.

Neutrality Act of 1935

August 1935

The Act imposed a general embargo on trading in arms and war materials with all parties in a war. It also declared that American citizens traveling on warring ships traveled at their own risk. The act was set to expire after six months.

Neutrality Act of 1936

February 1936

Renewed the provisions of the 1935 act for another 14 months. It also forbade all loans or credits to belligerents.

However, this act did not cover "civil wars," such as that in Spain (1936–1939), nor did it cover materials such as trucks and oil. U.S. companies such as Texaco, Standard Oil, Ford, General Motors, and Studebaker exploited this loophole to sell such items to General Franco on credit. By 1939, Franco owed these and other companies more than $100,000,000.

Neutrality Act of 1937

January 1937

Included the provisions of the earlier acts, this time without expiration date, and extended them to cover civil wars as well.[5] Furthermore, U.S. ships were prohibited from transporting any passengers or articles to belligerents, and U.S. citizens were forbidden from travelling on ships of belligerent nations.

In a concession to Roosevelt, a "cash-and-carry" provision that had been devised by his advisor Bernard Baruch was added: the President could permit the sale of materials and supplies to belligerents in Europe as long as the recipients arranged for the transport and paid immediately in cash, with the argument that this would not draw the U.S. into the conflict. Roosevelt believed that cash-and-carry would aid France and Great Britain in the event of a war with Germany, since they were the only countries that controlled the seas and were able to take advantage of the provision. The cash-and-carry clause was set to expire after two years.

House Un-American Activities Committee


It was originally created in 1938 to uncover citizens with Nazi ties within the United States. However, it has become better known for its role in investigating alleged disloyalty and subversive activities on the part of private citizens, public employees, and those organizations suspected of having ties to Communism.

Neutrality Act of 1939

November 1939

Allowed for arms trade with belligerent nations (Great Britain and France) on a cash-and-carry basis, thus in effect ending the arms embargo. The Acts of 1935 and 1937 were repealed, American citizens and ships were barred from entering war zones designated by the President, and the National Munitions Control Board (which had been created by the 1935 Neutrality Act) was charged with issuing licenses for all arms imports and exports. Arms trade without a license became a federal crime, with a penalty of up to two years in prison.

Smith Act

June 1940

An Act to prohibit certain subversive activities; to amend certain provisions of law with respect to the admission and deportation of aliens; to require the fingerprinting and registration of aliens; and for other purposes.

Approximately 215 people were indicted under the legislation, including alleged communists, Anarchists, and fascists. Prosecutions under the Smith Act continued until a series of United States Supreme Court decisions in 1957[1] reversed a number of convictions under the Act as unconstitutional. T

Congress Enacts Draft

August 1940

Congress appropriates $16 billion for defense spending and enacts the first peacetime draft in American history.

Office of Price Administration

August 1941 - May 1947

The functions of the OPA were originally to control money (price controls) and rents after the outbreak of World War II.

The OPA had the power to place ceilings on all prices except agricultural commodities, and to ration scarce supplies of other items, including tires, automobiles, shoes, nylon, sugar, gasoline, fuel oil, coffee, meats and processed foods. At the peak, almost 90% of retail food prices were frozen. It could also authorize subsidies for production of some of those commodities.

War Production Board

January 1942 - 1945

The Board supervised war production during World War II. President Franklin D. Roosevelt established it on January 16, 1942, with Executive Order 9024.

The WPB directed conversion of industries from peacetime work to war needs, allocated scarce materials, established priorities in the distribution of materials and services, and prohibited non-essential production. It rationed such commodities as gasoline, heating oil, metals, rubber, paper and plastics.

War Labor Disputes Act

June 1943

The Act allowed the federal government to seize and operate industries threatened by or under strikes that would interfere with war production, and prohibited unions from making contributions in federal elections.The legislation was hurriedly created after 400,000 coal miners, their wages significantly lowered due to high wartime inflation, struck for a $2-a-day wage increase. It was passed over Roosevelt's veto.

The war powers bestowed by the Act were first used in August 1944 when the Fair Employment Practices Commission ordered the Philadelphia Transportation Company to hire black workers. The 10,000 members of the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Employees Union (PRTEU) led a sick-out strike, now known as the Philadelphia transit strike of 1944, for six days. President Roosevelt sent 8,000 United States Army troops to the city to seize and operate the transit system, and threatened to draft any PRTEU member who did not return to the job within 48 hours.Roosevelt's actions broke the strike.

