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Title:      Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920's (1931)
Author:     Frederick Lewis Allen (1890-1954)
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Title:      Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920's (1931)
Author:     Frederick Lewis Allen (1890-1954)

Only Yesterday:
An Informal History of the 1920's


Frederick Lewis Allen (1890-1954)




I.  PRELUDE: MAY, 1919













XIV.  AFTERMATH: 1930-31

Appendix: Sources and Obligations


This book is an attempt to tell, and in some measure to interpret,
the story of what in the future may be considered a distinct era in
American history: the eleven years between the end of the war with
Germany (November 11, 1918) and the stock-market panic which
culminated on November 13, 1929, hastening and dramatizing the
destruction of what had been known as Coolidge (and Hoover)

Obviously the writing of a history so soon after the event has
involved breaking much new ground.  Professor Preston William
Slosson, in The Great Crusade and After, has carried his story
almost to the end of this period, but the scheme of his book is
quite different from that of mine; and although many other books
have dealt with one aspect of the period or another, I have been
somewhat surprised to find how many of the events of those years
have never before been chronicled in full.  For example, the story
of the Harding scandals (in so far as it is now known) has never
been written before except in fragments, and although the Big Bull
Market has been analyzed and discussed a thousand times, it has
never been fully presented in narrative form as the extraordinary
economic and social phenomenon which it was.

Further research will undoubtedly disclose errors and deficiencies
in the book, and the passage of time will reveal the shortsightedness
of many of my judgments and interpretations.  A contemporary history
is bound to be anything but definitive.  Yet half the enjoyment of
writing it has lain in the effort to reduce to some sort of logical
and coherent order a mass of material untouched by any previous
historian; and I have wondered whether some readers might not be
interested and perhaps amused to find events and circumstances
which they remember well--which seem to have happened only
yesterday--woven into a pattern which at least masquerades as
history.  One advantage the book will have over most histories:
hardly anyone old enough to read it can fail to remember the entire
period with which it deals.

As for my emphasis upon the changing state of the public mind and
upon the sometimes trivial happenings with which it was
preoccupied, this has been deliberate.  It has seemed to me that
one who writes at such close range, while recollection is still
fresh, has a special opportunity to record the fads and fashions
and follies of the time, the things which millions of people
thought about and talked about and became excited about and which
at once touched their daily lives: and that he may prudently leave
to subsequent historians certain events and policies, particularly
in the field of foreign affairs, the effect of which upon the life
of the ordinary citizen was less immediate and may not be fully
measurable for a long time.  (I am indebted to Mr. Mark Sullivan
for what he has done in the successive volumes of Our Own Times to
develop this method of writing contemporary history.)  Naturally I
have attempted to bring together the innumerable threads of the
story so as to reveal the fundamental trends in our national life
and national thought during the nineteen-twenties.

In an effort to eliminate footnotes and at the same time to express
my numerous obligations.  I have added an appendix listing my
principal sources.

F. L. A.



If time were suddenly to turn back to the earliest days of the
Postwar Decade, and you were to look about you, what would seem
strange to you? since 1919 the circumstances of American life have
been transformed--yes, but exactly how?

Let us refresh our memories by following a moderately well-to-do
young couple of Cleveland or Boston or Seattle or Baltimore--it
hardly matters which--through the routine of an ordinary day in
May, 1919.  (I select that particular date, six months after the
Armistice of 1918, because by then the United States had largely
succeeded in turning from the ways of war to those of peace, yet
the profound alterations wrought by the Post-war Decade had hardly
begun to take place.)  There is no better way of suggesting what
the passage of a few years has done to change you and me and the
environment in which we live.

From the appearance of Mr. Smith as he comes to the breakfast table
on this May morning in 1919, you would hardly know that you are not
in the nineteen-thirties (though you might, perhaps, be struck by
the narrowness of his trousers).  The movement of men's fashions is
glacial.  It is different, however, with Mrs. Smith.

She comes to breakfast in a suit, the skirt of which--rather tight
at the ankles--hangs just six inches from the ground.  She has read
in Vogue the alarming news that skirts may become even shorter, and
that "not since the days of the Bourbons has the woman of fashion
been visible so far above the ankle"; but six inches is still the
orthodox clearance.  She wears low shoes now, for spring has come;
but all last winter she protected her ankles either with spats or
with high laced "walking-boots," or with high patent-leather shoes
with contrasting buckskin tops.  Her stockings are black (or tan,
perhaps, if she wears tan shoes); the idea of flesh-colored
stockings would appall her.  A few minutes ago Mrs. Smith was
surrounding herself with an "envelope chemise" and a petticoat; and
from the thick ruffles on her undergarments it was apparent that
she was not disposed to make herself more boyish in form than ample
nature intended.

Mrs. Smith may use powder, but she probably draws the line at
paint.  Although the use of cosmetics is no longer, in 1919,
considered prima facie evidence of a scarlet career, and
sophisticated young girls have already begun to apply them with
some bravado, most well-brought-up women still frown upon rouge.
The beauty-parlor industry is in its infancy; there are a dozen
hair dressing parlors for every beauty parlor, and Mrs. Smith has
never heard of such dark arts as that of face-lifting.  When she
puts on her hat to go shopping she will add a veil pinned neatly
together behind her head.  In the shops she will perhaps buy a
bathing-suit for use in the summer; it will consist of an outer
tunic of silk or cretonne over a tight knitted undergarment--worn,
of course, with long stockings.

Her hair is long, and the idea of a woman ever frequenting a barber
shop would never occur to her.  If you have forgotten what the
general public thought of short hair in those days, listen to the
remark of the manager of the Palm Garden in New York when reporters
asked him, one night in November, 1918, how he happened to rent his
hall for a pro-Bolshevist meeting which had led to a riot.
Explaining that a well-dressed woman had come in a fine automobile
to make arrangements for the use of the auditorium, he added, "Had
we noticed then, as we do now, that she had short hair, we would
have refused to rent the hall."  In Mrs. Smith's mind, as in that
of the manager of the Palm Garden, short-haired women, like long-
haired men, are associated with radicalism, if not with free love.

The breakfast to which Mr. and Mrs. Smith sit down may have been
arranged with a view to the provision of a sufficient number of
calories--they need only to go to Childs' to learn about calories--
but in all probability neither of them has ever heard of a vitamin.

As Mr. Smith eats, he opens the morning paper.  It is almost
certainly not a tabloid, no matter how rudimentary Mr. Smith's
journalistic tastes may be: for although Mr. Hearst has already
experimented with small-sized picture papers, the first
conspicuously successful tabloid is yet to be born.  Not until June
26, 1919, will the New York Daily News reach the newsstands,
beginning a career that will bring its daily circulation in one
year to nearly a quarter of a million, in five years to over four-
fifths of a million, and in ten years to the amazing total of over
one million three hundred thousand.

Strung across the front page of Mr. Smith's paper are headlines
telling of the progress of the American Navy seaplane, the NC-4, on
its flight across the Atlantic via the Azores.  That flight is the
most sensational news story of May, 1919.  (Alcock and Brown have
not yet crossed the ocean in a single hop; they will do it a few
weeks hence, eight long years ahead of Lindbergh.)  But there is
other news, too: of the Peace Conference at Paris, where the Treaty
is now in its later stages of preparation; of the successful
oversubscription of the Victory Loan ("Sure, we'll finish the job!"
the campaign posters have been shouting); of the arrival of another
transport with soldiers from overseas; of the threat of a new
strike; of a speech by Mayor Ole Hanson of Seattle denouncing that
scourge of the times, the I. W. W.; of the prospects for the
passage of the Suffrage Amendment, which it is predicted will
enable women to take "a finer place in the national life"; and of
Henry Ford's libel suit against the Chicago Tribune--in the course
of which he will call Benedict Arnold a writer, and in reply to the
question, "Have there been any revolutions in this country?" will
answer, "Yes, in 1812."

If Mr. Smith attends closely to the sporting news, he may find
obscure mention of a young pitcher and outfielder for the Boston
Red Sox named Ruth.  But he will hardly find the Babe's name in the
headlines.  (In April, 1919, Ruth made one home run; in May, two;
but the season was much further advanced before sporting writers
began to notice that he was running up a new record for swatting--
twenty-nine home runs for the year; the season had closed before
the New York Yankees, seeing gold in the hills, bought him for
$125,000; and the summer of 1920 had arrived before a man died of
excitement when he saw Ruth smash a ball into the bleachers, and it
became clear that the mob had found a new idol.  In 1919, the
veteran Ty Cobb, not Ruth, led the American League in batting.)

The sporting pages inform Mr. Smith that Rickard has selected
Toledo as the scene of a forthcoming encounter between the
heavyweight champion, Jess Willard, and another future idol of the
mob, Jack Dempsey.  (They met, you may recall, on the Fourth of
July, 1919, and sober citizens were horrified to read that 19,650
people were so depraved as to sit in a broiling sun to watch
Dempsey knock out the six-foot-six-inch champion in the third
round.  How would the sober citizens have felt if they had known
that eight years later a Dempsey-Tunney fight would bring in more
than five times as much money in gate receipts as this battle of
Toledo?)  In the sporting pages there may be news of Bobby Jones,
the seventeen-year-old Southern golf champion, or of William T.
Tilden, Jr., who is winning tennis tournaments here and there, but
neither of them is yet a national champion.  And even if Jones were
to win this year he would hardly become a great popular hero; for
although golf is gaining every day in popularity, it has not yet
become an inevitable part of the weekly ritual of the American
business man.  Mr. Smith very likely still scoffs at "grown men who
spend their time knocking a little white ball along the ground"; it
is quite certain that he has never heard of plus fours; and if he
should happen to play golf he had better not show his knickerbockers
in the city streets, or small boys will shout to him, "Hey, get some
men's pants!"

Did I say that by May, 1919, the war was a thing of the past?
There are still reminders of it in Mr. Smith's paper.  Not only the
news from the Peace Conference, not only the item about Sergeant
Alvin York being on his way home; there is still that ugliest
reminder of all, the daily casualty list.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith discuss a burning subject, the High Cost of
Living.  Mr. Smith is hoping for an increase in salary, but
meanwhile the family income seems to be dwindling as prices rise.
Everything is going up--food, rent, clothing, and taxes.  These are
the days when people remark that even the man without a dollar is
fifty cents better off than he once was, and that if we coined
seven-cent pieces for street-car fares, in another year we should
have to discontinue them and begin to coin fourteen-cent pieces.
Mrs. Smith, confronted with an appeal from Mr. Smith for economy,
reminds him that milk has jumped since 1914 from nine to fifteen
cents a quart, sirloin steak from twenty-seven to forty-two cents a
pound, butter from thirty-two to sixty-one cents a pound, and fresh
eggs from thirty-four to sixty-two cents a dozen.  No wonder people
on fixed salaries are suffering, and colleges are beginning to talk
of applying the money-raising methods learned during the Liberty
Loan campaigns to the increasing of college endowments.  Rents are
almost worse than food prices, for that matter; since the Armistice
there has been an increasing shortage of houses and apartments, and
the profiteering landlord has become an object of popular hate
along with the profiteering middleman.  Mr. Smith tells his wife
that "these profiteers are about as bad as the I. W. W.'s."  He
could make no stronger statement.

Breakfast over, Mr. Smith gets into his automobile to drive to the
office.  The car is as likely to be a Lexington, a Maxwell, a
Briscoe, or a Templar as to be a Dodge, Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac,
or Hudson, and it surely will not be a Chrysler; Mr. Chrysler has
just been elected first vice-president of the General Motors
Corporation.  Whatever the make of the car, it stands higher than
the cars of the nineteen-thirties; the passengers look down upon
their surroundings from an imposing altitude.  The chances are nine
to one that Mr. Smith's automobile is open (only 10.3 per cent of
the cars manufactured in 1919 were closed).  The vogue of the sedan
is just beginning.  Closed cars are still associated in the public
mind with wealth; the hated profiteer of the newspaper cartoon
rides in a limousine.

If Mr. Smith's car is one of the high, hideous, but efficient model
T Fords of the day, let us watch him for a minute.  He climbs in by
the right-hand door (for there is no left-hand door by the front
seat), reaches over to the wheel, and sets the spark and throttle
levers in a position like that of the hands of a clock at ten
minutes to three.  Then, unless he has paid extra for a self-
starter, he gets out to crank.  Seizing the crank in his right hand
carefully (for a friend of his once broke his arm cranking), he
slips his left forefinger through a loop of wire that controls the
choke.  He pulls the loop of wire, he revolves the crank mightily,
and as the engine at last roars, he leaps to the trembling running-
board, leans in, and moves the spark and throttle to twenty-five
minutes of two.  Perhaps he reaches the throttle before the engine
falters into silence, but if it is a cold morning perhaps he does
not.  In that case, back to the crank again and the loop of wire.
Mr. Smith wishes Mrs. Smith would come out and sit in the driver's
seat and pull that spark lever down before the engine has time to

Finally he is at the wheel with the engine roaring as it should.
He releases the emergency hand-brake, shoves his left foot against
the low-speed pedal, and as the car sweeps loudly out into the
street, he releases his left foot, lets the car into high gear, and
is off.  Now his only care is for that long hill down the street;
yesterday he burned his brake on it, and this morning he must
remember to brake with the reverse pedal, or the low-speed pedal,
or both, or all three in alternation.  (Jam your foot down on any
of the three pedals and you slow the car.)

Mr. Smith is on the open road--a good deal more open than it will
be a decade hence.  On his way to work he passes hardly a third as
many cars as he will pass in 1929; there are less than seven
million passenger cars registered in the United States in 1919, as
against over twenty-three million cars only ten years later.  He is
unlikely to find many concrete roads in his vicinity, and the lack
of them is reflected in the speed regulations.  A few states like
California and New York permit a rate of thirty miles an hour in
1919, but the average limit is twenty (as against thirty-five or
forty in 1931).  The Illinois rate of 1919 is characteristic of the
day; it limits the driver to fifteen miles in residential parts of
cities, ten miles in built-up sections, and six miles on curves.
The idea of making a hundred-mile trip in two and a half hours--as
will constantly be done in the nineteen-thirties by drivers who
consider themselves conservative--would seem to Mr. Smith perilous,
and with the roads of 1919 to drive on he would be right.

In the course of his day at the office, Mr. Smith discusses
business conditions.  It appears that things are looking up.  There
was a period of uncertainty and falling stock prices after the
Armistice, as huge government contracts were canceled and plants
which had been running overtime on war work began to throw off men
by the thousand, but since then conditions have been better.
Everybody is talking about the bright prospects for international
trade and American shipping.  The shipyards are running full tilt.
There are too many strikes going on, to be sure; it seems as if the
demands of labor for higher and higher wages would never be
satisfied, although Mr. Smith admits that in a way you can't blame
the men, with prices still mounting week by week.  But there is so
much business activity that the men being turned out of army camps
to look for jobs are being absorbed better than Mr. Smith ever
thought they would be.  It was back in the winter and early spring
that there was so much talk about the ex-servicemen walking the
streets without work; it was then that Life ran a cartoon which
represented Uncle Sam saying to a soldier, "Nothing is too good for
you, my boy!  What would you like?" and the soldier answering, "A
job."  Now the boys seem to be sifting slowly but surely into the
ranks of the employed, and the only clouds on the business horizon
are strikes and Bolshevism and the dangerous wave of speculation in
the stock market.

"Bull Market Taxes Nerves of Brokers," cry the headlines in the
financial pages, and they speak of "Long Hours for Clerks."  Is
there a familiar ring to those phrases?  Does it seem natural to
you, remembering as you do the Big Bull Market of 1928 and 1929,
that the decision to keep the Stock Exchange closed over the 31st
of May, 1919, should elicit such newspaper comments as this:  "The
highly specialized machine which handles the purchase and sales of
stocks and bonds in the New York market is fairly well exhausted
and needs a rest"?  Then listen; in May, 1919, it was a long series
of MILLION-AND-A-HALF-SHARE days which was causing financiers to
worry and the Federal Reserve Board to consider issuing a warning
against speculation.  During that year a new record of six two-
million-share days was set up, and on only 145 days did the trading
amount to over a million shares.  What would Mr. Smith and his
associates think if they were to be told that within eleven years
there would occur a sixteen-million-share day; and that they would
see the time when three-million-share days would be referred to as
"virtual stagnation" or as "listless trading by professionals only,
with the general public refusing to become interested"?  The price
of a seat on the New York Stock Exchange in 1919 ranged between
$60,000 and a new high record of $110,000; it would be hard for Mr.
Smith to believe that before the end of the decade seats on the
Exchange would fetch a half million.

In those days of May, 1919, the record of daily Stock Exchange
transactions occupied hardly a newspaper column.  The Curb Market
record referred to trading on a real curb--to that extraordinary
outdoor market in Broad Street, New York, where boys with telephone
receivers clamped to their heads hung out of windows high above the
street and grimaced and wigwagged through the din to traders
clustered on the pavement below.  And if there was anything Mrs.
Smith was certain not to have on her mind as she went shopping, it
was the price of stocks.  Yet the "unprecedented bull market" of
1919 brought fat profits to those who participated in it.  Between
February 15th and May 14th, Baldwin Locomotive rose from 72 to 93,
General Motors from 130 to 191, United States Steel from 90 to 104
1/2, and International Mercantile Marine common (to which traders
were attracted on account of the apparently boundless possibilities
of shipping) from 23 to 47 5/8.

When Mr. Smith goes out to luncheon, he has to proceed to his club
in a roundabout way, for a regiment of soldiers just returned from
Europe is on parade and the central thoroughfares of the city are
blocked with crowds.  It is a great season for parades, this spring
of 1919.  As the transports from Brest swing up New York Harbor,
the men packed solid on the decks are greeted by Major Hylan's
Committee of Welcome, represented sometimes by the Mayor's spruce
young secretary, Grover Whalen, who in later years is to reduce
welcoming to a science and raise it to an art.  New York City has
built in honor of the homecoming troops a huge plaster arch in
Fifth Avenue at Madison Square, toward the design of which forty
artists are said to have contributed.  ("But the result," comments
the New York Tribune, sadly, "suggests four hundred rather than
forty.  It holds everything that was ever on an arch anywhere, the
lay mind suspects, not forgetting the horses on top of a certain
justly celebrated Brandenburg Gate.")  Farther up the Avenue,
before the Public Library, there is a shrine of pylons and palms
called the Court of the Heroic Dead, of whose decorative effect the
Tribune says, curtly, "Add perils of death."  A few blocks to the
north an arch of jewels is suspended above the Avenue "like a net
of precious stones, between two white pillars surmounted by stars";
on this arch colored searchlights play at night with superb effect.
The Avenue is hung with flags from end to end; and as the Twenty-
seventh Division parades under the arches the air is white with
confetti and ticker tape, and the sidewalks are jammed with
cheering crowds.  Nor is New York alone in its enthusiasm for the
returning soldiers; every other city has its victory parade, with
the city elders on the reviewing stand and flags waving and the
bayonets of the troops glistening in the spring sunlight and the
bands playing "The Long, Long Trail."  Not yet disillusioned, the
nation welcomes its heroes--and the heroes only wish the fuss were
all over and they could get into civilian clothes and sleep late in
the mornings and do what they please, and try to forget.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith have been invited to a tea dance at one of the
local hotels, and Mr. Smith hurries from his office to the scene of
revelry.  If the hotel is up to the latest wrinkles, it has a jazz-
band instead of the traditional orchestra for dancing, but not yet
does a saxophone player stand out in the foreground and contort
from his instrument that piercing music, "endlessly sorrowful yet
endlessly unsentimental, with no past, no memory, no future, no
hope," which William Bolitho called the Zeitgeist of the Post-war
Age.  The jazz-band plays "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows," the tune
which Harry Carroll wrote in wartime after Harrison Fisher
persuaded him that Chopin's "Fantasie Impromptu" had the makings of
a good ragtime tune.  It plays, too, "Smiles" and "Dardanella" and
"Hindustan" and "Japanese Sandman" and "I Love You Sunday," and
that other song which is to give the Post-war Decade one of its
most persistent and wearisome slang phrases, "I'll Say She Does."
There are a good many military uniforms among the fox-trotting
dancers.  There is one French officer in blue; the days are not
past when a foreign uniform adds the zest of war-time romance to
any party.  In the more dimly lighted palm-room there may be a
juvenile petting party or two going on, but of this Mr. and Mrs.
Smith are doubtless oblivious.  F. Scott Fitzgerald has yet to
confront a horrified republic with the Problem of the Younger

After a few dances, Mr. Smith wanders out to the bar (if this is
not a dry state).  He finds there a group of men downing Bronxes
and Scotch highballs, and discussing with dismay the approach of
prohibition.  On the 1st of July the so-called Wartime Prohibition
Law is to take effect (designed as a war measure, but not signed by
the President until after the Armistice), and already the
ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment has made it certain that
prohibition is to be permanent.  Even now, distilling and brewing
are forbidden.  Liquor is therefore expensive, as the frequenters
of midnight cabarets are learning to their cost.  Yet here is the
bar, still quite legally doing business.  Of course there is not a
woman within eyeshot of it; drinking by women is unusual in 1919,
and drinking at a bar is an exclusively masculine prerogative.
Although Mr. and Mrs. Smith's hosts may perhaps serve cocktails
before dinner this evening, Mr. and Mrs. Smith have never heard of
cocktail parties as a substitute for tea parties.

As Mr. Smith stands with his foot on the brass rail, he listens to
the comments on the coming of prohibition.  There is some indignant
talk about it, but even here the indignation is by no means
unanimous.  One man, as he tosses off his Bronx, says that he'll
miss his liquor for a time, he supposes, but he thinks "his boys
will be better off for living in a world where there is no
alcohol"; and two or three others agree with him.  Prohibition has
an overwhelming majority behind it throughout the United States;
the Spartan fervor of war-time has not yet cooled.  Nor is there
anything ironical in the expressed assumption of these men that
when the Eighteenth Amendment goes into effect, alcohol will be
banished from the land.  They look forward vaguely to an endless
era of actual drought.

At the dinner party to which Mr. and Mrs. Smith go that evening,
some of the younger women may be bold enough to smoke, but they
probably puff their cigarettes self-consciously, even defiantly.
(The national consumption of cigarettes in 1919, excluding the very
large sizes, is less than half of what it will be by 1930.)

After dinner the company may possibly go to the movies to see
Charlie Chaplin in "Shoulder Arms" or Douglas Fairbanks in "The
Knickerbocker Buckaroo" or Mary Pickford in "Daddy Long Legs," or
Theda Bara, or Pearl White, or Griffith's much touted and much wept-
at "Broken Blossoms."  Or they may play auction bridge (not
contract, of course).  Mah Jong, which a few years hence will be
almost obligatory, is still over the horizon.  They may discuss
such best sellers of the day as The Four Horsemen of the
Apocalypse, Tarkington's The Magnificent Ambersons.  Conrad's Arrow
of Gold, Brand Whitlock's Belgium, and Wells's The Undying Fire.
(The Outline of History is still unwritten.)  They may go to the
theater: the New York successes of May, 1919, include "Friendly
Enemies," "Three Faces East," and "The Better Ole," which have been
running ever since war-time and are still going strong, and also
"Listen, Lester," Gillette in "Dear Brutus," Frances Starr in
"Tiger!  Tiger!" and--to satisfy a growing taste for bedroom farce--
such tidbits as "Up in Mabel's Room."  The Theater Guild is about
to launch its first drama, Ervine's "John Ferguson."  The members
of the senior class at Princeton have just voted "Lightnin'" their
favorite play (after "Macbeth" and "Hamlet," for which they cast
the votes expected of educated men), and their favorite actresses,
in order of preference, are Norma Talmadge, Elsie Ferguson,
Marguerite Clark, Constance Talmadge, and Madge Kennedy.

One thing the Smiths certainly will not do this evening.  They will
not listen to the radio.

For there is no such thing as radio broadcasting.  Here and there a
mechanically inclined boy has a wireless set, with which, if he
knows the Morse code, he may listen to messages from ships at sea
and from land stations equipped with sending apparatus.  The
radiophone has been so far developed that men flying in an airplane
over Manhattan have talked with other men in an office-building
below.  But the broadcasting of speeches and music--well, it was
tried years ago by DeForest, and "nothing came of it."  Not until
the spring of 1920 will Frank Conrad of the Westinghouse Company of
East Pittsburgh, who has been sending out phonograph music and
baseball scores from the barn which he has rigged up as a spare-
time research station, find that so many amateur wireless operators
are listening to them that a Pittsburgh newspaper has had the
bright idea of advertising radio equipment "which may be used by
those who listen to Dr. Conrad's programs."  And not until this
advertisement appears will the Westinghouse officials decide to
open the first broadcasting station in history in order to
stimulate the sale of their supplies.

One more word about Mr. and Mrs. Smith and we may dismiss them for
the night.  Not only have they never heard of radio broadcasting;
they have never heard of Cou, the Dayton Trial, cross-word
puzzles, bathing-beauty contests, John J. Raskob, racketeers,
Teapot Dome, Coral Gables, the American Mercury, Sacco and
Vanzetti, companionate marriage, brokers' loan statistics, Michael
Arlen, the Wall Street explosion, confession magazines, the Hall-
Mills case, radio stock, speakeasies, Al Capone, automatic traffic
lights, or Charles A. Lindbergh.

The Post-war Decade lies before them.



Early on the morning of November 11, 1918, President Woodrow Wilson
wrote in pencil, on an ordinary sheet of White House stationery, a
message to the American people:

My Fellow Countrymen:  The armistice was signed this morning.
Everything for which America fought has been accomplished.  It will
now be our fortunate duty to assist by example, by sober, friendly
counsel, and by material aid in the establishment of just democracy
throughout the world.

Never was a document more Wilsonian.  In those three sentences
spoke the Puritan schoolmaster, cool in a time of great emotions,
calmly setting the lesson for the day: the moral idealist, intent
on a peace of reconciliation rather than a peace of hate; and the
dogmatic prophet of democracy, who could not dream that the sort of
institutions in which he had believed all his life were not
inevitably the best for all nations everywhere.  Yet the spirit of
the message suggests, at the same time, that of another war
President.  It was such a document as Lincoln might have written.

But if the man in the White House was thinking of Abraham Lincoln
as he wrote those sentences--and no doubt he was--there was
something which perhaps he overlooked.  Counsels of idealism
sometimes fail in the relaxation that comes with peace.  Lincoln
had not lived to see what happens to a policy of "sober, friendly
counsel" in a post-war decade; he had been taken off in the moment
of triumph.

Woodrow Wilson was not to be so fortunate.


What a day that 11th of November was!  It was not quite three
o'clock in the morning when the State Department gave out to the
dozing newspapermen the news that the Armistice had really been
signed.  Four days before, a false report of the end of hostilities
had thrown the whole United States into a delirium of joy.  People
had poured out of offices and shops and paraded the streets singing
and shouting, ringing bells, blowing tin horns, smashing one
another's hats, cheering soldiers in uniform, draping themselves in
American flags, gathering in closely packed crowds before the
newspaper bulletin boards, making a wild and hilarious holiday; in
New York, Fifth Avenue had been closed to traffic and packed solid
with surging men and women, while down from the windows of the city
fluttered 155 tons of ticker tape and torn paper.  It did not seem
possible that such an outburst could be repeated.  But it was.

By half-past four on the morning of the 11th, sirens, whistles, and
bells were rousing the sleepers in a score of American cities, and
newsboys were shouting up and down the dark streets.  At first
people were slow to credit the report; they had been fooled once
and were not to be fooled again.  Along an avenue in Washington,
under the windows of the houses of government officials, a boy
announced with painstaking articulation, "THE WAR IS OVAH!
mumble as newsboys ordinarily do; he knew that this was a time to
convince the skeptical by being intelligible and specific.  The
words brought incredible relief.  A new era of peace and of hope
was beginning--had already begun.

So the tidings spread throughout the country.  In city after city
mid-morning found offices half deserted, signs tacked up on shop
doors reading "Closed for the Kaiser's Funeral," people marching up
and down the streets again as they had four days previously, pretty
girls kissing every soldier they saw, automobiles slowly creeping
through the crowds and intentionally backfiring to add to the noise
of horns and rattles and every other sort of din-making device.
Eight hundred Barnard College girls snake-danced on Morningside
Heights in New York; and in Times Square, early in the morning, a
girl mounted the platform of "Liberty Hall," a building set up for
war-campaign purposes, and sang the "Doxology" before hushed

Yet as if to mock the Wilsonian statement about "sober, friendly
counsel," there were contrasting celebrations in which the mood was
not that of pious thanksgiving, but of triumphant hate.  Crowds
burned the Kaiser in effigy.  In New York, a dummy of the Kaiser
was washed down Wall Street with a firehose; men carried a coffin
made of soapboxes up and down Fifth Avenue, shouting that the
Kaiser was within it, "resting in pieces"; and on Broadway at
Seventieth Street a boy drew pictures of the Kaiser over and over
again on the sidewalk, to give the crowds the delight of trampling
on them.

So the new era of peace began.

But a million men--to paraphrase Bryan--cannot spring from arms
overnight.  There were still over three and a half million
Americans in the military service, over two million of them in
Europe.  Uniforms were everywhere.  Even after the tumult and
shouting of November 11th had died, the Expeditionary Forces were
still in the trenches, making ready for the long, cautious march
into Germany; civilians were still saving sugar and eating strange
dark breads and saving coal; it was not until ten days had passed
that the "lightless" edict of the Fuel Administration was
withdrawn, and Broadway and a dozen lesser white ways in other
cities blazed once more; the railroads were still operated by the
government, and one bought one's tickets at United States Railroad
Administration Consolidated Ticket Offices; the influenza epidemic,
which had taken more American lives than had the Germans, and had
caused thousands of men and women to go about fearfully with white
cloth masks over their faces, was only just abating; the newspapers
were packed with reports from the armies in Europe, news of the
revolution in Germany, of Mr. Wilson's peace preparations, of the
United War Work Campaign, to the exclusion of almost everything
else; and day after day, week after week, month after month, the
casualty lists went on, and from Maine to Oregon men and women
searched them in daily apprehension.

November would normally have brought the climax of the football
season, but now scratch college teams, made up mostly of boys who
had been wearing the uniform of the Students' Army Training Corps,
played benefit games "to put the War Work Fund over the top"; and
further to strengthen the will to give, Charlie Brickley of Harvard
drop-kicked a football across Wall Street into the arms of Jack
Gates of Yale on the balcony of the Stock Exchange.  Not only the
news columns of the papers, but the advertisements also, showed the
domination of wartime emotions.  Next to an editorial on "The Right
to Hate the Huns," or a letter suggesting that the appropriate
punishment for the Kaiser would be to deport him from country to
country, always as an "undesirable alien," the reader would find a
huge United War Work Fund advertisement, urging him to GIVE--GIVE--
GIVE!  On another page, under the title of PREPARING AMERICA TO
REBUILD THE WORLD, he would find a patriotic blast beginning, "Now
that liberty has triumphed, now that the forces of Right have begun
their reconstruction of humanity's morals, the world faces a
material task of equal magnitude," and not until he had waded
through several more sentences of sonorous rhetoric would he
discover that this "material task" was to be accomplished through
the use of Blank's Steel Windows.

And even as the process of demobilization got definitely under way,
as the soldiers began to troop home from the camps, as censorship
was done away with and lights were permitted to burn brightly again
and women began to buy sugar with an easy conscience; even as this
glorious peace began to seem a reality and not a dream, the nation
went on thinking with the mind of people at war.  They had learned
during the preceding nineteen months to strike down the thing they
hated--not to argue or hesitate, but to strike.  Germany had been
struck down, but it seemed that there was another danger on the
horizon.  Bolshevism was spreading from Russia through Europe;
Bolshevism might spread to the United States.  They struck at it--
or at what they thought was it.  A week after the Armistice, Mayor
Hylan of New York forbade the display of the red flag in the
streets and ordered the police to "disperse all unlawful
assemblages."  A few nights later, while the Socialists were
holding a mass meeting in Madison Square Garden, five hundred
soldiers and sailors gathered from the surrounding streets and
tried to storm the doors.  It took twenty-two mounted policemen to
break up the milling mob and restore order.  The next evening there
was another riot before the doors of the Palm Garden, farther up
town, where a meeting of sympathy for Revolutionary Russia was
being held under the auspices of the Women's International League.
Again soldiers and sailors were the chief offenders.  They packed
Fifty-eighth Street for a block, shouting and trying to break their
way into the Palm Garden, and in the mle six persons were badly
beaten up.  One of the victims was a conservative stockbroker.  He
was walking up Lexington Avenue with a lady, and seeing the yelling
crowd, he asked someone what all the excitement was about.  A
sailor called out, "Hey, fellows, here's another of the
Bolsheviks," and in a moment a score of men had leaped upon him,
ripped off his tie, and nearly knocked him unconscious.  These
demonstrations were to prove the first of a long series of post-war
anti-Red riots.

The nation at war had formed the habit of summary action, and it
was not soon unlearned.  The circumstances and available methods
had changed, that was all.  Employers who had watched with
resentment the rising scale of wages paid to labor, under the
encouragement of a government that wanted no disaffection in the
ranks of the workers, now felt that their chance had come.  The
Germans were beaten; the next thing to do was to teach labor a
lesson.  Labor agitators were a bunch of Bolsheviks, anyhow, and it
was about time that a man had a chance to make a decent profit in
his business.  Meanwhile labor, facing a steadily mounting cost of
living, and realizing that it was no longer unpatriotic to strike
for higher wages, decided to teach the silk-stockinged profiteering
employer a lesson in his turn.  The result was a bitter series of
strikes and lockouts.

There was a summary action with regard to liquor, too.  During the
war alcohol had been an obvious menace to the fighting efficiency
of the nation.  The country, already largely dry by state law and
local option, had decided to banish the saloon once and for all.
War-time psychology was dominant; no halfway measure would serve.
The War-time Prohibition Act was already on the books and due to
take effect July 1, 1919.  But this was not enough.  The Eighteenth
Amendment, which would make prohibition permanent and (so it was
thought) effective, had been passed by Congress late in 1917, and
many of the states had ratified it before the war ended.  With the
convening of the state legislatures in January, 1919, the movement
for ratification went ahead with amazing speed.  The New York
Tribune said that it was "as if a sailing-ship on a windless ocean
were sweeping ahead, propelled by some invisible force."
"Prohibition seems to be the fashion, just as drinking once was,"
exclaimed the Times editorially.  By January 16th--within nine
weeks of the Armistice--the necessary thirty-six States had
ratified the Amendment.  Even New York State fell in line a few
days later.  Whisky and the "liquor ring" were struck at as
venomously as were the Reds.  There were some misgivings, to be
sure; there were those who pointed out that three million men in
uniform might not like the new dispensation; but the country was
not in the mood to think twice.  Prohibition went through on the
tide of the war spirit of "no compromise."

Yet though the headlong temper of war-time persisted after the
Armistice, in one respect the coming of peace brought about a
profound change.  During the war the nation had gone about its
tasks in a mood of exaltation.  Top sergeants might remark that the
only good Hun was a dead one and that this stuff about making the
world safe for democracy was all bunk; four-minute speakers might
shout that the Kaiser ought to be boiled in oil; the fact remained
that millions of Americans were convinced that they were fighting
in a holy cause, for the rights of oppressed nations, for the end
of all war forever, for all that the schoolmaster in Washington so
eloquently preached.  The singing of the "Doxology" by the girl in
Times Square represented their true feeling as truly as the burning
of the Kaiser in effigy.  The moment the Armistice was signed,
however, a subtle change began.

Now those who had never liked Wilson, who thought that he had
stayed out of the war too long, that milk and water ran in his
veins instead of blood, that he should never have been forgiven for
his treatment of Roosevelt and Wood, that he was a dangerous
radical at heart and a menace to the capitalistic system, that he
should never have appealed to the country for the election of a
Democratic Congress, or that his idea of going to Paris himself to
the Peace Conference was a sign of egomania--these people began to
speak out freely.  There were others who were tired of applauding
the French, or who had ideas of their own about the English and the
English attitude toward Ireland, or who were sick of hearing about
"our noble Allies" in general, or who thought that we had really
gone into the war to save our own skins and that the Wilsonian talk
about making the world safe for democracy was dangerous and
hypocritical nonsense.  They, too, began to speak out freely.  Now
one could say with impunity, "We've licked the Germans and we're
going to lick these damned Bolsheviki, and it's about time we got
after Wilson and his crew of pacifists."  The tension of the war
was relaxing, the bubble of idealism was pricked.  As the first
weeks of peace slipped away, it began to appear doubtful whether
the United States was quite as ready as Woodrow Wilson had thought
"to assist in the establishment of just democracy throughout the


But the mind of Mr. Wilson, too, had been molded by the war.  Since
April, 1917, his will had been irresistible.  In the United States
open opposition to his leadership had been virtually stifled: it
was unpatriotic to differ with the President.  His message and
speeches had set the tone of popular thought about American war
aims and the terms of eventual peace.  In Europe his eloquence had
proved so effective that statesmen had followed his lead perforce
and allowed the Armistice to be made upon his terms.  All over the
world there were millions upon millions of men and women to whom
his words were as those of a Messiah.  Now that he envisioned a new
world order based upon a League of Nations, it seemed inevitable to
him that he himself should go to Paris, exert this vast and
beneficent power, and make the vision a reality.  The splendid
dream took full possession of him.  Critics like Senator Lodge and
even associates like Secretary Lansing might object that he ought
to leave the negotiations to subordinates, or that peace should be
made with Germany first, and discussion of the League postponed, in
order to bring an unsettled world back to equilibrium without
delay; but had he not silenced critics during the war and could he
not silence them again?  On the 4th of December--less than a month
after the Armistice--the President sailed from New York on the
George Washington.  As the crowds along the waterfront shouted
their tribute and the vessels in the harbor tooted their whistles
and the guns roared in a presidential salute, Woodrow Wilson,
standing on the bridge of the George Washington, eastward bound,
must have felt that destiny was on his side.

The events of the next few weeks only confirmed him in this
feeling.  He toured France and England and Italy in incredible
triumph.  Never had such crowds greeted a foreigner on British
soil.  His progress through the streets of London could be likened
only to a Coronation procession.  In Italy the streets were black
with people come to do him honor.  "No one has ever had such
cheers," wrote William Bolitho; "I, who heard them in the streets
of Paris, can never forget them in my life.  I saw Foch pass,
Clemenceau pass, Lloyd George, generals, returning troops, banners,
but Wilson heard from his carriage something different, inhuman--or
superhuman."  Seeing those overwhelming crowds and hearing their
shouts of acclaim, how could Woodrow Wilson doubt that he was still
invincible?  If, when the Conference met, he could only speak so
that they might hear, no diplomatists of the old order could
withstand him.  Destiny was taking him, and the whole world with
him, toward a future bright with promise.

But, as it happened, destiny had other plans.  In Europe, as well
as in America, idealism was on the ebb.  Lloyd George, that
unfailing barometer of public opinion, was campaigning for
relection on a "Hang the Kaiser" platform; and shout as the crowds
might for Wilson and justice, they voted for Lloyd George and
vengeance.  Now that the Germans were beaten, a score of jealous
European politicians were wondering what they could get out of the
settlement at Paris for their own national ends and their own
personal glory.  They wanted to bring home the spoils of war.  They
heard the mob applaud Wilson, but they knew that mobs are fickle
and would applaud annexations and punitive reparations with equal
fervor.  They went to Paris determined to make a peace which would
give them plunder to take home.

And meanwhile in the Senate Chamber at Washington opposition to
Wilson's League and Wilson's Fourteen Points increased in volume.
As early as December 21, 1918, Henry Cabot Lodge, intellectual
leader of the Republicans in the Senate, announced that the Senate
had equal power with the President in treaty-making and should make
its wishes known in advance of the negotiations.  He said that
there would be quite enough to do at Paris without raising the
issue of the League.  And he set forth his idea of the sort of
peace which ought to be made--an idea radically different from
President Wilson's.  Lodge and a group of his associates wanted
Germany to be disarmed, saddled with a terrific bill for
reparations, and if possible dismembered.  They were ready to give
to the Allies large concessions in territory.  And above all, they
wanted nothing to be included in the peace settlement which would
commit the United States to future intervention in European
affairs.  They prepared to examine carefully any plan for a League
of Nations which might come out of the Conference and to resist it
if it involved "entangling alliances."  Thus to opposition from the
diplomats of Europe was added opposition of another sort from the
Senate and public opinion at home.  Wilson was between two fires.
He might not realize how they threatened him, but they were

The tide of events, had Wilson but known it, was turning against
him.  Human nature, the world over, was beginning to show a new
side, as it has shown it at the end of every war in history.  The
compulsion for unity was gone, and division was taking its place.
The compulsion for idealism was gone, and realism was in the

Nor did destiny work only through the diplomats of the Old World
and the senatorial patriots of the New.  It worked also through the
peculiar limitations in the mind and character of Woodrow Wilson
himself.  The very singleness of purpose, the very uncompromising
quality of mind that had made him a great prophet, forced him to
take upon his own shoulders at Paris an impossible burden of
responsible negotiation.  It prevented him from properly
acquainting his colleagues with what he himself was doing at the
sessions of the Council of Ten or the Council of Four, and from
getting the full benefit of their suggestions and objections.  It
prevented him from taking the American correspondents at Paris into
his confidence and thus gaining valuable support at home.  It made
him play a lone hand.  Again, his intelligence was visual rather
than oral.  As Ray Stannard Baker has well put it, Wilson was
"accustomed to getting his information, not from people, but out of
books, documents, letters--the written word," and consequently
"underestimated the value of . . . human contacts."  At written
negotiations he was a past master, but in the oral give and take
about a small conference table he was at a disadvantage.  When
Clemenceau and Lloyd George and Orlando got him into the Council of
Four behind closed doors, where they could play the game of treaty-
making like a four-handed card game, they had already half defeated
him.  A superman might have gone to Paris and come home completely
victorious, but Woodrow Wilson could not have been what he was and
have carried the day.

