United States History Spring Semester 1921-1941

  • Washington Naval Conference

    international conference called by the United States to limit the naval arms race and to work out security agreements in the Pacific area. Held in Washington, D.C., the conference resulted in the drafting and signing of several major and minor treaty agreements.
  • Mellon Tax Bill

    lowered the top marginal tax rate from 58% to 46% and lowered the bottom rate; income tax revenue as GDP increased, indicating that the US was on the right-hand side of the Laffer curve.
    It led to lower inflationary pressure, greater increase in output, and larger reduction to unemployment given supply-side theory
  • Stock Market Crashes

    Stock prices began to decline in September and early October 1929, and on October 18 the fall began. Panic set in, and on October 24, Black Thursday, a record 12,894,650 shares were traded. Investment companies and leading bankers attempted to stabilize the market by buying up great blocks of stock, producing a moderate rally on Friday.
  • Franklin Roosevelt Elected

    In the general election, a confident and exuberant Roosevelt triumphed by an overwhelming margin over the incumbent Hoover, who had become a symbol for many people of the ongoing Great Depression. In addition, Democrats won sizeable majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. By the time Roosevelt was inaugurated on March 4, 1933, the Depression had reached desperate levels, including 13 million unemployed.
  • Gold Standard Terminated

    The United States went off the gold standard, a monetary system in which currency is backed by gold, when Congress enacted a joint resolution nullifying the right of creditors to demand payment in gold. The United States had been on a gold standard since 1879, except for an embargo on gold exports during World War I, but bank failures during the Great Depression of the 1930s frightened the public into hoarding gold, making the policy untenable.
  • Social Security Act

    Signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, created Social Security, a federal safety net for elderly, unemployed and disadvantaged Americans. The main stipulation of the original Social Security Act was to pay financial benefits to retirees over age 65 based on lifetime payroll tax contributions. The Act also established the Social Security Board, which later became the Social Security Administration, to structure the Social Security Act and figure out the logistics of implementing it.
  • CIO Formed

    CIO was created by John L. Lewis in 1935. The CIO held its first convention in Pittsburgh, Pa., in November 1938, adopting a new name (Congress of Industrial Organizations) and a constitution as well as electing Lewis as its president. Lewis had organized the first successful strike against General Motors (a “sit-down” tactic) in 1937. This action spurred several other organizing efforts and drew new members.
  • World War 2 Begins

    The German battleship Schleswig-Holstein opened fire on a Polish fortress on the Westerplatte Peninsula as assault troops hidden aboard the vessel stormed the shoreline. The venerable ship that had seen action in World War I fired the first salvos of what would be a second global conflagration. Without a declaration of war, 1.5 million troops stormed Nazi Germany’s 1,750-mile border with Poland. They came from the north, south and west. They came by land, by air and by sea.
  • First Peacetime Draft

    It initially required civilian males between the ages of 21 and 30 to register with local draft boards. After the United States entered World War II in December 1941, Congress extended eligibility for the draft to men between the ages of 18 and 45.
    Draftees were selected through a lottery. Conscripted soldiers served for 12 months. They had to be stationed within the Western Hemisphere or an overseas U.S. possession or territory. No more than 900,000 men were to be in training at any one time.
  • Japan Attacks Pearl Harbor

    The base was attacked by 353 Japanese fighters, bombers and torpedo planes in two waves, launched from six aircraft carriers. All eight U.S. Navy battleships were damaged. Of these eight damaged, two were raised, and with four repaired, six battleships returned to service later in the war. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, and one minelayer. 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed; 2,402 Americans were killed and 1,282 wounded.