G.I. Bill of Rights

June 1944

A law that provided a range of benefits for returning World War II veterans (commonly referred to as G.I.s). Benefits included low-cost mortgages, low-interest loans to start a business, cash payments of tuition and living expenses to attend university, high school or vocational education, as well as one year of unemployment compensation. It was available to every veteran who had been on active duty during the war years for at least one-hundred twenty days and had not been dishonorably discharged.[1] By 1956, roughly 2.2 million veterans had used the G.I. Bill education benefits in order to attend colleges or universities, and an additional 5.6 million used these benefits for some kind of training program.

The G.I. Bill was a major factor in the creation of the American middle class, but may have increased racial inequality because many of the benefits of the G.I. bill were not granted to non-Caucasian soldiers.

Taft-Hartley Act

June 1947

The amendments enacted in Taft–Hartley added a list of prohibited actions, or unfair labor practices, on the part of unions to the NLRA, which had previously only prohibited unfair labor practices committed by employers.

The Taft–Hartley Act prohibited jurisdictional strikes, wildcat strikes, solidarity or political strikes, secondary boycotts, secondary and mass picketing, closed shops, and monetary donations by unions to federal political campaigns. It also required union officers to sign non-communist affidavits with the government. Union shops were heavily restricted, and states were allowed to pass right-to-work laws that outlawed closed union shops. Furthermore, the executive branch of the federal government could obtain legal strikebreaking injunctions if an impending or current strike imperiled the national health or safety

Berlin Airlift

June 1948

The Soviets blockade West Berlin, leaving the city—which is surrounded on all sides by Communist East Germany—without access to food and supplies. The Truman administration organizes a military airlift to supply the besieged city. The Berlin Airlift will last for nearly a year, delivering 1.5 million tons of supplies via 200,000 separate flights before the blockade is lifted in May 1949.


Cotton Prices Peak

April 1920

Cotton prices at New Orleans peak at 42 cents a pound, prompting Southern farmers to plant the largest crop in history. The resulting overproduction causes a collapse in prices, with cotton falling to less than 10 cents a pound by early 1921. Cotton farmers will toil in near-depression conditions throughout most of the 1920s and 30s.

Budget and Accounting Act

June 1921

Landmark legislation that established the framework for the modern federal budget. Approved to provide a national budget system and an independent audit of government accounts. This act meant that for the first time, the president would be required to submit an annual budget for the entire federal government to Congress.The object of the budget bill was to consolidate the spending agencies in both the executive and legislative branches of the government.

Grain Futures Act

September 1921

A law involving the regulation of trading in certain commodity futures, and causing the establishment of the Grain Futures Administration, a predecessor organization to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Capper-Volstead Act

February 1922

The act authorized various kinds of agricultural producers to form voluntary co-operative associations for purposes of producing, handling and marketing farm products - that is, it exempted such associations from the application of the antitrust laws.

Fordney-McCumber Tariff

September 1922

A law that raised American tariffs on many imported goods in order to protect factories and farms. For agriculture, the tariff raised the purchasing power of the farmers by 2%, with other industries raising the price of some farm equipment. In September 1926, economic statistics were released by farming groups that revealed the rising cost of farm machinery. For example, the average cost of a harness rose from $46 in 1918 to $75 in 1926.

Agricultural Credits Act


The Agricultural Credits Act of 1923 was one of several measures attempted to relieve the stubborn recession in the farm economy of the 1920s. It was part of the effort to develop special mechanisms for providing credit and loans specifically to farmers.

The act established a network of twelve Federal Intermediate Credit Banks in different regions of the country (corresponding to the twelve regional banks in the Federal Reserve System), each capitalized at $5 million, which were authorized to lend money to farm cooperative associations, which then relent it to farmers. Although helpful to some farmers, the new credit measures did not, historians argue, significantly address what many agree was the most important cause of the agricultural crisis -- overproduction.

Unemployment in 1929 at 3.2%


Farm Relief Bill

June 1929

Under the administration of Herbert Hoover, the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1929 established the Federal Farm Board with a revolving fund of half a billion dollars. The original act was sponsored by Hoover in an attempt to stop the downward spiral of crop prices by seeking to buy, sell and store agricultural surpluses or by generously lending money to farm organizations.