This is no place to tell the long and bitter story of the
President's fight for his ideals at Paris.  Suffice it to say that
he fought stubbornly and resourcefully, and succeeded to a
creditable extent in moderating the terms of the Treaty.  The
European diplomats wanted to leave the discussion of the League
until after the territorial and military settlements had been made,
but he forced them to put the League first.  Sitting as chairman of
the commission appointed to draw up the League Covenant, he brought
out a preliminary draft which met, as he supposed, the principal
objections to it made by men at home like Taft and Root and Lodge.
In Paris he confronted a practically unanimous sentiment for
annexation of huge slices of German territory and of all the German
colonies; even the British dominions, through their premiers, came
out boldly for annexation and supported one another in their
colonial claims; yet he succeeded in getting the Conference to
accept the mandate principle.  He forced Clemenceau to modify his
demands for German territory, though he had to threaten to leave
Paris to get his way.  He forced Italy to accept less land than she
wanted, though he had to venture a public appeal to the conscience
of the world to do it.  Again and again it was he, and he only, who
prevented territories from being parceled out among the victors
without regard to the desires of their inhabitants.  To read the
day-to-day story of the Conference is to realize that the
settlement would have been far more threatening to the future peace
of the world had Woodrow Wilson not struggled as he did to bring
about an agreement fair to all.  Yet the result, after all, was a
compromise.  The Treaty followed in too many respects the
provisions of the iniquitous secret treaties of war-time; and the
League Covenant which Wilson had managed to imbed securely in it
was too rigid and too full of possible military obligations to suit
an American people tired of war and ready to get out of Europe once
and for all.

The President must have been fully aware of the ugly imperfections
in the Treaty of Versailles as he sailed back to America with it at
the end of June, 1919, more than six months after his departure for
France.  He must have realized that, despite all his efforts, the
men who had sat about the council table at Paris had been more
swayed by fear and hate and greed and narrow nationalism than by
the noble motives of which he had been the mouthpiece.  No rational
man with his eyes and ears open could have failed to sense the
disillusionment which was slowly settling down upon the world, or
the validity of many of the objections to the Treaty which were
daily being made in the Senate at Washington.  Yet what could
Wilson do?

Could he come home to the Senate and the American people and say,
in effect:  "This Treaty is a pretty bad one in some respects.  I
shouldn't have accepted the Shantung clause or the Italian border
clause or the failure to set a fixed German indemnity or the
grabbing of a lot of German territory by France and others unless I
had had to, but under the circumstances this is about the best we
could do and I think the League will make up for the rest"?  He
could not; he had committed himself to each and every clause; he
had signed the Treaty, and must defend it.  Could he admit that the
negotiators at Paris had failed to act in the unselfish spirit
which he had proclaimed in advance that they would show?  To do
this would be to admit his own failure and kill his own prestige.
Having proclaimed before the Conference that the settlement would
be righteous and having insisted during the Conference that it was
righteous, how could he admit afterward that it had not been
righteous?  The drift of events had caught him in a predicament
from which there seemed to be but one outlet of escape.  He must go
home and vow that the Conference had been a love-feast, that every
vital decision had been based on the Fourteen Points, that
Clemenceau and Orlando and Lloyd George and the rest had been
animated by an overpowering love for humanity, and that the
salvation of the world depended on the complete acceptance of the
Treaty as the charter of a new and idyllic world order.

That is what he did; and because the things he said about the
Treaty were not true, and he must have known--sometimes, at least--
that they were not, the story of Woodrow Wilson from this point on
is sheer tragedy.  He fell into the pit which is dug for every
idealist.  Having failed to embody his ideal in fact, he distorted
the fact.  He pictured the world, to himself and to others, not as
it was, but as he wished it to be.  The optimist became a
sentimentalist.  The story of the Conference which he told to the
American people when he returned home was a very beautiful romance
of good men and true laboring without thought of selfish advantage
for the welfare of humanity.  He said that if the United States did
not come to the aid of mankind by endorsing all that had been done
at Paris, the heart of the world would be broken.  But the only
heart which was broken was his own.


Henry Cabot Lodge was a gentleman, a scholar, and an elegant and
persuasive figure in the United States Senate.  As he strolled down
the aisle of the Senate Chamber--slender, graceful, gray-haired,
gray-bearded, the embodiment of all that was patrician--he caught
and held the eye as might William Gillette on a crowded stage.  He
need not raise his voice, he need only turn for a moment and listen
to a sentence or two of some colleague's florid speech and then
walk indifferently on, to convince a visitor in the gallery that
the speech was unworthy of attention.  It was about Lodge that the
opposition to Wilson gathered.

He believed in Americanism.  He believed that the essence of
American foreign policy should be to keep the country clear of
foreign entanglements unless our honor was involved, to be ready to
fight and fight hard the moment it became involved, and, when the
fight was over, to disentangle ourselves once more, stand aloof,
and mind our own business.  (Our honor, as Lodge saw it, was
involved if our prerogatives were threatened; to Woodrow Wilson, on
the other hand, national honor was a moral matter: only by shameful
conduct could a nation lose it.)  As chairman of the Foreign
Relations Committee, Lodge conceived it to be his duty to see that
the United States was not drawn into any international agreement
which would endanger this time-honored policy.  He did not believe
that the nations of the world could be trusted to spend the rest of
their years behaving like so many Boy Scouts; he knew that, to be
effective, a treaty must be serviceable in eras of bad feeling as
well as good; and he saw in the present one many an invitation to

Senator Lodge was also a politician.  Knowing that his
Massachusetts constituents numbered among them hundreds of
thousands of Irish, he asked the overworked peace delegates at
Paris to give a hearing to Messrs. Frank P. Walsh, Edward F. Dunn,
and Michael J. Ryan, the so-called American Commission for Irish
Independence, though it was difficult for anyone but an Irishman
to say what Irish independence had to do with the Treaty.
Remembering, too, the size of the Italian vote, Lodge was willing
to embarrass President Wilson, in the midst of the Italian crisis
at the Conference, by saying in a speech to the Italians of Boston
that Italy ought to have Fiume and control the Adriatic.  Finally,
Lodge had no love for Woodrow Wilson.  So strongly did he feel that
Wilson's assumption of the right to speak for American opinion was
unwarranted and iniquitous, that when Henry White, the only
Republican on the American Peace Commission, sailed for Europe,
Lodge put into White's hands a secret memorandum containing his own
extremely un-Wilsonian idea of what peace terms the American people
would stand for, and suggested that White show it in strict
confidence to Balfour, Clemenceau, and Nitti, adding, "This
knowledge may in certain circumstances be very important to them in
strengthening their position."  No honorable man could have made
such a suggestion unless he believed the defeat of the President's
program to be essential to the country's welfare.

United with Lodge in skepticism about the Treaty, if in nothing
else, was a curious combination of men and of influences.  There
were hard-shelled tories like Brandegee; there were Western
idealists like Borah, who distrusted any association with foreign
diplomats as the blond country boy of the old-fashioned melodrama
distrusted association with the slick city man; there were chronic
dissenters like La Follette and Jim Reed; there were Republicans
who were not sorry to put the Democratic President into a hole, and
particularly a President who had appealed in war-time for the
election of a Democratic Congress; there were Senators anxious to
show that nobody could make a treaty without the advice as well as
the consent of the Senate, and get away with it; and there were not
a few who, in addition to their other reasons for opposition,
shared Lodge's personal distaste for Wilsonian rhetoric.  Outside
the Senate there was opposition of still other varieties.  The
Irish were easily inflamed against a League of Nations that gave
"six seats to England."  The Italians were ready to denounce a man
who had refused to let Italy have Fiume.  Many Germans, no matter
how loyal to the United States they may have been during the war,
had little enthusiasm for the hamstringing of the German Republic
and the denial to Germany of a seat in the League.  There were some
people who thought that America had got too little out of the
settlement.  And there were a vast number who saw in the League
Covenant, and especially in Article X, obligations with which they
were not willing to have the nation saddled.

Aside from all these groups, furthermore, there was another factor
to be reckoned with: the growing apathy of millions of Americans
toward anything which reminded them of the war.  They were fast
becoming sick and tired of the whole European mess.  They wanted to
be done with it.  They didn't want to be told of new sacrifices to
be made--they had made plenty.  Gone was the lift of the day when a
girl singing the "Doxology" in Times Square could express their
feelings about victory.  This was all over now, the Willard-Dempsey
fight and the arrival of the British dirigible R-34 at Long Island
were much more interesting.

On the 10th of July, 1919, the President, back in Washington again,
laid the Treaty of Versailles before the Senate, denying that the
compromises which had been accepted as inevitable by the American
negotiators "cut to the heart of any principle."  In his words as
he addressed the Senate was all the eloquence which only a few
months ago had swayed the world.  "The stage is set, the destiny
disclosed.  It has come about by no plan of our conceiving, but by
the hand of God who led us into the way.  We cannot turn back.  We
can only go forward, with lifted eyes and freshened spirit, to
follow the vision.  It was of this that we dreamed at our birth.
America shall in truth show the way.  The light streams upon the
path ahead and nowhere else."

Fine words--but they brought no overwhelming appeal from the
country for immediate ratification.  The country was tired of going
forward with lifted eyes, and Woodrow Wilson's prose style, now all
too familiar, could no longer freshen its spirit.  The Treaty--a
document as long as a novel--was referred to Lodge's Committee on
Foreign Relations, which settled down to study it at leisure.  A
month later Lodge rose in the Senate to express his preference for
national independence and security, to insist that Articles X and
XI of the League Covenant gave "other powers" the right "to call
out American troops and American ships to any part of the world,"
and to reply to Wilson:  "We would not have our politics distracted
and embittered by the dissensions of other lands.  We would not
have our country's vigor exhausted, or her moral force abated, by
everlasting meddling and muddling in every quarrel, great and
small, which afflicts the world."  And within a fortnight Lodge's
committee began voting--although by a narrow margin in each case--
to amend the Treaty; to give Shantung to China, to relieve the
United States of membership in international commissions, to give
the United States the same vote as Great Britain in the League, and
to shut off the representatives of the British dominions from
voting on questions affecting the British Empire.  It began to look
as if the process of making amendments and reservations might go on
indefinitely.  Woodrow Wilson decided to play his last desperate
card.  He would go to the people.  He would win them to his cause,
making a speaking trip through the West.

His doctors advised against it, for physically the President was
almost at the end of his rope.  Never robust, for months he had
been under a terrific strain.  Again and again during the Peace
Conference, Ray Stannard Baker would find him, after a long day of
nerve-wracking sessions, looking "utterly beaten, worn out, his
face quite haggard and one side of it twitching painfully."  At one
time he had broken down--had been taken with a sudden attack of
influenza, with violent paroxysms of coughing and a fever of 103--
only to be up again and at his labors within a few days.  Now, in
September, his nerves frayed by continued overwork and by the
thought of possible failure of all he had given his heart and
strength for, he was like a man obsessed.  He could think of
nothing but the Treaty and the League.  He cared for nothing but to
bring them through to victory.  And so, despite all that those
about him could say, he left Washington on September 3rd to undergo
the even greater strain of a speaking trip--the preparation and
delivery of one or even two speeches a day in huge sweltering
auditoriums (and without amplifiers to ease the strain on his
voice); the automobile processions through city after city (during
which he had to stand up in his car and continuously wave his hat
to the crowds); the swarms of reporters, the hand-shaking, the
glare of publicity, and the restless sleep of one who travels night
in and night out on a swaying train.

Again and again on that long trip of his, Woodrow Wilson painted
the picture of the Treaty and the League that lived in his own
mind, a picture which bore fainter and fainter resemblance to the
reality.  He spoke of the "generous, high-minded, statesman-like
coperation" which had been manifest at the Paris Conference; he
said that "the hearts of men like Clemenceau and Lloyd George and
Orlando beat with the people of the world," and that the heart of
humanity beat in the document which they had produced.  He
represented America, and indeed every other country, as thrilling
to a new ideal.  "The whole world is now in a state where you can
fancy that there are hot tears upon every cheek, and those hot
tears are tears of sorrow.  They are also tears of hope."  He
warned his audiences that if the Treaty were not ratified, disorder
would shake the foundations of the world, and he envisioned "this
great nation marching at the fore of a great procession" to "those
heights upon which there rests nothing but the pure light of the
justice of God."  Every one of those forty speeches was different
from every other, and each was perfectly ordered, beautifully
phrased, and thrilling with passion.  As an intellectual feat the
delivery of them was remarkable.  Yet each pictured a dream world
and a dream Treaty, and instinctively the country knew it.
(Perhaps, indeed, there were moments of terrible sanity when, as
the President lay sleepless in his private car, he himself knew how
far from the truth he had departed.)  The expected surge of public
opinion toward Wilson's cause failed to materialize.  The Senate
went right on discussing reservations.  On September 24th, the
first test vote went against the President 43 to 40.

On the night of the next day Wilson came to the end of his
strength.  For some time he had had indigestion and had slept
little.  After his long speech at Pueblo on the evening of
September 25th he could not sleep at all.  The train was stopped
and Mr. and Mrs. Wilson took a walk together on a country road.
When he returned to the train he was feverish and "as he slept
under a narcotic, his mouth drooled.  His body testified in many
ways to an impending crash."  The next morning when he tried to get
up he could hardly stand.  The train hurried on toward Washington
and all future speaking engagements were canceled.  Back to the
White House the sick man went.  A few days later a cerebral
thrombosis partially paralyzed his left side.  Another act of the
tragedy had come to an end.  He had given all he had to the cause,
and it had not been enough.


There followed one of the most extraordinary periods in the whole
history of the Presidency.  For weeks Woodrow Wilson lay seriously
ill, sometimes unable even to sign documents awaiting his
signature.  He could not sit up in a chair for over a month, or
venture out for a ride in the White House automobile for five
months.  During all the rest of his term--which lasted until March
4, 1921, seventeen months after his breakdown--he remained in
feeble and precarious health, a sick man lying in bed or sitting in
an invalid's chair, his left side and left leg and left arm
partially paralyzed.  Within the White House he was immured as if
in a hospital.  He saw almost nobody, transacted only the most
imperative business of his office.  The only way of communicating
with him was by letter, and as during most of this time all letters
must pass through the hands of Mrs. Wilson or Admiral Grayson or
others in the circle of attendants upon the invalid, and few were
answered, there was often no way of knowing who was responsible for
a failure to answer them or to act in accordance with the
suggestions embodied in them.  Sometimes, in fact, it was suspected
that it was Mrs. Wilson who was responsible for many a White House
decision--that the country was in effect being governed by a

With the President virtually unable to function, the whole
executive machine came almost to a stop.  It could, to be sure,
continue its routine tasks; and an aggressive member of the Cabinet
like Attorney-General Palmer could go blithely ahead rounding up
radicals and deporting them and getting out injunctions against
strikers as if he had the full wisdom and power of the Presidency
behind him; but most matters of policy waited upon the White House,
and after a while it became clear that guidance from that quarter
could hardly be expected.  There were vital problems clamoring for
the attention of the Executive: the high cost of living, the
subsequent breakdown of business prosperity and increase of
unemployment; the intense bitterness between capital and labor,
culminating in the great steel and coal strikes; the reorganization
of the government departments on a peace basis; the settlement of
innumerable questions of foreign policy unconnected with the Treaty
or the League.  Yet upon most of these problems the sick man had no
leadership to offer.  Meanwhile his influence with Congress and the
country, far from being increased by his martyrdom for the League,
dwindled to almost nothing.

The effect of this strange state of affairs upon official
Washington was well described a year or two later by Edward G.
Lowry in Washington Close-ups:

"For a long time the social-political atmosphere of Washington had
been one of bleak and chill austerity suffused and envenomed by
hatred of a sick chief magistrate that seemed to poison and blight
every human relationship.  The White House was isolated.  It had
no relation with the Capitol or the local resident and official
community.  Its great iron gates were closed and chained and
locked.  Policemen guarded its approaches.  It was in a void
apart. . . .  It all made for bleakness and bitterness and a
general sense of frustration and unhappiness."

Mr. Wilson's mind remained clear.  When the report went about that
he was unable "to discharge the powers and duties" of his office
and should, therefore, under the provisions of the Constitution, be
supplanted by the Vice-President (and reports of this sort were
frequent in those days) Senators Fall and Hitchcock visited him in
behalf of the Senate to determine his mental condition.  They found
him keenly alive to the humor of their embarrassing mission; he
laughed and joked with them and showed a complete grasp of the
subjects under discussion.  Nevertheless, something had gone out of
him.  His messages were lifeless, his mind was sterile of new
ideas.  He could not meet new situations in a new way: reading his
public documents, one felt that his brain was still turning over
old ideas, rearranging old phrases, that he was still living in
that dream world which he had built about himself during the days
of his fight for the League.

He had always been a lonely man; and now, as if pursued by some
evil demon, he broke with one after another of those who still
tried to serve him.  For long years Colonel House had been his
chief adviser as well as his affectionate friend.  During the
latter days of the Peace Conference a certain coolness had been
noticed in Wilson's attitude toward House.  This very conciliatory
man had been perhaps a little too conciliatory in his negotiations
during the President's absence from Paris: rightly or wrongly, the
President felt that House had unwittingly played into the hands of
the wily Clemenceau.  Nevertheless, House hoped, on his return from
Paris, to be able to effect a rapprochement between his broken
chief and the defiant Senators.  House wrote to suggest that Wilson
accept certain reservations to the Treaty.  There was no answer to
the letter.  House wrote again.  No answer.  There was never any
explanation.  The friendship and the political relationship, long
so valuable to the President and so influential in the direction of
policy, were both at an end--that was all one could say.

Robert Lansing had been at odds with the President over many things
before and during the Peace Conference; yet he remained as
Secretary of State and believed himself to be on good terms with
his chief.  During Wilson's illness, deciding that something must
be done to enable the government to transact business, he called
meetings of the Cabinet, which were held in the Cabinet Room at the
White House offices.  He was peremptorily dismissed.  Last of all
to go was the faithful Joe Tumulty, who had been Wilson's secretary
through fair weather and foul, in the Governor's office at Trenton
and for eight years at Washington.  Although the break with Tumulty
happened after Wilson left the White House, it deserves mention
here because it so resembles the others and reveals what poison was
working in the sick man's mind.  In April, 1922, there was to be
held in New York a Democratic dinner.  Before the dinner Tumulty
visited Wilson and got what he supposed to be an oral message to
the effect that Wilson would "support any man [for the Presidency]
who will stand for the salvation of America, and the salvation of
America is justice to all classes."  It seemed an innocuous
message, and after ten years of association with Wilson, Tumulty
had reason to suppose that he knew when Wilson might be quoted and
when he might not.  But as it happened, Governor Cox spoke at the
Democratic dinner, and the message, when Tumulty gave it, was
interpreted as an endorsement of Cox; whereupon Wilson wrote a curt
letter to the New York Times denying that he had authorized anybody
to give a message from him.  Tumulty at once wrote to Wilson to
explain that he had acted in good faith and to apologize like a
true friend for having caused the President embarrassment.  His
letter was "courteously answered by Mrs. Wilson" (to use Tumulty's
own subsequent words), but Wilson himself said not a word more.
Again Tumulty wrote loyally, saying that he would always regard Mr.
Wilson with affection and would be "always around the corner when
you need me."  There was no answer.

On the issue of the Treaty and the League Woodrow Wilson remained
adamant to the end.  Call it unswerving loyalty to principle or
call it stubbornness, as you will--he would consent to no
reservations except (when it was too late) some innocuous
"interpretive" ones, framed by Senator Hitchcock, which went down
to defeat.  While the President lay critically ill, the Senate went
right on proposing reservation after reservation, and on November
19, 1919, it defeated the Treaty.  Only a small majority of the
Senators were at that time irreconcilable opponents of the pact;
but they were enough to carry the day.  By combining forces with
Wilson's Democratic supporters who favored the passage of the
Treaty without change, they secured a majority against the long
list of reservations proposed by Lodge's committee.  Then by
combining forces with Lodge and the other reservationists, they
defeated the Treaty minus the reservations.  It was an ironical
result, but it stood.  A few months later the issue was raised
again, and once more the Treaty went down to defeat.  Finally a
resolution for a separate peace with Germany was passed by both
Houses--and vetoed by Wilson as "an action which would place an
ineffaceable stain upon the gallantry and honor of the United
States."  (A similar peace resolution was ultimately signed by
President Harding.)  President Wilson's last hope was that the
election of 1920 would serve as a "great and solemn referendum" in
which the masses of the people--those masses who, he had always
claimed, were on his side--would rise to vindicate him and the
country.  They rose--and swamped the pro-League candidate by a
plurality of seven million.

It is not pleasant to imagine the thoughts of the sick man in the
White House as defeat after defeat overwhelmed his cause and mocked
the great sacrifice he had made for it.  How soon the realization
came upon him that everything was lost we do not know.  After his
breakdown, as he lay ill in the White House, did he still hope?  It
seems likely.  All news from the outside world was filtered to him
through those about him.  With his life hanging in the balance, it
would have been quite natural--if not inevitable--for them to wish
to protect him from shock, to tell him that all was going well on
the Hill, that the tide had swung back again, that this token and
that showed that the American people would not fail him.  On such a
theory one might explain the break with Colonel House.  Possibly
any suggestion for compromise with the Lodge forces seemed to the
President simply a craven proposal for putting up the white flag in
the moment of victory.  But whether or not this theory is
justified, sooner or later the knowledge must have come, as vote
after vote turned against the Treaty, and must have turned the
taste of life to bitterness.  Wilson's icy repudiation of faithful
Joe Tumulty was the act of a man who has lost his faith in


Back in the early spring of 1919, while Wilson was still at Paris,
Samuel G. Blythe, an experienced observer of the political scene,
had written in the Saturday Evening Post of the temper of the
leaders of the Republican Party as they faced the issues of peace:

"You cannot teach an Old Guard new tricks. . . .  The Old Guard
surrenders but it never dies.  Right at this minute, the ancient
and archaic Republicans who think they control the destinies of the
Republican Party--think they do!--are operating after the manner
and style of 1896.  The war hasn't made a dent in them. . . .  The
only way they look is backward."

The analysis was sound; but the Republican bosses, however open to
criticism they may have been as statesmen, were at least good
politicians.  They had their ears where a good politician's should
be--to the ground--and what they heard there was a rumble of
discontent with Wilson and all that he represented.  They
determined that at the election of 1920 they would choose as the
Republican standard-bearer somebody who would present, both to
themselves and to the country, a complete contrast with the
idealist whom they detested.  As the year rolled round and the date
for the Republican Convention approached, they surveyed the field.
The leading candidate was General Leonard Wood, a blunt soldier, an
inheritor of Theodore Roosevelt's creed of fearing God and keeping
your powder dry; he made a fairly good contrast with Wilson, but he
promised to be almost as unmanageable.  Then there was Governor
Lowden of Illinois--but he, too, did not quite fulfill the ideal.
Herbert Hoover, the reliever of Belgium and war-time Food
Administrator, was conducting a highly amateur campaign for the
nomination; the politicians dismissed him with a sour laugh.  Why,
this man Hoover hadn't known whether he was a Republican or
Democrat until the campaign began!  Hiram Johnson was in the field,
but he also might prove stiff-necked, although it was to his
advantage that he was a Senator.  The bosses' inspired choice was
none of these men: it was Warren Gamaliel Harding, a commonplace
and unpretentious Senator from Ohio.

Consider how perfectly Harding met the requirements.  Wilson was a
visionary who liked to identify himself with "forward-looking men";
Harding, as Mr. Lowry put it, was as old-fashioned as those wooden
Indians which used to stand in front of cigar stores, "a flower of
the period before safety razors."  Harding believed that
statesmanship had come to its apogee in the days of McKinley and
Foraker.  Wilson was cold; Harding was an affable small-town man,
at ease with "folks"; an ideal companion, as one of his friends
expressed it, "to play poker with all Saturday night."  Wilson had
always been difficult of access; Harding was accessible to the last
degree.  Wilson favored labor, distrusted businessmen as a class,
and talked of "industrial democracy"; Harding looked back with
longing eyes to the good old days when the government didn't bother
businessmen with unnecessary regulations, but provided them with
fat tariffs and instructed the Department of Justice not to have
them on its mind.  Wilson was at logger-heads with Congress, and
particularly with the Senate; Harding was not only a Senator, but a
highly amenable Senator.  Wilson had been adept at making enemies;
Harding hadn't an enemy in the world.  He was genuinely genial.
"He had no knobs, he was the same size and smoothness all the way
round," wrote Charles Willis Thompson.  Wilson thought in terms of
the whole world; Harding was for America first.  And finally,
whereas Wilson wanted America to exert itself nobly, Harding wanted
to give it a rest.  At Boston, a few weeks before the Convention,
he had correctly expressed the growing desire of the people of the
country and at the same time had unwittingly added a new word to
the language, when he said, "America's present need is not heroics
but healing; not nostrums but normalcy; not revolution but
restoration; . . . not surgery but serenity."  Here was a man whom
a country wearied of moral obligations and the hope of the world
could take to its heart.

It is credibly reported that the decision in favor of Harding was
made by the Republican bosses as early as February, 1920, four
months before the Convention.  But it was not until four ballots
had been taken at the Convention itself--with Wood leading, Lowden
second, and Harding fifth--and the wilted delegates had dispersed
for the night, that the leaders finally concluded to put Harding
over.  Harding's political manager, an Ohio boss named Harry M.
Daugherty, had predicted that the Convention would be deadlocked
and that the nomination would be decided upon by twelve or thirteen
men "at two o'clock in the morning, in a smoke-filled room."  He
was precisely right.  The room was Colonel George Harvey's, in the
Hotel Blackstone.  Boies Penrose, lying mortally ill in
Philadelphia, had given his instructions by private wire to John T.
Adams.  The word was passed round, and the next afternoon Harding
was nominated.

The Democrats, relieved that Wilson's illness had disqualified him,
duly nominated another equally undistinguished Ohio politician,
Governor James M. Cox.  This nominee had to swallow the League of
Nations and did.  He swung manfully around the circle, shouting
himself hoarse, pointing with pride.  But he hadn't a chance in the
world.  Senator Harding remained in his average small town and
conducted a McKinley-esque front-porch campaign; he pitched
horseshoes behind the house with his Republican advisers like an
average small-town man and wore a McKinley carnation; he said just
enough in behalf of "an association of nations" to permit
inveterate Republicans who favored the League to vote for him
without twinges of conscience, and just enough against Wilson's
League to convince the majority that with him in the White House
they would not be called upon to march to the aid of suffering
Czechoslovakia; and the men and women of the United States woke up
on the morning of November 3rd to find that they had swept him into
the Presidency by a margin of sixteen million to nine million.
Governor Cox, the sacrificial victim, faded rapidly into the mists
of obscurity.

The United States had rendered its considered judgment on "our
fortunate duty to assist by example, by sober, friendly counsel,
and by material aid in the establishment of just democracy
throughout the world."  It had preferred normalcy.


Woodrow Wilson lived on in Washington--in a large and comfortable
house on S Street--for over three years after this final crushing
defeat.  Those who came to call upon him toward the end found a man
prematurely old, huddled in a big chair by the fireplace in a sunny
south room.  He sat with his hands in his lap, his head a little on
one side.  His face and body were heavier than they had been in his
days of power; his hair, now quite gray, was brushed back over an
almost bald head.  As he talked he did not move his head--only his
eyes followed his visitor, and his right arm swung back and forth
and occasionally struck the arm of the chair for emphasis as he
made his points.  The old-time urbanity was in his manner as he
said, "You must excuse my not rising; I'm really quite lame."  But
as he talked of the foreign policy of the United States and of his
enemies, his tone was full of hatred.  This was no time to sprinkle
rose-water round, he said; it was a time for fighting--there must
be a party fight, "not in a partisan spirit, but on party lines."
Still he clung to the last shred of hope that his party might
follow the gleam.  Of the men who had made the fulfillment of his
great project impossible he spoke in unsparing terms.  "I've got to
get well, and then I'm going out to get a few scalps."  So he
nursed his grievance; an old man, helpless and bitter.

On Armistice Day, five years after the triumphant close of the war,
he stood on the steps of his house--supported so that he should not
fall--and spoke to a crowd that had gathered to do him honor.  "I
am not," said he, "one of those that have the least anxiety about
the triumph of the principles I have stood for.  I have seen fools
resist Providence before and I have seen their destruction, as will
come upon these again--utter destruction and contempt.  That we
shall prevail is as sure as that God reigns."

Three months later he was dead.



If the American people turned a deaf ear to Woodrow Wilson's plea
for the League of Nations during the early years of the Post-war
Decade, it was not simply because they were too weary of foreign
entanglements and noble efforts to heed him.  They were listening
to something else.  They were listening to ugly rumors of a huge
radical conspiracy against the government and institutions of the
United States.  They had their ears cocked for the detonation of
bombs and the tramp of Bolshevist armies.  They seriously thought--
or at least millions of them did, millions of otherwise reasonable
citizens--that a Red revolution might begin in the United States
the next month or next week, and they were less concerned with
making the world safe for democracy than with making America safe
for themselves.

Those were the days when column after column of the front pages of
the newspapers shouted the news of strikes and anti-Bolshevist
riots; when radicals shot down Armistice Day paraders in the
streets of Centralia, Washington, and in revenge the patriotic
citizenry took out of the jail a member of the I. W. W.--a white
American, be it noted--and lynched him by tying a rope around his
neck and throwing him off a bridge; when properly elected members
of the Assembly of New York State were expelled (and their
constituents thereby disfranchised) simply because they had been
elected as members of the venerable Socialist Party; when a jury in
Indiana took two minutes to acquit a man for shooting and killing
an alien because he had shouted, "To hell with the United States";
and when the Vice-President of the nation cited as a dangerous
manifestation of radicalism in the women's colleges the fact that
the girl debaters of Radcliffe had upheld the affirmative in an
intercollegiate debate on the subject:  "Resolved, that the
recognition of labor unions by employers is essential to successful
collective bargaining."  It was an era of lawless and disorderly
defense of law and order, of unconstitutional defense of the
Constitution, of suspicion and civil conflict--in a very literal
sense, a reign of terror.

For this national panic there was a degree of justification.
During the war the labor movement had been steadily gaining in
momentum and prestige.  There had been hundreds of strikes, induced
chiefly by the rising prices of everything that the laboring-man
needed in order to live, but also by his new consciousness of his
power.  The government, in order to keep up production and maintain
industrial peace, had encouraged collective bargaining, elevated
Samuel Gompers to one of the seats of the mighty in the war
councils at Washington, and given the workers some reason to hope
that with the coming of peace new benefits would be showered upon
them.  Peace came, and hope was deferred.  Prices still rose,
employers resisted wage increases with a new solidarity and
continued to insist on long hours of work, Woodrow Wilson went off
to Europe in quest of universal peace and forgot all about the
laboring-men; and in anger and despair, they took up the only
weapon ready to their hand--the strike.  All over the country they
struck.  There were strikes in the building trades, among the
longshoremen, the stockyard workers, the shipyard men, the subway
men, the shoe-workers, the carpenters, the telephone operators, and
so on ad infinitum, until by November, 1919, the total number of
men and women on strike in the industrial states was estimated by
Alvin Johnson to be at least a million, with enough more in the non-
industrial states, or voluntarily abstaining from work though not
engaged in recognized strikes, to bring the grand total to
something like two million.

Nor were all of these men striking merely for recognition of their
unions or for increases in pay or shorter hours--the traditional
causes.  Some of them were demanding a new industrial order, the
displacement of capitalistic control of industry (or at least of
their own industry) by government control: in short, something
approaching a social rgime.  The hitherto conservative railroad
workers came out for the Plumb Plan, by which the government would
continue to direct the railroads and labor would have a voice in
the management.  When in September, 1919, the United Mine Workers
voted to strike, they boldly advocated the nationalization of the
mines; and a delegate who began his speech before the crowded
convention with the words, "Nationalization is impossible," was
drowned out by boos and jeers and cries of "Coal operator!  Throw
him out!"  In the Northwest the I. W. W. was fighting to get the
whip hand over capital through One Big Union.  In North Dakota and
the adjoining grain states, two hundred thousand farmers joined
Townley's Non-Partisan League, described by its enemies--with some
truth--as an agrarian soviet.  (Townley's candidate for governor of
Minnesota in 1916, by the way, had been a Swedish-American named
Charles A. Lindbergh, who would have been amazed to hear that his
family was destined to be allied by marriage to that of a Morgan
partner.)  There was an unmistakable trend toward socialistic ideas
both in the ranks of labor and among liberal intellectuals.  The
Socialist party, watching the success of the Russian Revolution,
was flirting with the idea of violent mass-action.  And there was,
too, a rag-tag-and-bobtail collection of communists and anarchists,
many of them former Socialists, nearly all of them foreign-born,
most of them Russian, who talked of going still further, who took
their gospel direct from Moscow and, presumably with the aid of
Russian funds, preached it aggressively among the slum and factory-
town population.

This latter group of communists and anarchists constituted a very
narrow minority of the radical movement--absurdly narrow when we
consider all the to-do that was made about them.  Late in 1919
Professor Gordon S. Watkins of the University of Illinois, writing
in the Atlantic Monthly, set the membership of the Socialist party
at 39,000, of the Communist Labor party at from 10,000 to 30,000,
and of the Communist party at from 30,000 to 60,000.  In other
words, according to this estimate, the Communists could muster at
the most hardly more than one-tenth of one per cent of the adult
population of the country; and the three parties together--the
majority of whose members were probably content to work for their
ends by lawful means--brought the proportion to hardly more than
two-tenths of one per cent, a rather slender nucleus, it would
seem, for a revolutionary mass movement.

But the American businessman was in no mood to consider whether it
was a slender nucleus or not.  He, too, had come out of the war
with his fighting blood up, ready to lick the next thing that stood
in his way.  He wanted to get back to business and enjoy his
profits.  Labor stood in his way and threatened his profits.  He
had come out of the war with a militant patriotism; and mingling
his idealistic with his selfish motives, after the manner of all
men at all times, he developed a fervent belief that 100-per-cent
Americanism and the Welfare of God's Own Country and Loyalty to the
Teachings of the Founding Fathers implied the right of the
businessman to kick the union organizer out of his workshop.  He
had come to distrust anything and everything that was foreign, and
this radicalism he saw as the spawn of long-haired Slavs and
unwashed East-Side Jews.  And, finally, he had been nourished
during the war years upon stories of spies and plotters and
international intrigue.  He had been convinced that German
sympathizers signaled to one another with lights from mountain-tops
and put ground glass into surgical dressings, and he had formed the
habit of expecting tennis courts to conceal gun-emplacements.  His
credulity had thus been stretched until he was quite ready to
believe that a struggle of American laboring-men for better wages
was the beginning of an armed rebellion directed by Lenin and
Trotsky, and that behind every innocent professor who taught that
there were arguments for as well as against socialism there was a
bearded rascal from eastern Europe with a money bag in one hand and
a smoking bomb in the other.


The events of 1919 did much to feed this fear.  On the 28th of
April--while Wilson was negotiating the Peace Treaty at Paris, and
homecoming troops were parading under Victory Arches--an infernal
machine "big enough to blow out the entire side of the County-City
Building" was found in Mayor Ole Hanson's mail at Seattle.  Mayor
Hanson had been stumping the country to arouse it to the Red
Menace.  The following afternoon a colored servant opened a package
addressed to Senator Thomas R. Hardwick at his home in Atlanta,
Georgia, and a bomb in the package blew off her hands.  Senator
Hardwick, as chairman of the Immigration Committee of the Senate,
had proposed restricting immigration as a means of keeping out

At two o'clock the next morning Charles Caplan, a clerk in the
parcel post division of the New York Post Office, was on his way
home to Harlem when he read in a newspaper about the Hardwick bomb.
The package was described in this news story as being about six
inches long and three inches wide; as being done up in brown paper
and, like the Hanson bomb, marked with the (false, of course)
return address of Gimbel Brothers in New York.  There was something
familiar to Mr. Caplan about this description.  He thought he
remembered having seen some packages like that.  He racked his
brain, and suddenly it all came back to him.  He hurried back to
the Post Office--and found, neatly laid away on a shelf where he
had put them because of insufficient postage, sixteen little brown-
paper packages with the Gimbel return address on them.  They were
addressed to Attorney-General Palmer, Postmaster-General Burleson,
Judge Landis of Chicago, Justice Holmes of the Supreme Court,
Secretary of Labor Wilson, Commissioner of Immigration Caminetti,
J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, and a number of other government
officials and capitalists.  The packages were examined by the
police in a neighboring firehouse, and found to contain bombs.
Others had started on their way through the mails; the total number
ultimately accounted for reached thirty-six.  (None of the other
packages were carelessly opened, it is hardly necessary to say; for
the next few days people in high station were very circumspect
about undoing brown-paper packages.)  The list of intended
recipients was strong evidence that the bombs had been sent by an
alien radical.

Hardly more than a month later there was a series of bomb
explosions, the most successful of which damaged the front of
Attorney-General Palmer's house in Washington.  It came in the
evening; Mr. Palmer had just left the library on the ground floor
and turned out the lights and gone up to bed when there was a bang
as of something hitting the front door, followed by the crash of
the explosion.  The limbs of a man blown to pieces were found
outside, and close by, according to the newspaper reports, lay a
copy of Plain Words, a radical publication.

The American public read the big headlines about these outrages and
savagely resolved to get back at "these radicals."

How some of them did so may be illustrated by two incidents out of
dozens which took place during those days.  Both of them occurred
on May Day of 1919--just after Mr. Caplan had found the brown-paper
packages on the Post Office shelf.  On the afternoon of May Day the
owners and staff of the New York Call, a Socialist paper, were
holding a reception to celebrate the opening of their new office.
There were hundreds of men, women, and children gathered in the
building for innocent palaver.  A mob of soldiers and sailors
stormed in and demanded that the "Bolshevist" posters be torn down.
When the demand was refused, they destroyed the literature on the
tables, smashed up the offices, drove the crowd out into the
street, and clubbed them so vigorously--standing in a semicircle
outside the front door and belaboring them as they emerged--that
seven members of the Call staff went to the hospital.

In Cleveland, on the same day, there was a Socialist parade headed
by a red flag.  An army lieutenant demanded that the flag be
lowered, and thereupon with a group of soldiers leaped into the
ranks of the procession and precipitated a free-for-all fight.  The
police came and charged into the mle--and from that moment a
series of riots began which spread through the city.  Scores of
people were injured, one man was killed, and the Socialist
headquarters were utterly demolished by a gang that defended
American institutions by throwing typewriters and office furniture
out into the street.

The summer of 1919 passed.  The Senate debated the Peace Treaty.
The House passed the Volstead Act.  The Suffrage Amendment passed
Congress and went to the States.  The R-34 made the first
transatlantic dirigible flight from England to Mineola, Long
Island, and returned safely.  People laughed over The Young
Visiters and wondered whether Daisy Ashford was really James M.
Barrie.  The newspapers denounced sugar-hoarders and food
profiteers as the cost of living kept on climbing.  The first
funeral by airplane was held.  Ministers lamented the increasing
laxity of morals among the young.  But still the fear and hatred of
Bolshevism gripped the American mind as new strikes broke out and
labor became more aggressive and revolution spread like a scourge
through Europe.  And then, in September, came the Boston police
strike, and the fear was redoubled.


The Boston police had a grievance: their pay was based on a minimum
of $1,100, out of which uniforms had to be bought, and $1,100 would
buy mighty little at 1919 prices.  They succumbed to the epidemic
of unionism, formed a union, and affiliated with the American
Federation of Labor.  Police Commissioner Curtis, a stiff-necked
martinet, had forbidden them to affiliate with any outside
organization, and he straightway brought charges against nineteen
officers and members of the union for having violated his orders,
found them guilty, and suspended them.  The Irish blood of the
police was heated, and they threatened to strike.  A committee
appointed by the mayor to adjust the dispute proposed a compromise,
but to Mr. Curtis this looked like surrender.  He refused to budge.
Thereupon, on September 9, 1919, a large proportion of the police
walked out at the time of the evening roll call.

With the city left defenseless, hoodlums proceeded to enjoy
themselves.  That night they smashed windows and looted stores.
Mayor Peters called for State troops.  The next day the Governor
called out the State Guard, and a volunteer police force began to
try to cope with the situation.  The Guardsmen and volunteer police--
ex-servicemen, Harvard students, cotton brokers from the Back Bay--
were inexperienced, and the hoodlums knew it.  Guardsmen were
goaded into firing on a mob in South Boston and killed two people.
For days there was intermittent violence, especially when Guardsmen
upheld the majesty of the law by breaking up crap games in that
garden of sober Puritanism, Boston Common.  The casualty list grew,
and the country looked on with dismay as the Central Labor Union,
representing the organized trade unionists of the city, debated
holding a general strike on behalf of the policemen.  Perhaps,
people thought, the dreaded revolution was beginning here and now.

But presently it began to appear that public opinion in Boston, as
everywhere else, was overwhelmingly against the police and that
theirs was a lost cause.  The Central Labor Union prudently decided
not to call a general strike.  Mr. Curtis discharged the nineteen
men whom he had previously suspended and began to recruit a new

Realizing that the game was nearly up, old Samuel Gompers, down in
Washington, tried to intervene.  He wired to the Governor of
Massachusetts that the action of the Police Commissioner was
unwarranted and autocratic.

The Governor of Massachusetts was an inconspicuous, sour-faced man
with a reputation for saying as little as possible and never
jeopardizing his political position by being betrayed into a false
move.  He made the right move now.  He replied to Gompers that
there was "no right to strike against the public safety by anybody,
anywhere, any time"--and overnight he became a national hero.  If
there had been any doubt that the strike was collapsing, it
vanished when the press of the whole country applauded Calvin
Coolidge.  For many a week to come, amateur policemen, pressed into
emergency service, would come home at night to the water side of
Beacon Street to complain that directing traffic was even more
arduous than a whole day of golf at the Country Club; it took time
to recruit a new force.  But recruited it was, and Boston breathed

Organized labor, however, was in striking mood.  A few days later,
several hundred thousand steel-workers walked out of the mills--
after Judge Gary had shown as stiff a neck as Commissioner Curtis
and had refused to deal with their union representatives.

Now there was little radicalism among the steel strikers.  Their
strike was a protest against low wages and long hours.  A
considerable proportion of them worked a twelve-hour day, and they
had a potentially strong case.  But the steel magnates had learned
something from the Boston Police Strike.  The public was jumpy and
would condemn any cause on which the Bolshevist label could be
pinned.  The steel magnates found little difficulty in pinning a
Bolshevist label on the strikers.  William Z. Foster, the most
energetic and intelligent of the strike organizers, had been a
syndicalist (and later, although even Judge Gary didn't know it
then, was to become a Communist).  Copies of a syndicalist pamphlet
by Foster appeared in newspaper offices and were seized upon avidly
to show what a revolutionary fellow he was.  Foster was trying to
substitute unions organized by industries for the ineffective craft
unions, which were at the mercy of a huge concern like the Steel
Corporation; therefore, according to the newspapers, Foster was a
"borer from within" and the strike was part of a radical
conspiracy.  The public was sufficiently frightened to prove more
interested in defeating borers from within than in mitigating the
lot of obscure Slavs who spent twelve hours a day in the steel

The great steel strike had been in progress only a few weeks when a
great coal strike impended.  In this case nobody needed to point
out to the public the Red specter lurking behind the striking
miners.  The miners had already succeeded in pinning the Bolshevist
label on themselves by their enthusiastic vote for nationalization;
and to the undiscriminating newspaper reader, public control of the
mining industry was all of a piece with communism, anarchism, bomb-
throwing, and general Red ruin.  Here was a new threat to the
Republic.  Something must be done.  The Government must act.

It acted.  A. Mitchell Palmer, Attorney-General of the United
States, who enjoyed being called the "Fighting Quaker," saw his
shining opportunity and came to the rescue of the Constitution.


There is a certain grim humor in the fact that what Mr. Palmer did
during the next three months was done by him as the chief legal
officer of an Administration which had come into power to bring
about the New Freedom.  Woodrow Wilson was ill in the White House,
out of touch with affairs, and dreaming only of his lamented
League: that is the only explanation.

On the day before the coal strike was due to begin, the Attorney-
General secured from a Federal Judge in Indianapolis an order
enjoining the leaders of the strike from doing anything whatever to
further it.  He did this under the provisions of a food-and-fuel-
control Act which forbade restriction of coal production during the
war.  In actual fact the war was not only over, it had been over
for nearly a year: but legally it was not over--the Peace Treaty
still languished in the Senate.  This food-and-fuel-control law, in
further actual fact, had been passed by the Senate after Senator
Husting had explicitly declared that he was "authorized by the
Secretary of Labor, Mr. Wilson, to say that the Administration does
not construe this bill as prohibiting strikes and peaceful
picketing and will not so construe it."  But Mr. Palmer either had
never heard of this assurance or cared nothing about it or decided
that unforeseen conditions had arisen.  He got his injunction, and
the coal strike was doomed, although the next day something like
four hundred thousand coal miners, now leaderless by decree of the
Federal Government, walked out of the mines.

The public knew nothing of the broken pledge, of course; it would
have been a bold newspaper proprietor who would have published
Senator Husting's statement, even had he known about it.  It took
genuine courage for a paper even to say, as did the New York World
at that time, that there was "no Bolshevist menace in the United
States and no I. W. W. menace that an ordinarily capable police
force is not competent to deal with."  The press applauded the
injunction as it had applauded Calvin Coolidge.  The Fighting
Quaker took heart.  His next move was to direct a series of raids
in which Communist leaders were rounded up for deportation to
Russia, via Finland, on the ship Buford, jocosely known as the
"Soviet Ark."  Again there was enthusiasm--and apparently there was
little concern over the right of the Administration to tear from
their families men who had as yet committed no crime.  Mr. Palmer
decided to give the American public more of the same; and thereupon
he carried through a new series of raids which set a new record in
American history for executive transgression of individual
constitutional rights.

Under the drastic war-time Sedition Act, the Secretary of Labor had
the power to deport aliens who were anarchists, or believed in or
advocated the overthrow of the government by violence, or were
affiliated with any organization that so believed or advocated.
Mr. Palmer now decided to "cooperate" with the Secretary of Labor
by rounding up the alien membership of the Communist party for
wholesale deportation.  His under-cover agents had already worked
their way into the organization; one of them, indeed, was said to
have become a leader in his district (which raised the philosophical
question whether government agents in such positions would have
imperiled their jobs by counseling moderation among the comrades).

In scores of cities all over the United States, when the Communists
were simultaneously meeting at their various headquarters on New
Year's Day of 1920, Mr. Palmer's agents and police and voluntary
aides fell upon them--fell upon everybody, in fact, who was in the
hall, regardless of whether he was a Communist or not (how could
one tell?)--and bundled them off to jail, with or without warrant.
Every conceivable bit of evidence--literature, membership lists,
books, papers, pictures on the wall, everything--was seized, with
or without a search warrant.  On this and succeeding nights other
Communists and suspected Communists were seized in their homes.
Over six thousand men were arrested in all, and thrust summarily
behind the bars for days or weeks--often without any chance to
learn what was the explicit charge against them.  At least one
American citizen, not a Communist, was jailed for days through some
mistake--probably a confusion of names--and barely escaped
deportation.  In Detroit, over a hundred men were herded into a
bullpen measuring twenty-four by thirty feet and kept there for a
week under conditions which the mayor of the city called
intolerable.  In Hartford, while the suspects were in jail the
authorities took the further precaution of arresting and
incarcerating all visitors who came to see them, a friendly call
being regarded as prima facie evidence of affiliation with the
Communist party.

Ultimately a considerable proportion of the prisoners were released
for want of sufficient evidence that they were Communists.
Ultimately, too, it was divulged that in the whole country-wide
raid upon these dangerous men--supposedly armed to the teeth--
exactly three pistols were found, and no explosives at all.  But at
the time the newspapers were full of reports from Mr. Palmer's
office that new evidence of a gigantic plot against the safety of
the country had been unearthed; and although the steel strike was
failing, the coal strike was failing, and any danger of a
socialistic rgime, to say nothing of a revolution, was daily
fading, nevertheless to the great mass of the American people the
Bolshevist bogey became more terrifying than ever.

Mr. Palmer was in full cry.  In public statements he was reminding
the twenty million owners of Liberty bonds and the nine million
farm-owners and the eleven million owners of savings accounts that
the Reds proposed to take away all they had.  He was distributing
boiler-plate propaganda to the press, containing pictures of horrid-
looking Bolsheviks with bristling beards, and asking if such as
these should rule over America.  Politicians were quoting the
suggestion of Guy Empey that the proper implements for dealing with
the Reds could be "found in any hardware store," or proclaiming,
"My motto for the Reds is S. O. S.--ship or shoot.  I believe we
should place them all on a ship of stone, with sails of lead, and
that their first stopping-place should be hell."  College graduates
were calling for the dismissal of professors suspected of
radicalism; schoolteachers were being made to sign oaths of
allegiance; businessmen with unorthodox political or economic ideas
were learning to hold their tongues if they wanted to hold their
jobs.  Hysteria had reached its height.


Nor did it quickly subside.  For the professional super-patriot
(and assorted special propagandists disguised as super-patriots)
had only begun to fight.  Innumerable patriotic societies had
sprung up, each with its executive secretary, and executive
secretaries must live, and therefore must conjure up new and ever
greater menaces.  Innumerable other gentlemen now discovered that
they could defeat whatever they wanted to defeat by tarring it
conspicuously with the Bolshevist brush.  Big-navy men, believers
in compulsory military service, drys, anti-cigarette campaigners,
anti-evolution Fundamentalists, defenders of the moral order, book
censors, Jew-haters, Negro-haters, landlords, manufacturers,
utility executives, upholders of every sort of cause, good, bad,
and indifferent, all wrapped themselves in Old Glory and the mantle
of the Founding Fathers and allied their opponents with Lenin.  The
open shop, for example, became the "American plan."  For years a
pestilence of speakers and writers continued to afflict the country
with tales of "sinister and subversive agitators."  Elderly ladies
in gilt chairs in ornate drawing-rooms heard from executive
secretaries that the agents of the government had unearthed new
radical conspiracies too fiendish to be divulged before the proper
time.  Their husbands were told at luncheon clubs that the colleges
were honeycombed with Bolshevism.  A cloud of suspicion hung in the
air, and intolerance became an American virtue.

William J. Burns put the number of resident Communists at 422,000,
and S. Stanwood Menken of the National Security League made it
600,000--figures at least ten times as large as those of Professor
Watkins.  Dwight Braman, president of the Allied Patriotic
Societies, told Governor Smith of New York that the Reds were
holding 10,000 meetings in the country every week and that 350
radical newspapers had been established in the preceding six

But not only the Communists were dangerous; they had, it seemed,
well-disguised or unwitting allies in more respectable circles.
The Russian Famine Fund Committee, according to Ralph Easley of the
National Civic Federation, included sixty pronounced Bolshevist
sympathizers.  Frederick J. Libby of the National Council for the
Reduction of Armaments was said by one of the loudest of the super-
patriots to be a Communist educated in Russia who visited Russia
for instructions (although as a matter of fact the pacifist
churchman had never been in Russia, had no affiliations with
Russia, and had on his board only American citizens).  The Nation,
The New Republic, and The Freeman were classed as "revolutionary"
by the executive secretary of the American Defense Society.  Even
The Survey was denounced by the writers of the Lusk Report as
having "the endorsement of revolutionary groups."  Ralph Easley
pointed with alarm to the National League of Women Voters, the
Federal Council of Churches, and the Foreign Policy Association.
There was hardly a liberal civic organization in the land at which
these protectors of the nation did not bid the citizenry to
shudder.  Even the National Information Bureau, which investigated
charities and was headed by no less a pillar of New York
respectability than Robert W. DeForest, fell under suspicion.  Mr.
DeForest, it was claimed, must be too busy to pay attention to what
was going on; for along with him were people like Rabbi Wise and
Norman Thomas and Oswald Villard and Jane Addams and Scott Nearing
and Paul U. Kellogg, many of whom were tainted by radical

There was danger lurking in the theater and the movies.  The Moscow
Art Theater, the Chauve Souris, and Fyodor Chaliapin were viewed by
Mr. Braman of the Allied Patriotic Societies as propagandizing
agencies of the Soviets; and according to Mr. Whitney of the
American Defense Society, not only Norma Talmadge but--yes--Charlie
Chaplin and Will Rogers were mentioned in "Communist files."

Books, too, must be carefully scanned for the all-pervasive evil.
Miss Hermine Schwed, speaking for the Better America Federation, a
band of California patriots, disapproved of Main Street because it
"created a distaste for the conventional good life of the
American," and called John Dewey and James Harvey Robinson "most
dangerous to young people."  And as for the schools and colleges,
here the danger was more insidious and far-reaching still.
According to Mr. Whitney, Professors Felix Frankfurter and Zacharia
Chafee (sic) of Harvard and Frederick Wells Williams and Max
Solomon Mandell of Yale were "too wise not to know that their
words, publicly uttered and even used in classrooms, are, to put it
conservatively, decidedly encouraging to the Communists."  The
schools must be firmly taken in hand: textbooks must be combed for
slights to heroes of American history, none but conservative
speakers must be allowed within the precincts of school or college,
and courses teaching reverence for the Constitution must be
universal and compulsory.

The effect of these admonitions was oppressive.  The fear of the
radicals was accompanied and followed by a fear of being thought
radical.  If you wanted to get on in business, to be received in
the best circles of Gopher Prairie or Middletown, you must appear
to conform.  Any deviation from the opinions of Judge Gary and Mr.
Palmer was viewed askance.  A liberal journalist, visiting a
formerly outspoken Hoosier in his office, was not permitted to talk
politics until his frightened host had closed and locked the door
and closed the window (which gave on an airshaft perhaps fifty feet
wide, with offices on the other side where there might be ears to
hear the words of heresy).  Said a former resident of a Middle
Western city, returning to it after a long absence:  "These people
are all afraid of something.  What is it?"  The authors of
Middletown quoted a lonely political dissenter forced into
conformity by the iron pressure of public opinion as saying,
bitterly, "I just run away from it all to my books."  He dared not
utter his economic opinions openly; to deviate ever so little from
those of the Legion and the Rotary Club would be to brand himself
as a Bolshevist.

"America," wrote Katharine Fullerton Gerould in Harper's Magazine
as late as 1922, "is no longer a free country, in the old sense;
and liberty is, increasingly, a mere rhetorical figure. . . .  No
thinking citizen, I venture to say, can express in freedom more
than a part of his honest convictions.  I do not of course refer to
convictions that are frankly criminal.  I do mean that everywhere,
on every hand, free speech is choked off in one direction or
another.  The only way in which an American citizen who is really
interested in all the social and political problems of his country
can preserve any freedom of expression, is to choose the mob that
is most sympathetic to him, and abide under the shadow of that

Sentiments such as these were expressed so frequently and so
vehemently in later years that it is astonishing to recall that in
1922 it required some temerity to put them in print.  When Mrs.
Gerould's article was published, hundreds of letters poured into
the Harper's office and into her house--letters denouncing her in
scurrilous terms as subversive and a Bolshevist, letters rejoicing
that at last someone had stood up and told the truth.  To such a
point had the country been carried by the shoutings of the super-


The intolerance of those days took many forms.  Almost inevitably
it took the form of an ugly flare-up of feeling against the Negro,
the Jew, and the Roman Catholic.  The emotions of group loyalty and
of hatred, expanded during war-time and then suddenly denied their
intended expression, found a perverted release in the persecution
not only of supposed radicals, but also of other elements which to
the dominant American group--the white Protestants--seemed alien or

Negroes had migrated during the war by the hundreds of thousands
into the industrial North, drawn thither by high wages and by the
openings in mill and factory occasioned by the draft.  Wherever
their numbers increased they had no choice but to move into
districts previously reserved for the whites, there to jostle with
the whites in street cars and public places, and in a hundred other
ways to upset the delicate equilibrium of racial adjustment.  In
the South as well as in the North the Negroes had felt the
stirrings of a new sense of independence; had they not been called
to the colors just as the whites had been, and had they not been
fighting for democracy and oppressed minorities?  When peace came,
and they found they were to be put in their place once more, some
of them showed their resentment; and in the uneasy atmosphere of
the day this was enough to kindle the violent racial passions which
smoulder under the surface of human nature.  Bolshevism was bad
enough, thought the whites, but if the niggers ever got beyond
control . . .

One sultry afternoon in the summer of 1919 a seventeen-year-old
colored boy was swimming in Lake Michigan by a Chicago bathing-
beach.  Part of the shore had been set aside by mutualunderstanding
for the use of the whites, another part for the Negroes.  The boy
took hold of a railroad tie floating in the water and drifted
across the invisible line.  Stones were thrown at him; a white
boy started to swim toward him.  The colored boy let go of
the railroad tie, swam a few strokes, and sank.  He was drowned.
Whether he had been hit by any of the stones was uncertain, but the
Negroes on the shore accused the whites of stoning him to death,
and a fight began.  This small incident struck the match that set
off a bonfire of race hatred.  The Negro population of Chicago
had doubled in a decade, the blacks had crowded into white
neighborhoods, and nerves were raw.  The disorder spread to other
parts of the city--and the final result was that for nearly a week
Chicago was virtually in a state of civil war; there were mobbings
of Negroes, beatings, stabbings, gang raids through the Negro
district, shootings by Negroes in defense, and wanton destruction
of houses and property; when order was finally restored it was
found that fifteen whites and twenty-three Negroes had been killed,
five hundred and thirty-seven people had been injured, and a
thousand had been left homeless and destitute.

Less than a year later there was another riot of major proportions
in Tulsa.  Wherever the colored population had spread, there was a
new tension in the relations between the races.  It was not
alleviated by the gospel of white supremacy preached by speakers
and writers such as Lothrop Stoddard, whose Rising Tide of Color
proclaimed that the dark-skinned races constituted a worse threat
to Western civilization than the Germans or the Bolsheviks.

The Jews, too, fell under the suspicion of a majority bent upon an
undiluted Americanism.  Here was a group of inevitably divided
loyalty, many of whose members were undeniably prominent among the
Bolsheviki in Russia and among the radical immigrants in America.
Henry Ford discovered the menace of the "International Jew," and
his Dearborn Independent accused the unhappy race of plotting the
subjugation of the whole world and (for good measure) of being the
source of almost every American affliction, including high rents,
the shortage of farm labor, jazz, gambling, drunkenness, loose
morals, and even short skirts.  The Ford attack, absurd as it was,
was merely an exaggerated manifestation of a widespread anti-
Semitism.  Prejudice became as pervasive as the air.  Landlords
grew less disposed to rent to Jewish tenants, and schools to admit
Jewish boys and girls; there was a public scandal at Annapolis over
the hazing of a Jewish boy; Harvard College seriously debated
limiting the number of Jewish students; and all over the country
Jews felt that a barrier had fallen between them and the Gentiles.
Nor did the Roman Catholics escape censure in the regions in which
they were in a minority.  Did not the members of this Church take
their orders from a foreign pope, and did not the pope claim
temporal power, and did not Catholics insist upon teaching their
children in their own way rather than in the American public
schools, and was not all this un-American and treasonable?

It was in such an atmosphere that the Ku Klux Klan blossomed into

The Klan had been founded as far back as 1915 by a Georgian named
Colonel William Joseph Simmons, but its first five years had been
lean.  When 1920 arrived, Colonel Simmons had only a few hundred
members in his amiable patriotic and fraternal order, which drew
its inspiration from the Ku Klux Klan of Reconstruction days and
stood for white supremacy and sentimental Southern idealism in
general.  But in 1920 Simmons put the task of organizing the Order
into the hands of one Edward Y. Clarke of the Southern Publicity
Association.  Clarke's gifts of salesmanship, hitherto expended on
such blameless causes as the Roosevelt Memorial Association and the
Near East Relief, were prodigious.  The time was ripe for the Klan,
and he knew it.  Not only could it be represented to potential
members as the defender of the white against the black, of Gentile
against Jew, and of Protestant against Catholic, and thus trade on
all the newly inflamed fears of the credulous small-towner, but its
white robe and hood, its flaming cross, its secrecy, and the
preposterous vocabulary of its ritual could be made the vehicle for
all that infantile love of hocus-pocus and mummery, that lust for
secret adventure, which survives in the adult whose lot is cast in
drab places.  Here was a chance to dress up the village bigot and
let him be a Knight of the Invisible Empire.  The formula was
perfect.  And there was another inviting fact to be borne in mind.
Well organized, such an Order could be made a paying proposition.

The salesmen of memberships were given the entrancing title of
Kleagles; the country was divided into Realms headed by King
Kleagles, and the Realms into Domains headed by Grand Goblins;
Clarke himself, as chief organizer, became Imperial Kleagle, and
the art of nomenclature reached its fantastic pinnacle in the title
bestowed upon Colonel Simmons: he became the Imperial Wizard.  A
membership cost ten dollars; and as four of this went into the
pocket of the Kleagle who made the sale, it was soon apparent that
a diligent Kleagle need not fear the wolf at the door.  Kleagling
became one of the profitable industries of the decade.  The King
Kleagle of the Realm and Grand Goblin of the Domain took a small
rake-off from the remaining six dollars of the membership fee, and
the balance poured into the Imperial Treasury at Atlanta.

An inconvenient congressional investigation in 1921--brought about
largely by sundry reports of tarrings and featherings and
floggings, and by the disclosure of many of the Klan's secrets by
the New York World--led ultimately to the banishment of Imperial
Kleagle Clarke, and Colonel Simmons was succeeded as Imperial
Wizard by a Texas dentist named Hiram Wesley Evans, who referred to
himself, perhaps with some justice, as "the most average man in
America"; but a humming sales organization had been built up and
the Klan continued to grow.  It grew, in fact, with such inordinate
rapidity that early in 1924 its membership had reached--according
to the careful estimates of Stanley Frost--the staggering figure of
nearly four and a half million.  It came to wield great political
power, dominating for a time the seven states of Oregon, Oklahoma,
Texas, Arkansas, Indiana, Ohio, and California.  Its chief
strongholds were the New South, the Middle West, and the Pacific
coast, but it had invaded almost every part of the country and had
even reached the gates of that stronghold of Jewry, Catholicism,
and sophistication, New York City.  So far had Clarke's genius and
the hospitable temper of the times carried it.

The objects of the Order as stated in its Constitution were "to
unite white male persons, native-born Gentile citizens of the
United States of America, who owe no allegiance of any nature to
any foreign government, nation, institution, sect, ruler, person,
or people; whose morals are good, whose reputations and vocations
are exemplary . . . to cultivate and promote patriotism toward our
Civil Government; to practice an honorable Klanishness toward each
other; to exemplify a practical benevolence; to shield the sanctity
of the home and the chastity of womanhood; to maintain forever
white supremacy, to reach and faithfully inculcate a high spiritual
philosophy through an exalted ritualism, and by a practical
devotion to conserve, protect, and maintain the distinctive
institutions, rights, privileges, principles, traditions and ideals
of a pure Americanism."

Thus the theory.  In practice the "pure Americanism" varied with
the locality.  At first, in the South, white supremacy was the
Klan's chief objective, but as time went on and the organization
grew and spread, opposition to the Jew and above all to the
Catholic proved the best talking point for Kleagles in most
localities.  Nor did the methods of the local Klan organizations
usually suggest the possession of a "high spiritual philosophy."
These local organizations were largely autonomous and beyond
control from Atlanta.  They were drawn, as a rule, mostly from the
less educated and less disciplined elements of the white Protestant
community.  ("You think the influential men belong here?" commented
an outspoken observer in an Indiana city.  "Then look at their
shoes when they march in parade.  The sheet doesn't cover the
shoes.")  Though Imperial Wizard Evans inveighed against
lawlessness, the members of the local Klans were not always content
with voting against allowing children to attend parochial schools,
or voting against Catholic candidates for office, or burning fiery
crosses on the hilltop back of the town to show the niggers that
the whites meant business.  The secrecy of the Klan was an
invitation to more direct action.

If a white girl reported that a colored man had made improper
advances to her--even if the charge were unsupported and based on
nothing more than a neurotic imagination--a white-sheeted band
might spirit the Negro off to the woods and "teach him a lesson"
with tar and feathers or with the whip.  If a white man stood up
for a Negro in a race quarrel, he might be kidnapped and beaten up.
If a colored woman refused to sell her land at an arbitrary price
which she considered too low, and a Klansman wanted the land, she
might receive the K. K. K. ultimatum--sell or be thrown out.  Klan
members would boycott Jewish merchants, refuse to hire Catholic
boys, refuse to rent their houses to Catholics.  A hideous tragedy
in Louisiana, where five men were kidnapped and later found bound
with wire and drowned in a lake, was laid to Klansmen.  R. A.
Patton, writing in Current History, reported a grim series of
brutalities from Alabama:  "A lad whipped with branches until his
back was ribboned flesh; a Negress beaten and left helpless to
contract pneumonia from exposure and die; a white girl, divorce,
beaten into unconsciousness in her own home; a naturalized
foreigner flogged until his back was a pulp because he married an
American woman; a Negro lashed until he sold his land to a white
man for a fraction of its value."

Even where there were no such outrages, there was at least the
threat of them.  The white-robed army paraded, the burning cross
glowed across the valley, people whispered to one another in the
darkness and wondered "who they were after this time," and fear and
suspicion ran from house to house.  Furthermore, criminals and
gangs of hoodlums quickly learned to take advantage of the Klan's
existence: if they wanted to burn someone's barn or raid the slums
beyond the railroad tracks, they could do it with impunity now:
would not the Klan be held responsible?  Anyone could chalk the
letters K. K. K. on a fence and be sure that the sheriff would move
warily.  Thus, as in the case of the Red hysteria, a movement
conceived in fear perpetuated fear and brought with it all manner
of cruelties and crimes.

Slowly, as the years passed and the war-time emotions ebbed, the
power of the Klan waned, until in many districts it was dead and in
others it had become merely a political faction dominated by
spoilsmen: but not until it had become a thing of terror to
millions of men and women.


After the Palmer raids at the beginning of 1920 the hunt for
radicals went on.  In April the five Socialist members of the New
York State Assembly were expelled on the ground that (as the report
of the Judiciary Committee put it) they were members of "a disloyal
organization composed exclusively of perpetual traitors."  When
Young Theodore Roosevelt spoke against the motion to expel, he was
solemnly rebuked by Speaker Sweet, who mounted the rostrum and read
aloud passages from the writings of T. R. senior, in order that the
Americanism of the father might be painfully contrasted with the un-
Americanism of the son.  When Assemblyman Cuvillier, in the midst
of a speech, spied two of the Socialist members actually occupying
the seats to which they had been elected, he cried:  "These two men
who sit there with a smile and a smirk on their faces are just as
much representatives of the Russian Soviet Government as if they
were Lenin and Trotsky themselves.  They are little Lenins, little
Trotskys in our midst."  The little Lenins and Trotskys were thrown
out by an overwhelming vote, and the New York Times announced the
next day that "It was an American vote altogether, a patriotic and
conservative vote.  An immense majority of the American people will
approve and sanction the Assembly's action."  That statement,
coming from the discreet Times, is a measure of the temper of the

Nevertheless, the tide was almost ready to turn.  Charles Evans
Hughes protested against the Assembly's action, thereby almost
causing apoplexy among some of his sedate fellow-members of the
Union League Club, who wondered if such a good Republican could be
becoming a parlor pink.  May Day of 1920 arrived in due course, and
although Mr. Palmer dutifully informed the world in advance that
May Day had been selected by the radicals as the date for a general
strike and for assassinations, nothing happened.  The police, fully
mobilized, waited for a revolutionary onslaught that never arrived.
The political conventions rolled round, and although Calvin
Coolidge was swept into the Republican nomination for Vice-
President on his record as the man who broke the Boston police
strike, it was noteworthy that the Democratic Convention did not
sweep the Fighting Quaker into anything at all, and that there was
a certain unseemly levity among his opponents, who insisted upon
referring to him as the quaking fighter, the faking fighter, and
the quaking quitter.  It began to look as if the country were
beginning to regain its sense of humor.

Strikes and riots and legislative enactments and judicial rulings
against radicals continued, but with the coming of the summer of
1920 there were at least other things to compete for the attention
of the country.  There was the presidential campaign; the affable
Mr. Harding was mouthing orotund generalizations from his front
porch, and the desperate Mr. Cox was steaming about the country,
trying to pull Woodrow Wilson's chestnuts out of the fire.  There
was the ticklish business situation: people had been revolting
against high prices for months, and overall parades had been held,
and the Rev. George M. Elsbree of Philadelphia had preached a
sermon in overalls, and there had been an overall wedding in New
York (parson, bride, and groom all photographed for the rotogravure
section in overalls), and the department stores had been driven to
reduce prices, and now it was apparent that business was riding for
a fall, strikes or no strikes, radicals or no radicals.

There was the hue and cry over the discovery of the bogus get-rich-
quick schemes of Charles Ponzi of Boston.  There was Woman
Suffrage, now at last a fact, with ratification of the Amendment by
the States completed on August 18th.  Finally, there was
Prohibition, also at last a fact, and an absorbing topic at dinner
tables.  In those days people sat with bated breath to hear how So-
and-so had made very good gin right in his own cellar, and just
what formula would fulfill the higher destiny of raisins, and how
bootleggers brought liquor down from Canada.  It was all new and
exciting.  That the Big Red Scare was already perceptibly abating
by the end of the summer of 1920 was shown by the fact that the
nation managed to keep its head surprisingly well when a real
disaster, probably attributable to an anarchist gang, took place on
the 16th of September.

If there was one geographical spot in the United States that could
justly be called the financial center of the country, it was the
junction of Broad and Wall Streets in New York.  Here, on the north
side of Wall Street, stood the Sub-Treasury Building, and next to
it the United States Assay Office; opposite them, on the southeast
corner, an ostentatiously unostentatious three-story limestone
building housed the firm of J. P. Morgan & Company, the most
powerful nexus of capitalism in the world; on the southwest corner
yawned the excavation where the New York Stock Exchange was
presently to build its annex, and next to this, on Broad Street,
rose the Corinthian pillars of the Exchange itself.  Government
finance, private finance, the passage of private control of
industry from capitalistic hand to hand: here stood their
respective citadels cheek by jowl, as if to symbolize the union
into one system of the government and the money power and the
direction of business--that system which the radicals so bitterly

Almost at this precise spot, a moment before noon on September
16th, just as the clerks of the neighborhood were getting ready to
go out for luncheon, there was a sudden blinding flash of bluish-
white light and a terrific crashing roar, followed by the clatter
of falling glass from innumerable windows and by the screams of men
and women.  A huge bomb had gone off in the street in front of the
Assay Office and directly opposite the House of Morgan--gone off
with such appalling violence that it killed thirty people outright
and injured hundreds, wrecked the interior of the Morgan offices,
smashed windows for blocks around, and drove an iron slug through
the window of the Bankers' Club on the thirty-fourth floor of the
Equitable Building.

A great mushroom-shaped cloud of yellowish-green smoke rose slowly
into the upper air between the skyscrapers.  Below it, the air was
filled with dust pouring out of the Morgan windows and the windows
of other buildings--dust from shrapnel-bitten plaster walls.  And
below that, the street ran red with the blood of the dead and
dying.  Those who by blind chance had escaped the hail of steel
picked themselves up and ran in terror as glass and fragments of
stone showered down from the buildings above; then there was a
surge of people back to the horror again, a vast crowd milling
about and trying to help the victims and not knowing what to do
first and bumping into one another and shouting; then fire engines
and ambulances clanged to the scene and police and hospital
orderlies fought their way through the mob and brought it at last
to order.

In the House of Morgan, one man had been killed, the chief clerk;
dozens were hurt, seventeen had to be taken to hospitals.  But only
one partner had been cut in the hand by flying glass; the rest were
in conference on the other side of the building or out of town.
Mr. Morgan was abroad.  The victims of the explosion were not the
financial powers of the country, but bank clerks, brokers' men,
Wall Street runners, stenographers.

In the Stock Exchange, hardly two hundred feet away, trading had
been proceeding at what in those days was considered "good volume"--
at the rate of half a million shares or so for the day.  Prices
had been rising.  Reading was being bid up 2 1/8 points to 93 3/4,
Baldwin Locomotive was going strong at 110 3/4, there was heavy
trading in Middle States Oil, Steel was doing well at 89 3/8.  The
crash came, the building shook, and the big windows smashed down in
a shower of glass; those on the Broad Street side had their heavy
silk curtains drawn, or dozens of men would have been injured.  For
a moment the brokers, not knowing what had happened, scampered for
anything that looked like shelter.  Those in the middle of the
floor, where an instant before the largest crowd of traders had
been gathered around the Reading post, made for the edges of the
room lest the dome should fall.  But William H. Remick, president
of the Exchange, who had been standing with the "money crowd" at
the side of the room, kept his head.  Remarking to a friend, "I
guess it's about time to ring the gong," he mounted the rostrum,
rang the gong, and thereby immediately ended trading for the day.
(The next day prices continued to rise as if nothing had happened.)

Out in the middle of Wall Street lay the carcass of a horse blown
to pieces by the force of the explosion, and here and there were
assembled bits of steel and wood and canvas which, with the horse's
shoes and the harness, enabled the police to decide that a TNT bomb
had gone off in a horse-drawn wagon, presumably left unattended as
its driver escaped from the scene.  For days and months and years
detectives and Federal agents followed up every possible clue.
Every wagon in the city, to say nothing of powder wagons, was
traced.  The slugs which had imbedded themselves in the surrounding
buildings were examined and found to be window sash-weights cut in
two--but this, despite endless further investigation, led to
nothing more than the conclusion that the explosion was a
premeditated crime.  The horse's shoes were identified and a man
was found who had put them on the horse a few days before; he
described the driver as a Sicilian, but the clue led no further.
Bits of steel and tin found in the neighborhood were studied,
manufacturers consulted, records of sale run through.  One fragment
of iron proved to be the knob of a safe, and the safe was
identified; a detective followed the history of the safe from its
manufacture through various hands until it went to France with the
Army during the war and returned to Hoboken--but there its trail
was lost.  Every eye-witness's story was tested and analyzed.
Reports of warnings of disaster received by businessmen were run
down but yielded nothing of real value.  Suspected radicals were
rounded up without result.  One bit of evidence remained, but how
important it was one could not be sure.  At almost the exact minute
of the explosion, a letter-carrier was said to have found in a post-
box two or three blocks from the scene--a box which had been
emptied only half an hour before--five sheets of paper on which was
crudely printed, with varying misspellings,

          We will not tolerate
          any longer
          Free the politiCal
          prisoniers or it will be
          sure death to all oF you
          American Anarchists

A prominent coal operator who was sitting in the Morgan offices
when the explosion took place promptly declared that there was no
question in his mind that it was the work of Bolshevists.  After
years of fruitless investigation, there was still a question in the
minds of those who tried to solve the mystery.  But in the loose
sense in which the coal operator used the term, he was probably

The country followed the early stages of the investigation with
absorbed interest.  Yet no marked increase in anti-Bolshevist riots
took place.  If the explosion had occurred a few months earlier, it
might have had indirect consequences as ugly as the damage which it
did directly.  But by this time the American people were coming to
their senses sufficiently to realize that no such insane and
frightful plot could ever command the support of more than a
handful of fanatics.



The Big Red Scare was slowly--very slowly--dying.

What killed it?

The realization, for one thing, that there had never been any
sufficient cause for such a panic as had convulsed the country.
The localization of Communism in Europe, for another thing: when
Germany and other European nations failed to be engulfed by the
Bolshevist tide, the idea of its sweeping irresistibly across the
Atlantic became a little less plausible.  It was a fact, too, that
radicalism was noticeably ebbing in the United States.  The
Fighting Quaker's inquisitorial methods, whatever one may think of
them, had at least had the practical effect of scaring many Reds
into a pale pinkness.  By 1921 the A. F. of L. leaders were leaning
over backward in their effort to appear as conservative as Judge
Gary, college professors were canceling their subscriptions to
liberal magazines on the ground that they could not afford to let
such literature be seen on their tables, and the social reformers
of a year or two before were tiring of what seemed a thankless and
hopeless fight.  There was also, perhaps, a perceptible loss of
enthusiasm for governmental action against the Reds on the part of
the growing company of the wets, who were acquiring a belated
concern for personal liberty and a new distrust of federal
snoopers.  Yet there was another cause more important, perhaps,
than any of these.  The temper of the aftermath of war was at last
giving way to the temper of peace.  Like an overworked businessman
beginning his vacation, the country had had to go through a period
of restlessness and irritability, but was finally learning how to
relax and amuse itself once more.

A sense of disillusionment remained; like the suddenly liberated
vacationist, the country felt that it ought to be enjoying itself
more than it was, and that life was futile and nothing mattered
much.  But in the meantime it might as well play--follow the crowd,
take up the new toys that were amusing the crowd, go in for the new
fads, savor the amusing scandals and trivialities of life.  By 1921
the new toys and fads and scandals were forthcoming, and the
country seized upon them feverishly.


First of all was the radio, which was destined ultimately to alter
the daily habits of Americans as profoundly as anything that the
decade produced.

The first broadcasting station had been opened in East Pittsburgh
on November 2, 1920--a date which school children may some day have
to learn--to carry the Harding-Cox election returns.  This was
station KDKA, operated by the Westinghouse Company.  For a time,
however, this new revolution in communication and public
entertainment made slow headway.  Auditors were few.  Amateur
wireless operators objected to the stream of music--mostly from
phonograph records--which issued from the Westinghouse station and
interfered with their important business.  When a real orchestra
was substituted for the records, the resonance of the room in which
the players sat spoiled the effect.  The orchestra was placed out-
of-doors, in a tent on the roof--and the tent blew away.  The tent
was thereupon pitched in a big room indoors, and not until then was
it discovered that the cloth hangings which subsequently became
standard in broadcasting studios would adequately muffle the sound.

Experiment proceeded, however; other radio stations were opened,
market reports were thrown on the air, Dr. Van Etten of Pittsburgh
permitted the services at Calvary Church to be broadcasted, the
University of Wisconsin gave radio concerts, and politicians
spouted into the strange instruments and wondered if anybody was
really listening.  Yet when Dempsey fought Carpentier in July,
1921, and three men at the ringside told the story of the slaughter
into telephone transmitters to be relayed by air to eighty points
throughout the country, their enterprise was reported in an obscure
corner of the New York Times as an achievement in "wireless
telephony"; and when the Unknown Soldier was buried at Arlington
Cemetery the following November, crowds packed into Madison Square
Garden in New York and the Auditorium in San Francisco to hear the
speeches issue from huge amplifiers, and few in those crowds had
any idea that soon they could hear all the orations they wanted
without stirring from the easy-chair in the living-room.  The great
awakening had not yet come.

That winter, however--the winter of 1921-22--it came with a rush.
Soon everybody was talking, not about wireless telephony, but about
radio.  A San Francisco paper described the discovery that millions
were making:  "There is radio music in the air, every night,
everywhere.  Anybody can hear it at home on a receiving set, which
any boy can put up in an hour."  In February President Harding had
an outfit installed in his study, and the Dixmoor Golf Club
announced that it would install a "telephone" to enable golfers to
hear church services.  In April, passengers on a Lackawanna train
heard a radio concert, and Lieutenant Maynard broke all records for
modernizing Christianity by broadcasting an Easter sermon from an
airplane.  Newspapers brought out radio sections and thousands of
hitherto utterly unmechanical people puzzled over articles about
regenerative circuits, sodion tubes, Grimes reflex circuits,
crystal detectors, and neutrodynes.  In the Ziegfeld "Follies of
1922" the popularity of "My Rambler Rose" was rivaled by that of a
song about a man who hoped his love might hear him as she was
"listening on the radio."  And every other man you met on the
street buttonholed you to tell you how he had sat up until two
o'clock the night before, with earphones clamped to his head, and
had actually HEARD HAVANA!  How could one bother about the Red
Menace if one was facing such momentous questions as how to
construct a loop arial?