The Federal Farm Board's purchase of surplus could not keep up with the production-as farmers realized that they could just sell the government their crops, they re-implemented the use of fertilizers and other techniques to increase production. Overall, the deflation could not be countered because of a massive fault in the bill-there was no production limit. Had there been a production limit, the deflation might have been helped somewhat. The funds appropriated were exhausted eventually and the losses of the farmers kept rising.

Hoover's Public Works

January 1930

Hoover instituted a vigorous public works program in which he authorized $635 million for construction projects.

Unemployment in 1930 at 8.9%


Hawley-Smoot Tariff

March 1930

"An Act To provide revenue, to regulate commerce with foreign countries, to encourage the industries of the United States, to protect American labor, and for other purposes."

The dutiable tariff level under the act was the highest in the U.S. in 100 years, exceeded by a small margin by the Tariff of 1828.The great majority of economists then and ever since view the Act, and the ensuing retaliatory tariffs by America's trading partners, as responsible for reducing American exports and imports by more than half.

Hoover Dam construction begins

September 1930

The Hoover Dam in Navada was dedicated, marking the start of construction. It was completed in 1936.

National Credit Corporation


Got the largest banks in the country, at that time, to provide lending agencies that would be able to give banks, on the brink of foreclosure, money that could be used for loans.

Unemployment in 1931 at 16.3%


President's Organisation on Unemployment Relief

August 1931

Hoover established the President's Organization on Unemployment Relief to stimulate and coordinate employment and relief activities.

Reconstruction Finance Corporation

January 1932 - 1957

A government corporation which provided financial support to state and local governments and made loans to banks, railroads, mortgage associations and other businesses. Its aim was to boost the country’s confidence and help banks return to performing daily functions after the start of the Great Depression. It continued to operate through the New Deal where it became more prominent and through World War II.

Unemployment in 1932 at 24.1%


Agricultural Adjustment Act

1933 - January 1936

Reduced agricultural production by paying farmers subsidies not to plant on part of their land and to kill off excess livestock. Its purpose was to reduce crop surplus and therefore effectively raise the value of crops.

In an effort to reduce agricultural surpluses, the government paid farmers and ranchers hundreds of millions of dollars to destroy crops and livestock. Oranges were being soaked with kerosene to prevent their consumption and corn was being burned as fuel because it was so cheap.There were many people, however, as well as livestock in different places starving to death.

Ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Unemployment in 1933 at 24.9%


Civilian Conservation Corps

April 1933 - 1942

a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men from relief families as part of the New Deal. Originally for young men ages 18–23, it was eventually expanded to young men ages 17–28. It was a major part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal that provided unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state and local governments. The CCC was designed to provide jobs for young men, to relieve families who had difficulty finding jobs during the Great Depression in the United States while at the same time implementing a general natural resource conservation program in every state and territory. Maximum enrolment at any one time was 300,000; in nine years 3 million young men participated in the CCC, which provided them with shelter, clothing, and food, together with a small wage of $30 a month ($25 of which had to be sent home to their families).

Principal benefits of an individual's enrollment in the CCC included improved physical condition, heightened morale, and increased employability. Implicitly, the CCC also led to a greater public awareness and appreciation of the outdoors and the nation's natural resources; and the continued need for a carefully planned, comprehensive national program for the protection and development of natural resources.

Federal Emergency Relief Administration

May 1933 - December 1935

FERA under Hoover gave loans to the states to operate relief programs. FERA's main goal was alleviating household unemployment by creating new unskilled jobs in local and state government. Jobs were more expensive than direct cash payments, but were psychologically more beneficial to the unemployed. From May 1933 until it closed in December, 1935, FERA gave states and localities $3.1 billion. FERA provided work for over 20 million people and developed facilities on public lands across the country.

Truth In Securities Act

May 1933

The 1933 Act was the first major federal legislation to regulate the offer and sale of securities. The '33 Act is based upon a philosophy of disclosure, meaning that the goal of the law is to require issuers to fully disclose all material information that a reasonable shareholder would require in order to make up his or her mind about the potential investment.

Creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority

May 1933

The TVA was created to provide navigation, flood control, electricity generation, fertilizer manufacturing, and economic development in the Tennessee Valley, a region particularly affected by the Great Depression. TVA was envisioned not only as a provider, but also as a regional economic development agency that would use federal experts and electricity to rapidly modernize the region's economy and society.

Even by Depression standards, the Tennessee Valley was economically dismal in 1933. Thirty percent of the population was affected by malaria, and the average income was only $639 per year, with some families surviving on as little as $100 per year. Much of the land had been farmed too hard for too long, eroding and depleting the soil. Crop yields had fallen along with farm incomes. The best timber had been cut, with another 10% of forests being burnt each year.[7]

TVA was designed to modernize the region, using experts and electricity to combat human and economic problems.[8] TVA developed fertilizers, taught farmers ways to improve crop yields and helped replant forests, control forest fires, and improve habitat for fish and wildlife. The most dramatic change in Valley life came from TVA-generated electricity. Electric lights and modern home appliances made life easier and farms more productive. Electricity also drew industries into the region, providing desperately needed jobs. TVA successfully introduced new agricultural methods into traditional farming communities by blending in and finding local champions.

Glass-Steagall Act

June 1933

"An Act to provide for the safer and more effective use of the assets of banks, to regulate interbank control, to prevent the undue diversion of funds into speculative operations, and for other purposes."

The entire Act was long-criticized for limiting competition and thereby encouraging an inefficient banking industry. Supporters of the Act cite it as a central cause for an unprecedented period of stability in the US banking system during the ensuing four or, in some accounts, five decades following 1933.

Gold Reserve Act

January 1934

The Gold Reserve Act required that all gold and gold certificates held by the Federal Reserve be surrendered and vested in the sole title of the United States Department of the Treasury.

Unemployment in 1934 at 21.7%


The creation of the Federal Housing Administration

June 1934

The FHA sets standards for construction and underwriting and insures loans made by banks and other private lenders for home building. The goals of this organization are to improve housing standards and conditions, provide an adequate home financing system through insurance of mortgage loans, and to stabilize the mortgage market.

Unemployment in 1935 at 20.1%


Resettlement Administration

May 1935 - January 1937

The Resettlement Administration (RA) was a New Deal U.S. federal agency that, between April 1935 and December 1936, relocated struggling urban and rural families to communities planned by the federal government.
The new organization had four divisions: Rural Rehabilitation, Rural Resettlement, Land Utilization, and Suburban Resettlement.[2]

However, Tugwell's goal of moving 650,000 people from 100,000,000 acres (400,000 km2) of agriculturally exhausted, worn-out land was unpopular among the majority in Congress.[3] This goal seemed socialistic to some and threatened to deprive influential farm owners of their tenant workforce.[3] The RA was thus left with enough resources to relocate only a few thousand people from 9,000,000 acres (36,000 km2) and build several greenbelt cities,[3] which planners admired as models for a cooperative future that never arrived.[3]

Wagner Act

July 1935

An act to diminish the causes of labor disputes burdening or obstructing interstate and foreign commerce, to create a National Labor Relations Board, and for other purposes.

Social Security Act

August 1935

The act was an attempt to limit what was seen as dangers in the modern American life, including old age, poverty, unemployment, and the burdens on widows and fatherless children.

The Act provided benefits to retirees and the unemployed, and a lump-sum benefit at death. Payments to current retirees are financed by a payroll tax on current workers' wages, half directly as a payroll tax and half paid by the employer. The act also gave money to states to provide assistance to aged individuals, for unemployment insurance, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, Maternal and Child Welfare, public health services , and the blind.

Revenue Act

August 1935

The Act raised federal income tax on higher income levels, by introducing the "Wealth Tax". It was a progressive tax that took up to 75 percent of the highest incomes.

The 1935 Act also was popularly known at the time as the "Soak the Rich" tax.

Wealth Tax

August 1935

Congress passes Franklin D. Roosevelt's "wealth tax," a largely symbolic measure that raises the top tax rate to 79%. Still, more than 95% of American families pay no income tax at all.

Unemployment in 1936 at 16.9%


Unemployment in 1937 at 14.3%


"Roosevelt Recession"

January 1937 - December 1938

By the spring of 1937, production, profits, and wages had regained their 1929 levels. Unemployment remained high, but it was slightly lower than the 25% rate seen in 1933. The American economy took a sharp downturn in mid-1937, lasting for 13 months through most of 1938. Industrial production declined almost 30 percent and production of durable goods fell even faster.