In the Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature for the years 1919-
21, in which were listed all the magazine articles appearing during
those years, there were two columns of references to articles on
Radicals and Radicalism and less than a quarter of a column of
references to articles on Radio.  In the Readers' Guide for 1922-
24, by contrast, the section on Radicals and Radicalism shrank to
half a column and the section on Radio swelled to nineteen columns.
In that change there is an index to something more than periodical


Sport, too, had become an American obsession.  When Jack Kearns
persuaded Tex Rickard to bring together Dempsey and the worn-out
but engaging Georges Carpentier at Boyle's Thirty Acres in Jersey
City in 1921, the public responded as they had never before
responded in the history of the country.  Nearly seventy-five
thousand people paid over a million and a half dollars--over three
times as much as the Dempsey-Willard fight had brought in--to see
the debonair Frenchman flattened in the fourth round, and the
metropolitan papers, not content with a few columns in the sporting
section, devoted page after page the next day to every conceivable
detail of the fight.  It was the first of the huge million-dollar
bouts of the decade.  Babe Ruth raised his home-run record to fifty-
nine, and the 1921 World Series broke records for gate receipts and
attendance.  Sport-hungry crowds who had never dreamed of taking a
college-entrance examination swarmed to college football games,
watched Captain Malcolm Aldrich of Yale and George Owen of Harvard,
and devoured hundreds of columns of dopesters' gossip about Penn
State and Pittsburgh and Iowa and the "praying Colonels" of Centre
College.  Racing had taken on a new lease of life with the
unparalleled success of Man o' War in 1920.  Tennis clubs were
multiplying, and businessmen were discovering by the hundreds of
thousands that a par-four hole was the best place to be in
conference.  There were food-fads, too, as well as sport-fads: such
was the sudden and overwhelming craze for Eskimo Pie that in three
months the price of cocoa beans on the New York market rose 50 per

Another new American institution caught the public eye during the
summer of 1921--the bathing beauty.  In early July a Costume and
Beauty Show was held at Washington's bathing beach on the Potomac,
and the prize-winners were so little touched by the influence of
Mack Sennett and his moving-picture bathers that they wore tunic
bathing-suits, hats over their long curls, and long stockings--all
but one, who daringly rolled her stockings below her knees.  In
early September Atlantic City held its first Beauty Pageant--a
similar show, but with a difference.  "For the time being, the
censor ban on bare knees and skintight bathing suits was
suspended," wrote an astonished reporter, "and thousands of
spectators gasped as they applauded the girls."  Miss Washington
was declared the most beautiful girl of the cities of America, the
one-piece suit became overnight the orthodox wear for bathing
beauties (though taffetas and sateens remained good enough for
genuine seagoing bathers for a season or two to come), promoters of
seashore resorts began to plan new contests, and the rotogravure
and tabloid editors faced a future bright with promise.

The tabloids, indeed, were booming--and not without effect.  There
was more than coincidence in the fact that as they rose, radicalism
fell.  They presented American life not as a political and economic
struggle, but as a three-ring circus of sport, crime, and sex, and
in varying degrees the other papers followed their lead under the
pressure of competition.  Workmen forgot to be class-conscious as
they gloated over pictures of Miss Scranton on the Boardwalk and
followed the Stillman case and the Arbuckle case and studied the
racing dope about Morvich.

Readers with perceptibly higher brows, too, had their diversions
from the affairs of the day.  Though their heads still reeled from
The Education of Henry Adams, they were wading manfully through
paleontology as revealed in the Outline of History (and getting
bogged, most of them. somewhere near the section on Genghis Khan).
They were asking one another whether America was truly as ugly as
Sinclair Lewis made it in Main Street and Tahiti truly as
enchanting as Frederick O'Brien made it in White Shadows of the
South Seas; they were learning about hot love in hot places from
The Sheik, and lapping up Mrs. Asquith's gossip of the British
ruling classes, and having a good old-fashioned cry over If Winter

Further diversions were on the way, too.  If there had been any
doubt, after the radio craze struck the country, that the American
people were learning to enjoy such diversions with headlong
unanimity, the events of 1922 and 1923 dispelled it.  On the 16th
of September, 1922, the murder of the decade took place: The
Reverend Edward Wheeler Hall and Mrs. James Mills, the choir leader
in his church, were found shot to death on an abandoned farm near
New Brunswick, New Jersey.  The Hall-Mills case had all the
elements needed to satisfy an exacting public taste for the
sensational.  It was better than the Elwell case of June, 1920.  It
was grisly, it was dramatic (the bodies being laid side by side as
if to emphasize an unhallowed union), it involved wealth and
respectability, it had just the right amount of sex interest--and
in addition it took place close to the great metropolitan nerve-
center of the American press.  It was an illiterate American who
did not shortly become acquainted with DeRussey's Lane, the crab-
apple tree, the pig woman and her mule, the precise mental
condition of Willie Stevens, and the gossip of the choir members.


By this time, too, a new game was beginning its conquest of the
country.  In the first year or two after the war, Joseph P.
Babcock, Soochow representative of the Standard Oil Company, had
become interested in the Chinese game of Mah Jong and had codified
and simplified the rules for the use of Americans.  Two brothers
named White had introduced it to the English-speaking clubs of
Shanghai, where it became popular.  It was brought to the United
States, and won such immediate favor that W. A. Hammond, a San
Francisco lumber merchant, was encouraged to import sets on an
ambitious scale.  By September, 1922, he had already imported fifty
thousand dollars' worth.  A big campaign of advertising, with free
lessons and exhibitions, pushed the game, and within the next year
the Mah Jong craze had become so universal that Chinese makers of
sets could no longer keep up with the demand and American
manufacture was in full swing.  By 1923, people who were beginning
to take their radio sets for granted now simply left them turned on
while they "broke the wall" and called "pung" or "chow" and wielded
the Ming box and talked learnedly of bamboos, flowers, seasons,
South Wind, and Red Dragon.  The wealthy bought five-hundred-dollar
sets; dozens of manufacturers leaped into the business; a Mah Jong
League of America was formed; there was fierce debate as to what
rules to play by, what system of scoring to use, and what
constituted a "limit hand"; and the correct dinner party wound up
with every one setting up ivory and bamboo tiles on green baize

Even before Mah Jong reached its climax, however, Emil Cou had
arrived in America, preceded by an efficient ballyhoo; in the early
months of 1923 the little dried-up Frenchman from Nancy was
suddenly the most-talked-of person in the country.  Cou Institutes
were established, and audiences who thronged to hear the master
speak were hushed into awesome quiet as he repeated, himself, the
formula which was already on everybody's lips:  "Day by day in
every way I am getting better and better."  A few weeks later there
was a new national thrill as the news of the finding of the tomb of
King Tut-Ankh-Amen, cabled all the way from Egypt, overshadowed the
news of the Radical trials and Ku Klux Klan scandals, and dress
manufacturers began to plan for a season of Egyptian styles.
Finally, the country presently found still a new obsession--in the
form of a song: a phrase picked up from an Italian fruit-vender and
used some time before this as a "gag-line" by Tad Dorgan, the
cartoonist, was worked into verse, put to music which drew
liberally from the "Hallelujah Chorus" and "I Dreamt That I Dwelt
in Marble Halls" and "Aunt Dinah's Quilting Party," was tried out
in a Long Island roadhouse, and then was brought to New York, where
it quickly superseded "Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Shean" in popular
acclaim.  Before long "Yes, We Have No Bananas" had penetrated to
the remotest farmhouse in the remotest county.

Though the super-patriots still raged and federal agents still
pursued the nimble Communists and an avowed Socialist was still
regarded with as much enthusiasm as a leper, and the Ku Klux Klan
still grew, the Big Red Scare was dying.  There were too many other
things to think about.

Perhaps, though, there was still another reason for the passing of
the Red Menace.  Another Menace was endangering the land--and one
which could not possibly be attributed to the machinations of
Moscow.  The younger generation was on the rampage, as we shall
presently see.


Only one dispute, during the rest of the Post-war Decade, drew the
old line of 1919 and 1920 between liberal and conservative
throughout the nation.

At the height of the Big Red Scare--in April, 1920--there had taken
place at South Braintree, Massachusetts, a crime so unimportant
that it was not even mentioned in the New York Times of the
following day--or, for that matter, of the whole following year.
It was the sort of crime which was taking place constantly all over
the country.  A paymaster and his guard, carrying two boxes
containing the pay-roll of a shoe factory, were killed by two men
with pistols, who thereupon leaped into an automobile which drew up
at the curb, and drove away across the railroad tracks.  Two weeks
later a couple of Italian radicals were arrested as the murderers,
and a year later--at about the time when the Washington bathing
beauties were straightening their long stockings to be photographed
and David Sarnoff was supervising the reporting of the Dempsey-
Carpentier fight by "wireless telephone"--the Italians were tried
before Judge Webster Thayer and a jury and found guilty.  The trial
attracted a little attention, but not much.  A few months later,
however, people from Maine to California began to ask what this
Sacco-Vanzetti case was all about.  For a very remarkable thing had

Three men in a bleak Boston office--a Spanish carpenter, a Jewish
youth from New York, and an Italian newspaperman--had been writing
industriously about the two Italians to the radicals and the
radical press of France and Italy and Spain and other countries in
Europe and Central and South America.  The result:  A bomb exploded
in Ambassador Herrick's house in Paris.  Twenty people were killed
by another bomb in a Paris Sacco-Vanzetti demonstration.  Crowds
menaced the American Embassy in Rome.  There was an attempt to bomb
the home of the Consul-General at Lisbon.  There was a general
strike and an attempt to boycott American goods at Montevideo.  The
case was discussed in the radical press of Algiers, Porto Rico, and
Mexico.  Under the circumstances it could not very well help
becoming a cause clbre in the United States.

But bombings and boycotts, though they attracted attention to the
case, could never have aroused widespread public sympathy for Sacco
and Vanzetii.  What aroused it, as the case dragged on year after
year and one appeal after another was denied, was the demeanor of
the men themselves.  Vanzetti in particular was clearly a
remarkable man--an intellectual of noble character, a philosophical
anarchist of a type which it seemed impossible to associate with a
pay-roll murder.  New evidence made the guilt of the men seem still
more doubtful.  When, in 1927--seven long years after the murder--
Judge Thayer stubbornly denied the last appeal and pronounced the
sentence of death, public opinion forced Governor Fuller of
Massachusetts to review the case and consider pardoning Sacco and
Vanzetti.  The Governor named as an advisory committee to make a
further study of the case, President Lowell of Harvard, President
Stratton of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Judge
Robert Grant--all men respected by the community.  A few weeks
later the committee reported: they believed Sacco and Vanzetti to
be guilty.  There was no pardon.  On the night of August 22, 1927,
these two men who had gathered about their cause the hopes and
fears of millions throughout the world were sent to the electric

Whether they were actually guilty or not will probably never be
definitely determined--though no one can read their speeches to the
court and their letters without doubting if justice was done.  The
record of the case was of vast length and full of technicalities,
it was discussed ex-parte by vehement propagandists on both sides,
and the division of public opinion on the case was largely a
division between those who thought radicals ought to be strung up
on general principles and those who thought that the test of a
country's civilization lay in the scrupulousness with which it
protected the rights of minorities.  The passions of the early days
of the decade were revived as pickets marched before the Boston
State House, calling on the Governor to release Sacco and Vanzetti,
and the Boston police--whose strike not eight years before had put
Calvin Coolidge in the White House which he now occupied--arrested
the pickets and bore them off to the lock-up.

The bull market was now in full swing, the labor movement was
enfeebled, prosperity had given radicalism what seemed to be its
coup de grce--but still the predicament of these two simple
Italians had the power briefly to recall the days of Mitchell
Palmer's Red raids and to arouse fears and hatreds long since
quieted.  People who had almost forgotten whether they were
conservatives or liberals found themselves in bitter argument once
more, and friendships were disrupted over the identification of
Sacco's cap or the value of Captain Proctor's testimony about the
fatal bullet.  But only briefly.  The headlines screamed that Sacco
and Vanzetti had been executed, and men read them with a shiver,
and wondered, perhaps, if this thing which had been done with such
awful finality were the just desserts of crime or a hideous mistake--
and glanced at another column to find where Lindbergh was flying
today, and whipped open the paper to the financial page. . . .
What was General Motors doing?



A first-class revolt against the accepted American order was
certainly taking place during those early years of the Post-war
Decade, but it was one with which Nikolai Lenin had nothing
whatever to do.  The shock troops of the rebellion were not alien
agitators, but the sons and daughters of well-to-do American
families, who knew little about Bolshevism and cared distinctly
less, and their defiance was expressed not in obscure radical
publications or in soap-box speeches, but right across the family
breakfast table into the horrified ears of conservative fathers and
mothers.  Men and women were still shivering at the Red Menace when
they awoke to the no less alarming Problem of the Younger
Generation, and realized that if the constitution were not in
danger, the moral code of the country certainly was.

This code, as it currently concerned young people, might have been
roughly summarized as follows:  Women were the guardians of
morality; they were made of finer stuff than men and were expected
to act accordingly.  Young girls must look forward in innocence
(tempered perhaps with a modicum of physiological instruction) to a
romantic love match which would lead them to the altar and to
living-happily-ever-after, and until the "right man" came along
they must allow no male to kiss them.  It was expected that some
men would succumb to the temptations of sex, but only with a
special class of outlawed women; girls of respectable families were
supposed to have no such temptations.  Boys and girls were
permitted large freedom to work and play together, with decreasing
and well-nigh nominal chaperonage, but only because the code worked
so well on the whole that a sort of honor system was supplanting
supervision by their elders; it was taken for granted that if they
had been well brought up they would never take advantage of this
freedom.  And although the attitude toward smoking and drinking by
girls differed widely in different strata of society and different
parts of the country, majority opinion held that it was morally
wrong for them to smoke and could hardly imagine them showing the
effects of alcohol.

The war had not long been over when cries of alarm from parents,
teachers, and moral preceptors began to rend the air.  For the boys
and girls just growing out of adolescence were making mincemeat of
this code.

The dresses that the girls--and for that matter most of the older
women--were wearing seemed alarming enough.  In July, 1920, a
fashion-writer reported in the New York Times that "the American
woman . . . has lifted her skirts far beyond any modest
limitation," which was another way of saying that the hem was now
all of nine inches above the ground.  It was freely predicted that
skirts would come down again in the winter of 1920-21, but instead
they climbed a few scandalous inches farther.  The flappers wore
thin dresses, short-sleeved and occasionally (in the evening)
sleeveless; some of the wilder young things rolled their stockings
below their knees, revealing to the shocked eyes of virtue a
fleeting glance of shin-bones and knee-cap; and many of them were
visibly using cosmetics.  "The intoxication of rouge," earnestly
explained Dorothy Speare in Dancers in the Dark, "is an insidious
vintage known to more girls than mere man can ever believe."
Useless for frantic parents to insist that no lady did such things;
the answer was that the daughters of ladies were doing it, and even
retouching their masterpieces in public.  Some of them,
furthermore, were abandoning their corsets.  "The men won't dance
with you if you wear a corset," they were quoted as saying.

The current mode in dancing created still more consternation.  Not
the romantic violin but the barbaric saxophone now dominated the
orchestra, and to its passionate crooning and wailing the fox-
trotters moved in what the editor of the Hobart College Herald
disgustedly called a "syncopated embrace."  No longer did even an
inch of space separate them; they danced as if glued together, body
to body, cheek to cheek.  Cried the Catholic Telegraph of
Cincinnati in righteous indignation, "The music is sensuous, the
embracing of partners--the female only half dressed--is absolutely
indecent; and the motions--they are such as may not be described,
with any respect for propriety, in a family newspaper.  Suffice it
to say that there are certain houses appropriate for such dances;
but those houses have been closed by law."

Supposedly "nice" girls were smoking cigarettes--openly and
defiantly, if often rather awkwardly and self-consciously.
They were drinking--somewhat less openly but often all too
efficaciously.  There were stories of daughters of the most
exemplary parents getting drunk--"blotto," as their companions
cheerfully put it--on the contents of the hip-flasks of the new
prohibition rgime, and going out joyriding with men at four in the
morning.  And worst of all, even at well-regulated dances they were
said to retire where the eye of the most sharp-sighted chaperon
could not follow, and in darkened rooms or in parked cars to engage
in the unspeakable practice of petting and necking.

It was not until F. Scott Fitzgerald, who had hardly graduated from
Princeton and ought to know what his generation was doing, brought
out This Side of Paradise in April, 1920, that fathers and mothers
realized fully what was afoot and how long it had been going on.
Apparently the "petting party" had been current as early as 1916,
and was now widely established as an indoor sport.  "None of the
Victorian mothers--and most of the mothers were Victorian--had any
idea how casually their daughters were accustomed to be kissed,"
wrote Mr. Fitzgerald.  ". . . Amory saw girls doing things that
even in his memory would have been impossible: eating three-
o'clock, after-dance suppers in impossible cafs, talking of every
side of life with an air half of earnestness, half of mockery, yet
with a furtive excitement that Amory considered stood for a real
moral let-down.  But he never realized how widespread it was until
he saw the cities between New York and Chicago as one vast juvenile
intrigue."  The book caused a shudder to run down the national
spine; did not Mr. Fitzgerald represent one of his well-nurtured
heroines as brazenly confessing, "I've kissed dozens of men.  I
suppose I'll kiss dozens more"; and another heroine as saying to a
young man (TO A YOUNG MAN!), "Oh, just one person in fifty has any
glimmer of what sex is.  I'm hipped on Freud and all that, but it's
rotten that every bit of real love in the world is ninety-nine per
cent passion and one little soupon of jealousy?"

It was incredible.  It was abominable.  What did it all mean?  Was
every decent standard being thrown over?  Mothers read the scarlet
words and wondered if they themselves "had any idea how often their
daughters were accustomed to be kissed." . . . But no, this must be
an exaggerated account of the misconduct of some especially
depraved group.  Nice girls couldn't behave like that and talk
openly about passion.  But in due course other books appeared to
substantiate the findings of Mr. Fitzgerald: Dancers in the Dark,
The Plastic Age, Flaming Youth.  Magazine articles and newspapers
reiterated the scandal.  To be sure, there were plenty of
communities where nice girls did not, in actual fact, "behave like
that"; and even in the more sophisticated urban centers there were
plenty of girls who did not.  Nevertheless, there was enough fire
beneath the smoke of these sensational revelations to make the
Problem of the Younger Generation a topic of anxious discussion
from coast to coast.

The forces of morality rallied to the attack.  Dr. Francis E.
Clark, the founder and president of the Christian Endeavor Society,
declared that the modern "indecent dance" was "an offense against
womanly purity, the very fountainhead of our family and civil
life."  The new style of dancing was denounced in religious
journals as "impure, polluting, corrupting, debasing, destroying
spirituality, increasing carnality," and the mothers and sisters
and church members of the land were called upon to admonish and
instruct and raise the spiritual tone of these dreadful young
people.  President Murphy of the University of Florida cried out
with true Southern warmth, "The low-cut gowns, the rolled hose and
short skirts are born of the Devil and his angels, and are carrying
the present and future generations to chaos and destruction."  A
group of Episcopal church-women in New York, speaking with the
authority of wealth and social position (for they included Mrs. J.
Pierpont Morgan, Mrs. Borden Harriman, Mrs. Henry Phipps, Mrs.
James Roosevelt, and Mrs. E. H. Harriman), proposed an organization
to discourage fashions involving an "excess of nudity" and
"improper ways of dancing."  The Y. W. C. A. conducted a national
campaign against immodest dress among high-school girls, supplying
newspapers with printed matter carrying headlines such as "Working
Girls Responsive to Modesty Appeal" and "High Heels Losing Ground
Even in France."  In Philadelphia a Dress Reform Committee of
prominent citizens sent a questionnaire to over a thousand
clergymen to ask them what would be their idea of a proper dress,
and although the gentlemen of the cloth showed a distressing
variety of opinion, the committee proceeded to design a "moral
gown" which was endorsed by ministers of fifteen denominations.
The distinguishing characteristics of this moral gown were that it
was very loose-fitting, that the sleeves reached just below the
elbows, and that the hem came within seven and a half inches of the

Not content with example and reproof, legislators in several states
introduced bills to reform feminine dress once and for all.  The
New York American reported in 1921 that a bill was pending in Utah
providing fine and imprisonment for those who wore on the streets
"skirts higher than three inches above the ankle."  A bill was laid
before the Virginia legislature which would forbid any woman from
wearing shirtwaists or evening gowns which displayed "more than
three inches of her throat."  In Ohio the proposed limit of
dcolletage was two inches; the bill introduced in the Ohio
legislature aimed also to prevent the sale of any "garment which
unduly displays or accentuates the lines of the female figure," and
to prohibit any "female over fourteen years of age" from wearing "a
skirt which does not reach to that part of the foot known as the

Meanwhile innumerable families were torn with dissension over
cigarettes and gin and all-night automobile rides.  Fathers and
mothers lay awake asking themselves whether their children were not
utterly lost; sons and daughters evaded questions, lied miserably
and unhappily, or flared up to reply rudely that at least they were
not dirty-minded hypocrites, that they saw no harm in what they
were doing and proposed to go right on doing it.  From those
liberal clergymen and teachers who prided themselves on keeping
step with all that was new came a chorus of reassurance: these
young people were at least franker and more honest than their
elders had been; having experimented for themselves, would they not
soon find out which standards were outworn and which represented
the accumulated moral wisdom of the race?  Hearing such hopeful
words, many good people took heart again.  Perhaps this flare-up of
youthful passion was a flash in the pan, after all.  Perhaps in
another year or two the boys and girls would come to their senses
and everything would be all right again.

They were wrong, however.  For the revolt of the younger generation
was only the beginning of a revolution in manners and morals that
was already beginning to affect men and women of every age in every
part of the country.


A number of forces were working together and interacting upon one
another to make this revolution inevitable.

First of all was the state of mind brought about by the war and its
conclusion.  A whole generation had been infected by the eat-drink-
and-be-merry-for-tomorrow-we-die spirit which accompanied the
departure of the soldiers to the training camps and the fighting
front.  There had been an epidemic not only of abrupt war
marriages, but of less conventional liaisons.  In France, two
million men had found themselves very close to filth and
annihilation and very far from the American moral code and its
defenders; prostitution had followed the flag and willing
mademoiselles from Armentires had been plentiful; American girls
sent over as nurses and war workers had come under the influence of
continental manners and standards without being subject to the
rigid protections thrown about their continental sisters of the
respectable classes; and there had been a very widespread and very
natural breakdown of traditional restraints and reticences and
taboos.  It was impossible for this generation to return unchanged
when the ordeal was over.  Some of them had acquired under the
pressure of war-time conditions a new code which seemed to them
quite defensible; millions of them had been provided with an
emotional stimulant from which it was not easy to taper off.  Their
torn nerves craved the anodynes of speed, excitement, and passion.
They found themselves expected to settle down into the humdrum
routine of American life as if nothing had happened, to accept the
moral dicta of elders who seemed to them still to be living in a
Pollyanna land of rosy ideals which the war had killed for them.
They couldn't do it, and they very disrespectfully said so.

"The older generation had certainly pretty well ruined this world
before passing it on to us," wrote one of them (John F. Carter in
the Atlantic Monthly, September, 1920), expressing accurately the
sentiments of innumerable contemporaries.  "They give us this
thing, knocked to pieces, leaky, red-hot, threatening to blow up;
and then they are surprised that we don't accept it with the same
attitude of pretty, decorous enthusiasm with which they received
it, way back in the 'eighties."

The middle generation was not so immediately affected by the war
neurosis.  They had had time enough, before 1917, to build up
habits of conformity not easily broken down.  But they, too, as the
let-down of 1919 followed the war, found themselves restless and
discontented, in a mood to question everything that had once seemed
to them true and worthy and of good report.  They too had spent
themselves and wanted a good time.  They saw their juniors
exploring the approaches to the forbidden land of sex, and
presently they began to play with the idea of doing a little
experimenting of their own.  The same disillusion which had
defeated Woodrow Wilson and had caused strikes and riots and the
Big Red Scare furnished a culture in which the germs of the new
freedom could grow and multiply.

The revolution was accelerated also by the growing independence of
the American woman.  She won the suffrage in 1920.  She seemed, it
is true, to be very little interested in it once she had it; she
voted, but mostly as the unregenerate men about her did, despite
the efforts of women's clubs and the League of Women Voters to
awaken her to womanhood's civic opportunity; feminine candidates
for office were few, and some of them--such as Governor Ma Ferguson
of Texas--scarcely seemed to represent the starry-eyed spiritual
influence which, it had been promised, would presently ennoble
public life.  Few of the younger women could rouse themselves to
even a passing interest in politics: to them it was a sordid and
futile business, without flavor and without hope.  Nevertheless,
the winning of the suffrage had its effect.  It consolidated
woman's position as man's equal.

Even more marked was the effect of woman's growing independence of
the drudgeries of housekeeping.  Smaller houses were being built,
and they were easier to look after.  Families were moving into
apartments, and these made even less claim upon the housekeeper's
time and energy.  Women were learning how to make lighter work of
the preparation of meals.  Sales of canned foods were growing, the
number of delicatessen stores had increased three times as fast as
the population during the decade 1910-20, the output of bakeries
increased by 60 per cent during the decade 1914-24.  Much of what
had once been housework was now either moving out of the home
entirely or being simplified by machinery.  The use of commercial
laundries, for instance, increased by 57 per cent between 1914 and
1924.  Electric washing-machines and electric irons were coming to
the aid of those who still did their washing at home; the manager
of the local electric power company at "Middletown," a typical
small American city, estimated in 1924 that nearly 90 per cent of
the homes in the city already had electric irons.  The housewife
was learning to telephone her shopping orders, to get her clothes
ready-made and spare herself the rigors of dress-making, to buy a
vacuum cleaner and emulate the lovely carefree girls in the
magazine advertisements who banished dust with such delicate
fingers.  Women were slowly becoming emancipated from routine to
"live their own lives."

And what were these "own lives" of theirs to be like?  Well, for
one thing, they could take jobs.  Up to this time girls of the
middle classes who had wanted to "do something" had been largely
restricted to school-teaching, social-service work, nursing,
stenography, and clerical work in business houses.  But now they
poured out of the schools and colleges into all manner of new
occupations.  They besieged the offices of publishers and
advertisers; they went into tea-room management until there
threatened to be more purveyors than consumers of chicken patties
and cinnamon toast; they sold antiques, sold real estate, opened
smart little shops, and finally invaded the department stores.  In
1920 the department store was in the mind of the average college
girl a rather bourgeois institution which employed "poor shop
girls"; by the end of the decade college girls were standing in
line for openings in the misses' sports-wear department and even
selling behind the counter in the hope that some day fortune might
smile upon them and make them buyers or stylists.  Small-town girls
who once would have been contented to stay in Sauk Center all their
days were now borrowing from father to go to New York or Chicago to
seek their fortunes--in Best's or Macy's or Marshall Field's.
Married women who were encumbered with children and could not seek
jobs consoled themselves with the thought that home-making and
child-rearing were really "professions," after all.  No topic was
so furiously discussed at luncheon tables from one end of the
country to the other as the question whether the married woman
should take a job, and whether the mother had a right to.  And as
for the unmarried woman, she no longer had to explain why she
worked in a shop or an office; it was idleness, nowadays, that had
to be defended.

With the job--or at least the sense that the job was a possibility--
came a feeling of comparative economic independence.  With the
feeling of economic independence came a slackening of husbandly and
parental authority.  Maiden aunts and unmarried daughters were
leaving the shelter of the family roof to install themselves in
kitchenette apartments of their own.  For city-dwellers the home
was steadily becoming less of a shrine, more of a dormitory--a
place of casual shelter where one stopped overnight on the way from
the restaurant and the movie theater to the office.  Yet even the
job did not provide the American woman with that complete
satisfaction which the management of a mechanized home no longer
furnished.  She still had energies and emotions to burn; she was
ready for the revolution.

Like all revolutions, this one was stimulated by foreign
propaganda.  It came, however, not from Moscow, but from Vienna.
Sigmund Freud had published his first book on psychoanalysis at the
end of the nineteenth century, and he and Jung had lectured to
American psychologists as early as 1909, but it was not until after
the war that the Freudian gospel began to circulate to a marked
extent among the American lay public.  The one great intellectual
force which had not suffered disrepute as a result of the war was
science; the more-or-less educated public was now absorbing a
quantity of popularized information about biology and anthropology
which gave a general impression that men and women were merely
animals of a rather intricate variety, and that moral codes had no
universal validity and were often based on curious superstitions.
A fertile ground was ready for the seeds of Freudianism, and
presently one began to hear even from the lips of flappers that
"science taught" new and disturbing things about sex.  Sex, it
appeared, was the central and pervasive force which moved mankind.
Almost every human motive was attributable to it: if you were
patriotic or liked the violin, you were in the grip of sex--in a
sublimated form.  The first requirement of mental health was to
have an uninhibited sex life.  If you would be well and happy, you
must obey your libido.  Such was the Freudian gospel as it imbedded
itself in the American mind after being filtered through the
successive minds of interpreters and popularizers and guileless
readers and people who had heard guileless readers talk about it.
New words and phrases began to be bandied about the cocktail-tray
and the Mah Jong table--inferiority complex, sadism, masochism,
OEdipus complex.  Intellectual ladies went to Europe to be analyzed;
analysts plied their new trade in American cities, conscientiously
transferring the affections of their fair patients to themselves;
and clergymen who preached about the virtue of self-control were
reminded by outspoken critics that self-control was out-of-date and
really dangerous.

The principal remaining forces which accelerated the revolution in
manners and morals were all 100 per cent American.  They were
prohibition, the automobile, the confession and sex magazines, and
the movies.

When the Eighteenth Amendment was ratified, prohibition seemed, as
we have already noted, to have an almost united country behind it.
Evasion of the law began immediately, however, and strenuous and
sincere opposition to it--especially in the large cities of the
North and East--quickly gathered force.  The results were the
bootlegger, the speakeasy, and a spirit of deliberate revolt which
in many communities made drinking "the thing to do."  From these
facts in turn flowed further results: the increased popularity of
distilled as against fermented liquors, the use of the hip-flask,
the cocktail party, and the general transformation of drinking from
a masculine prerogative to one shared by both sexes together.  The
old-time saloon had been overwhelmingly masculine; the speakeasy
usually catered to both men and women.  As Elmer Davis put it, "The
old days when father spent his evenings at Cassidy's bar with the
rest of the boys are gone, and probably gone forever; Cassidy may
still be in business at the old stand and father may still go down
there of evenings, but since prohibition mother goes down with
him."  Under the new rgime not only the drinks were mixed, but the
company as well.

Meanwhile a new sort of freedom was being made possible by the
enormous increase in the use of the automobile, and particularly of
the closed car.  (In 1919 hardly more than 10 per cent of the cars
produced in the United States were closed; by 1924 the percentage
had jumped to 43, by 1927 it had reached 82.8.)  The automobile
offered an almost universally available means of escaping
temporarily from the supervision of parents and chaperons, or from
the influence of neighborhood opinion.  Boys and girls now thought
nothing, as the Lynds pointed out in Middletown, of jumping into a
car and driving off at a moment's notice--without asking anybody's
permission--to a dance in another town twenty miles away, where
they were strangers and enjoyed a freedom impossible among their
neighbors.  The closed car, moreover, was in effect a room
protected from the weather which could be occupied at any time of
the day or night and could be moved at will into a darkened byway
or a country lane.  The Lynds quoted the judge of the juvenile
court in "Middletown" as declaring that the automobile had become a
"house of prostitution on wheels," and cited the fact that of
thirty girls brought before his court in a year on charges of sex
crimes, for whom the place where the offense had occurred was
recorded, nineteen were listed as having committed it in an

Finally, as the revolution began, its influence fertilized a bumper
crop of sex magazines, confession magazines, and lurid motion
pictures, and these in turn had their effect on a class of readers
and movie-goers who had never heard and never would hear of Freud
and the libido.  The publishers of the sex adventure magazines,
offering stories with such titles as "What I Told My Daughter the
Night Before Her Marriage," "Indolent Kisses," and "Watch Your Step-
ins," learned to a nicety the gentle art of arousing the reader
without arousing the censor.  The publishers of the confession
magazines, while always instructing their authors to provide a
moral ending and to utter pious sentiments, concentrated on the
description of what they euphemistically called "missteps."  Most
of their fiction was faked to order by hack writers who could write
one day "The Confessions of a Chorus Girl" and the next day
recount, again in the first person, the temptations which made it
easy for the taxidriver to go wrong.  Both classes of magazines
became astonishingly numerous and successful.  Bernarr Macfadden's
True-Story, launched as late as 1919, had over 300,000 readers by
1923; 848,000 by 1924; over a million and a half by 1925; and
almost two million by 1926--a record of rapid growth probably
unparalleled in magazine publishing.

Crowding the news stands along with the sex and confession
magazines were motion-picture magazines which depicted "seven movie
kisses" with such captions as "Do you recognize your little friend,
Mae Busch?  She's had lots of kisses, but she never seems to grow
blas.  At least you'll agree that she's giving a good imitation of
a person enjoying this one."  The movies themselves, drawing
millions to their doors every day and every night, played
incessantly upon the same lucrative theme.  The producers of one
picture advertised "brilliant men, beautiful jazz babies, champagne
baths, midnight revels, petting parties in the purple dawn, all
ending in one terrific smashing climax that makes you gasp"; the
venders of another promised "neckers, petters, white kisses, red
kisses, pleasure-mad daughters, sensation-craving mothers, . . .
the truth--bold, naked, sensational."  Seldom did the films offer
as much as these advertisements promised, but there was enough in
some of them to cause a sixteen-year-old girl (quoted by Alice
Miller Mitchell) to testify, "Those pictures with hot love-making
in them, they make girls and boys sitting together want to get up
and walk out, go off somewhere, you know.  Once I walked out with a
boy before the picture was even over.  We took a ride.  But my
friend, she all the time had to get up and go out with her

A storm of criticism from church organizations led the motion-
picture producers, early in the decade, to install Will H. Hays,
President Harding's Postmaster-General, as their arbiter of morals
and of taste, and Mr. Hays promised that all would be well.  "This
industry must have," said he before the Los Angeles Chamber of
Commerce, "toward that sacred thing, the mind of a child,
toward that clean virgin thing, that unmarked slate, the same
responsibility, the same care about the impressions made upon it,
that the best clergyman or the most inspired teacher of youth would
have."  The result of Mr. Hays's labors in behalf of the unmarked
slate was to make the moral ending as obligatory as in the
confession magazines, to smear over sexy pictures with pious
platitudes, and to blacklist for motion-picture production many a
fine novel and play which, because of its very honesty, might be
construed as seriously or intelligently questioning the traditional
sex ethics of the small town.  Mr. Hays, being something of a
genius, managed to keep the churchmen at bay.  Whenever the threats
of censorship began to become ominous he would promulgate a new
series of moral commandments for the producers to follow.  Yet of
the practical effects of his supervision it is perhaps enough to
say that the quotations given above all date from the period of his
dictatorship.  Giving lip-service to the old code, the movies
diligently and with consummate vulgarity publicized the new.

Each of these diverse influences--the post-war disillusion, the new
status of women, the Freudian gospel, the automobile, prohibition,
the sex and confession magazines, and the movies--had its part in
bringing about the revolution.  Each of them, as an influence, was
played upon by all the others; none of them could alone have
changed to any great degree the folkways of America; together their
force was irresistible.


The most conspicuous sign of what was taking place was the immense
change in women's dress and appearance.

In Professor Paul H. Nystrom's Economics of Fashion, the trend of
skirt-length during the Post-war Decade is ingeniously shown by the
sort of graph with which business analysts delight to compute the
ebb and flow of car-loadings or of stock averages.  The basis of
this graph is a series of measurements of fashion-plates in the
Delineator; the statistician painstakingly measured the relation,
from month to month, of the height of the skirt hem above the
ground to the total height of the figure, and plotted his curve
accordingly.  This very unusual graph shows that in 1919 the
average distance of the hem above the ground was about 10 per cent
of the woman's height--or to put it in another way, about six or
seven inches.  In 1920 it curved upward from 10 to about 20 per
cent.  During the next three years it gradually dipped to 10 per
cent again, reaching its low point in 1923.  In 1924, however, it
rose once more to between 15 and 20 per cent, in 1925 to more than
20 per cent; and the curve continued steadily upward until by 1927
it had passed the 25 per cent mark--in other words, until the skirt
had reached the knee.  There it remained until late in 1929.

This graph, as Professor Nystrom explains, does not accurately
indicate what really happened, for it represents for any given year
or month, not the average length of skirts actually worn, but the
length of the skirt which the arbiters of fashion, not uninfluenced
by the manufacturers of dress goods, expected and wanted women to
wear.  In actual fact, the dip between 1921 and 1924 was very
slight.  Paris dressmakers predicted the return of longer skirts,
the American stylists and manufacturers followed their lead, the
stores bought the longer skirts and tried to sell them, but women
kept on buying the shortest skirts they could find.  During the
fall of 1923 and the spring of 1924, manufacturers were deluged
with complaints from retailers that skirts would have to be
shorter.  Shorter they finally were, and still shorter.  The knee-
length dress proved to be exactly what women wanted.  The unlucky
manufacturers made valiant efforts to change the fashion.  Despite
all they could do, however, the knee-length skirt remained standard
until the decade was approaching its end.

With the short skirt went an extraordinary change in the weight and
material and amount of women's clothing.  The boyishly slender
figure became the aim of every woman's ambition, and the corset was
so far abandoned that even in so short a period as the three years
from 1924 to 1927 the combined sales of corsets and brassires in
the department stores of the Cleveland Federal Reserve District
fell off 11 per cent.  Silk or rayon stockings and underwear
supplanted cotton, to the distress of cotton manufacturers and the
delight of rayon manufacturers; the production of rayon in American
plants, which in 1920 had been only eight million pounds, had by
1925 reached fifty-three million pounds.  The flesh-colored
stocking became as standard as the short skirt.  Petticoats almost
vanished from the American scene; in fact, the tendency of women to
drop off one layer of clothing after another became so pronounced
that in 1928 the Journal of Commerce estimated that in 15 years the
amount of material required for a woman's complete costume
(exclusive of her stockings) had declined from 19 1/4 yards to 7
yards.  All she could now be induced to wear, it seemed, was an
overblouse (2 yards), a skirt (2 1/4 yards), vest or shirt (3/4),
knickers (2), and stockings--and all of them were made of silk or
rayon!  This latter statement, it is true, was a slight
exaggeration; but a survey published in 1926 by the National Retail
Dry Goods Association, on the basis of data from department stores
all over the country, showed that only 33 per cent of the women's
underwear sold was made of cotton, whereas 36 per cent was made of
rayon, and 31 per cent of silk.  No longer were silk stockings the
mark of the rich; as the wife of a workingman with a total family
income of $1,638 a year told the authors of Middletown, "No girl
can wear cotton stockings to high school.  Even in winter my
children wear silk stockings with lisle or imitations underneath."

Not content with the freedom of short and skimpy clothes, women
sought, too, the freedom of short hair.  During the early years of
the decade the bobbed head--which in 1918, as you may recall, had
been regarded by the proprietor of the Palm Garden in New York as a
sign of radicalism--became increasingly frequent among young girls,
chiefly on the ground of convenience.  In May, 1922, the American
Hairdresser predicted that the bob, which persisted in being
popular, "will probably last through the summer, anyway."  It not
only did this, it so increased in popularity that by 1924 the same
journal was forced to feature bobbed styles and give its
subscribers instructions in the new art, and was reporting the
progress of a lively battle between the professional hairdressers
and the barbers for the cream of this booming business.  The
ladies' hairdressers very naturally objected to women going to
barbers' shops; the barbers, on the other hand, were trying to
force legislation in various states which would forbid the
"hairdressing profession" to cut hair unless they were licensed as
barbers.  Said the Hairdresser, putting the matter on the loftiest
basis, "The effort to bring women to barber shops for haircutting
is against the best interests of the public, the free and easy
atmosphere often prevailing in barber shops being unsuitable to the
high standard of American womanhood."  But all that American
womanhood appeared to insist upon was the best possible shingle.
In the latter years of the decade bobbed hair became almost
universal among girls in their twenties, very common among women in
their thirties and forties, and by no means rare among women of
sixty; and for a brief period the hair was not only bobbed, but in
most cases cropped close to the head like a man's.  Women
universally adopted the small cloche hat which fitted tightly on
the bobbed head, and the manufacturer of milliner's materials
joined the hair-net manufacturer, the hair-pin manufacturer, and
the cotton goods and woolen goods and corset manufacturers, among
the ranks of depressed industries.

For another industry, however, the decade brought new and enormous
profits.  The manufacturers of cosmetics and the proprietors of
beauty shops had less than nothing to complain of.  The vogue of
rouge and lipstick, which in 1920 had so alarmed the parents of the
younger generation, spread swiftly to the remotest village.  Women
who in 1920 would have thought the use of paint immoral were soon
applying it regularly as a matter of course and making no effort to
disguise the fact; beauty shops had sprung up on every street to
give "facials," to apply pomade and astringents, to make war
against the wrinkles and sagging chins of age, to pluck and trim
and color the eyebrows, and otherwise to enhance and restore the
bloom of youth; and a strange new form of surgery, "face-lifting,"
took its place among the applied sciences of the day.  Back in
1917, according to Frances Fisher Dubuc, only two persons in the
beauty culture business had paid an income tax; by 1927 there were
18,000 firms and individuals in this field listed as income-tax
payers.  The "beautician" had arrived.

As for the total amount of money spent by American women on
cosmetics and beauty culture by the end of the decade, we may
probably accept as conservative the prodigious figure of three-
quarters of a billion dollars set by Professor Paul H. Nystrom in
1930; other estimates, indeed, ran as high as two billion.  Mrs.
Christine Frederick tabulated in 1929 some other equally staggering
figures: for every adult woman in the country there were being sold
annually over a pound of face powder and no less than eight rouge
compacts; there were 2,500 brands of perfume on the market and
1,500 face creams; and if all the lipsticks sold in a year in the
United States were placed end to end, they would reach from New
York to Reno--which to some would seem an altogether logical

Perhaps the readiest way of measuring the change in the public
attitude toward cosmetics is to compare the advertisements in a
conservative periodical at the beginning of the decade with those
at its end.  Although the June, 1919, issue of the Ladies' Home
Journal contained four advertisements which listed rouge among
other products, only one of them commented on its inclusion, and
this referred to its rouge as one that was "imperceptible if
properly applied."  In those days the woman who used rouge--at
least in the circles in which the Journal was read--wished to
disguise the fact.  (Advertisements of talc, in 1919, commonly
displayed a mother leaning affectionately over a bouncing baby.)
In the June, 1929, issue, exactly ten years later, the Journal
permitted a lipstick to be advertised with the comment, "It's
comforting to know that the alluring note of scarlet will stay with
you for hours."  (Incidentally, the examination of those two
magazines offers another contrast: in 1919 the Listerine
advertisement said simply, "The prompt application of Listerine may
prevent a minor accident from becoming a major infection," whereas
in 1929 it began a tragic rhapsody with the words, "Spring! for
everyone but her . . .").

These changes in fashion--the short skirt, the boyish form, the
straight, long-waisted dresses, the frank use of paint--were signs
of a real change in the American feminine ideal (as well, perhaps,
as in men's idea of what was the feminine ideal).  Women were bent
on freedom--freedom to work and to play without the trammels that
had bound them heretofore to lives of comparative inactivity.  But
what they sought was not the freedom from man and his desires which
had put the suffragists of an earlier day into hard straw hats and
mannish suits and low-heeled shoes.  The woman of the nineteen-
twenties wanted to be able to allure man even on the golf links and
in the office; the little flapper who shingled her hair and wore a
manageable little hat and put on knickerbockers for the weekends
would not be parted from her silk stockings and her high-heeled
shoes.  Nor was the post-war feminine ideal one of fruitful
maturity or ripened wisdom or practiced grace.  On the contrary:
the quest of slenderness, the flattening of the breasts, the vogue
of short skirts (even when short skirts still suggested the
appearance of a little girl), the juvenile effect of the long waist--
all were signs that, consciously or unconsciously, the women of
this decade worshiped not merely youth, but unripened youth.  They
wanted to be--or thought men wanted them to be--men's casual and
light-hearted companions; not broad-hipped mothers of the race, but
irresponsible playmates.  Youth was their pattern, but not youthful
innocence: the adolescent whom they imitated was a hard-boiled
adolescent, who thought not in terms of romantic love, but in terms
of sex, and who made herself desirable not by that sly art which
conceals art, but frankly and openly.  In effect, the woman of the
Post-war Decade said to man, "You are tired and disillusioned, you
do not want the cares of a family or the companionship of mature
wisdom, you want exciting play, you want the thrills of sex without
their fruition, and I will give them to you."  And to herself she
added, "But I will be free."


One indication of the revolution in manners which her headlong
pursuit of freedom brought about was her rapid acceptance of the
cigarette.  Within a very few years millions of American women of
all ages followed the lead of the flappers of 1920 and took up
smoking.  Custom still generally frowned upon their doing it on the
street or in the office, and in the evangelical hinterlands the old
taboo died hard; but in restaurants, at dinner parties and dances,
in theater lobbies, and in a hundred other places they made the air
blue.  Here again the trend in advertising measured the trend in
public opinion.  At the beginning of the decade advertisers
realized that it would have been suicidal to portray a woman
smoking; within a few years, however, they ventured pictures of
pretty girls imploring men to blow some of the smoke their way;
and by the end of the decade billboards boldly displayed a
smart-looking woman cigarette in hand, and in some of the
magazines, despite floods of protests from rural readers, tobacco
manufacturers were announcing that "now women may enjoy a
companionable smoke with their husbands and brothers."  In the ten
years between 1918 and 1928 the total production of cigarettes in
the United States MORE THAN DOUBLED.  Part of this increase was
doubtless due to the death of the one-time masculine prejudice
against the cigarette as unmanly, for it was accompanied by
somewhat of a decrease in the production of cigars and smoking
tobacco, as well as--mercifully--of chewing tobacco.  Part of it
was attributable to the fact that the convenience of the cigarette
made the masculine smoker consume more tobacco than in the days
when he preferred a cigar or a pipe.  But the increase could never
have been so large had it not been for the women who now strewed
the dinner table with their ashes, snatched a puff between the
acts, invaded the masculine sanctity of the club car, and forced
department stores to place ornamental ash-trays between the chairs
in their women's shoe departments.  A formidable barrier between
the sexes had broken down.  The custom of separating them after
formal dinners, for example, still lingered, but as an empty rite.
Hosts who laid in a stock of cigars for their male guests often
found them untouched; the men in the dining-room were smoking the
very same brands of cigarettes that the ladies consumed in the

Of far greater social significance, however, was the fact that men
and women were drinking together.  Among well-to-do people the
serving of cocktails before dinner became almost socially
obligatory.  Mixed parties swarmed up to the curtained grills of
speakeasies and uttered the mystic password, and girls along with
men stood at the speakeasy bar with one foot on the old brass rail.
The late afternoon cocktail party became a new American
institution.  When dances were held in hotels, the curious and
rather unsavory custom grew up of hiring hotel rooms where reliable
drinks could be served in suitable privacy; guests of both sexes
lounged on the beds and tossed off mixtures of high potency.  As
houses and apartments became smaller, the country club became the
social center of the small city, the suburb, and the summer resort;
and to its pretentious clubhouse, every Saturday night, drove men
and women (after a round of cocktails at somebody's house) for the
weekly dinner dance.  Bottles of White Rock and of ginger ale
decked the tables, out of capacious masculine hip pockets came
flasks of gin (once the despised and rejected of bartenders, now
the most popular of all liquors), and women who a few years before
would have gasped at the thought that they would ever be "under the
influence of alcohol" found themselves matching the men drink for
drink and enjoying the uproarious release.  The next day gossip
would report that the reason Mrs. So-and-so disappeared from the
party at eleven was because she had had too many cocktails and had
been led to the dressing-room to be sick, or that somebody would
have to meet the club's levy for breakage, or that Mrs. Such-and-
such really oughtn't to drink so much because three cocktails made
her throw bread about the table.  A passing scandal would be
created by a dance at which substantial married men amused
themselves by tripping up waiters, or young people bent on petting
parties drove right out on the golf-links and made wheel-tracks on
the eighteenth green.

Such incidents were of course exceptional and in many communities
they never occurred.  It was altogether probable, though the
professional wets denied it, that prohibition succeeded in reducing
the total amount of drinking in the country as a whole and in
reducing it decidedly among the workingmen of the industrial
districts.  The majority of experienced college administrators
agreed--rather to the annoyance of some of their undergraduates--
that there was less drinking among men students than there had been
before prohibition and that drinking among girl students, at least
while they were in residence, hardly offered a formidable problem.
Yet the fact remained that among the prosperous classes which set
the standards of national social behavior, alcohol flowed more
freely than ever before and lubricated an unprecedented informality--
to say the least--of manners.

It lubricated, too, a new outspokenness between men and women.
Thanks to the spread of scientific skepticism and especially to
Sigmund Freud, the dogmas of the conservative moralists were losing
force and the dogma that salvation lay in facing the facts of sex
was gaining.  An upheaval in values was taking place.  Modesty,
reticence, and chivalry were going out of style; women no longer
wanted to be "ladylike" or could appeal to their daughters to be
"wholesome"; it was too widely suspected that the old-fashioned
lady had been a sham and that the "wholesome" girl was merely
inhibiting a nasty mind and would come to no good end.  "Victorian"
and "Puritan" were becoming terms of opprobrium: up-to-date people
thought of Victorians as old ladies with bustles and inhibitions,
and of Puritans as blue-nosed, ranting spoilsports.  It was better
to be modern--everybody wanted to be modern--and sophisticated, and
smart, to smash the conventions and to be devastatingly frank.  And
with a cocktail glass in one's hand it was easy at least to be

"Listen with a detached ear to a modern conversation," wrote Mary
Agnes Hamilton in 1927, "and you will be struck, first, by the
restriction of the vocabulary, and second, by the high proportion
in that vocabulary of words such as, in the older jargon, 'no lady
could use.'"  With the taste for strong liquors went a taste for
strong language.  To one's lovely dinner partner, the inevitable
antithesis for "grand" and "swell" had become "lousy."  An
unexpected "damn" or "hell" uttered on the New York stage was no
longer a signal for the sudden sharp laughter of shocked surprise;
such words were becoming the commonplace of everyday talk.  The
barroom anecdote of the decade before now went the rounds of
aristocratic bridge tables.  Every one wanted to be unshockable; it
was delightful to be considered a little shocking; and so the
competition in boldness of talk went on until for a time, as Mrs.
Hamilton put it, a conversation in polite circles was like a room
decorated entirely in scarlet--the result was over-emphasis,
stridency, and eventual boredom.

Along with the new frankness in conversation went a new frankness
in books and the theater.  Consider, for example, the themes of a
handful of the best plays produced in New York during the decade:
What Price Glory? which represented the amorous marines
interlarding their talk with epithets new to the stage; The Road to
Rome, the prime comic touch of which was the desire of a Roman
matron to be despoiled by the Carthaginians; Strange Interlude, in
which a wife who found there was insanity in her husband's family
but wanted to give him a child decided to have the child by an
attractive young doctor, instead of by her husband, and forthwith
fell in love with the doctor; Strictly Dishonorable, in which a
charming young girl walked blithely and open-eyed into an affair of
a night with an opera-singer; and The Captive, which revealed to
thousands of innocents the fact that the world contained such a
phenomenon as homosexuality.  None of these plays could have been
tolerated even in New York before the Post-war Decade; all of them
in the nineteen-twenties were not merely popular, but genuinely
admired by intelligent audiences.  The effect of some of them upon
these audiences is suggested by the story of the sedate old lady
who, after two acts of What Price Glory? reprimanded her grandson
with a "God damn it, Johnny, sit down!"

The same thing was true of the novels of the decade; one after
another, from Jurgen and Dark Laughter through the tales of Michael
Arlen to An American Tragedy and The Sun Also Rises and The Well of
Loneliness and Point Counter Point, they dealt with sex with an
openness or a cynicism or an unmoral objectivity new to the English-
speaking world.  Bitterly the defenders of the Puritan code tried
to stem the tide, but it was too strong for them.  They banned
Jurgen--and made a best seller of it and a public reputation for
its author.  They dragged Mary Ware Dennett into court for
distributing a pamphlet for children which explained some of the
mysteries of sex--only to have her upheld by a liberal judge and
endorsed by intelligent public opinion.  In Boston, where they were
backed by an alliance between stubborn Puritanism and Roman
Catholicism, they banned books wholesale, forbade the stage
presentation of Strange Interlude, and secured the conviction of a
bookseller for selling Lady Chatterley's Lover--only to find that
the intellectuals of the whole country were laughing at them and
that ultimately they were forced to allow the publication of books
which they would have moved to ban ten years before.  Despite all
that they could do, the taste of the country demanded a new sort of
reading matter.

Early in the decade a distinguished essayist wrote an article in
which she contended that the physical processes of childbirth were
humiliating to many women.  She showed it to the editor of one of
the best magazines, and he and she agreed that it should not be
printed: too many readers would be repelled by the subject matter
and horrified by the thesis.  Only a few years later, in 1927, the
editor recalled this manuscript and asked if he might see it again.
He saw it--and wondered why it had ever been disqualified.  Already
such frankness seemed quite natural and permissible.  The article
was duly published, and caused only the mildest of sensations.

If in 1918 the editors of a reputable magazine had accepted a story
in which one gangster said to another, "For Christ's sake, Joe,
give her the gas.  Some lousy bastard has killed Eddie," they would
have whipped out the blue pencil and changed the passage to
something like "For the love of Mike, Joe, give her the gas.  Some
dirty skunk has killed Eddie."  In 1929 that sentence appeared in a
story accepted by a magazine of the most unblemished standing, and
was printed without alteration.  A few readers objected, but not
many.  Times had changed.  Even in the great popular periodicals
with huge circulations and a considerable following in the
strongholds of rural Methodism the change in standards was
apparent.  Said a short-story writer in the late nineteen-twenties,
"I used to write for magazines like the Saturday Evening Post and
the Pictorial Review when I had a nice innocuous tale to tell and
wanted the money, and for magazines like Harper's and Scribner's
when I wanted to write something searching and honest.  Now I find
I can sell the honest story to the big popular magazines too."


With the change in manners went an inevitable change in morals.
Boys and girls were becoming sophisticated about sex at an earlier
age; it was symptomatic that when the authors of Middletown asked
241 boys and 315 girls of high-school age to mark as true or false,
according to their opinion, the extreme statement, "Nine out of
every ten boys and girls of high-school age have petting parties,"
almost precisely half of them marked it as true.  How much actual
intercourse there was among such young people it is of course
impossible to say; but the lurid stories told by Judge Lindsay--of
girls who carried contraceptives in their vanity cases, and of
"Caroline," who told the judge that fifty-eight girls of her
acquaintance had had one or more sex experiences without a single
pregnancy resulting--were matched by the gossip current in many a
town.  Whether prostitution increased or decreased during the
decade is likewise uncertain; but certain it is that the prostitute
was faced for the first time with an amateur competition of
formidable proportions.

As for the amount of outright infidelity among married couples, one
is again without reliable data, the private relations of men and
women being happily beyond the reach of the statistician.  The
divorce rate, however, continued its steady increase; for every 100
marriages there were 8.8 divorces in 1910, 13.4 divorces in 1920,
and 16.5 divorces in 1928--almost one divorce for every six
marriages.  There was a corresponding decline in the amount of
disgrace accompanying divorce.  In the urban communities men and
women who had been divorced were now socially accepted without
question; indeed, there was often about the divorced person just
enough of an air of unconventionality, just enough of a touch of
scarlet, to be considered rather dashing and desirable.  Many young
women probably felt as did the New York girl who said, toward the
end of the decade, that she was thinking of marrying Henry,
although she didn't care very much for him, because even if they
didn't get along she could get a divorce and "it would be much more
exciting to be a divorce than to be an old maid."

The petting party, which in the first years of the decade had been
limited to youngsters in their teens and twenties, soon made its
appearance among older men and women: when the gin-flask was passed
about the hotel bedroom during a dance, or the musicians stilled
their saxophones during the Saturday-night party at the country
club, men of affairs and women with half-grown children had their
little taste of raw sex.  One began to hear of young girls,
intelligent and well born, who had spent week-ends with men before
marriage and had told their prospective husbands everything and had
been not merely forgiven, but told that there was nothing to
forgive; a little "experience," these men felt, was all to the good
for any girl.  Millions of people were moving toward acceptance of
what a bon-vivant of earlier days had said was his idea of the
proper state of morality--"A single standard, and that a low one."

It would be easy, of course, to match every one of these cases with
contrasting cases of men and women who still thought and behaved at
the end of the decade exactly as the president of the Epworth
League would have wished.  Two women who conducted newspaper
columns of advice in affairs of the heart testified that the sort
of problem which was worrying young America, to judge from their
bulging correspondence, was not whether to tell the boyfriend about
the illegitimate child, but whether it was proper to invite the
boyfriend up on the porch if he hadn't yet come across with an
invitation to the movies, or whether the cake at a pie social
should be cut with a knife.  In the hinterlands there was still
plenty of old-fashioned sentimental thinking about sex, of the sort
which expressed itself in the slogan of a federated women's club:
"Men are God's trees, women are His flowers."  There were frantic
efforts to stay the tide of moral change by law, the most
picturesque of these efforts being the ordinance actually passed in
Norphelt, Arkansas, in 1925, which contained the following

"Section 1.  Hereafter it shall be unlawful for any man and woman,
male or female, to be guilty of committing the act of sexual
intercourse between themselves at any place within the corporate
limits of said town.

"Section 3.  Section One of this ordinance shall not apply to
married persons as between themselves, and their husband and wife,
unless of a grossly improper and lascivious nature."

Nevertheless, there was an unmistakable and rapid trend away from
the old American code toward a philosophy of sex relations and of
marriage wholly new to the country: toward a feeling that the
virtues of chastity and fidelity had been rated too highly, that
there was something to be said for what Mrs. Bertrand Russell
defined as "the right, equally shared by men and women, to free
participation in sex experience," that it was not necessary for
girls to deny themselves this right before marriage or even for
husbands and wives to do so after marriage.  It was in acknowledgment
of the spread of this feeling that Judge Lindsay proposed, in 1927,
to establish "companionate marriage" on a legal basis.  He wanted to
legalize birth control (which, although still outlawed, was by this
time generally practiced or believed in by married couples in all
but the most ignorant classes) and to permit legal marriage to be
terminated at any time in divorce by mutual consent, provided there
were no children.  His suggestion created great consternation and
was widely and vigorously denounced; but the mere fact that it was
seriously debated showed how the code of an earlier day had been
shaken.  The revolution in morals was in full swing.


A time of revolution, however, is an uneasy time to live in.  It is
easier to tear down a code than to put a new one in its place, and
meanwhile there is bound to be more or less wear and tear and
general unpleasantness.  People who have been brought up to think
that it is sinful for women to smoke or drink, and scandalous for
sex to be discussed across the luncheon table, and unthinkable for
a young girl to countenance strictly dishonorable attentions from a
man, cannot all at once forget the admonitions of their childhood.
It takes longer to hard-boil a man or a woman than an egg.  Some of
the apostles of the new freedom appeared to imagine that habits of
thought could be changed overnight, and that if you only dragged
the secrets of sex out into the daylight and let everyone do just
as he pleased at the moment, society would at once enter upon a
state of barbaric innocence like that of the remotest South Sea
Islanders.  But it couldn't be done.  When you drag the secrets of
sex out into the daylight, the first thing that the sons and
daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Grundy do is to fall all over themselves
in the effort to have a good look, and for a time they can think of
nothing else.  If you let every one do just as he pleases, he is as
likely as not to begin by making a nuisance of himself.  He may
even shortly discover that making a nuisance of himself is not,
after all, the recipe for lasting happiness.  So it happened when
the old codes were broken down in the Postwar Decade.

One of the most striking results of the revolution was a widely
pervasive obsession with sex.  To listen to the conversation of
some of the sons and daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Grundy was to be
reminded of the girl whose father said that she would talk about
anything; in fact, she hardly ever talked about anything else.  The
public attitude toward any number of problems of the day revealed
this obsession: to give a single example, the fashionable argument
against women's colleges at this period had nothing to do with the
curriculum or with the intellectual future of the woman graduate,
but pointed out that living with girls for four years was likely to
distort a woman's sex life.  The public taste in reading matter
revealed it: to say nothing of the sex magazines and the tabloids
and the acres of newspaper space devoted to juicy scandals like
that of Daddy Browning and his Peaches, it was significant that
almost every one of the novelists who were ranked most highly by
the postwar intellectuals was at outs with the censors, and that
the Pulitzer Prize juries had a hard time meeting the requirement
that the prize-winning novel should "present the wholesome
atmosphere of American life and the highest standard of American
manners and manhood," and finally had to alter the terms of the
award, substituting "whole" for "wholesome" and omitting reference
to "highest standards."  There were few distinguished novels being
written which one could identify with a "wholesome atmosphere"
without making what the Senate would call interpretive reservations.
Readers who considered themselves "modern-minded" did not want them:
they wanted the philosophical promiscuity of Aldous Huxley's men and
women, the perfumed indiscretions of Michael Arlen's degenerates,
Ernest Hemingway's unflinching account of the fleeting amours of the
drunken Brett Ashley, Anita Loos's comedy of two kept women and
their gentlemen friends, Radclyffe Hall's study of homosexuality.
Young men and women who a few years before would have been
championing radical economic or political doctrines were championing
the new morality and talking about it everywhere and thinking of it
incessantly.  Sex was in the limelight, and the Grundy children
could not turn their eyes away.

Another result of the revolution was that manners became not merely
different, but--for a few years--unmannerly.  It was no mere
coincidence that during this decade hostesses--even at small
parties--found that their guests couldn't be bothered to speak to
them on arrival or departure, that "gatecrashing" at dances became
an accepted practice; that thousands of men and women made a point
of not getting to dinners within half an hour of the appointed time
lest they seem insufficiently blas; that house parties of flappers
and their wide-trousered swains left burning cigarettes on the
mahogany tables, scattered ashes light-heartedly on the rugs, took
the porch cushions out in the boats and left them there to be
rained on, without apology; or that men and women who had had--as
the old phrase went--"advantages" and considered themselves highly
civilized, absorbed a few cocktails and straightway turned a dinner
party into a boisterous rout, forgetting that a general roughhouse
was not precisely the sign of a return to the Greek idea of the
good life.  The old bars were down, no new ones had been built, and
meanwhile the pigs were in the pasture.  Someday, perhaps, the ten
years which followed the war may aptly be known as the Decade of
Bad Manners.

Nor was it easy to throw overboard the moral code and substitute
another without confusion and distress.  It was one thing to
proclaim that married couples should be free to find sex adventure
wherever they pleased and that marriage was something independent
of such casual sport; it was quite another thing for a man or woman
in whom the ideal of romantic marriage had been ingrained since
early childhood to tolerate infidelities when they actually took
place.  Judge Lindsay told the story of a woman who had made up her
mind that her husband might love whom he pleased; she would be
modern and think none the less of him for it.  But whenever she
laid eyes on her rival she was physically sick.  Her mind, she
discovered, was hard-boiled only on the surface.  That woman had
many a counterpart during the revolution in morals; behind the grim
statistics of divorce there was many a case of husband and wife
experimenting with the new freedom and suddenly finding that there
was dynamite in it which wrecked that mutual confidence and esteem
without which marriage--even for the sake of their children--could
not be endured.

The new code had been born in disillusionment, and beneath all the
bravado of its exponents and the talk about entering upon a new era
the disillusionment persisted.  If the decade was ill-mannered, it
was also unhappy.  With the old order of things had gone a set of
values which had given richness and meaning to life, and substitute
values were not easily found.  If morality was dethroned, what was
to take its place?  Honor, said some of the prophets of the new
day:  "It doesn't matter much what you do so long as you're honest
about it."  A brave ideal--yet it did not wholly satisfy; it was
too vague, too austere, too difficult to apply.  If romantic love
was dethroned, what was to take its place?  Sex?  But as Joseph
Wood Krutch explained, "If love has come to be less often a sin, it
has also come to be less often a supreme privilege."  And as Walter
Lippmann, in A Preface to Morals, added after quoting Mr. Krutch,
"If you start with the belief that love is the pleasure of a
moment, is it really surprising that it yields only a momentary
pleasure?"  The end of the pursuit of sex alone was emptiness and
futility--the emptiness and futility to which Lady Brett Ashley and
her friends in The Sun Also Rises were so tragically doomed.

There were not, to be sure, many Brett Ashleys in the United States
during the Post-war Decade.  Yet there were millions to whom in
some degree came for a time the same disillusionment and with it
the same unhappiness.  They could not endure a life without values,
and the only values they had been trained to understand were being
undermined.  Everything seemed meaningless and unimportant.  Well,
at least one could toss off a few drinks and get a kick out of
physical passion and forget that the world was crumbling. . . .
And so the saxophones wailed and the gin-flask went its rounds and
the dancers made their treadmill circuit with half-closed eyes, and
the outside world, so merciless and so insane, was shut away for a
restless night. . . .

It takes time to build up a new code.  Not until the decade was
approaching its end did there appear signs that the revolutionists
were once more learning to be at home in their world, to rid
themselves of their obsession with sex, to adjust themselves
emotionally to the change in conventions and standards, to live the
freer and franker life of this new era gracefully, and to discover
among the ruins of the old dispensation a new set of enduring



--Having been personal attorney for Warren G. Harding before he was
Senator from Ohio and while he was Senator, and thereafter until
his death.

--And for Mrs. Harding for a period of several years, and before
her husband was elected President and after his death,

--And having been attorney for the Midland National Bank of
Washington Court House, O., and for my brother, M. S. Daugherty,

--And having been Attorney-General of the United States during the
time that President Harding served as President,

--And also for a time after President Harding's death under
President Coolidge,

--And with all of those named, as attorney, personal friend, and
Attorney-General, my relations were of the most confidential
character as well as professional,

--I refuse to testify and answer questions put to me, because:

The answer I might give or make and the testimony I might give
might tend to incriminate me.

--Harry M. Daugherty's written reply when called upon by Judge
Thacher for information for the Federal Grand Jury in New York
March 31, 1926 (punctuation revised).

On the morning of March 4, 1921--a brilliant morning with a frosty
air and a wind which whipped the flags of Washington--Woodrow
Wilson, broken and bent and ill, limped from the White House door
to a waiting automobile, rode down Pennsylvania Avenue to the
Capitol with the stalwart President-elect at his side, and returned
to the bitter seclusion of his private house in S Street.  Warren
Gamaliel Harding was sworn in as President of the United States.
The reign of normalcy had begun.

March 4, 1921: what do those cold figures mean to you?  Let us turn
back for a moment to that day and look about us.

The war had been over for more than two years, although, as the
Treaty of Versailles had been thrown out by the Senate and Woodrow
Wilson had refused to compromise with the gentlemen at the other
end of the Avenue, a technical state of war still existed between
Germany and the United States.  Business, having boomed until the
middle of 1920, was collapsing into the depths of depression and
dragging down with it the price-level which had caused so much
uproar about the High Cost of Living.  The Big Red Scare was
gradually ebbing, although the super-patriots still raged and Sacco
and Vanzetti had not yet come to trial before Judge Thayer.  The Ku
Klux Klan was acquiring its first few hundred thousand members.
The Eighteenth Amendment was entering upon its second year, and rum-
runners and bootleggers were beginning to acquire confidence.  The
sins of the flappers were disturbing the nation; it was at about
this time that Philadelphia produced the "moral gown" and the
Literary Digest featured a symposium entitled, "Is the Younger
Generation in Peril?"  The first radio broadcasting station in the
country was hardly four months old and the radio craze was not yet.
Skirts had climbed halfway to the knee and seemed likely to go down
again, a crime commission had just been investigating Chicago's
crime wave, Judge Landis had become the czar of baseball, Dempsey
and Carpentier had signed to meet the following summer at Boyle's
Thirty Acres, and Main Street and The Outline of History were
becoming best sellers.

The nation was spiritually tired.  Wearied by the excitements of
the war and the nervous tension of the Big Red Scare, they hoped
for quiet and healing.  Sick of Wilson and his talk of America's
duty to humanity, callous to political idealism, they hoped for a
chance to pursue their private affairs without governmental
interference and to forget about public affairs.  There might be no
such word in the dictionary as normalcy, but normalcy was what they

Every new administration at Washington begins in an atmosphere of
expectant good will, but in this case the airs which lapped the
capital were particularly bland.  The smile of the new President
was as warming as a spring thaw after a winter of discontent.  For
four long years the gates of the White House had been locked and
guarded with sentries.  Harding's first official act was to throw
them open, to permit a horde of sight-seers to roam the grounds and
flatten their noses against the executive window-panes and
photograph one another under the great north portico; to permit
flivvers and trucks to detour from Pennsylvania Avenue up the
driveway and chortle right past the presidential front door.  The
act seemed to symbolize the return of the government to the people.
Wilson had been denounced as an autocrat, had proudly kept his own
counsel; Harding modestly said he would rely on the "best minds" to
advise him, and took his oath of office upon the verse from Micah
which asks, "What doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly,
and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"  Wilson had
seemed to be everlastingly prying into the affairs of business and
had distrusted most business men; Harding meant to give them as
free a hand as possible "to resume their normal onward way."  And
finally, whereas Wilson had been an austere academic theorist,
Harding was "just folks": he radiated an unaffected good nature,
met reporters and White House visitors with a warm handclasp and a
genial word, and touched the sentimental heart of America by
establishing in the White House a dog named Laddie Boy.  "The
Washington atmosphere of today is like that of Old Home Week or a
college class reunion," wrote Edward G. Lowry shortly after Harding
took office.  "The change is amazing.  The populace is on a broad
grin."  An era of good will seemed to be beginning.

Warren Harding had two great assets, and these were already
apparent.  First, he looked as a President of the United States
should.  He was superbly handsome.  His face and carriage had a
Washingtonian nobility and dignity, his eyes were benign; he
photographed well and the pictures of him in the rotogravure
sections won him affection and respect.  And he was the friendliest
man who ever had entered the White House.  He seemed to like
everybody, he wanted to do favors for everybody, he wanted to make
everybody happy.  His affability was not merely the forced
affability of the cold-blooded politician; it was transparently and
touchingly genuine.  "Neighbor," he had said to Herbert Hoover at
their first meeting, during the war, "I want to be helpful."  He
meant it; and now that he was President, he wanted to be helpful to
neighbors from Marion and neighbors from campaign headquarters and
to the whole neighborly American public.

His liabilities were not at first so apparent, yet they were
disastrously real.  Beyond the limited scope of his political
experience he was "almost unbelievably ill-informed," as William
Allen White put it.  His mind was vague and fuzzy.  Its quality was
revealed in the clogged style of his public addresses, in his
choice of turgid and maladroit language ("noninvolvement" in
European affairs, "adhesion" to a treaty), and in his frequent
attacks of suffix trouble ("normalcy" for normality, "betrothment"
for betrothal).  It was revealed even more clearly in his
helplessness when confronted by questions of policy to which mere
good nature could not find the answer.  White tells of Harding's
coming into the office of one of his secretaries after a day of
listening to his advisers wrangling over a tax problem, and crying
out:  "John, I can't make a damn thing out of this tax problem.  I
listen to one side and they seem right, and then--God!--I talk to
the other side and they seem just as right, and here I am where I
started.  I know somewhere there is a book that will give me the
truth, but, hell, I couldn't read the book.  I know somewhere there
is an economist who knows the truth, but I don't know where to find
him and haven't the sense to know him and trust him when I find
him.  God!  What a job!"  His inability to discover for himself the
essential facts of a problem and to think it through made him
utterly dependent upon subordinates and friends whose mental
processes were sharper than his own.

If he had been discriminating in the choice of his friends and
advisers, all might have been well.  But discrimination had been
left out of his equipment.  He appointed Charles Evans Hughes and
Herbert Hoover and Andrew Mellon to Cabinet positions out of a
vague sense that they would provide his administration with the
necessary amount of statesmanship, but he was as ready to follow
the lead of Daugherty or Fall or Forbes.  He had little notion of
technical fitness for technical jobs.  Offices were plums to him,
and he handed them out like a benevolent Santa Claus--beginning
with the boys from Marion.  He made his brother-in-law Superintendent
of Prisons; he not only kept the insignificant Doctor Sawyer, of
Sawyer's Sanitarium at Marion, as his personal physician, but
bestowed upon him what a White House announcement called a
"brigadier-generalcy" (suffix trouble again) and deputed him to
study the possible coordination of the health agencies of the
government; and for Comptroller of the Currency he selected D. R.
Crissinger, a Marion lawyer whose executive banking experience was
limited to a few months as president of the National City Bank and
Trust Company--of Marion.

Nor did Harding appear to be able to distinguish between honesty
and rascality.  He had been trained in the sordid school of
practical Ohio politics.  He had served for years as the majestic
Doric false front behind which Ohio lobbyists and fixers and
purchasers of privilege had discussed their "business propositions"
and put over their "little deals"--and they, too, followed him to
Washington, along with the boys from Marion.  Some of them he put
into positions of power, others he saw assuming positions of power;
knowing them intimately, he must have known--if he was capable of a
minute's clear and unprejudiced thought--how they would inevitably
use those positions; but he was too fond of his old cronies, too
anxious to have them share his good fortune, and too muddle-minded
to face the issue until it was too late.  He liked to slip away
from the White House to the house in H Street where the Ohio gang
and their intimates reveled and liquor flowed freely without undue
regard for prohibition, and a man could take his pleasure at the
poker table and forget the cares of state; and the easiest course
to take was not to inquire too closely into what the boys were
doing, to hope that if they were grafting a little on the side
they'd be reasonable about it and not do anything to let old Warren

And why did he choose such company?  The truth was that under his
imposing exterior he was just a common small-town man, an "average
sensual man," the sort of man who likes nothing better in the world
than to be with the old bunch when they gather at Joe's place for
an all-Saturday-night session, with waistcoats unbuttoned and
cigars between their teeth and an ample supply of bottles and
cracked ice at hand.  His private life was one of cheap sex
episodes; as one reads the confessions of his mistress, who claims
that as President he was supporting an illegitimate baby born
hardly a year before his election, one is struck by the shabbiness
of the whole affair: the clandestine meetings in disreputable
hotels, in the Senate Office Building (where Nan Britton believed
their child to have been conceived), and even in a coat-closet in
the executive offices of the White House itself.  (Doubts have been
cast upon the truth of the story told in The President's Daughter,
but is it easy to imagine anyone making up out of whole cloth a
supposedly autobiographical story compounded of such ignoble
adventures?)  Even making due allowance for the refraction of
Harding's personality through that of Nan Britton, one sees with
deadly clarity the essential ordinariness of the man, the
commonness of his "Gee, dearie" and "Say, you darling," his being
swindled out of a hundred dollars by card sharpers on a train ride,
his nave assurance to Nan, when detectives broke in upon them in a
Broadway hotel, that they could not be arrested because it was
illegal to detain a Senator while "en route to Washington to serve
the people."  Warren Harding's ambitious wife had tailored and
groomed him into outward respectability and made a man of substance
of him; yet even now, after he had reached the White House, the
rowdies of the Ohio gang were fundamentally his sort.  He had risen
above them, he could mingle urbanely with their superiors, but it
was in the smoke-filled rooms of the house in H Street that he was
really most at home.

Harding had no sooner arrived at the White House than a swarm of
practical politicians of the McKinley-Foraker vintage reappeared in
Washington.  Blowsy gentlemen with cigars stuck in their cheeks and
rolls of very useful hundred-dollar bills in their pockets began to
infest the Washington hotels.  The word ran about that you could do
business with the government now--if you only fixed things up with
the right man.  The oil men licked their chops; had they not
lobbied powerfully at the Chicago convention for the nomination of
just such a man as Harding, who did not take this conservation
nonsense too seriously, and would not Harding's Secretary of the
Interior, Albert B. Fall, let them develop the national resources
on friendly and not too stringent terms?  The Ohio gang chuckled
over the feast awaiting them: the chances for graft at Columbus had
been a piker's chance compared with those which the mastery of the
federal government would offer him.  Warren Harding wanted to be
helpful.  Well, he would have a chance to be.


The public at large, however, knew little and cared less about what
was happening behind the scenes.  Their eyes--when they bothered to
look at all--were upon the well-lighted stage where the Harding
Administration was playing a drama of discreet and seemly

Peace with Germany, so long deferred, was made by a resolution
signed by the President on July 2, 1921.  The Government of the
United States was put upon a unified budget basis for the first
time in history by the passage of the Budget Act of 1921, and
Charles G. Dawes, becoming Director of the Budget, entranced the
newspaper-reading public with his picturesque language, his
underslung pipe, and his broom-waving histrionics when he harangued
the bureau chiefs on behalf of business efficiency.  Immigration
was restricted, being put upon a quota basis, to the satisfaction
of labor and the relief of those who felt that the amount of
melting being done in the melting-pot was disappointingly small.
Congress raised the tariff, as all good Republican Congresses
should.  Secretary Mellon pleased the financial powers of the
country by arguing for the lowering of the high surtaxes upon large
incomes; and although an obstreperous Farm Bloc joined with the
Democrats to keep the maximum surtax at 50 per cent, Wall Street at
least felt that the Administration's heart was in the right place.
Every foe of union labor was sure of this when Attorney-General
Daugherty confronted the striking railway shopmen with an
injunction worthy of Mitchell Palmer himself.  In January, 1923, an
agreement for the funding of the British war debt to the United
States was made in Washington; it was shortly ratified by the
Senate.  The outstanding achievement of the Harding Administration,
however, was undoubtedly the Washington Conference for the
Limitation of Armaments--or, as the newspapers insisted upon
calling it, the "Arms Parley."

Since the war the major powers of the world had begun once more
their race for supremacy in armament.  England, the United States,
and Japan were all building ships for dear life.  The rivalry
between them was rendered acute by the growing tension in the
Pacific.  During the war Japan had seized her golden opportunity
for the expansion of her commercial empire: her rivals being very
much occupied elsewhere, she had begun to regard China as her
special sphere of interest and to treat it as a sort of
protectorate where her commerce would have prior rights to that of
other nations.  Her hand was strengthened by an alliance with
England.  When Charles Evans Hughes became Secretary of State and
began to stand up for American rights in the Orient, applying once
more the traditional American policy of the Open Door, it was soon
apparent that the situation was ticklish.  Japan wanted her own
way; the Americans opposed it: and there lay the Philippines,
apparently right under Japan's thumb if trouble should break out!
All three powers.  Britain, Japan, and the United States, would be
the gainers by an amicable agreement about the points under dispute
in the Pacific, by the substitution of a three-cornered agreement
for the Japanese-British alliance, and by an arrangement for the
limitation of fleets.  Senator Borah proposed an international
conference.  Harding and Hughes took up his suggestion, the
conference was called, and on November 12, 1921--the day following
the solemn burial of America's Unknown Soldier at Arlington
Cemetery--the delegates assembled in Washington.

President Harding opened the first session with a cordial if
profuse speech of welcome, and true to his policy of leaving
difficult problems to be solved by the "best minds," left Secretary
Hughes and his associates to do the actual negotiating.  In this
case his hands-off policy worked well.  Hughes not only had a
brilliant mind, he had a definite program and a masterly grasp of
the complicated issues at stake.  President Harding had hardly
walked out of Memorial Continental Hall when the Secretary of
State, installed as chairman of the conference, began what seemed
at first only the perfunctory address of greeting--and then, to the
amazement of the delegates assembled about the long conference
tables, came out with a definite and detailed program: a ten-year
naval holiday, during which no capital ships should be built; the
abandonment of all capital-shipbuilding plans, either actual or
projected; the scrapping, by the three nations, of almost two
million tons of ships built or building; and the limitation of
replacement according to a 5-5-3 ratio (the American and British
navies to be kept at parity and the Japanese at three-fifths of the
size of each).

"With the acceptance of this plan," concluded Secretary Hughes amid
a breathless silence, "the burden of meeting the demands of
competition in naval armament will be lifted.  Enormous sums will
be released to aid the progress of civilization.  At the same time
the proper demands of national defense will be adequately met and
the nations will have ample opportunity during the naval holiday of
ten years to consider their future course.  Preparation for
offensive naval war will stop now."

The effect of this direct and specific proposal was prodigious.  At
the proposal of a naval holiday William Jennings Bryan, sitting
among the newspapermen, expressed his enthusiasm with a yell of
delight.  At the conclusion of Hughes's speech the delegates broke
into prolonged applause.  It was echoed by the country and by the
press of the world.  People's imaginations were so stirred by the
boldness and effectiveness of the Hughes plan that the success of
the conference became almost inevitable.

After three months of negotiation the delegates of Japan, Great
Britain, and the United States had agreed upon a treaty which
followed the general lines of the Hughes program; had joined with
the French in an agreement to respect one another's insular
possessions in the Pacific, and to settle all disagreements by
conciliatory negotiations; had prepared the way for the withdrawal
of Japan from Shantung and Siberia; and had agreed to respect the
principle of the Open Door in China.  The treaties were duly
ratified by the Senate.  The immediate causes of friction in the
Pacific were removed; and although cynics might point out that
competition in cruisers and submarines was little abated and that
battleships were almost obsolete anyhow, the Naval Treaty at least
lessened the burden of competition, as Secretary Hughes had
predicted, and in addition set a precedent of profound importance.
The armaments which a nation built were now definitely recognized
as being a matter of international concern, subject to international

Outwardly, then, things seemed to be going well for Warren Harding.
He was personally popular; his friendly attitude toward business
satisfied the conservative temper of the country; his Secretary of
the Treasury was being referred to, wherever two or three bankers
or industrialists gathered together, as the "greatest since
Alexander Hamilton"; his Secretary of Commerce, Herbert Hoover, was
aiding trade as efficiently as he had aided the Belgians; and even
discouraged idealists had to admit that the Washington Conference
had been no mean achievement.  Though there were rumors of graft
and waste and mismanagement in some departments of the Government,
and the director of the Veterans' Bureau had had to leave his
office in disgrace, and there was noisy criticism in Congress of
certain leases of oil lands to Messrs. Doheny and Sinclair, these
things attracted only a mild public interest.  When Harding left in
the early summer of 1923 for a visit to Alaska, few people realized
that anything was radically wrong with his administration.  When,
on his way home, he fell ill with what appeared to be ptomaine
poisoning, and on his arrival at San Francisco his illness went
into pneumonia, the country watched the daily headlines with
affectionate concern.  And when, just as the danger appeared to
have been averted, he died suddenly--on August 2, 1923--of what his
physicians took to be a stroke of apoplexy, the whole nation was
plunged into deep and genuine grief.