Unemployment jumped from 14.3% in 1937 to 19.0% in 1938.[1] Manufacturing output fell by 37% from the 1937 peak and was back to 1934 levels.[2] Producers reduced their expenditures on durable goods, and inventories declined, but personal income was only 15% lower than it had been at the peak in 1937. In most sectors, hourly earnings continued to rise throughout the recession, which partly compensated for the reduction in the number of hours worked. As unemployment rose, consumers expenditures declined, thereby leading to further cutbacks in production

West Coast Hotel v. Parrish

March 1937

In West Coast Hotel v. Parrish, the Supreme Court upholds a Washington state minimum-wage law. Conservative justice Owen Roberts, who previously sided with the anti-New Deal bloc on the court, votes with the majority, creating a new pro-New Deal majority and ensuring that government interventions into the economy will no longer be overturned as unconstitutional.

Unemployment in 1938 at 19%


Unemployment in 1939 at 17.2%


National Highway Commission

April 1941

Fearing a postwar economic depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appoints a National Interregional Highway Committee to investigate the need for a system of national highways. The committee recommends the creation of 63,000 kilometers of highway over the next twenty years.


May 1947

Levitt and Sons announce a plan to build some 2,000 rental homes for GIs in the Island Trees region of Long Island, New York. Within two days of the announcement, half of all proposed homes are rented.

Baby Boom Peaks


The "baby boom" peaks; the birthrate in the United States is 25 births per 1,000 people. In 1957 alone, 4.3 million babies are born—one every seven seconds. Death rates plummet during this decade as well, largely due to medical innovations. By 1957, the average life expectancy is 70 years for whites and 64 for blacks (in comparison, life expectancy in 1920 was 55 years for whites and 45 years for blacks).

Prohibition, Immigration, Race, and Gender

Return of the Klan


"In 1915, white Protestant nativists organized a revival of the Ku Klux Klan near Atlanta, Georgia . . . This second generation of the Klan was not only anti-black but also took a stand against Roman Catholics, Jews, foreigners and organized labor . . . At its peak in the 1920s, Klan membership exceeded 4 million people nationwide."

Roosevelt's 'hyphenated American' speech

October 1915

During World War I the issue arose of the primary political loyalty of ethnic groups with close ties to Europe, especially German Americans and also Irish Americans. Former President Theodore Roosevelt in speaking to the largely Irish Catholic Knights of Columbus at Carnegie Hall on Columbus Day 1915, asserted that,

There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism. When I refer to hyphenated Americans, I do not refer to naturalized Americans. Some of the very best Americans I have ever known were naturalized Americans, Americans born abroad. But a hyphenated American is not an American at all … The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities, an intricate knot of German-Americans, Irish-Americans, English-Americans, French-Americans, Scandinavian-Americans or Italian-Americans, each preserving its separate nationality, each at heart feeling more sympathy with Europeans of that nationality, than with the other citizens of the American Republic … There is no such thing as a hyphenated American who is a good American. The only man who is a good American is the man who is an American and nothing else.

Immigration Act

February 1917

This act added to the number of undesirables banned from entering the country, including but not limited to “homosexuals”, “idiots”, “feeble-minded persons”, "criminals", “epileptics”, “insane persons”, alcoholics, “professional beggars”, all persons “mentally or physically defective”, polygamists, and anarchists. Furthermore, it barred all immigrants over the age of sixteen who were illiterate. The most controversial part of the law was the section that designated an "Asiatic Barred Zone", a region that included much of Asia and the Pacific Islands from which people could not immigrate. Previously, only the Chinese had been excluded from admission to the country.

Lynching of Robert Praeger

April 1918

Robert Paul Prager (1888–1918) was a German coal miner living in Collinsville, Illinois, who was lynched by a mob several hundred people strong. Twelve men were tried for his murder but were subsequently acquitted. Prager was killed because of anti-German sentiment during the first World War and because he was accused of holding socialist beliefs.

18th Amendment

January 1919 - December 1933

Effectively established the prohibition of alcoholic beverages in the United States by declaring illegal the production, transport and sale of alcohol (though not the consumption or private possession). Its ratification was certified on January 16, 1919, with the amendment taking effect on January 17, 1920. Repealed by the 21st Amendment in December 1933.

As the nationally-famous Baltimore journalist, H. L. Mencken, observed: “There is not less drunkenness in the Republic, but more. There is not less crime, but more. There is not less insanity, but more. The cost of government is not smaller, but vastly greater. Respect for law has not increased, but diminished.”

Volstead Act

October 1919

An Act to prohibit intoxicating beverages, and to regulate the manufacture, production, use, and sale of high-proof spirits for other than beverage purposes, and to ensure an ample supply of alcohol and promote its use in scientific research and in the development of fuel, dye, and other lawful industries

More Urban than Rural


The United States Census reports, for first time, that more Americans live in urban areas than in rural areas. However, "urban" is defined as any town with more than 2,500 people.

19th Amendment

August 1920

The Nineteenth Amendment (Amendment XIX) to the United States Constitution prohibits any United States citizen from being denied the right to vote on the basis of sex.

Garvey Conference

August 1 1920

Charismatic black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican immigrant, convenes the first International Convention of the Negro Peoples of the World in New York's Madison Square Garden.

Emergency Quota Act

May 1921

Added two new features to American immigration law: numerical limits on immigration from Europe and the use of a quota system for establishing those limits.

The Emergency Quota Act restricted the number of immigrants admitted from any country annually to 3% of the number of residents from that same country living in the United States as of the U.S. Census of 1890.

Tulsa Race Riot

May 31 1921 - June 1 1921

A large-scale, racially motivated conflict in which a group of white people attacked the black community of Tulsa, Oklahoma. It resulted in the Greenwood District, also known as 'the Black Wall Street' and the wealthiest black community in the United States, being burned to the ground.

During the 16 hours of the assault, more than 800 people were admitted to local white hospitals with injuries (the two black hospitals were burned down), and police arrested and detained more than 6,000 black Greenwood residents at three local facilities.[2]:108–109 An estimated 10,000 blacks were left homeless, and 35 city blocks composed of 1,256 residences were destroyed by fire. The official count of the dead by the Oklahoma Department of Vital Statistics was 39, but other estimates of black fatalities vary from 55 to about 300.

Sheppard-Towner Act

November 1921

Provided federal funding for maternity and child care.

The Sheppard–Towner Act was the first venture of the federal government into social security legislation and the first major legislation that came to exist after the full enfranchisement of women. This marked the political and economic power of women’s issues since the bill was passed due to pressure from the newly formed Women's Joint Congressional Committee. Before its passage, most of the expansion in public health programs occurred at the state and local levels. Many factors helped its passage including the environment of the Progressive Era.

Cleveland Speakeasies


Cleveland had an estimated 3,000 illegal speakeasies, compared to the 1,200 legal bars it had in 1919.

Rosewood Massacre

January 1923

Trouble began when white men from several nearby towns lynched a black Rosewood resident because of unsupported accusations that a white woman in nearby Sumner had been beaten and possibly raped by a black drifter. When the town's black citizens rallied together to defend themselves against further attacks, a mob of several hundred whites combed the countryside hunting for black people, and burned almost every structure in Rosewood. Survivors from the town hid for several days in nearby swamps until they were evacuated by train and car to larger towns. Although state and local authorities were aware of the violence, no arrests were made for what happened in Rosewood. The town was abandoned by its former black residents; none ever moved back.

Adkins v. Children's Hospital


The Supreme Court once again changes its policy towards women's labor laws with the Adkins v. Children's Hospital case. It strikes down a Washington D.C. law from 1918 that guaranteed working women and children a minimum wage in the district. In the decision, Justice Sutherland recognizes that individuals do not possess an absolute freedom to make contracts, but that the District of Columbia law is an unconstitutional "price-fixing" measure that violates citizens' Fifth Amendment right to life, liberty, and property.4

Ford Motor Company

January 9 1924

The market capitalization of Ford Motor Company exceeds $1 billion.

Johnson–Reed Act

May 1924

Limited the annual number of immigrants who could be admitted from any country to 2% of the number of people from that country who were already living in the United States in 1890, down from the 3% cap set by the Immigration Restriction Act of 1921, according to the Census of 1890.

The City on a Still


Within five years after Prohibition was imposed there were over 100,000 speakeasies in New York City alone, leading many to begin calling New York the “City on a Still.”

Scopes Trial

July 1925

the Scopes Monkey Trial, was an American legal case in 1925 in which a substitute high school teacher, John Scopes, was accused of violating Tennessee's Butler Act, which made it unlawful to teach human evolution in any state-funded school.