The President's body was placed upon a special train, which
proceeded across the country at the best possible speed to
Washington.  All along the route, thousands upon thousands of men,
women, and children were gathered to see it slip by.  Cowboys on
the Western hills dismounted and stood uncovered as the train
passed.  In the cities the throngs of mourners were so dense that
the engineer had to reduce his speed and the train fell hours
behind schedule.  "It is believed," wrote a reporter for the New
York Times, "to be the most remarkable demonstration in American
history of affection, respect, and reverence for the dead."  When
Warren Harding's body, after lying in state at Washington, was
taken to Marion for burial, his successor proclaimed a day of
public mourning, business houses were closed, memorial services
were held from one end of the country to the other, flags hung at
half mast, and buildings were draped in black.

The innumerable speeches made that day expressed no merely
perfunctory sentiments; everywhere people felt that a great-hearted
man, bowed down with his labors in their behalf, had died a martyr
to the service of his country.  The dead President was called "a
majestic figure who stood out like a rock of consistency"; it was
said that "his vision was always on the spiritual"; and Bishop
Manning of New York, speaking at a memorial service in the
Cathedral of St. John the Divine, seemed to be giving the fallen
hero no more than his due when he cried, "If I could write one
sentence upon his monument it would be this, 'He taught us the
power of brotherliness.'  It is the greatest lesson that any man
can teach us.  It is the spirit of the Christian religion.  In the
spirit of brotherliness and kindness we can solve all the problems
that confront us. . . .  May God ever give to our country leaders
as faithful, as wise, as noble in spirit, as the one whom we now

But as it happens, there are some problems--at least for a
President of the United States--that the spirit of brotherliness
and kindness will not alone solve.  The problem, for example, of
what to do when those to whom you have been all too brotherly have
enmeshed your administration in graft, and you know that the
scandal cannot long be concealed, and you feel your whole life-work
toppling into disgrace.  That was the problem which had killed
Warren Harding.

A rumor that the President committed suicide by taking poison later
gained wide currency through the publication of Samuel Hopkins
Adams's Revelry, a novel largely based on the facts of the Harding
Administration.  Gaston B. Means, a Department of Justice detective
and a member of the gang which revolved about Daugherty, implied
only too clearly in The Strange Death of President Harding that the
President was poisoned by his wife, with the connivance of Doctor
Sawyer.  The motive, according to Means, was a double one: Mrs.
Harding had found out about Nan Britton and the illegitimate
daughter and was consumed with a bitter and almost insane jealousy;
and she had learned enough about the machinations of Harding's
friends and the power that they had over him to feel that only
death could save him from obloquy.  Both the suicide theory and the
Means story are very plausible.  The ptomaine poisoning came, it
was said, from eating crab meat on the presidential boat on the
return from Alaska, but the list of supplies in the steward's
pantry contained no crab meat and no one else in the presidential
party was taken ill; furthermore, the fatal "stroke of apoplexy"
occurred when the President was recovering from pneumonia, Mrs.
Harding was apparently alone with him at the time, and the verdict
of the physicians, not being based upon an autopsy, was hardly more
than an expression of opinion.  Yet it is not necessary to accept
any such melodramatic version of the tragedy to acknowledge that
Harding died a victim of the predicament in which he was caught.
He knew too much of what had been going on in his administration to
be able to face the future.  On the Alaskan trip, he was clearly in
a state of tragic fear; according to William Allen White, "he kept
asking Secretary Hoover and the more trusted reporters who
surrounded him what a President should do whose friends had
betrayed him."  Whatever killed him--poison or heart failure--did
so the more easily because he had lost the will to live.

Of all this, of course, the country as a whole guessed nothing at
the time.  Their friend and President was dead, they mourned his
death, and they applauded the plans of the Harding Memorial
Association to raise a great monument in his honor.  It was only
afterward that the truth came out, piece by piece.


The martyred President had not been long in his grave when the
peculiar circumstances under which the Naval Oil Reserves at Teapot
Dome and Elk Hills had been leased began to be unearthed by the
Senate Committee on Public Lands, and there was little by little
disclosed what was perhaps the gravest and most far-reaching
scandal of the Harding Administration.  The facts of the case, as
they were ultimately established, were, briefly, as follows:

Since 1909, three tracts of oil-bearing government land had been
legally set aside for the future hypothetical needs of the United
States navy--as a sort of insurance policy against a possible
shortage of oil in time of emergency.  They were Naval Reserve No.
1, at Elk Hills, California; No. 2, at Buena Vista, California; and
No. 3, at Teapot Dome, Wyoming.  As time went on, it became
apparent that the oil under these lands might be in danger of being
drawn off by neighboring wells, the flow of oil under the earth
being such that if you drill a well you are likely to bring up not
only the oil from under your own land, but also that from under
your neighbor's land.  As to the extent of this danger to these
particular properties there was wide disagreement; but when gushers
were actually opened up right on the threshold of the Elk Hills
Reserve, Congress took action.  In 1920 it gave the Secretary of
the Navy almost unlimited power to meet as he saw fit the problem
of conserving the Reserves.  Clearly there were at least two
possible courses of action open to him.  He might arrange to have
offset wells drilled along the edge of the Reserves to neutralize
the drainage, or he might lease the Reserves to private operators
on condition that they store an equitable amount of the oil--or of
fuel oil--for the future requirements of the national defense.
Secretary Daniels preferred to have offset wells drilled.

But when Albert B. Fall became Secretary of the Interior under
President Harding, he decided otherwise.  During 1921--on the eve
of the Conference for the Limitation of Armaments--certain high
officers in the navy were sufficiently nervous about possible
trouble with Japan to declare that the navy must at once have fuel
oil storage depots built and filled and ready for use at Pearl
Harbor and other strategic points.  This idea suited Mr. Fall
perfectly.  He had come into office as the ally of certain big oil
interests, and being a politician without illusions, he saw a
chance to do them a favor.  He would lease the Reserves in their
entirety to private operators, and meet the needs of the navy by
using the royalty oil which these operators paid the Government for
the purpose of buying fuel oil tanks and filling them with fuel
oil.  To be sure, the Secretary of the Navy alone had power to
lease the Reserves, and Fall was not the Secretary of the Navy; but
that was not an insuperable difficulty.

Less than three months after President Harding took office, he
signed an Executive Order transferring the Reserves from the
custody of the Secretary of the Navy to that of the Secretary of
the Interior.  On April 7, 1922, Fall secretly and without
competitive bidding leased Reserve No. 3, the Teapot Dome Reserve,
to Harry F. Sinclair's Mammoth Oil Company.  On December 11, 1922,
he secretly and without competitive bidding leased Reserve No. 1,
the Elk Hills Reserve, to Edward F. Doheny's Pan-American Company.
It has been argued that these leases were fair to the Government
and that no undue profits would have accrued to the lessees if the
contracts had been allowed to stand.  It has been argued that the
necessity for keeping secret what were thought of as military
arrangements was sufficient excuse for the absence of competitive
bidding and the complete absence of publicity.  But it was later
discovered that Fall had received from Sinclair some $260,000 in
Liberty bonds, and that Fall had been "lent" by Doheny--without
interest and without security--$100,000 in cash.

After a long series of Senate investigations, governmental
lawsuits, and criminal trials which dragged out through the rest of
the decade, the Doheny lease was voided by the Supreme Court as
"illegal and fraudulent," the Sinclair lease was also voided, and
Secretary Fall was found guilty of accepting a bribe from Doheny
and sentenced to a year in prison.  Secretary of the Navy Denby--
who had amiably approved the transfer of the Reserves from his
charge to that of Fall--was driven from office by public criticism.
Paradoxically, both Doheny and Sinclair were acquitted.  But
Sinclair had to serve a double term in prison in 1929: first, for
contempt of the Senate in refusing to answer questions put to him
by the Committee on Public Lands, and second, for contempt of court
in having the jury at his first trial shadowed by Burns detectives.
(One of the jurors declared that a man had approached him with the
suggestion that if he voted right he would have an automobile "as
long as this block.")

Such are the bare facts of the oil lease transactions.  But they
are only a part of the story.  For after the Senate Committee's
first important disclosures, early in 1924, and President
Coolidge's appointment of the useful Mr. Owen Roberts and the
ornamental Ex-Senator Atlee Pomerene as a bi-partisan team of
Government prosecutors to take whatever legal action might be
called for on behalf of the Government, Messrs. Roberts and
Pomerene discovered that certain bonds transferred by Sinclair to
Fall had come from the exchequer of a hitherto unheard-of concern
called the Continental Trading Company, Ltd., of Canada.  And the
history of the Continental Trading Company, Ltd., as it was
gradually dragged to light, was not only highly sensational but
highly illuminating as a case-study in current American business
ethics.  This is what had happened:

On the 17th of November, 1921--a few months before the Fall-
Sinclair contract was made--a little group of men gathered in a
room at the Hotel Vanderbilt in New York for a business session.
They included Colonel E. A. Humphreys, the owner of the rich Mexia
oil field; Harry M.  Blackmer of the Midwest Oil Company; James E.
O'Neil of the Prairie Oil Company; Colonel Robert W. Stewart,
chairman of the board of the Standard Oil Company of Indiana; and
Harry F. Sinclair, head of the Sinclair Consolidated Oil Company.
At that meeting Colonel Humphreys agreed to sell 33,333,333 barrels
of oil from his oil field at $1.50 a barrel.  But he discovered
that he was not, as he had supposed, to sell this oil directly to
the companies represented by the other men present.  He was asked
to sell it to a concern of which he had never heard, a concern
which had only just been incorporated--the Continental Trading
Company, Ltd.  The contract of sale was guaranteed on behalf of the
mysterious Continental Company by Sinclair and O'Neil.  And the
Continental straightway resold the oil to Sinclair's and O'Neil's
companies, not at $1.50 a barrel, BUT AT $1.75 A BARREL--thereby
diverting to the coffers of the Continental a nice profit of twenty-
five cents a barrel which might otherwise have gone to the other
companies whose executives were gathered together.  A profit, it
might be added, which in the course of time should amount to over
eight million dollars.

As a matter of fact, it never amounted to as much as that.  For
after a year or more the Senate became unduly inquisitive and it
was thought best to wind up the affairs of the Continental Trading
Company, Ltd., and destroy its records.  But before this was done,
the profit of that little deal pulled off at the Hotel Vanderbilt
had piled up to more than three millions.

With these millions, as they rolled in, President Osler, the
distinguished Canadian attorney who headed the Continental,
purchased Liberty bonds.  And the bulk of these bonds (after taking
out a 2-per-cent share for himself) he turned over, in packages, to
four of the gentlemen who had sat in on the conference at the
Vanderbilt, as follows:

To Harry M. Blackmer, approximately $763,000.

To James E. O'Neil, approximately $800,000.

To Colonel Robert W. Stewart, approximately $759,000.

To Harry F. Sinclair, approximately $757,000.

And did these gentlemen at once report to their directors and
stockholders the receipt of the bonds and put them into the
corporate treasuries?  They did not.

Blackmer, according to the subsequent (very subsequent) testimony
of his counsel, put his share in a safety deposit box at the
Equitable Trust Company in New York, where in 1928 it still

O'Neil turned over his share to his company, but not until May,

Stewart handed his share to an employee of the Standard Oil Company
of Indiana to be held in trust for the company in the vaults of the
company, but never told any other associates of this except one
member of the company's legal staff, and never disclosed to his
directors what he had done until 1928, when he finally turned over
the bonds to them.  The trust agreement was written in pencil.

Sinclair, according to his own testimony, did not take the
directors or officers of his company into his confidence until
1928, and kept his share of the bonds in a vault in his home.  He
did not keep all of them there very long, however, or the brave
history of the Continental Trading Company, Ltd., might never have
come to light.  A goodly portion of them (as we have already seen)
he turned over to Fall.  Another goodly portion, amounting to
$185,000, he "loaned" (in addition to an outright gift of $75,000),
to the Republican National Committee, later getting back $100,000
of it.  The "loan" was made to Will H. Hays, who had been chairman
of the Republican National Committee during the Harding-Cox
campaign of 1920, had later been appointed Postmaster-General by
President Harding, and had finally resigned to become supervisor of
morals for the motion-picture industry.  Mr. Hays was czar of the
movies by the time Sinclair handed him the bonds, but being a
conscientious man, he was trying to get the 1920 Republican
campaign debt paid off.  To this end he attempted to use the
Sinclair "loan" in a very interesting way.  He and his lieutenants
approached a number of wealthy men, potential donors to the cause,
and told them that if they would contribute to meet the deficit
they might have Sinclair bonds to the amount of their contributions.
How long they might keep the bonds was not made clear--at least in
Hays's testimony before the Senate Committee on Public Lands.  This
method of concealing an enormous Sinclair contribution was
euphemistically called, by the moral supervisor of the movies,
"using the bonds in efforts to raise money for the deficit."


So much for our little lesson in governmental practice and in the
fiduciary duties of business executives in behalf of their
stockholders.  Now let us turn to the lighter side of the oil
scandals.  Lighter, that is, for those who were in no way
implicated.  There is a certain grim humor in the twistings and
turnings of unwilling witnesses under the implacable cross-
examination of Senator Walsh of Montana, without whose resourceful
work the truth might never have been run to earth.  Some of the
scenes in the slowly-unfolding drama of the investigations, some of
the sojourns of interested parties on foreign shores, some of the
odd tricks of memory revealed, are not without an element of
entertainment.  Let us go back over the record of that long
investigation and study a few of them, item by item.

Item One.  Who Loaned Fall the Money?

In the autumn of 1923--not long after Harding's lamented death--
Senator Walsh's committee learned of a recent sudden rise to
affluence on the part of Secretary Fall.  For some time previously
Fall had been in financial straits; he had not even paid his local
taxes for several years.  But now all was changed.  Mr. Fall had
even purchased additional land near his New Mexican ranch, and in
this purchase had used a considerable number of hundred-dollar
bills.  The Walsh committee at once became bloodhounds on the
scent: hundred-dollar bills are as exciting to investigators as
refusals to testify or refusals to waive immunity.  From whom had
Fall been receiving money?  Fall wrote the committee a long letter,
denying absolutely that he had ever received a dollar from Mr.
Doheny or Mr. Sinclair, and in tones of outraged innocence
explained that he had received a loan of $100,000 from Edward B.
McLean of Washington, a millionaire newspaper-owner whose ample
hospitality Harding and his associates had often enjoyed.

Mr. McLean was in Palm Beach and unable to come to Washington to
testify about this loan.  The committee might perhaps have been
expected to let the matter go at that.  But they did not.  Mr.
McLean was wanted--and it began to appear that he was extremely
unwilling to be examined.  He and his friends engaged in a
voluminous correspondence by coded telegrams with his aides in
Washington, discussing the progress of affairs in messages such as

Haxpw sent over buy bonka and householder bonka sultry tkvouep
prozoics sepic bepelt goal hocusing this pouted proponent

Finally Senator Walsh all too obligingly journeyed to Palm Beach to
take McLean's testimony there.  Yes, McLean had made a loan to
Fall.  But he had made it in the form of three checks.  Secretary
Fall had shortly returned the checks; they had not even passed
through the banks, and there was no record whatever of the

Clearly this brief and unusual financial transaction threw little
light on the prosperity of the Ex-Secretary of the Interior or his
use of cash in large denominations.  Another explanation was
necessary.  Whereupon--on January 24, 1924--the lessee of Naval
Reserve No. 1, Edward L. Doheny, took the stand.  He, too, had
loaned $100,000 to Fall.  The money had been carried from New York
to Washington in a satchel.  But the loan had nothing to do with
any lease of oil-bearing land.  It was a bona fide loan made to
accommodate an old friend.  The elderly oil magnate drew a touching
picture of his long years of comradeship with Fall.  Was $100,000 a
rather large sum to be loaned this way in cash?  Why, no, it was
"just a bagatelle" to him.  It was not at all unusual for him "to
make a remittance that way."  Was there a note given for the loan?
Yes; Doheny would search for it.  Later he produced it--or rather,
a fragment of it.  The signature was missing.  Fearing that he
might die and that Fall might be unduly pressed for payment by cold-
blooded executors, Doheny had torn the note in half and given the
part with the signature to Mrs. Doheny--and she had mislaid it.
The explanation was perfect--though some years later the Supreme
Court seemed to regard it with skepticism.

Item Two.  Six or Eight Cows

Just before the generous Doheny took the stand, the newspapers had
been treated to a first-class front-page story.  Archie Roosevelt,
son of the great T. R. and brother of the lesser T. R. (who was
Harding's Assistant Secretary of Navy), had come before the Walsh
Committee as a volunteer witness.  Archie Roosevelt was an officer
in one of the Sinclair companies, and he had something to get off
his mind.  His brother had urged him to tell all.  He (Archie) had
been told by one G. D. Wahlberg, confidential secretary to
Sinclair, that Sinclair had paid $68,000 to the manager of Fall's
ranch, a circumstance which, in view of the relentless way in which
Senator Walsh was running down evidence, apparently had caused
Wahlberg some uneasiness.  Furthermore, Sinclair had sailed for
Europe--not only had sailed, but had done so very quietly, without
letting his name appear on the passenger list.  The committee
called Wahlberg.  This gentleman was even more uneasy at the
committee table than he had been in talking to Archie Roosevelt,
but he had a charming explanation for what he was said to have
said.  Roosevelt must have misunderstood him.  He had said nothing
about $68,000.  What he must have said was that Sinclair had sent
"six or eight cows" to Fall's ranch.  (Which was true, after a
manner of speaking: Sinclair had indeed made a present of live
stock to Fall; not precisely "six or eight cows," but a horse, six
hogs, a bull, and six heifers.)  You see how the misunderstanding
arose?  You see how much "sixty-eight thous" sounds like "six or
eight cows"?

The Committee on Public Lands did not seem to see.  They lifted a
collective eyebrow.  So a little later Wahlberg tried again.  This
time his explanation was even more delightful.  He had been
consulting his memory, and had decided that what he must actually
have said when he sounded as if he were talking about $68,000 going
to the manager of the Fall ranch, or the Fall farm, was that
$68,000 was going to the manager of the "horse farm"--by which he
had meant the trainer at Sinclair's celebrated Rancocas Stables.
This $68,000 represented the salary of Hildreth, the trainer,
together with his share of the winnings of Zev and other Sinclair

"Horse farm"--there seemed to be something less than idiomatic
about the phrase.  The collective eyebrow was not lowered.

Item Three.  The Silences of Colonel Stewart--and Others

The Senate committee was hot on the trail--or rather on two trails.
But then and thereafter the various gentlemen who could give it the
greatest assistance in following these trails to the end revealed a
strange reluctance to talk and a strange condition of memory when
they did talk.  Secretary Fall was declared by his physicians to be
a "very sick man" who ought not to be pressed to testify.  When he
finally did testify, he refused to answer questions which might
"tend to incriminate" him.  Sinclair, as Archie Roosevelt had told
the committee, had gone to Europe; after he returned, he too
refused to answer questions; it was this refusal which led to his
conviction for contempt.  After his acquittal on the graver charge
of conspiracy to defraud the government he at last spoke out; he
admitted that he had turned over the bonds to Fall, but insisted
that they were given in payment for a one-third interest in Fall's
ranching and cattle business.

Blackmer had gone to Europe and could not be induced to return.
O'Neil had gone to Europe and could not be induced to return.
Osler of the Continental Trading Company was somewhere at the ends
of the earth.  And as for Colonel Stewart, only the insistence of
John D. Rockefeller, Jr., induced him to come from Cuba to face the
committee.  When he did face it, early in 1928, he testified as
follows:  "I did not personally receive any of these bonds.  I did
not make one dollar out of the transaction."  Less than two months
later, after Sinclair's acquittal had somewhat reduced the tension,
he admitted that over three-quarters of a million dollars' worth of
these bonds had been delivered to him, and that he had not told the
directors of his company about them for several years.

Item Four.  The Testimony of Mr. Hays

In 1924 Will H. Hays, preceptor of motion-picture morality, was
called before the Senate committee.  He was asked how much money
Sinclair had contributed to the Republican Party.  Seventy-five
thousand dollars, he said.

In 1928, after the history of the Continental bonds had become
somewhat clearer, Mr. Hays was asked to face the committee again.
He told them the full story of Sinclair's "loan" of $185,000 in
addition to his gift.  Why had he not told this before?  He had not
been "asked about any bonds."

Item Five.  The Reticence of Mr. Mellon

A few days after Mr. Hays gave his second and improved version of
the Sinclair contributions, the cashier of Charles Pratt & Company
was called before the committee to testify about $50,000 worth of
Sinclair-Continental Liberty bonds which had been left by Hays with
the late John T. Pratt, to be held against a contribution of the
same amount--after the ingenious Hays plan--by Mr. Pratt to the
Republican Committee.  The cashier produced a card on which Mr.
Pratt had noted the disposal of the bonds and the payment of his
contribution.  And in the corner of this card was a minute notation
in pencil, as follows:

          Andy      Weeks

Senator Walsh examined the card.

Senator Walsh:  I can make out "Weeks," and I can make out
"DuPont," and I can make out "Butler," but what is this other name?
It looks like Andy.

The Cashier (using a magnifying glass):  It's Weeks, DuPont,
Butler, and the other name must be Candy. . . .  Yes, it might be

Senator Nye:  And who is Andy?

The Cashier:  I have no idea who Andy can be.  I can think of no
one known as Andy.

There was a roar from the crowd in the room.  Everybody knew who
Andy must be.  Senator Walsh dispatched a note to Andrew W. Mellon,
Secretary of the Treasury, to ask him if he could explain the
notation.  This Mr. Mellon obligingly did without delay.

Late in 1923, Mr. Mellon explained--at just about the time when the
Teapot Dome investigation was getting under way--Hays had sent him
some bonds.  "When Mr. Hays called shortly thereafter, he told me
that he had received the bonds from Mr. Sinclair and suggested that
I hold the bonds and contribute an equal amount to the fund.  This
I declined to do."

The Secretary had acted with strict integrity.  He had sent the
bonds back, and instead of following Hays's suggestion he had made
an outright contribution of $50,000.  He added that he had "had no
knowledge of what has developed since, that is, of the Teapot Dome
lease matter."

It is perhaps worth noting, however, that this testimony was given
in 1928.  For more than three years not only the Senate committee,
but Messrs. Roberts and Pomerene, the public attorneys appointed by
President Coolidge to prosecute the government suits, had been
trying to discover just what had become of the Continental bonds,
and during all that time the Secretary of the Treasury was aware
that in 1923 he had been offered Liberty bonds which came from
Sinclair.  He said nothing until that little card turned up with
Andy (or possibly Candy) penciled on it.  A small matter, perhaps;
but surely it revealed the Secretary as a paragon of reticence when
his testimony might cast discredit on the money-raising methods of
his party.

Thus comes to an end--as of this writing, at least--the remarkable
story of Teapot Dome and Elk Hills and the Continental Trading
Company, Ltd.  The Executive Order transferring the leases, which
may be said to have begun it all, was promulgated in June, 1921,
when Harding was new in office, and the Stillman divorce trial was
impending, and Dempsey was preparing to meet Carpentier, and young
Charles Lindbergh had not yet taken his first ride in an airplane.
By the time Sinclair and Stewart had told their stories and Hays
had revised himself and Secretary Mellon had overcome his
reticence, Lindbergh had flown to Europe and Herbert Hoover was
corralling delegates for the Republican nomination; by the time
Harry Sinclair emerged from his unwelcome term of service as
apothecary in the Washington jail, the bull market had come down in
ruin and the Post-war Decade was dying.  Secretary Fall's term as
guardian of the national resources for the Harding Administration
had been brief, but the aftermath had been as long and harrowing as
it was instructive.

Oh yes--there is one more thing to add.  The oil: what became of
the oil that started it all, the oil that the patriots of the Navy
Department had been so anxious to have immediately available in
case of trouble in the Pacific?  There had been a good deal of
excitement about bonds and hundred-thousand-dollar loans, but
everybody seemed to have forgotten about that oil.  Production in
the properties leased to Sinclair and Doheny was stopped; but you
may recall that the danger of drainage into neighboring wells had
been much discussed in 1921.  The neighboring wells went right on
producing, and it is said that part of the oil from them--
including, in all probability, some drawn from within the Reserves--
was sold to the Japanese Government!


The oil cases were the aristocrats among the scandals of the
Harding Administration, but there were other scandals juicier and
more reeking.  Let us hold our noses for a moment and examine a few
of them briefly.

There was, for example, the almost incredible extravagance and
corruption of the Veterans' Bureau under Charles R. Forbes, a
buccaneer of fortune (and one-time deserter from the army) whom
Harding had fallen in with on a visit to Hawaii.  Harding was so
taken with Forbes that in 1921 he put him in charge of the
Government's work for those disabled war heroes in whose behalf
every public man considered it his duty to shed an appreciative
tear.  Forbes held office for less than two years, and during that
time it was estimated that over two hundred million dollars went
astray in graft and flagrant waste on the part of his Bureau.
Forbes went on a notorious junket through the country, supposedly
selecting hospital sites which in reality had already been chosen.
His Bureau let contracts for veterans' hospitals almost without
regard for price; for instance, a contract for a hospital at
Northampton was let to a firm which asked some thirty thousand
dollars more than the lowest bidder.  It was charged that Forbes
had an arrangement with the builders of some hospitals whereby he
was to pocket a third of the profits.  Preposterous purchases of
hospital supplies were made: the Veterans' Bureau bought $70,000
worth of floor wax and floor cleaner, for instance--enough, it was
said, to last a hundred years--and for the cleaner it paid 98 cents
a gallon, although expert testimony later brought out the fact that
it was worth less than 4 cents a gallon exclusive of the water
which it contained.  Quantities of surplus goods were sold with the
same easy disregard for price: 84,000 brand-new sheets which had
cost $1.37 each were sold at 26 or 27 cents apiece, although at
that very moment the Bureau was purchasing 25,000 new ones at $1.03
apiece.  "At one time," reported Bruce Bliven, "sheets just bought
were actually going in at one end of the warehouse [at Perryville,
Maryland] as the ones just sold were going out the other, and some
of them by mistake went straight in and out again."  More than
75,000 towels which had cost 19 cents each were sold for 3 cents
each.  These few facts are enough to show with what generous
abandon Forbes spent the money appropriated to care for the
defenders of the Republic.  Forbes went to Leavenworth in 1926 for

There was rampant graft in the office of the Alien Property
Custodian as well.  Gaston B. Means has charged that attorneys who
came to Washington to file claims for the return of properties
taken over from Germans during the war were advised to consult a
Boston lawyer named Thurston, that Thurston would charge them a big
fee for his services, the claim would be allowed, and the fee would
be split with those in authority.  Be that as it may, the evidence
brought out in the American Metal Company case was sufficient to
indicate the sort of transaction which was permitted to take place.

The American Metal Company was an internationally-owned concern 49
per cent of whose stock had been taken over by the Alien Property
Custodian during the war on the ground that it belonged to Germans.
This stock had been sold for $6,000,000.  In 1921 a certain Richard
Merton appeared at the Custodian's office with the claim that this
49 per cent had not been German, but Swiss, and that the Swiss
owners, whom he represented, should be reimbursed.  The claim was
allowed after Merton had paid $441,000 in Liberty bonds to John T.
King, Republican National Committeeman from Connecticut, for
"services" which consisted of introducing him to Colonel T. W.
Miller, the Custodian, and to Jess Smith, Attorney-General
Daugherty's man Friday.  It was brought out at Miller's trial that
at least $200,000 of this $441,000 was paid over to Jess Smith "for
expediting the claim through his acquaintance in Washington"; that
Mal S. Daugherty, brother of the Attorney-General, sold at least
$40,000 worth of Merton Liberty bonds and shortly thereafter
deposited $49,165 to his brother's account; and that Colonel Miller
also got a share of the money.  Miller was convicted in 1927 of
conspiracy to defraud the Government of his unbiased services and
was sentenced to eighteen months in prison.  Daugherty was also
brought to trial, but got off.  After two juries had been unable to
agree as to his guilt or innocence, the indictment against him was
dismissed--but not before it had been brought out that in 1925 this
former chief legal officer of the Government had gone to his
brother's bank at Washington Court House, Ohio, and had taken out
and burned the ledger sheets covering his own account there, and
his brother's account, and another account known as "Jesse Smith

It was during the grand jury investigation which preceded the
American Metal Company case that Harding's Attorney-General wrote
the remarkable statement which appears at the head of this chapter.
During his trial Daugherty failed to take the stand in his own
defense, and his attorney, Max Steuer, later explained this failure
in another equally remarkable statement:

"It was not anything connected with this case which impelled him to
refrain from so doing. . . .  He feared . . . that Mr. Buckner
would cross-examine him about matters political that would not
involve Mr. Daugherty, concerning which he knew and as to which he
would never make disclosure. . . .  If the jury knew the real
reason for destroying the ledger sheets they would commend rather
than condemn Mr. Daugherty, but he insisted on silence."

Could there be more deliberate implication that Harding's Attorney-
General could not tell the truth for fear of blackening the
reputation of his dead chief?  Call Daugherty's silence, if you
wish, the silence of loyalty, or call those statements an effort to
hide behind the dead President; in either case the Harding
Administration appears in a strange light.

Charges still more damaging were boldly made by Gaston B. Means in
1930.  He stated that as a henchman of the Ohio gang he used to
engage two adjoining rooms at a New York hotel for the collection
of prohibition graft from bootleggers who were willing to pay for
federal protection; that he would place a big goldfish-bowl in one
of the rooms, on a table which he could see by peeping through the
door from the next room that each bootlegger would come at his
appointed hour and minute and leave in the bowl huge amounts of
cash in thousand-dollar or five-hundred-dollar bills; that as soon
as the bootlegger left, Means would enter, count the money, and
check off the contribution; and that in this way he collected a
total of fully seven million dollars which he turned over to Jess
Smith, the collector-in-chief for the Ohio Gang, who shared an
apartment in Washington with Attorney-General Daugherty.

Means further asserted that the swag from this and other forms of
graft was kept hidden--many thousand dollars at a time--in a metal
box buried in the back yard of the house which he occupied at 903
Sixteenth Street in Washington; he described this house and yard as
being protected with a high wire fence and fitted out with a code
signal system and other secret devices such as would delight a gang
of small boys playing pirate.

Jess Smith committed suicide--at least that was the official
verdict--in 1923 in the apartment which he shared with Harry
Daugherty.  Means claimed that just before this tragedy took place,
the gang had discovered that Smith--like the careful shopkeeper he
had been before he was brought to Washington by Daugherty to occupy
a desk in the Department of Justice--had kept a record of all the
cash which had passed through his hands, and that Smith, terrified
at the thought of his guilt and his secret knowledge, had been
playing with the idea of turning state's witness against the gang.
According to Means, the gang thereupon decided that Smith must be
disposed of.  Although Smith was afraid of firearms, he was
persuaded to purchase a revolver on one of his trips to Ohio.  And
the "suicide" which followed--so Means plainly indicated, as many
others had already suspected--was no suicide at all.

Finally, Means drew attention to the astonishing mortality among
those who had been in on the secrets of the gang.  Not only had
Smith dropped out of the picture, but also John T. King (who had
received the Merton bonds), C. F. Hately (a Department of Justice
agent), C. F. Cramer (attorney for the Veterans' Bureau), Thurston
(the Boston lawyer who represented many clients before the Alien
Property Custodian), T. B. Felder (attorney for the Harding group),
President Harding, Mrs. Harding, and General Sawyer.  They had all
died--most of them suddenly--within a few years of the end of the
Harding Administration.

No matter how much or how little credence one may give to these
latter charges and their implications, the proved evidence is
enough to warrant the statement that the Harding Administration was
responsible in its short two years and five months for more
concentrated robbery and rascality than any other in the whole
history of the Federal Government.


And how did the American people take these disclosures?  Did they
rise in wrath to punish the offenders?

When the oil scandals were first spread across the front pages of
the newspapers, early in 1924, there was a wave of excitement
sufficient to force the resignations of Denby and Daugherty and to
bring about the appointment by the new President, Calvin Coolidge,
of special Government counsel to deal with the oil cases.  But the
harshest condemnation on the part of the press and the public was
reserved, not for those who had defrauded the government, but for
those who insisted on bringing the facts to light.  Senator Walsh,
who led the investigation of the oil scandals, and Senator Wheeler,
who investigated the Department of Justice, were called by the New
York Tribune "the Montana scandalmongers."  The New York Evening
Post called them "mud-gunners."  The New York Times, despite its
Democratic leanings, called them "assassins of character."  In
these and other newspapers throughout the country one read of the
"Democratic lynching-bee" and "poison-tongued partisanship, pure
malice, and twittering hysteria," and the inquiries were called "in
plain words, contemptible and disgusting."

Newspaper-readers echoed these amiable sentiments.  Substantial
businessmen solemnly informed one another that mistakes might have
been made but that it was unpatriotic to condemn them and thus to
"cast discredit on the Government," and that those who insisted on
probing them to the bottom were "nothing better than Bolsheviki."
One of the leading super-patriots of the land, Fred R. Marvin
of the Key Men of America, said the whole oil scandal was the
result of "a gigantic international conspiracy . . . of the
internationalists, or shall we call them socialists and communists?"
A commuter riding daily to New York from his suburb at this period
observed that on the seven-o'clock train there was some indignation
at the scandals, but that on the eight-o'clock train there was only
indignation at their exposure and that on the nine-o'clock train
they were not even mentioned.  When, a few months later, John W.
Davis, campaigning for the Presidency on the Democratic ticket, made
political capital of the Harding scandals, the opinion of the
majority seemed to be that what he said was in bad taste, and Davis
was snowed under at the polls.  The fact was that any relentless
investigation of the scandals threatened to disturb, if only
slightly, the status quo, and disturbance of the status quo was the
last thing that the dominant business class or the country at large

They had voted for normalcy and they still believed in it.  The
most that they required of the United States Government was that it
should keep its hands off business (except to give it a lift now
and then through the imposition of favorable tariffs and otherwise)
and be otherwise unobtrusive.  They did not look for bold and far-
seeing statesmanship at Washington; their idea of statesmanship on
the part of the President was that he should let things alone, give
industry and trade a chance to garner fat profits, and not "rock
the boat."  They realized that their selection of Harding had been
something of a false start toward the realization of this modest
ideal.  Harding had been a little too hail-fellow-well-met, and his
amiability had led him into associations which brought about
unfortunate publicity, and unfortunate publicity had a tendency to
rock the boat.  But the basic principle remained sound: all
the country needed now was a President who combined with
unobtrusiveness and friendliness toward business an unimpeachable
integrity and an indisposition to have his leg pulled; and this
sort of President they now had.  The inscrutable workings of
Providence had placed in the office left vacant by Harding the
precise embodiment of this revised presidential ideal.  Calvin
Coolidge was unobtrusive to the last degree; he would never try to
steer the ship of state into unknown waters; and at the same time
he was sufficiently honest and circumspect to prevent any unseemly
revelry from taking place on the decks.  Everything was, therefore,
as it should be.  Why weaken public confidence in Harding's party,
and thus in Harding's successor, by going into the unfortunate
episodes of the past?  The best thing to do was to let bygones be

As the years went by and the scandals which came to light grew in
number and in scope, it began to appear that the "mistakes" of 1921-
23 had been larger than the friends of normalcy had supposed when
they vented their spleen upon Senator Walsh.  But the testimony,
coming out intermittently as it did, was confusing and hard to
piece together; plain citizens could not keep clear in their minds
such complicated facts as those relating to the Continental bonds
or the Daugherty bank-accounts; and the steady passage of time made
the later investigations seem like a washing of very ancient dirty
linen.  Business was good, the Coolidge variety of normalcy was
working to the satisfaction of the country.  Coolidge was honest;
why dwell unnecessarily on the past?  Resentment at the scandals
and resentment at the scandal-mongers both gave way to a profound
and untroubled apathy.  When the full story of the Continental
Trading Company deal became known, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., as a
large stockholder in the Standard Oil of Indiana, waged war against
Colonel Stewart and managed to put him out of the chairmanship of
the company; but the business world as a whole seemed to find
nothing wrong in Colonel Stewart's performance.  The voice of John
the Baptist was a voice crying in the wilderness.

Yet the reputation of the martyred President sank slowly and
quietly lower.  For years the great tomb at Marion, Ohio, that
noble monument to which a sorrowing nation had so freely
subscribed, remained undedicated.  Clearly a monument to a
President of the United States could hardly be dedicated by anybody
but a President of the United States; Harding's successors,
however, seemed to find it inconvenient to come to Marion for the
ceremony.  Late in 1930, over seven years after Harding's death,
the Harding Memorial Association met to consider what should be
done in this embarrassing situation.  That dauntless friend of the
late President, Harry M. Daugherty, who had once refrained from
testifying because he knew things "as to which he would never make
disclosure," made a florid speech in which he declared that the
American people had never been swayed "by the lip of libel or the
tongue of falsehood."  He proposed that the dedication be
indefinitely postponed.  The resolution was duly passed.  Later,
however, it was decided by those in high position that the matter
could not very well be left in this unsatisfactory position, and
that good Republicans had better swallow their medicine and be done
with it.  President Hoover and ex-President Coolidge accepted
invitations to take part in the dedication of the tomb in June,
1931, and the dedication accordingly took place at last.  But a
certain restraint was manifest in the proceedings.  It was not so
easy in 1931 as it had been in 1923 to compose panegyrics upon the
public virtues of that good-natured man who had "taught us the
power of brotherliness."



Business was booming when Warren Harding died, and in a primitive
Vermont farmhouse, by the light of an old-fashioned kerosene lamp,
Colonel John Coolidge administered to his son Calvin the oath of
office as President of the United States.  The hopeless depression
of 1921 had given way to the hopeful improvement of 1922 and the
rushing revival of 1923.

The prices of common stocks, to be sure, suggested no unreasonable
optimism.  On August 2, 1923, the day of Harding's death, United
States Steel (paying a five-dollar dividend) stood at 87, Atchison
(paying six dollars) at 95, New York Central (paying seven) at 97,
and American Telephone and Telegraph (paying nine) at 122; and the
total turnover for the day on the New York Stock Exchange amounted
to only a little over 600,000 shares.  The Big Bull Market was
still far in the future.  Nevertheless the tide of prosperity was
in full flood.

Pick up one of those graphs with which statisticians measure the
economic ups and downs of the Post-war Decade.  You will find that
the line of business activity rises to a jagged peak in 1920, drops
precipitously into a deep valley in late 1920 and 1921, climbs
uncertainly upward through 1922 to another peak at the middle of
1923, dips somewhat in 1924 (but not nearly so far as in 1921),
rises again in 1925 and 1926, dips momentarily but slightly toward
the end of 1927, and then zigzags up to a perfect Everest of
prosperity in 1929--only to plunge down at last into the bottomless
abyss of 1930 and 1931.

Hold the graph at arm's-length and glance at it again, and you will
see that the clefts of 1924 and 1927 are mere indentations in a
lofty and irregular plateau which reaches from early 1923 to late
1929.  That plateau represents nearly seven years of unparalleled
plenty; nearly seven years during which men and women might be
disillusioned about politics and religion and love, but believed
that at the end of the rainbow there was at least a pot of
negotiable legal tender consisting of the profits of American
industry and American salesmanship; nearly seven years during which
the businessman was, as Stuart Chase put it, "the dictator of our
destinies," ousting "the statesman, the priest, the philosopher, as
the creator of standards of ethics and behavior" and becoming "the
final authority on the conduct of American society." For nearly
seven years the prosperity band-wagon rolled down Main Street.

Not everyone could manage to climb aboard this wagon.  Mighty few
farmers could get so much as a fingerhold upon it.  Some dairymen
clung there, to be sure, and fruit-growers and truck-gardeners.
For prodigious changes were taking place in the national diet as
the result of the public's discovery of the useful vitamin, the
propaganda for a more varied menu, and the invention of better
methods of shipping perishable foods.  Between 1919 and 1926 the
national production of milk and milk products increased by one-
third and that of ice-cream alone took a 45-percent jump.  Between
1919 and 1928, as families learned that there were vitamins in
celery, spinach, and carrots, and became accustomed to serving
fresh vegetables the year round (along with fresh fruits), the
acreage of nineteen commercial truck vegetable crops nearly
doubled.  But the growers of staple crops such as wheat and corn
and cotton were in a bad way.  Their foreign markets had dwindled
under competition from other countries.  Women were wearing less
and less cotton.  Few agricultural raw materials were used in the
new economy of automobiles and radios and electricity.  And the
more efficient the poor farmer became, the more machines he bought
to increase his output and thus keep the wolf from the door, the
more surely he and his fellows were faced by the specter of
overproduction.  The index number of all farm prices, which had
coasted from 205 in 1920 to 116 in 1921--"perhaps the most terrible
toboggan slide in all American agricultural history," to quote
Stuart Chase again--regained only a fraction of the ground it had
lost: in 1927 it stood at 131.  Loudly the poor farmers complained,
desperately they and their Norrises and Brookharts and Shipsteads
and La Follettes campaigned for federal aid, and by the hundreds of
thousands they left the farm for the cities.

There were other industries unrepresented in the triumphal march of
progress.  Coal-mining suffered, and textile-manufacturing, and
shipbuilding, and shoe and leather manufacturing.  Whole regions of
the country felt the effects of depression in one or more of these
industries.  The South was held back by cotton, the agricultural
Northwest by the dismal condition of the wheat growers, New England
by the paralysis of the textile and shoe industries.  Nevertheless,
the prosperity bandwagon did not lack for occupants, and their good
fortune outweighed and outshouted the ill fortune of those who
lamented by the roadside.


In a position of honor rode the automobile manufacturer.  His hour
of destiny had struck.  By this time paved roads and repair shops
and filling stations had become so plentiful that the motorist
might sally forth for the day without fear of being stuck in a
mudhole or stranded without benefit of gasoline or crippled by a
dead spark plug.  Automobiles were now made with such precision,
for that matter, that the motorist need hardly know a spark plug by
sight; thousands of automobile owners had never even lifted the
hood to see what the engine looked like.  Now that closed cars were
in quantity production, furthermore, the motorist had no need of
Spartan blood, even in January.  And the stylish new models were a
delight to the eye.  At the beginning of the decade most cars had
been somber in color, but with the invention of pyroxylin finishes
they broke out (in 1925 and 1926) into a whole rainbow of colors,
from Florentine cream to Versailles violet.  Bodies were swung
lower, expert designers sought new harmonies of line, balloon tires
came in, and at last even Henry Ford capitulated to style and

If any sign had been needed of the central place which the
automobile had come to occupy in the mind and heart of the average
American, it was furnished when the Model A Ford was brought out in
December, 1927.  Since the previous spring, when Henry Ford had
shut down his gigantic plant, scrapped his Model T and the
thousands of machines which brought it into being, and announced
that he was going to put a new car on the market, the country had
been in a state of suspense.  Obviously he would have to make
drastic changes.  Model T had been losing to Chevrolet its
leadership in the enormous low-priced-car market, for the time had
come when people were no longer content with ugliness and a maximum
speed of forty or forty-five miles an hour; no longer content,
either, to roar slowly uphill with a weary left foot jammed against
the low-speed pedal while robin's-egg blue Chevrolets swept past in
second.  Yet equally obviously Henry Ford was the mechanical genius
of the age.  What miracle would he accomplish?

Rumor after rumor broke into the front pages of the newspapers.  So
intense was the interest that even the fact that an automobile
dealer in Brooklyn had "learned something of the new car through a
telegram from his brother Henry" was headline stuff.  When the
editor of the Brighton, Michigan, Weekly Argus actually snapped a
photograph of a new Ford out for a trial spin, newspaper-readers
pounced on the picture and avidly discussed its every line.  The
great day arrived when this newest product of the inventive genius
of the age was to be shown to the public.  The Ford Motor Company
was running in 2,000 daily newspapers a five-day series of full-
page advertisements at a total cost of $1,300,000; and everyone who
could read was reading them.  On December 2, 1927, when Model A was
unveiled, one million people--so the Herald-Tribune figured--tried
to get into the Ford headquarters in New York to catch a glimpse of
it; as Charles Merz later reported in his life of Ford, "one
hundred thousand people flocked into the showrooms of the Ford
Company in Detroit; mounted police were called out to patrol the
crowds in Cleveland; in Kansas City so great a mob stormed
Convention Hall that platforms had to be built to lift the new car
high enough for everyone to see it."  So it went from one end of
the United States to the other.  Thousands of orders piled up on
the Ford books for Niagara Blue roadsters and Arabian Sand
phaetons.  For weeks and months, every new Ford that appeared on
the streets drew a crowd.  To the motor-minded American people the
first showing of a new kind of automobile was no matter of merely
casual or commercial interest.  It was one of the great events of
the year 1927; not so thrilling as Lindbergh's flight, but rivaling
the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, the Hall-Mills murder trial,
the Mississippi flood, and the Dempsey-Tunney fight at Chicago in
its capacity to arouse public excitement.

In 1919 there had been 6,771,000 passenger cars in service in the
United States; by 1929 there were no less than 23,121,000.  There
you have possibly the most potent statistic of Coolidge Prosperity.
As a footnote to it I suggest the following: even as early as the
end of 1923 there were two cars for every three families in
"Middletown," a typical American city.  The Lynds and their
investigators interviewed 123 working-class families of
"Middletown" and found that 60 of them had cars.  Of these 60, 26
lived in such shabby-looking houses that the investigators thought
to ask whether they had bathtubs, and discovered that as many as 21
of the 26 had none.  The automobile came even before the tub!

And as it came, it changed the face of America.  Villages which had
once prospered because they were "on the railroad" languished with
economic anmia; villages on Route 61 bloomed with garages, filling
stations, hot-dog stands, chicken-dinner restaurants, tearooms,
tourists' rests, camping sites, and affluence.  The interurban
trolley perished, or survived only as a pathetic anachronism.
Railroad after railroad gave up its branch lines, or saw its
revenues slowly dwindling under the competition of mammoth
interurban busses and trucks snorting along six-lane concrete
highways.  The whole country was covered with a network of
passenger bus-lines.  In thousands of towns, at the beginning of
the decade a single traffic officer at the junction of Main Street
and Central Street had been sufficient for the control of traffic.
By the end of the decade, what a difference!--red and green lights,
blinkers, oneway streets, boulevard stops, stringent and yet more
stringent parking ordinances--and still a shining flow of traffic
that backed up for blocks along Main Street every Saturday and
Sunday afternoon.  Slowly but surely the age of steam was yielding
to the gasoline age.


The radio manufacturer occupied a less important seat than the
automobile manufacturer on the prosperity bandwagon, but he had the
distinction of being the youngest rider.  You will remember that
there was no such thing as radio broadcasting to the public until
the autumn of 1920, but that by the spring of 1922 radio had become
a craze--as much talked about as Mah Jong was to be the following
year or cross-word puzzles the year after.  In 1922 the sales of
radio sets, parts, and accessories amounted to $60,000,000.  People
wondered what would happen when the edge wore off the novelty of
hearing a jazz orchestra in Schenectady or in Davenport, Iowa, play
"Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Shean."  What actually did happen is
suggested by the cold figures of total annual radio sales for the
next few years:

     1922--$ 60,000,000 (as we have just seen)
     1929--$842,548,000 (an increase over the 1922 figures of
                         1,400 per cent!)

Don't hurry past those figures.  Study them a moment, remembering
that whenever there is a dip in the curve of national prosperity
there is likely to be a dip in the sales of almost every popular
commodity.  There was a dip in national prosperity in 1927, for
instance; do you see what it did to radio sales?  But there was
also a dip in 1924, a worse one in fact.  Yet radio sales made in
that year the largest proportional increase in the whole period.
Why?  Well, for one thing, that was the year in which the embattled
Democrats met at Madison Square Garden in New York to pick a
standard-bearer, and the deadlock between the hosts of McAdoo and
the hosts of Al Smith lasted day after day after day, and millions
of Americans heard through loud-speakers the lusty cry of,
"Alabama, twenty-four votes for Underwoo--ood!" and discovered that
a political convention could be a grand show to listen to and that
a seat by the radio was as good as a ticket to the Garden.  Better,
in fact; for at any moment you could turn a knob and get "Barney
Google" or "It Ain't Gonna Rain No More" by way of respite.  At the
age of three and a half years, radio broadcasting had attained its

Behind those figures of radio sales lies a whole chapter of the
life of the Post-war Decade: radio penetrating every third home in
the country; giant broadcasting stations with nationwide hook-ups;
tenement-house roofs covered with forests of antenn; Roxy and his
Gang, the Happiness Boys, the A & P Gypsies, and Rudy Vallee
crooning from antique Florentine cabinet sets; Graham McNamee's
voice, which had become more familiar to the American public than
that of any other citizen of the land, shouting across your living
room and mine:  "AND he did it!  Yes, sir, he did it!  It's a
touchdown!  Boy, I want to tell you this is one of the finest
games . . ."; the Government belatedly asserting itself in 1927 to
allocate wavelengths among competing radio stations; advertisers
paying huge sums for the privilege of introducing Beethoven with a
few well-chosen words about yeast or toothpaste; and Michael Meehan
personally conducting the common stock of the Radio Corporation of
America from a 1928 low of 85 1/4 to a 1929 high of 549.

There were other riders on the prosperity band-wagon.  Rayon,
cigarettes, refrigerators, telephones, chemical preparations
(especially cosmetics), and electrical devices of various sorts all
were in growing demand.  While the independent storekeeper
struggled to hold his own, the amount of retail business done in
chain stores and department stores jumped by leaps and bounds.  For
every $100 worth of business done in 1919, by 1927 the five-and-ten-
cent chains were doing $260 worth, the cigar chains $153 worth, the
drug chains $224 worth, and the grocery chains $387 worth.  Mrs.
Smith no longer patronized her "naborhood" store; she climbed into
her two-thousand-dollar car to drive to the red-fronted chain
grocery and save twenty-seven cents on her daily purchases.  The
movies prospered, sending their celluloid reels all over the world
and making Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Gloria Swanson,
Rudolph Valentino, and Clara Bow familiar figures to the Eskimo,
the Malay, and the heathen Chinee; while at home the attendance at
the motion-picture houses of "Middletown" during a single month
(December, 1923) amounted to four and a half times the entire
population of the city.  Men, women, and children, rich and poor,
the Middletowners went to the movies at an average rate of better
than once a week!

Was this Coolidge Prosperity real?  The farmers did not think so.
Perhaps the textile manufacturers did not think so.  But the
figures of corporation profits and wages and incomes left little
room for doubt.  Consider, for example, two significant facts at
opposite ends of the scale of wealth.  Between 1922 and 1927, the
purchasing power of American wages increased at the rate of more
than two per cent annually.  And during the three years between
1924 and 1927 alone there was a leap from 75 to 283 in the number
of Americans who paid taxes on incomes of more than a million
dollars a year.


Why did it happen?  What made the United States so prosperous?

Some of the reasons were obvious enough.  The war had impoverished
Europe and hardly damaged the United States at all; when peace came
the Americans found themselves the economic masters of the world.
Their young country, with enormous resources in materials and in
human energy and with a wide domestic market, was ready to take
advantage of this situation.  It had developed mass production to a
new point of mechanical and managerial efficiency.  The Ford gospel
of high wages, low prices, and standardized manufacture on a basis
of the most minute division of machine-tending labor was working
smoothly not only at Highland Park, but in thousands of other
factories.  Executives, remembering with a shudder the piled-up
inventories of 1921, had learned the lesson of cautious hand-to-
mouth buying; and they were surrounded with more expert technical
consultants, research men, personnel managers, statisticians, and
business forecasters than had ever before invaded that cave of the
winds, the conference room.  Their confidence was strengthened by
their almost superstitious belief that the Republican Administration
was their invincible ally.  And they were all of them aided by the
boom in the automobile industry.  The phenomenal activity of this
one part of the body economic--which was responsible, directly or
indirectly, for the employment of nearly four million men--pumped
new life into all the rest.

Prosperity was assisted, too, by two new stimulants to purchasing,
each of which mortgaged the future but kept the factories roaring
while it was being injected.  The first was the increase in
installment buying.  People were getting to consider it old-
fashioned to limit their purchases to the amount of their cash
balance; the thing to do was to "exercise their credit."  By the
latter part of the decade, economists figured that 15 per cent of
all retail sales were on an installment basis, and that there were
some six billions of "easy payment" paper outstanding.  The other
stimulant was stock-market speculation.  When stocks were
skyrocketing in 1928 and 1929 it is probable that hundreds of
thousands of people were buying goods with money which represented,
essentially, a gamble on the business profits of the nineteen-
thirties.  It was fun while it lasted.  If these were the principal
causes of Coolidge Prosperity, the salesman and the advertising man
were at least its agents and evangels.  Business had learned as
never before the immense importance to it of the ultimate consumer.
Unless he could be persuaded to buy and buy lavishly, the whole
stream of six-cylinder cars, super-heterodynes, cigarettes, rouge
compacts, and electric ice-boxes would be dammed at its outlet.
The salesman and the advertising man held the key to this outlet.
As competition increased their methods became more strenuous.  No
longer was it considered enough to recommend one's goods in modest
and explicit terms and to place them on the counter in the hope
that the ultimate consumer would make up his mind to purchase.  The
advertiser must plan elaborate national campaigns, consult with
psychologists, and employ all the eloquence of poets to cajole,
exhort, or intimidate the consumer into buying--to "break down
consumer resistance."  Not only was each individual concern
struggling to get a larger share of the business in its own field,
but whole industries shouted against one another in the public's
ear.  The embattled candy manufacturers took full-page space in the
newspapers to reply to the American Tobacco Company's slogan of
"Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet."  Trade journals were quoted
by the Reader's Digest as reporting the efforts of the furniture
manufacturers to make the people "furniture conscious" and of the
clothing manufacturers to make them "tuxedo conscious."  The
salesman must have the ardor of a zealot, must force his way into
people's houses by hook or by crook, must let nothing stand between
him and the consummation of his sale.  As executives put it, "You
can't be an order-taker any longer--you've got to be a SALESMAN."
The public, generally speaking, could be relied upon to regard with
complacence the most flagrant assaults upon its credulity by the
advertiser and the most outrageous invasions of its privacy by the
salesman; for the public was in a mood to forgive every sin
committed in the holy name of business.

Never before had such pressure been exerted upon salesmen to get
results.  Many concerns took up the quota system, setting as the
objective for each sales representative a figure 20 or 25 per cent
beyond that of the previous year, and putting it up to him to reach
this figure or lose his employer's favor and perhaps his job.  All
sorts of sales contests and other ingenious devices were used to
stimulate the force.  Among the schemes suggested by the Dartnell
Company of Chicago, which had more than ten thousand American
business organizations subscribing to its service, was that of
buying various novelties and sending them to the salesman at weekly
intervals: one week a miniature feather duster with a tag urging
him to "dust his territory," another week an imitation cannon
cracker with the injunction to "make a big noise," and so on.  The
American Slicing Machine Company offered a turkey at Christmas to
every one of its salesmen who beat his quota for the year.  "We
asked each man," explained the sales manager afterward, "to appoint
a child in his family as a mascot, realizing that every one of them
would work his head off to make some youngster happy at Christmas.
The way these youngsters took hold of the plan was amusing, and at
times the intensity of their interest was almost pathetic."  The
sales manager of another concern reported cheerfully that "one of
his stunts" was "to twit one man at the good work of another until
he is almost sore enough to be ready to fight."  And according to
Jesse Rainsford Sprague, still another company invented--and
boasted of--a method of goading its salesmen which for sheer
inhumanity probably set a record for the whole era of Coolidge
Prosperity.  It gave a banquet at which the man with the best score
was served with oysters, roast turkey, and a most elaborate ice;
the man with the second best score had the same dinner but without
the oysters; and so on down to the man with the worst score, before
whom was laid a small plate of boiled beans and a couple of

If the salesman was sometimes under pressure such as this, it is
not surprising that the consumer felt the pressure, too.  Let two
extreme instances (both cited by Jesse Rainsford Sprague) suffice
to suggest the trend in business methods.  A wholesale drug concern
offered to the trade a small table with a railing round its top for
the display of "specials"; it was to be set up directly in the path
of customers, "whose attention," according to Printer's Ink, "will
be attracted to the articles when they fall over it, bump into it,
kick their shins upon it, or otherwise come in contact with it."
And Selling News awarded one of its cash prizes for "sales ideas"
to a vender of electric cleaners who told the following story of
commercial prowess.  One day he looked up from the street and saw a
lady shaking a rug out of a second-story window.  "The door leading
to her upstairs rooms was open.  I went right in and up those
stairs without knocking, greeting the lady with the remark:  'Well,
I am here right on time.  What room do you wish me to start in?'
She was very much surprised, assuring me that I had the wrong
number.  But during my very courteous apologies I had managed to
get my cleaner connected and in action.  The result was that I
walked out minus the cleaner, plus her contract and check for a
substantial down payment."  The readers of Selling News were
apparently not expected to be less than enthusiastic at the
prospect of a man invading a woman's apartment and setting up a
cleaner in it without permission and under false pretenses.  For if
you could get away with such exploits, it helped business, and good
business helped prosperity, and prosperity was good for the


The advertisers met the competition of the new era with better
design, persuasively realistic photographs, and sheer volume: the
amount of advertising done in 1927, according to Francis H. Sisson,
came to over a billion and a half dollars.  They met it with a new
frankness, introducing to staid magazine readers the advantages of
Odo-ro-no and Kotex.  And they met it, furthermore, with a subtle
change in technique.  The copywriter was learning to pay less
attention to the special qualities and advantages of his product,
and more to the study of what the mass of unregenerate mankind
wanted--to be young and desirable, to be rich, to keep up with the
Joneses, to be envied.  The winning method was to associate his
product with one or more of these ends, logically or illogically,
truthfully or cynically; to draw a lesson from the dramatic case of
some imaginary man or woman whose fate was altered by the use of
X's soap, to show that in the most fashionable circles people were
choosing the right cigarette in blindfold tests, or to suggest by
means of glowing testimonials--often bought and paid for--that the
advertised product was used by women of fashion, movie stars, and
non-stop flyers.  One queen of the films was said to have journeyed
from California all the way to New York to spend a single
exhausting day being photographed for testimonial purposes in
dozens of costumes and using dozens of commercial articles, many of
which she had presumably never laid eyes on before--and all because
the appearance of these testimonials would help advertise her
newest picture.  Of what value were sober facts from the
laboratory: did not a tooth-powder manufacturer try to meet the
hokum of emotional toothpaste advertising by citing medical
authorities, and was not his counter-campaign as a breath in a
gale?  At the beginning of the decade advertising had been
considered a business; in the early days of Coolidge Prosperity its
fulsome prophets were calling it a profession; but by the end of
the decade many of its practitioners, observing the overwhelming
victory of methods taken over from tabloid journalism, were
beginning to refer to it--among themselves--as a racket.

A wise man of the nineteen-twenties might have said that he cared
not who made the laws of the country if he only might write its
national advertising.  For here were the sagas of the age, romances
and tragedies depicting characters who became more familiar to the
populace than those in any novel.  The man who distinctly
remembered Mr. Addison Sims of Seattle. . . .  The four out of five
who, failing to use Forhan's, succumbed to pyorrhea, each of them
with a white mask mercifully concealing his unhappy mouth. . . .
The pathetic figure of the man, once a golf champion, "now only a
wistful onlooker" creeping about after the star players, his
shattered health due to tooth neglect. . . .  The poor fellow sunk
in the corner of a taxicab, whose wife upbraided him with not
having said a word all evening (when he might so easily have shone
with the aid of the Elbert Hubbard Scrap Book). . . .  The man
whose conversation so dazzled the company that the envious dinner-
coated bystanders could only breathe in amazement, "I think he's
quoting from Shelley." . . .  The woman who would undoubtedly do
something about B. O. if people only said to her what they really
thought. . . .  The man whose friends laughed when the waiter spoke
to him in French. . . .  The girl who thought filet mignon was a
kind of fish. . . .  The poor couple who faced one another in
humiliation after their guests were gone, the wife still holding
the door knob and struggling against her tears, the husband biting
his nails with shame (When Your Guests Are Gone--Are You Sorry You
Ever Invited Them? . . .  Be Free From All Embarrassment!  Let the
Famous Book of Etiquette Tell You Exactly What to Do, Say, Write,
or Wear on Every Occasion). . . .  The girl who merely carried the
daisy chain, yet she had athlete's foot. . . .  These men and women
of the advertising pages, suffering or triumphant, became a part of
the folklore of the day.

Sometimes their feats were astonishing.  Consider, for example, the
man who had purchased Nelson Doubleday's Pocket University, and
found himself, one evening, in a group in which some one mentioned
Ali Baba:

"Ali Baba?  I sat forward in my chair.  I could tell them all about
this romantic, picturesque figure of fiction.

"I don't know how it happened, but they gathered all around me.
And I told them of golden ships that sailed the seven seas, of a
famous man and his donkey who wandered unknown ways, of the brute-
man from whom we are all descended.  I told them things they never
knew of Cleopatra, of the eccentric Diogenes, of Romulus and the
founding of Rome.  I told them of the unfortunate death of Sir
Raleigh (sic), of the tragic end of poor Anne Boleyn. . . .

"'You must have traveled all over the world to know so many
marvelous things.'"

Skeptics might smile, thanking themselves that they were not of the
company on that interminable evening; but the advertisement stuck
in their minds.  And to others, less sophisticated, it doubtless
opened shining vistas of delight.  They, too, could hold the dinner
party spellbound if only they filled out the coupon. . . .

By far the most famous of these dramatic advertisements of the
Postwar Decade was the long series in which the awful results of
halitosis were set forth through the depiction of a gallery of
unfortunates whose closest friends would not tell them.  "Often a
bridesmaid but never a bride. . . .  Edna's case was really a
pathetic one." . . . "Why did she leave him that way?" . . .
"THAT'S why you're a failure," . . . and then that devilishly
ingenious display which capitalized on the fears aroused by earlier
tragedies in the series: the picture of a girl looking at a
Listerine advertisement and saying to herself, "This CAN'T apply to
me!"  Useless for the American Medical Association to insist that
Listerine was "not a true deodorant," that it simply covered one
smell with another.  Just as useless as for the Life Extension
Institute to find "one out of twenty with pyorrhea, rather than Mr.
Forhan's famous four-out-of-fve" (to quote Stuart Chase once
more).  Halitosis had the power of dramatic advertising behind it,
and Listerine swept to greater and greater profits on a tide of
public trepidation.


As year followed year of prosperity, the new diffusion of wealth
brought marked results.  There had been a great boom in higher
education immediately after the war, and the boom continued,
although at a somewhat slackened pace, until college trustees were
beside themselves wondering how to find room for the swarming
applicants.  There was an epidemic of outlines of knowledge and
books of etiquette for those who had got rich quick and wanted to
get cultured quick and become socially at ease.  Wells's Outline of
History, the best-selling non-fiction book of 1921 and 1922, was
followed by Van Loon's Story of Mankind, J. Arthur Thomson's
Outline of Science (both of them best sellers in 1922), the
Doubleday mail-order Book of Etiquette and Emily Post's Book of
Etiquette (which led the non-fiction list in 1923), Why We Behave
Like Human Beings (a big success of 1926), and The Story of
Philosophy, which ran away from all other books in the non-fiction
list of 1927.

There was a rush of innocents abroad.  According to the figures of
the Department of Commerce, over 437,000 people left the United
States by ship for foreign parts in the year 1928 alone, to say
nothing of 14,000 odd who entered Canada and Mexico by rail, and
over three million cars which crossed into Canada for a day or
more.  The innocents spent freely: the money that they left abroad,
in fact (amounting in 1928 to some $650,000,000), solved for a time
a difficult problem in international finance: how the United States
could continue to receive interest on her foreign debts and foreign
investments without permitting foreign goods to pass the high
tariff barrier in large quantities.

The United States became the banker and financial arbitrator for
the world.  When the financial relations between Germany and the
Allies needed to be straightened out, it was General Charles G.
Dawes and Owen D. Young who headed the necessary international
commission's--not only because their judgment was considered wise,
and impartial as between the countries of Europe, but because the
United States was in a position to call the tune.  Americans were
called in to reorganize the finances of one country after another.
American investments abroad increased by leaps and bounds.  The
squat limestone building at the corner of Broad and Wall Streets,
still wearing the scars of the shrapnel which had struck it during
the 1920 explosion, had become the undisputed financial center of
the world.  Only occasionally did the United States have to
intervene by force of arms in other countries.  The Marines ruled
Haiti and restored order in Nicaragua; but in general the country
extended its empire not by military conquest or political
dictation, but by financial penetration.

At home, one of the most conspicuous results of prosperity was the
conquest of the whole country by urban tastes and urban dress and
the urban way of living.  The rube disappeared.  Girls in the
villages of New Hampshire and Wyoming wore the same brief skirts
and used the same lipsticks as their sisters in New York.  The
proletariat--or what the radicals of the Big Red Scare days had
called the proletariat--gradually lost its class consciousness; the
American Federation of Labor dwindled in membership and influence;
the time had come when workingmen owned second-hand Buicks and
applauded Jimmy Walker, not objecting in the least, it seemed, to
his exquisite clothes, his valet, and his frequent visits to the
millionaire-haunted sands of Palm Beach.  It was no accident that
men like Mellon and Hoover and Morrow found their wealth an asset
rather than a liability in public office, or that there was a
widespread popular movement to make Henry Ford President in 1924.
The possession of millions was a sign of success, and success was
worshipped the country over.


Business itself was regarded with a new veneration.  Once it had
been considered less dignified and distinguished than the learned
professions, but now people thought they praised a clergyman highly
when they called him a good businessman.  College alumni, gathered
at their annual banquets, fervently applauded the banker trustees
who spoke of education as one of the greatest American industries
and compared the president and the dean to business executives.
The colleges themselves organized business courses and cheerfully
granted credit to candidates for degrees in the arts and sciences
for their work in advertising copy-writing, marketing methods,
elementary stenography, and drug-store practice.  Even Columbia
University drew men and women into its home-study courses by a
system of follow-up letters worthy of a manufacturer of
refrigerators, and sent out salesmen to ring the door bells of
those who expressed a flicker of interest; even the great
University of Chicago made use of what Andr Siegfried has called
"the mysticism of success" by heading an advertisement of its
correspondence courses with the admonition to "DEVELOP POWER AT
HOME, to investigate, persevere, achieve." . . .  The Harvard
Business School established annual advertising awards, conferring
academic clat upon well-phrased sales arguments for commercial
products.  It was not easy for the churches to resist the tide of
business enthusiasm.  The Swedish Immanuel Congregational Church in
New York, according to an item in the American Mercury, recognized
the superiority of the business to the spiritual appeal by offering
to all who contributed one hundred dollars to its building fund "an
engraved certificate of investment in preferred capital stock in
the Kingdom of God."  And a church billboard in uptown New York
struck the same persuasive note:  "Come to Church.  Christian
Worship Increases Your Efficiency.  Christian F. Reisner, Pastor."

In every American city and town, service clubs gathered the flower
of the middle-class citizenry together for weekly luncheons noisy
with good fellowship.  They were growing fast, these service clubs.
Rotary, the most famous of them, had been founded in 1905; by 1930
it had 150,000 members and boasted--as a sign of its international
influence--as many as 3,000 clubs in 44 countries.  The number of
Kiwanis Clubs rose from 205 in 1920 to 1,800 in 1929; the Lions
Clubs, of which the first was not formed until 1917, multiplied
until at the end of the decade there were 1,200 of them.  Nor did
these clubs content themselves with singing songs and conducting
social-service campaigns; they expressed the national faith in what
one of their founders called "the redemptive and regenerative
influence of business."  The speakers before them pictured the
businessman as a builder, a doer of great things, yes, and a
dreamer whose imagination was ever seeking out new ways of serving
humanity.  It was a popular note, for in hundreds of directors'
rooms, around hundreds of conference tables, the American
businessmen of the era of Coolidge Prosperity were seeing
themselves as men of vision with eyes steadfastly fixed on the long
future.  At the end of the decade, a cartoon in the New Yorker
represented an executive as saying to his heavy-jowled colleagues
at one of these meetings:  "We have ideas.  Possibly we tilt at
windmills--just seven Don Juans tilting at windmills."  It was a
perfect bit of satire on business sentimentality.  The service club
specialized in this sort of mysticism: was not a speaker before the
Rotarians of Waterloo, Iowa, quoted by the American Mercury as
declaring that "Rotary is a manifestation of the divine"?

Indeed, the association of business with religion was one of the
most significant phenomena of the day.  When the National
Association of Credit Men held their annual convention at New York,
there were provided for the three thousand delegates a special
devotional service at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and five
sessions of prayer conducted by Protestant clergymen, a Roman
Catholic priest, and a Jewish rabbi; and the credit men were
uplifted by a sermon by Dr. S. Parkes Cadman on "Religion in
Business."  Likewise the Associated Advertising Clubs, meeting in
Philadelphia, listened to a keynote address by Doctor Cadman on
"Imagination and Advertising," and at the meeting of the Church
Advertising Department the subjects discussed included "Spiritual
Principles in Advertising" and "Advertising the Kingdom through
Press-Radio Service."  The fact that each night of the session a
cabaret entertainment was furnished to the earnest delegates from
11:30 to 2 and that part of the Atlantic City Beauty Pageant was
presented was merely a sign that even men of high faith must have
their fun.

So frequent was the use of the Bible to point the lessons of
business and of business to point the lessons of the Bible that it
was sometimes difficult to determine which was supposed to gain the
most from the association.  Fred F. French, a New York builder and
real-estate man, told his salesmen, "There is no such thing as a
reason why not," and continued:  "One evidence of the soundness of
this theory may be found in the command laid down in Matthew vii:7
by the Greatest Human-nature Expert that ever lived, 'Knock and it
shall be opened unto you.'"  He continued by quoting "the greatest
command of them all--'Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself'"--and then
stated that by following such high principles the Fred F. French
salesmen had "immeasurably strengthened their own characters and
power, so that during this year they will serve our stockholders at
a lower commission rate, and yet each one will earn more money for
himself than in nineteen hundred twenty-five."  In this case
Scripture was apparently taken as setting a standard for business
to meet--to its own pecuniary profit.  Yet in other cases it was
not so certain that business was not the standard, and Scripture
complimented by being lifted to the business level.

Witness, for example, the pamphlet on Moses, Persuader of Men
issued by the Metropolitan Casualty Insurance Company (with an
introduction by the indefatigable Doctor Cadman), which declared
that "Moses was one of the greatest salesmen and real-estate
promoters that ever lived," that he was a "Dominant, Fearless, and
Successful Personality in one of the most magnificent selling
campaigns that history ever placed upon its pages."  And witness,
finally, the extraordinary message preached by Bruce Barton in The
Man Nobody Knows, which so touched the American heart that for two
successive years--1925 and 1926--it was the best-selling non-
fiction book in the United States.  Barton sold Christianity to the
public by showing its resemblance to business.  Jesus, this book
taught, was not only "the most popular dinner guest in Jerusalem"
and "an outdoor man," but a great executive.  "He picked up twelve
men from the bottom ranks of business and forged them into an
organization that conquered the world. . . .  Nowhere is there such
a startling example of executive success as the way in which that
organization was brought together."  His parables were "the most
powerful advertisements of all time. . . .  He would be a national
advertiser today."  In fact, Jesus was "the founder of modern
business."  Why, you ask?  Because he was the author of the ideal
of service.

The Gospel According to Bruce Barton met a popular demand.  Under
the beneficent influence of Coolidge Prosperity, business had
become almost the national religion of America.  Millions of people
wanted to be reassured that this religion was altogether right and
proper, and that in the rules for making big money lay all the law
and the prophets.

Was it strange that during the very years when the Barton Gospel
was circulating most vigorously, selling and advertising campaigns
were becoming more cynical and the American business world was
refusing to exercise itself over the Teapot Dome disclosures and
the sordid history of the Continental Trading Company?  Perhaps;
but it must be remembered that in all religions there is likely to
be a gap between faith and works.  The businessman's halo did not
always fit, but he wore it proudly.


So the prosperity band-wagon rolled along with throttle wide open
and siren blaring.  But what of the man on the driver's seat, the
man whose name this era bore?

He did not have a jutting chin, a Powerful Personality, or an
irresistible flow of selling talk.  If you had come from Timbuctoo
and found him among a crowd of Chamber of Commerce boosters, he
would have been the last man you would have picked as their patron
saint.  He had never been in business.  His canonization by the
hosts of quantity production and high-pressure salesmanship was a
sublime paradox--and yet it was largely justified.  Almost the most
remarkable thing about Coolidge Prosperity was Calvin Coolidge.

He was a meager-looking man, a Vermonter with a hatchet face, sandy
hair, tight lips, and the expression, as William Allen White
remarked, of one "looking down his nose to locate that evil smell
which seemed forever to affront him."  He was pale and diffident.
In private he could be garrulous, but in public he was as silent as
a cake of ice.  When his firmness in the Boston police strike
captured the attention of the country and brought him to Washington
as Vice-President, not even the affable warmth of the Harding
Administration could thaw him.  The Vice-President has to go to
many a formal dinner; Coolidge went--and said nothing.  The
hostesses of Washington were dismayed and puzzled.  "Over the Alps
lay Italy, they thought, but none of them had won the summit and so
they couldn't be sure that the view was worth the climb," wrote
Edward G. Lowry.  Coolidge became President, and still the frost

Nor did this silence cloak a wide-ranging mind.  Coolidge knew his
American history, but neither he nor his intellect had ever
ventured far abroad.  Go through his addresses and his smug
Autobiography, and the most original thing you will find in them is
his uncompromising unoriginality.  Calvin Coolidge still believed
in the old American copybook maxims when almost everybody else had
half forgotten them or was beginning to doubt them.  "The success
which is made in any walk of life is measured almost exactly by the
amount of hard work that is put into it. . . .  There is only one
form of political strategy in which I have any confidence, and
that is to try to do the right thing and sometimes be able to
succeed. . . .  If society lacks learning and virtue it will
perish. . . .  The nation with the greatest moral power will
win. . . ."  This philosophy of hard work and frugal living and
piety crowned with success might have been brought down from some
Vermont attic where McGuffy's Reader gathered dust.  But it was so
old that it looked new; it was so exactly what uncounted Americans
had been taught at their mother's knee that it touched what remained
of the pioneer spirit in their hearts; and Coolidge set it forth
with refreshing brevity.  So completely did it win over the country
that if the President had declared that a straight line is the
shortest distance between two points, one wonders if editorial pages
would not have paid tribute to his concise wisdom.

He was not a bold leader, nor did he care to be.  He followed no
gleam, stormed no redoubt.  Considering the fact that he was in the
White House for five years and seven months, his presidential
record was surprisingly negative.  But it was just the sort of
record that he preferred.

In its foreign policy, his Administration made little effort to
persuade the American people that they were not happily isolated
from the outside world.  Bankers might engage in determining the
amount of German reparations, unofficial observers might sit in on
European negotiations, but the Government, remembering the decline
and fall of Woodrow Wilson, shrewdly maintained an air of
magnificent unconcern.  Coolidge proposed, as had Harding before
him, that the United States should join the World Court, but so
gently that when the Senate eventually ratified the proposal with
reservations which the other member nations were unable to accept,
and the President went out of office without having achieved his
end, nobody felt that his prestige suffered much thereby.  A second
naval conference was held at Geneva in 1927, but ended in failure.
A Nicaraguan revolution was settled--after considerable turmoil and
humiliation--with the aid of the Marines and of Henry L. Stimson's
plan for a new election under American supervision.  An even more
bitter dispute with Mexico over the legal status of oil lands owned
by American interests was finally moderated through the wisdom and
tact of Coolidge's Amherst classmate and ambassador, Dwight W.
Morrow.  But the most conspicuous achievement of the Coolidge
Administration in foreign affairs was the leading part it took in
securing the Kellogg-Briand Treaty renouncing war as an instrument
of national policy--a fine gesture which every nation was delighted
to make but which had very little noticeable influence on the
actualities of international relations.  Aside from the belated
solution of the Nicaraguan and Mexican difficulties and the
championship of this somewhat innocuous treaty, the policy of the
Coolidge Administration was to collect the money due it (even at
the expense of considerable ill-feeling), to keep a watchful eye on
the expansion of the American financial empire, and otherwise to
let well enough alone.

Coolidge's record in domestic affairs was even less exciting.  He
was nothing if not cautious.  When the Harding scandals came to
light, he did what was necessary to set in motion an official
prosecution, he adroitly jockeyed the notorious Daugherty out of
the Cabinet, and from that moment on he exhibited an unruffled and
altogether convincing calm.  When there was a strike in the
anthracite coal mines he did not leap into the breach; he let
Governor Gifford Pinchot of Pennsylvania do it.  On the one burning
political issue of the day, that of prohibition, he managed to
express no opinion except that the laws should be enforced.  There
was dynamite in prohibition; Calvin Coolidge remained at a safe
distance and looked the other way.

He maintained the status quo for the benefit of business.  Twice he
vetoed farm relief legislation--to the immense satisfaction of the
industrial and banking community which constituted his strongest
support--on the ground that the McNary-Haugen bills were
economically unsound.  He vetoed the soldier bonus, too, on the
ground of its expense, though in this case his veto was overruled.
His proudest boast was that he cut down the cost of running the
Government by systematic cheeseparing, reduced the public debt, and
brought about four reductions in federal taxes, aiding not only
those with small incomes but even more conspicuously those with
large.  Meanwhile his Secretary of Commerce, Herbert Hoover,
ingeniously helped business to help itself; on the various
governmental commissions, critics of contemporary commercial
practices were replaced, as far as possible, by those who would
look upon business with a lenient eye; and the serene quiet which
lay about the White House was broken only by occasional flattering
pronouncements upon business and assurances that prosperity was
securely founded.

An uninspired and unheroic policy, you suggest?  But it was
sincere: Calvin Coolidge honestly believed that by asserting
himself as little as possible and by lifting the tax burdens of the
rich he was benefiting the whole country--as perhaps he was.  And
it was perfectly in keeping with the uninspired and unheroic
political temper of the times.  For the lusty businessmen who in
these fat years had become the arbiters of national opinion did not
envisage the Government as an agency for making over the country
into something a little nearer to their hearts' desire, as a
champion of human rights or a redresser of wrongs.  The prosperity
band-wagon was bringing them rapidly toward their hearts' desire,
and politics might block the traffic.  They did not want a man of
action in the Presidency; they wanted as little government as
possible, at as low cost as possible, and this dour New Englander
who drove the prosperity band-wagon with so slack a rein embodied
their idea of supreme statesmanship.

Statesmanship of a sort Calvin Coolidge certainly represented.
Prosperity has its undeniable advantages, and a President who is
astute enough to know how to encourage it without getting himself
into hot water may possibly be forgiven such complacency as appears
in his Autobiography.  There is perhaps a cool word to be said,
too, for the prudence which deliberately accepts the inevitable,
which does not even try to be bolder or more magnanimous than
circumstances will safely permit.  The great god Business was
supreme in the land, and Calvin Coolidge was fortunate enough to
become almost a demi-god by doing discreet obeisance before the



All nations, in all eras of history, are swept from time to time by
waves of contagious excitement over fads or fashions or dramatic
public issues.  But the size and frequency of these waves is highly
variable, as is the nature of the events which set them in motion.
One of the striking characteristics of the era of Coolidge
Prosperity was the unparalleled rapidity and unanimity with which
millions of men and women turned their attention, their talk, and
their emotional interest upon a series of tremendous trifles--a
heavyweight boxing-match, a murder trial, a new automobile model, a
transatlantic flight.

Most of the causes clbres which thus stirred the country from end
to end were quite unimportant from the traditional point of view of
the historian.  The future destinies of few people were affected in
the slightest by the testimony of the "pig woman" at the Hall-Mills
trial or the attempt to rescue Floyd Collins from his Kentucky
cave.  Yet the fact that such things could engage the hopes and
fears of unprecedented numbers of people was anything but
unimportant.  No account of the Coolidge years would be adequate
which did not review that strange procession of events which a
nation tired of "important issues" swarmed to watch, or which did
not take account of that remarkable chain of circumstances which
produced as the hero of the age, not a great public servant, not a
reformer, not a warrior, but a stunt flyer who crossed the ocean to
win a money prize.

By the time Calvin Coolidge reached the White House, the tension of
the earlier years of the Post-war Decade had been largely relaxed.
Though Woodrow Wilson still clung feebly to life in the sunny house
in S Street, the League issue was dead and only handfuls of
irreconcilable idealists imagined it to have a chance of
resuscitation.  The radicals were discouraged, the labor movement
had lost energy and prestige since the days of the Big Red Scare,
and under the beneficent influence of easy riches--or at least of
easy Fords and Chevrolets--individualistic capitalism had settled
itself securely in the saddle.  The Ku Klux Klan numbered its
millions, yet already it was beginning to lose that nave ardor
which had lighted its fires on a thousand hilltops; it was becoming
less of a crusade and more of a political racket.  Genuine public
issues, about which the masses of the population could be induced
to feel intensely, were few and far between.  There was
prohibition, to be sure; anybody could get excited about
prohibition; but because the division of opinion on liquor cut
across party lines, every national politician, almost without
exception, did his best to thrust this issue into the background.
In the agricultural Northwest and Middle West there was a violent
outcry for farm relief, but it could command only a scattered and
half-hearted interest throughout the rest of a nation which was
becoming progressively urbanized.  Public spirit was at low ebb;
over the World Court, the oil scandals, the Nicaraguan situation,
the American people as a whole refused to bother themselves.  They
gave their energies to triumphant business, and for the rest they
were in holiday mood.  "Happy," they might have said, "is the
nation which has no history--and a lot of good shows to watch."
They were ready for any good show that came along.