Scopes was found guilty and fined $100 (equivalent to $1,345 in 2015), but the verdict was overturned on a technicality. The trial served its purpose of drawing intense national publicity, as national reporters flocked to Dayton to cover the big-name lawyers who had agreed to represent each side. William Jennings Bryan, three-time presidential candidate, argued for the prosecution, while Clarence Darrow, the famed defense attorney, spoke for Scopes. The trial publicized the Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy, which set Modernists, who said evolution was not inconsistent with religion,[2] against Fundamentalists, who said the word of God as revealed in the Bible took priority over all human knowledge. The case was thus seen as both a theological contest and a trial on whether modern science regarding the creation–evolution controversy should be taught in schools.

Klansmen March

August 1925

Forty thousand Ku Klux Klansmen march on Washington, their white-hooded procession filling Pennsylvania Avenue.

David Stephenson convicted

November 1925

David Stephenson, a Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, was convicted forthe rape and murder of Madge Cberholter on November 14, 1925. Stephenson was also responsible for many other rapes and murders of young girls.

The Women of the KKK


The Woman of the Ku Klux Klan was founded in Coxsackie, New York in 1927. In New York it was estimated that 8,000 women belonged to the Klan. Following this, Klans for young children began to appear.

Mae West

April 1927

Risqué entertainer Mae West is found guilty of obscenity by a New York court and sentenced to ten days in jail.

Buck vs. Bell

May 1927

Buck v. Bell is a decision of the United States Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that a state statute permitting compulsory sterilization of the unfit, including the intellectually disabled, "for the protection and health of the state" did not violate the United States Constitution.

The effect of Buck v. Bell was to legitimize eugenic sterilization laws in the United States as a whole. While many states already had sterilization laws on their books, their use was erratic and effects practically non-existent in every state except for California. After Buck v. Bell, dozens of states added new sterilization statutes, or updated their constitutionally non-functional ones already enacted, with statutes which more closely mirrored the Virginia statute upheld by the Court.

The Collapse of the KKK


Due to the numerous scandals the KKK's leaders had been embroiled in since the mid-1920s, the Second Klan collapsed in membership numbers.

Liver Cirrhosis decreases


Deaths in men dropped from 29.5 per 100,000 in 1911 to 10.7 per 100,000 in 1929.

St. Valentine's Day Massacre

February 1929

In the "Saint Valentine's Day Massacre," the single bloodiest incident in a decade-long turf war between rival Chicago mobsters fighting to control the lucrative bootlegging trade, members of Al Capone's gang murder six followers of rival Bugs Moran.

Indian Reorganisation Act

June 1934

The Indian Reorganization Act was the centerpiece of what has been often called the "Indian New Deal." The major goal was to reverse the traditional goal of assimilation of Indians into American society, and to strengthen, encourage and perpetuate the tribes and their historic traditions and culture. The Act also restored to Indians the management of their assets--land and mineral rights-–and included provisions intended to create a sound economic foundation for the inhabitants of Indian reservations.

USA rejects Jews

June 1939

Passenger ship St. Louis, containing 907 Jewish refugees, begins its journey back to Europe after the United States refuses to grant it permission to dock.

Executive Order 8802

June 1941

Signed to prohibit racial discrimination in the national defense industry. It was the first federal action, though not a law, to promote equal opportunity and prohibit employment discrimination in the United States.

Executive Order 9066

February 1942

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066, which gives the military the authority to evacuate Japanese nationals and Japanese-American citizens from the West Coast. The Order sets the stage for Japanese internment.

Little Tokyo

June 1942

Twentieth Century Fox releases Little Tokyo, U.S.A., a film in which Japanese Americans are portrayed as a "vast army of volunteer spies."

Taylor arrest

May 1948

Glenn Taylor, Progressive Party candidate for Vice President on Henry Wallace's ticket, is arrested in Alabama for violating segregation laws by attempting to hold an integrated political rally. Taylor's jailor is Birmingham police commissioner Bull Connor, who will later became notorious for unleashing attack dogs on peaceful civil rights protestors associated with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Shelley v. Kraemer

May 1948

In Shelley v. Kraemer, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that a state cannot enforce any restrictive covenant that would prohibit a person from owning property on the basis of race. Such private covenants, the Justices rule, are legal, but the enforcement of such agreements violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Executive Order 9981

July 1948

President Truman signs Executive Order 9981, ending racial segregation of the armed forces.

Working Wives


Roughly 21% of all American wives are employed outside of the home.