It was now possible in the United States for more people to enjoy
the same good show at the same time than in any other land on earth
or at any previous time in history.  Mass production was not
confined to automobiles; there was mass production in news and
ideas as well.  For the system of easy nation-wide communication
which had long since made the literate and prosperous American
people a nation of faddists was rapidly becoming more widely
extended, more centralized, and more effective than ever before.

To begin with, there were fewer newspapers, with larger
circulations, and they were standardized to an unprecedented degree
by the increasing use of press-association material and syndicated
features.  Between 1914 and 1926, as Silas Bent has pointed out,
the number of daily papers in the country dropped from 2,580 to
2,001, the number of Sunday papers dropped from 571 to 541, and the
aggregate circulation per issue rose from somewhat over 28,000,000
to 36,000,000.  The city of Cleveland, which a quarter of a century
before had had three morning papers, now had but one; Detroit,
Minneapolis, and St. Louis had lost all but one apiece; Chicago,
during a period in which it had doubled in population, had seen the
number of its morning dailies drop from seven to two.  Newspapers
all over the country were being gathered into chains under more or
less centralized direction: by 1927 the success of the Hearst and
Scripps-Howard systems and the hope of cutting down overhead costs
had led to the formation of no less than 55 chains controlling 230
daily papers with a combined circulation of over 13,000,000.

No longer did the local editor rely as before upon local writers
and cartoonists to fill out his pages and give them a local flavor;
the central office of the chain, or newspaper syndicates in New
York, could provide him with editorials, health talks, comic
strips, sob-sister columns, household hints, sports gossip, and
Sunday features prepared for a national audience and guaranteed to
tickle the mass mind.  Andy Gump and Dorothy Dix had their millions
of admirers from Maine to Oregon, and the words hammered out by a
reporter at Jack Dempsey's training-camp were devoured with one
accord by real-estate men in Florida and riveters in Seattle.

Meanwhile, the number of national magazines with huge circulations
had increased, the volume of national advertising had increased, a
horde of publicity agents had learned the knack of associating
their cause or product with whatever happened to be in the public
mind at the moment, and finally there was the new and vastly
important phenomenon of radio broadcasting, which on occasion could
link together a multitude of firesides to hear the story of a World
Series game or a Lindbergh welcome.  The national mind had become
as never before an instrument upon which a few men could play.  And
these men were learning, as Mr. Bent has also shown, to play upon
it in a new way--to concentrate upon ONE TUNE AT A TIME.

Not that they put their heads together and deliberately decided to
do this.  Circumstances and self-interest made it the almost
inevitable thing for them to do.  They discovered--the successful
tabloids were daily teaching them--that the public tended to become
excited about one thing at a time.  Newspaper owners and editors
found that whenever a Dayton trial or a Vestris disaster took
place, they sold more papers if they gave it all they had--their
star reporters, their front-page display, and the bulk of their
space.  They took full advantage of this discovery: according to
Mr. Bent's compilations, the insignificant Gray-Snyder murder trial
got a bigger "play" in the press than the sinking of the Titanic;
Lindbergh's flight, than the Armistice and the overthrow of the
German Empire.  Syndicate managers and writers, advertisers, press
agents, radio broadcasters, all were aware that mention of the
leading event of the day, whatever it might be, was the key to
public interest.  The result was that when something happened which
promised to appeal to the popular mind, one had it hurled at one in
huge headlines, waded through page after page of syndicated
discussion of it, heard about it on the radio, was reminded of it
again and again in the outpourings of publicity-seeking orators and
preachers, saw pictures of it in the Sunday papers and in the
movies, and (unless one was a perverse individualist) enjoyed the
sensation of vibrating to the same chord which thrilled a vast

The country had bread, but it wanted circuses--and now it could go
to them a hundred million strong.


Mah Jong was still popular during the winter of 1923-24--the winter
when Calvin Coolidge was becoming accustomed to the White House,
and the Bok Peace Prize was awarded, and the oil scandals broke,
and Woodrow Wilson died, and General Dawes went overseas to preside
over the reparations conference, and So Big outsold all other
novels, and people were tiring of "Yes, We Have No Bananas," and to
the delight of every rotogravure editor the lid of the stone
sarcophagus of King Tutankhamen's tomb was raised at Luxor.  Mah
Jong was popular, but it had lost its novelty.

It was during that winter--on January 2, 1924, to be precise--that
a young man in New York called on his aunt.  The aunt had a
relative who was addicted to the cross-word puzzles which appeared
every Sunday in the magazine supplement of the New York World, and
asked the young man whether there was by any chance a book of these
puzzles; it might make a nice present for her relative.  The young
man, on due inquiry, found that there was no such thing as a book
of them, although cross-word puzzles dated back at least to 1913
and had been published in the World for years.  But as it happened,
he himself (his name was Richard Simon) was at that very moment
launching a book-publishing business with his friend Schuster--and
with one girl as their entire staff.  Simon had a bright idea,
which he communicated to Schuster the next day: THEY would bring
out a cross-word-puzzle book.  The two young men asked Prosper
Buranelli, F. Gregory Hartswick, and Margaret Petherbridge, the
puzzle editors of the World, to prepare it; and despite a certain
coolness on the part of the book-sellers, who told them that the
public "wasn't interested in puzzle books," they brought it out in
mid-April.  Their promotion campaign was ingenious and proved to be
prophetic, for from the very beginning they advertised their book
by drawing the following parallel:

     1922--Mah Jong

Within a month this odd-looking volume with a pencil attached to it
had become a best seller.  By the following winter its sales had
mounted into the hundreds of thousands, other publishers were
falling over themselves to get out books which would reap an
advantage from the craze, it was a dull newspaper which did not
have its daily puzzle, sales of dictionaries were bounding, there
was a new demand for that ancient and honorable handmaid of the
professional writer, Roget's Thesaurus, a man had been sent to jail
in New York for refusing to leave a restaurant after four hours of
trying to solve a puzzle, and Mrs. Mary Zaba of Chicago was
reported to be a "cross-word widow," her husband apparently being
so busy with puzzles that he had no time to support her.  The
newspapers carried the news that a Pittsburgh pastor had put the
text of his sermon into a puzzle.  The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
placed dictionaries in all the trains on its main line.  A traveler
between New York and Boston reported that 60 per cent of the
passengers were trying to fill up the squares in their puzzles, and
that in the dining-car five waiters were trying to think of a five-
letter word which meant "serving to inspire fear."  Anybody you met
on the street could tell you the name of the Egyptian sun-god or
provide you with the two-letter word which meant a printer's

The cross-word puzzle craze gradually died down in 1925.  It was
followed by a minor epidemic of question-and-answer books; there
was a time when ladies and gentlemen with vague memories faced
frequent humiliation after dinner because they were unable to
identify John Huss or tell what an ohm was.  Not until after
contract bridge was introduced in the United States in 1926 did
they breathe easily.  Despite the decline of the cross-word puzzle,
however, it remained throughout the rest of the decade a daily
feature in most newspapers; and Simon and Schuster, bringing out
their sixteenth series in 1930, figured their total sales since
early 1924 at nearly three-quarters of a million copies, and the
grand total, including British and Canadian sales, at over two


This craze, like the Mah Jong craze which preceded it, was a fresh
indication of the susceptibility of the American people to fads,
but it was not in any real sense a creature of the new ballyhoo
newspaper technique.  The newspapers did not pick it up until it
was well on its way.  The greatest demonstrations of the power of
the press to excite the millions over trifles were yet to come.

There was, of course, plenty to interest the casual newspaper
reader in 1924 and early 1925, when everybody was doing puzzles.
There was the presidential campaign, though this proved somewhat of
an anticlimax after the sizzling Democratic Convention at Madison
Square Garden, that long-drawn-out battle between the forces of
William G. McAdoo and Al Smith which ended in a half-hearted
stampede to John W. Davis; so much emotional energy had been
expended by the Westerners in hating the Tammany Catholic and by
the Tammanyites in singing "The Sidewalks of New York," that the
Democratic party never really collected itself, and the
unimpassioned Calvin, with his quiet insistence upon economy and
tax reduction and his knack for making himself appear the personal
embodiment of prosperity, was carried into office by a vast
majority.  There was also the trial of Leopold and Loeb for the
murder of Bobby Franks in Chicago.  There was the visit of the
Prince of Wales to Long Island, during which he danced much, played
polo, went motor-boating, and was detected in the act of reading
The Life and Letters of Walter Hines Page.  (It was in 1924, by the
way, that those other importations from Britain, the voluminous
gray flannel trousers known as Oxford bags, first hung about the
heels of the up-and-coming young male.)  There was a noteworthy
alliance between a representative of the nobility of France and a
representative of the nobility of Hollywood: Gloria Swanson married
the Marquis de la Falaise de la Coudray.  There was a superb
eclipse of the sun, providentially arranged for the delectation of
the Eastern seaboard cities.  There was Paavo Nurmi: watch in hand,
his heels thudding on the board track, Nurmi outran the chesty taxi-
driver, Joie Ray, and later performed the incredible feat of
covering two miles in less than nine minutes.  There was the
hullabaloo over bringing the serum to Nome to end a diphtheria
epidemic, which for a few days made national heroes of Leonard
Seppalla, Gunnar Kasson, and the dog Balto.  And there was Floyd
Collins imprisoned in his cave.

It was the tragedy of Floyd Collins, perhaps, which gave the
clearest indication up to that time of the unanimity with which the
American people could become excited over a quite unimportant event
if only it were dramatic enough.

Floyd Collins was an obscure young Kentuckian who had been
exploring an underground passage five miles from Mammoth Cave, with
no more heroic purpose than that of finding something which might
attract lucrative tourists.  Some 125 feet from daylight he was
caught by a cave-in which pinned his foot under a huge rock.  So
narrow and steep was the passage that those who tried to dig him
out had to hitch along on their stomachs in cold slime and water
and pass back from hand to hand the earth and rocks that they pried
loose with hammers and blow-torches.  Only a few people might have
heard of Collins's predicament if W. B. Miller of the Louisville
Courier-Journal had not been slight of stature, daring, and an able
reporter.  Miller wormed his way down the slippery, tortuous
passageway to interview Collins, became engrossed in the efforts to
rescue the man, described them in vivid dispatches--and to his
amazement found that the entire country was turning to watch the
struggle.  Collinses plight contained those elements of dramatic
suspense and individual conflict with fate which make a great news
story, and every city editor, day after day, planted it on page
one.  When Miller arrived at Sand Cave he had found only three men
at the entrance, warming themselves at a fire and wondering,
without excitement, how soon their friend would extricate himself.
A fortnight later there was a city of a hundred or more tents there
and the milling crowds had to be restrained by barbed-wire barriers
and state troops with drawn bayonets; and on February 17, 1925,
even the New York Times gave a three-column page-one headline to
the news of the dnouement:


Within a month, as Charles Merz later reminded the readers of the
New Republic, there was a cave-in in a North Carolina mine in which
71 men were caught and 53 actually lost.  It attracted no great
notice.  It was "just a mine disaster."  Yet for more than two
weeks the plight of a single commonplace prospector for tourists
riveted the attention of the nation on Sand Cave, Kentucky.  It was
an exciting show to watch, and the dispensers of news were learning
to turn their spotlights on one show at a time.

Even the Collins thriller, however, was as nothing beside the
spectacle which was offered a few months later when John Thomas
Scopes was tried at Dayton, Tennessee, for teaching the doctrine of
evolution in the Central High School.

The Scopes case had genuine significance.  It dramatized one of the
most momentous struggles of the age--the conflict between religion
and science.  Yet even this trial, so diligently and noisily was it
ballyhooed, took on some of the aspects of a circus.


If religion lost ground during the Post-war Decade, the best
available church statistics gave no sign of the fact.  They showed,
to be sure, a very slow growth in the number of churches in use;
but this was explained partly by the tendency toward consolidation
of existing churches and partly by the trend of population toward
the cities--a trend which drew the church-going public into fewer
churches with larger congregations.  The number of church MEMBERS,
on the other hand, grew just about as fast as the population, and
church wealth and expenditures grew more rapidly still.  On actual
attendance at services there were no reliable figures, although it
was widely believed that an increasing proportion of the nominally
faithful were finding other things to do on Sunday morning.
Statistically, the churches apparently just about maintained their
position in American life.

Yet it is difficult to escape the conclusion that they maintained
it chiefly by the force of momentum--and to some extent, perhaps,
by diligent attention to the things which are Csar's: by adopting,
here and there, the acceptable gospel according to Bruce Barton; by
strenuous membership and money-raising campaigns (such as Bishop
Manning's high-pressure drive in New York for a "house of prayer
for all people," which proved to be a house of prayer under
strictly Episcopal auspices); and by the somewhat secular lure of
church theatricals, open forums, basket-ball and swimming pools,
and muscular good fellowship for the young.  Something spiritual
had gone out of the churches--a sense of certainty that theirs was
the way to salvation.  Religion was furiously discussed; there had
never been so many books on religious topics in circulation, and
the leading divines wrote constantly for the popular magazines; yet
all this discussion was itself a sign that for millions of people
religion had become a debatable subject instead of being accepted
without question among the traditions of the community.

If church attendance declined, it was perhaps because, as Walter
Lippmann put it, people were not so certain that they were going to
meet God when they went to church.  If the minister's prestige
declined, it was in many cases because he had lost his one-time
conviction that he had a definite and authoritative mission.  The
Reverend Charles Stelzle, a shrewd observer of religious
conditions, spoke bluntly in an article in the World's Work: the
church, he said, was declining largely because "those who are
identified with it do not actually believe in it."  Mr. Stelzle
told of asking groups of Protestant ministers what there was in
their church programs which would prompt them, if they were
outsiders, to say, "That is great; that is worth lining up for,"
and of receiving in no case an immediate answer which satisfied
even the answerer himself.  In the congregations, and especially
among the younger men and women, there was an undeniable weakening
of loyalty to the church and an undeniable vagueness as to what it
had to offer them--witness, for example, the tone of the
discussions which accompanied the abandonment of compulsory chapel
in a number of colleges.

This loss of spiritual dynamic was variously ascribed to the
general let-down in moral energy which followed the strain of the
war; to prosperity, which encouraged the comfortable belief that it
profited a man very considerably if he gained a Cadillac car and a
laudatory article in the American Magazine; to the growing
popularity of Sunday golf and automobiling; and to disapproval in
some quarters of the political lobbying of church organizations,
and disgust at the connivance of many ministers in the bigotry of
the Klan.  More important than any of these causes, however, was
the effect upon the churches of scientific doctrines and scientific
methods of thought.

The prestige of science was colossal.  The man in the street and
the woman in the kitchen, confronted on every hand with new
machines and devices which they owed to the laboratory, were ready
to believe that science could accomplish almost anything; and they
were being deluged with scientific information and theory.  The
newspapers were giving columns of space to inform (or misinform)
them of the latest discoveries: a new dictum from Albert Einstein
was now front-page stuff even though practically nobody could
understand it.  Outlines of knowledge poured from the presses to
tell people about the planetesimal hypothesis and the constitution
of the atom, to describe for them in unwarranted detail the daily
life of the cave-man, and to acquaint them with electrons,
endocrines, hormones, vitamins, reflexes, and psychoses.  On the
lower intellectual levels, millions of people were discovering for
the first time that there was such a thing as the venerable theory
of evolution.  Those who had assimilated this doctrine without
disaster at an early age were absorbing from Wells, Thomson, East,
Wiggam, Dorsey, and innumerable other popularizers and interpreters
of science a collection of ideas newer and more disquieting: that
we are residents of an insignificant satellite of a very average
star obscurely placed in one of who-knows-how-many galaxies
scattered through space; that our behavior depends largely upon
chromosomes and ductless glands; that the Hottentot obeys impulses
similar to those which activate the pastor of the First Baptist
Church, and is probably already better adapted to his Hottentot
environment than he would be if he followed the Baptist code, that
sex is the most important thing in life, that inhibitions are not
to be tolerated, that sin is an out-of-date term, that most
untoward behavior is the result of complexes acquired at an early
age, and that men and women are mere bundles of behavior-patterns,
anyhow.  If some of the scientific and pseudoscientific principles
which lodged themselves in the popular mind contradicted one
another, that did not seem to matter: the popular mind appeared
equally ready to believe with East and Wiggam in the power of
heredity and with Watson in the power of environment.

Of all the sciences it was the youngest and least scientific which
most captivated the general public and had the most disintegrating
effect upon religious faith.  Psychology was king.  Freud, Adler,
Jung, and Watson had their tens of thousands of votaries;
intelligence-testers invaded the schools in quest of I.Q.s;
psychiatrists were installed in business houses to hire and fire
employees and determine advertising policies; and one had only to
read the newspapers to be told with complete assurance that
psychology held the key to the problems of waywardness, divorce,
and crime.

The word science had become a shibboleth.  To preface a statement
with "Science teaches us" was enough to silence argument.  If a
sales manager wanted to put over a promotion scheme or a clergyman
to recommend a charity, they both hastened to say that it was

The effect of the prestige of science upon churchmen was well
summed up by Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick at the end of the decade:

"The men of faith might claim for their positions ancient
tradition, practical usefulness, and spiritual desirability, but
one query could prick all such bubbles:  Is it scientific?  That
question has searched religion for contraband goods, stripped it of
old superstitions, forced it to change its categories of thought
and methods of work, and in general has so cowed and scared
religion that many modern-minded believers . . . instinctively
throw up their hands at the mere whisper of it. . . .  When a
prominent scientist comes out strongly for religion, all the
churches thank Heaven and take courage as though it were the
highest possible compliment to God to have Eddington believe in
Him.  Science has become the arbiter of this generation's thought,
until to call even a prophet and a seer scientific is to cap the
climax of praise."

So powerful was the invasion of scientific ideas and of the
scientific habit of reliance upon proved acts that the Protestant
churches--which numbered in their membership five out of every
eight adult church members in the United States--were broken into
two warring camps.  Those who believed in the letter of the Bible
and refused to accept any teaching, even of science, which
seemed to conflict with it, began in 1921 to call themselves
Fundamentalists.  The Modernists (or Liberals), on the other hand,
tried to reconcile their beliefs with scientific thought: to throw
overboard what was out of date, to retain what was essential and
intellectually respectable, and generally to mediate between
Christianity and the skeptical spirit of the age.

The position of the Fundamentalists seemed almost hopeless.  The
tide of all rational thought in a rational age seemed to be running
against them.  But they were numerous, and at least there was no
doubt about where they stood.  Particularly in the South they
controlled the big Protestant denominations.  And they fought
strenuously.  They forced the liberal Doctor Fosdick out of the
pulpit of a Presbyterian church and back into his own Baptist fold,
and even caused him to be tried for heresy (though there was no
churchman in America more influential than he).  They introduced
into the legislatures of nearly half the states of the Union bills
designed to forbid the teaching of the doctrine of evolution; in
Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and South Carolina they pushed such
bills through one house of the legislature only to fail in the
other; and in Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Mississippi they actually
succeeded in writing their anachronistic wishes into law.

The Modernists had the Zeitgeist on their side, but they were not
united.  Their interpretations of God--as the first cause, as
absolute energy, as idealized reality, as a righteous will working
in creation, as the ideal and goal toward which all that is highest
and best is moving--were confusingly various and ambiguous.  Some
of these interpretations offered little to satisfy the worshiper:
one New England clergyman said that when he thought of God he
thought of "a sort of oblong blur."  And the Modernists threw
overboard so many doctrines in which the bulk of American
Protestants had grown up believing (such as the Virgin birth, the
resurrection of the body, and the Atonement) that they seemed to
many to have no religious cargo left except a nebulous faith, a
general benevolence, and a disposition to assure everyone that he
was really just as religious as they.  Gone for them, as Walter
Lippmann said, was "that deep, compulsive, organic faith in an
external fact which is the essence of religion for all but that
very small minority who can live within themselves in mystical
communion or by the power of their understanding."  The Modernists,
furthermore, had not only Fundamentalism to battle with, but
another adversary, the skeptic nourished on outlines of science;
and the sermons of more than one Modernist leader gave the
impression that Modernism, trying to meet the skeptic's arguments
without resorting to the argument from authority, was being forced
against its will to whittle down its creed to almost nothing at

All through the decade the three-sided conflict reverberated.  It
reached its climax in the Scopes case in the summer of 1925.

The Tennessee legislature, dominated by Fundamentalists, passed a
bill providing that "it shall be unlawful for any teacher in any of
the universities, normals and all other public schools of the
State, which are supported in whole or in part by the public school
funds of the State, to teach any theory that denies the story of
the Divine creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach
instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals."

This law had no sooner been placed upon the books than a little
group of men in the sleepy town of Dayton, Tennessee, decided to
put it to the test.  George Rappelyea, a mining engineer, was
drinking lemon phosphates in Robinson's drug store with John Thomas
Scopes, a likeable young man of twenty-four who taught biology at
the Central High School, and two or three others.  Rappelyea
proposed that Scopes should allow himself to be caught red-handed
in the act of teaching the theory of evolution to an innocent
child, and Scopes--half serious, half in joke--agreed.  Their
motives were apparently mixed; it was characteristic of the times
that (according to so friendly a narrator of the incident as Arthur
Garfield Hays) Rappelyea declared that their action would put
Dayton on the map.  At all events, the illegal deed was shortly
perpetrated and Scopes was arrested.  William Jennings Bryan
forthwith volunteered his services to the prosecution; Rappelyea
wired the Civil Liberties Union in New York and secured for Scopes
the legal assistance of Clarence Darrow, Dudley Field Malone, and
Arthur Garfield Hays; the trial was set for July, 1925, and Dayton
suddenly discovered that it was to be put on the map with a

There was something to be said for the right of the people to
decide what should be taught in their tax-supported schools, even
if what they decided upon was ridiculous.  But the issue of the
Scopes case, as the great mass of newspaper readers saw it, was
nothing so abstruse as the rights of taxpayers versus academic
freedom.  In the eyes of the public, the trial was a battle between
Fundamentalism on the one hand and twentieth-century skepticism
(assisted by Modernism) on the other.  The champions of both causes
were headliners.  Bryan had been three times a candidate for the
Presidency, had been Secretary of State, and was a famous orator;
he was the perfect embodiment of old-fashioned American idealism--
friendly, nave, provincial.  Darrow, a radical, a friend of the
underdog, an agnostic, had recently jumped into the limelight of
publicity through his defense of Leopold and Loeb.  Even Tex
Rickard could hardly have staged a more promising contest than a
battle between these two men over such an emotional issue.

It was a strange trial.  Into the quiet town of Dayton flocked
gaunt Tennessee farmers and their families in mule-drawn wagons and
ramshackle Fords; quiet, godly people in overalls and gingham and
black, ready to defend their faith against the "foreigners," yet
curious to know what this new-fangled evolutionary theory might be.
Revivalists of every sort flocked there, too, held their meetings
on the outskirts of the town under the light of flares, and tacked
up signs on the trees about the courthouse--"Read Your Bible Daily
for One Week," and "Be Sure Your Sins Will Find You Out," and at
the very courthouse gate:

                     THE KINGDOM OF GOD

The sweetheart love of Jesus Christ and Paradise Street is at hand.
Do you want to be a sweet angel?  Forty days of prayer.  Itemize
your sins and iniquities for eternal life.  If you come clean, God
will talk back to you in voice.

Yet the atmosphere of Dayton was not simply that of rural piety.
Hot-dog venders and lemonade venders set up their stalls along the
streets as if it were circus day.  Booksellers hawked volumes on
biology.  Over a hundred newspapermen poured into the town.  The
Western Union installed twenty-two telegraph operators in a room
off a grocery store.  In the courtroom itself, as the trial
impended, reporters and cameramen crowded alongside grim-faced
Tennessee countrymen; there was a buzz of talk, a shuffle of feet,
a ticking of telegraph instruments, an air of suspense like that of
a first-night performance at the theater.  Judge, defendant, and
counsel were stripped to their shirt sleeves--Bryan in a pongee
shirt turned in at the neck.  Darrow with lavender suspenders,
Judge Raulston with galluses of a more sober judicial hue--yet
fashion was not wholly absent: the news was flashed over the wires
to the whole country that the judge's daughters, as they entered
the courtroom with him, wore rolled stockings like any metropolitan
flapper's.  Court was opened with a pious prayer--and motion-
picture operators climbed upon tables and chairs to photograph the
leading participants in the trial from every possible angle.  The
evidence ranged all the way from the admission of fourteen-year-old
Howard Morgan that Scopes had told him about evolution and that it
hadn't hurt him any, to the estimate of a zoologist that life had
begun something like six hundred million years ago (an assertion
which caused gasps and titters of disbelief from the rustics in the
audience).  And meanwhile two million words were being telegraphed
out of Dayton, the trial was being broadcast by the Chicago
Tribune's station WGN, the Dreamland Circus at Coney Island offered
"Zip" to the Scopes defense as a "missing link," cable companies
were reporting enormous increases in transatlantic cable tolls, and
news agencies in London were being besieged with requests for more
copy from Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Russia, China, and Japan.
Ballyhoo had come to Dayton.

It was a bitter trial.  Attorney-General Stewart of Tennessee cried
out against the insidious doctrine which was "undermining the faith
of Tennessee's children and robbing them of their chance of eternal
life."  Bryan charged Darrow with having only one purpose, "to slur
at the Bible."  Darrow spoke of Bryan's "fool religion."  Yet again
and again the scene verged on farce.  The climax--both of
bitterness and of farce--came on the afternoon of July 20th, when
on the spur of the moment Hays asked that the defense be permitted
to put Bryan on the stand as an expert on the Bible, and Bryan

So great was the crowd that afternoon that the judge had decided to
move the court outdoors, to a platform built against the courthouse
under the maple trees.  Benches were set out before it.  The
reporters sat on the benches, on the ground, anywhere, and
scribbled their stories.  On the outskirts of the seated crowd a
throng stood in the hot sunlight which streamed down through the
trees.  And on the platform sat the shirt-sleeved Clarence Darrow,
a Bible on his knee, and put the Fundamentalist champion through
one of the strangest examinations which ever took place in a court
of law.

He asked Bryan about Jonah and the whale, Joshua and the the sun,
where Cain got his wife, the date of the Flood, the significance of
the Tower of Babel.  Bryan affirmed his belief that the world was
created in 4004 B.C. and the Flood occurred in or about 2348 B.C.;
that Eve was literally made out of Adam's rib; that the Tower of
Babel was responsible for the diversity of languages in the world;
and that a "big fish" had swallowed Jonah.  When Darrow asked him
if he had ever discovered where Cain got his wife, Bryan answered:
"No, sir; I leave the agnostics to hunt for her."  When Darrow
inquired, "Do you say you do not believe that there were any
civilizations on this earth that reach back beyond five thousand
years?"  Bryan stoutly replied, "I am not satisfied by any evidence
I have seen."  Tempers were getting frazzled by the strain and the
heat; once Darrow declared that his purpose in examining Bryan was
"to show up Fundamentalism . . . to prevent bigots and ignoramuses
from controlling the educational system of the United States," and
Bryan jumped up, his face purple, and shook his fist at Darrow,
crying, "To protect the word of God against the greatest atheist
and agnostic in the United States!"

It was a savage encounter, and a tragic one for the ex-Secretary of
State.  He was defending what he held most dear.  He was making--
though he did not know it--his last appearance before the great
American public which had once done him honor (he died scarcely a
week later).  And he was being covered with humiliation.  The sort
of religious faith which he represented could not take the witness
stand and face reason as a prosecutor.

On the morning of July 21st Judge Raulston mercifully refused to
let the ordeal of Bryan continue and expunged the testimony of the
previous afternoon.  Scopes's lawyers had been unable to get any of
their scientific evidence before the jury, and now they saw that
their only chance of making the sort of defense they had planned
for lay in giving up the case and bringing it before the Tennessee
Supreme Court on appeal.  Scopes was promptly found guilty and
fined one hundred dollars.  The State Supreme Court later upheld
the anti-evolution law but freed Scopes on a technicality, thus
preventing further appeal.

Theoretically, Fundamentalism had won, for the law stood.  Yet
really Fundamentalism had lost.  Legislators might go on passing
anti-evolution laws, and in the hinterlands the pious might still
keep their religion locked in a science-proof compartment of their
minds; but civilized opinion everywhere had regarded the Dayton
trial with amazement and amusement, and the slow drift away from
Fundamentalist certainty continued.

The reporters, the movie men, the syndicate writers, the telegraph
operators shook the dust of Dayton from their feet.  This monkey
trial had been a good show for the front pages, but maybe it was a
little too highbrow in its implications.  What next? . . .  How
about a good clean fight without any biology in it?


The year 1925 drew slowly toward its close.  The Shenandoah--a
great navy dirigible--was wrecked, and for a few days the country
supped on horror.  The Florida real-estate boom reached its
dizziest height.  And then the football season revealed what the
ballyhoo technique could do for a football star.  Nobody needed a
course in biology to appreciate Red Grange.

The Post-war Decade was a great sporting era.  More men were
playing golf than ever before--playing it in baggy plus-fours, with
tassels at the knee and checked stockings.  There were five
thousand golf-courses in the United States, there were said to be
two million players, and it was estimated that half a billion
dollars was spent annually on the game.  The ability to play it had
become a part of the almost essential equipment of the aspiring
business executive.  The country club had become the focus of
social life in hundreds of communities.  But it was an even greater
era for watching sports than for taking part in them.  Promoters,
chambers of commerce, newspaper-owners, sports writers, press
agents, radio broadcasters, all found profit in exploiting the
public's mania for sporting shows and its willingness to be
persuaded that the great athletes of the day were supermen.  Never
before had such a blinding light of publicity been turned upon the
gridiron, the diamond, and the prize ring.

Men who had never learned until the nineteen-twenties the
difference between a brassie and a niblick grabbed their five-star
editions to read about Bobby Jones's exploits with his redoubtable
putter, Calamity Jane.  There was big money in being a successful
golf professional: Walter Hagen's income for several years ranged
between forty and eighty thousand dollars, and for a time he
received thirty thousand a year and a house for lending the
prestige of his presence and his name to a Florida real-estate
development.  World Series baseball crowds broke all records.  So
intense was the excitement over football that stadia seating fifty
and sixty and seventy thousand people were filled to the last seat
when the big teams met, while scores of thousands more sat in warm
living-rooms to hear the play-by-play story over the radio and to
be told by Graham McNamee that it certainly was cold on the upper
rim of the amphitheater.  The Yale Athletic Association was said to
have taken in over a million dollars in ticket money in a single
season.  Teams which represented supposed institutions of learning
went barnstorming for weeks at a time, imbibing what academic
instruction they might on the sleeping-car between the Yankee
Stadium and Chicago or between Texas and the Tournament of Roses at
Pasadena.  More Americans could identify Knute Rockne as the Notre
Dame coach than could tell who was the presiding officer of the
United States Senate.  The fame of star football players, to be
sure, was ephemeral compared with that of Jones in golf, or of Ruth
in baseball, or of Tilden in tennis.  Aldrich, Owen, Bo McMillin,
Ernie Nevers, Grange, the Four Horsemen, Benny Friedman, Caldwell,
Cagle, and Albie Booth all reigned briefly.  But the case of Red
Grange may illustrate to what heights a hero of the stadium could
rise in the consulship of Calvin Coolidge, when pockets were full
and the art of ballyhoo was young and vigorous.

"Harold E. Grange--the middle name is Edward--was born in
Forksville, Sullivan County, Pennsylvania, on June 13, 1903,"
announced a publicity item sent out to the press to put the
University of Illinois on the map by glorifying its greatest
product.  "His father, Lyle N. Grange, in his youth had been the
king of lumberjacks in the Pennsylvania mountains, being renowned
for his strength, skill, and daring.  His mother, a sweet and
lovely girl, died when 'Red' was five years old, and it was this
which determined his father to move from Pennsylvania to Wheaton,
Illinois. . . .  The father, who never married again, is deputy
sheriff at Wheaton."

But the publicity item (which continues in this rhapsodic tone for
many a paragraph) is perhaps too leisurely.  Suffice it to say that
Red Grange--the "Wheaton iceman," as they called him--played
football exceedingly well for the University of Illinois, so well
that at the end of the season of 1925 (his senior year) he decided
not to bother any further with education at the moment, but to reap
the harvest of his fame.  Let a series of items summarizing the
telegraphic press dispatches tell the story:

Nov. 2--Grange is carried two miles by students.

Nov. 3--His football jersey will be framed at Illinois.

Nov. 11--Admirers circulate petition nominating him for Congress
despite his being under age.  Is silent on $40,000 offer from New
York Giants for three games.

Nov. 17--Is offered $120,000 a year by real-estate firm.

Nov. 21--Plays last game with Illinois, turns professional.

Nov. 22--Signs with Chicago Bears.

Nov. 26--Plays first professional game with Bears and collects

Dec. 6--Collects $30,000 in first New York game.

Dec. 7--Signs $300,000 movie contract with Arrow Picture
Corporation; may earn $100,000 by June.

Dec. 8--Is presented to President Coolidge.

The public is Fickle, however.  Within a few months Gertrude Ederle
and the first mother to swim the English Channel were being
welcomed in New York with thunderous applause.  Dempsey and Tunney
were preparing for their Philadelphia fight, and the spotlight had
left Red Grange.  Five years later he was reported to be working in
a night club in Hollywood, while that other hero of the backfield,
Caldwell of Yale, was running a lunchroom in New Haven.  Sic

The public mania for vicarious participation in sport reached its
climax in the two Dempsey-Tunney fights, the first at Philadelphia
in September, 1926, the second at Chicago a year later.  Prize-
fighting, once outlawed, had become so respectable in American eyes
that gentlefolk crowded into the ringside seats and a clergyman on
Long Island had to postpone a meeting of his vestrymen so that they
might listen in on one of the big bouts.  The newspapers covered
acres of paper for weeks beforehand with gossip and prognostications
from the training-camps; public interest was whipped up by such
devices as signed articles--widely syndicated-- in which the
contestants berated each other (both sets of articles, in one
case, being written by the same "ghost"), and even a paper so
traditionally conservative in its treatment of sports as the New
York Times announced the result of a major bout with three streamer
headlines running all the way across its front page.  One hundred
and thirty thousand people watched Tunney outbox a weary Dempsey at
Philadelphia and paid nearly two million dollars for the privilege;
one hundred and forty-five thousand people watched the return match
at Chicago and the receipts reached the incredible sum of
$2,600,000.  Compare that sum with the trifling $452,000 taken in
when Dempsey gained his title from Willard in 1919 and you have a
measure of what had happened in a few years.  So enormous was the
amphitheater at Chicago that two-thirds of the people in the
outermost seats did not know who had won when the fight was over.
Nor was the audience limited to the throng in Chicago, for millions
more--forty million, the radio people claimed--heard the breathless
story of it, blow by blow, over the radio.  During the seventh
round--when Tunney fell and the referee, by delaying the beginning
of his count until Dempsey had reached his corner, gave Tunney some
thirteen seconds to recover--five Americans dropped dead of heart
failure at their radios.  Five other deaths were attributed to the
excitement of hearing the radio story of the fight.

Equally remarkable was the aftermath of these two mighty contests.
Dempsey had been a mauler at the beginning of the decade; he was an
ex-mauler at its end.  Not so Tunney.  From the pinnacle of his
fame he stepped neatly off on to those upper levels of literary and
fashionable society in which heavyweight champions, haloed by
publicity, were newly welcome.  Having received $1,742,282 in three
years for his prowess in the ring, Tunney lectured on Shakespeare
before Professor Phelps's class at Yale, went for a walking trip in
Europe with Thornton Wilder (author of the best-selling novel of
the year, The Bridge of San Luis Rey), married a young gentlewoman
of Greenwich, Connecticut, and after an extensive stay abroad
returned to the United States with his bride, giving out on his
arrival a prepared statement which, if not quite Shakespearian or
Wilderesque in its style, at least gave evidence of effort:

It is hard to realize as our ship passes through the Narrows that
fifteen months have elapsed since the Mauretania was carrying me in
the other direction.  During those fifteen months Mrs. Tunney and I
have visited many countries and have met some very interesting
people.  We thoroughly enjoyed our travels, but find the greatest
joy of all in again being home with our people and friends.

The echo of a rumor at home that I am contemplating returning to
the boxing game to defend the heavyweight championship reached me
in Italy.  This is in no sense true, for I have permanently ended
my public career.  My great work now is to live quietly and simply,
for this manner of living brings me most happiness.

The sports writers were decidedly cool toward Tunney's post-boxing
career.  But he was simply exercising the ancient democratic
prerogative of rising higher than his source.  Ballyhoo had exalted
him to the skies, and he took advantage of it to leave the dubious
atmosphere of the pugilistic world and seek more salubrious airs.


As 1925 gave way to 1926, the searchlight of public attention had
shifted from Red Grange to the marriage of Irving Berlin and Ellin
Mackay, showing that the curiosity of millions is no respecter of
personal privacy; to the gallant rescue of the men of the steamship
Antino in mid-ocean by Captain Fried of the President Roosevelt;
to the exclusion from the United States of Vera, Countess Cathcart,
on the uncomplimentary ground of moral turpitude; to Byrd's daring
flight over the North Pole; and, as the summer of 1926 arrived, to
the disappearance from a bathing beach of Aimee Semple McPherson,
evangelist of a Four-Square Gospel made in California--a
disappearance that was to prove the first of a series of opera-
bouffe episodes which for years attracted wide-eyed tourists in
droves to Mrs. McPherson's Angelus Temple.

The summer passed--the summer when the English Channel was full of
swimmers, the brown jacket of The Private Life of Helen of Troy
ornamented thousands of cottage tables, girls in knee-length skirts
and horizontally striped sweaters were learning to dance the
Charleston, and the Philadelphia Sesquicentennial was sinking
deeper and deeper into the red despite the aid of the Dempsey-
Tunney fight.  Toward the season's end there was a striking
demonstration of what astute press-agentry could do to make a
national sensation.  A young man named Rudolph Alfonzo Raffaele
Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d'Antonguolla died in New
York at the age of thirty-one.  The love-making of Rudolph
Valentino (as he had understandably preferred to call himself) had
quickened the pulses of innumerable motion-picture addicts; with
his sideburns and his passionate air, "the sheik" had set the
standard for masculine sex appeal.  But his lying in state in an
undertaker's establishment on Broadway would hardly have attracted
a crowd which stretched through eleven blocks if his manager had
not arranged the scenes of grief with uncanny skill, and if Harry
C. Klemfuss, the undertaker's press agent, had not provided the
newspapers with everything they could desire--such as photographs,
distributed in advance, of the chamber where the actor's body would
lie, and posed photographs of the funeral cortge.  (One of these
latter pictures, according to Silas Bent, was on the streets in one
newspaper before the funeral procession started.)  With such
practical assistance, the press gave itself to the affair so whole-
heartedly that mobs rioted about the undertaker's and scores of
people were injured.  Sweet are the uses of publicity: Valentino
had been heavily in debt when he died, but his posthumous films,
according to his manager's subsequent testimony, turned the debt
into a $600,000 balance to the credit of his estate.  High-minded
citizens regretted that the death of Charles William Eliot, which
occurred at about the same time, occasioned no such spectacular
lamentations.  But the president emeritus of Harvard had had no
professional talent to put over his funeral in a big way.

Tunney beat Dempsey, a hurricane contributed the coup-de-grce to
the Florida boom, Queen Marie of Rumania sniffed the profits of
ballyhoo from afar and made a royal visit to the United States; and
then for months on end in the winter of 1926-27 the American people
waded deep in scandal and crime.

It was four long years since the Reverend Edward W. Hall and Mrs.
Eleanor R. Mills had been found murdered near the crab-apple tree
by DeRussey's Lane outside New Brunswick, New Jersey.  In 1922 the
grand jury had found no indictment.  But in 1926 a tabloid
newspaper in search of more circulation dug up what purported to be
important new evidence and got the case reopened.  Mrs. Hall was
arrested--at such an unholy hour of the night that the reporters
and photographers of this tabloid got a scoop--and she and her two
brothers, Henry and Willie Stevens, were brought to trial, thus
providing thrills for the readers not only of the tabloid in
question, but of every other newspaper in the United States.

The most sensational scene in this most sensational trial of the
decade took place when Jane Gibson, the "pig woman," who was
supposed to be dying, was brought from her hospital to the
courtroom on a stretcher and placed on a bed facing the jury.  Mrs.
Gibson told a weird story.  She had been pestered by corn-robbers,
it seemed, and on the night of the murder, hearing the rattle of a
wagon that she thought might contain the robbers, she saddled
Jenny, her mule, and followed the wagon down DeRussey's Lane,
"peeking and peeking and peeking."  She saw a car in the Lane, with
two people in it whom she identified as Mrs. Hall and Willie
Stevens.  She tethered Jenny to a cedar tree, heard the sound of a
quarrel and a voice saying, "Explain these letters"; she saw Henry
and Willie Stevens in the gleam of a flashlight, she heard shots,
and then she fled in terror all the way home--only to find that she
had left a moccasin behind.  Despite her fear, she went all the way
back to get that moccasin, and heard what she thought was the
screeching of an owl, but found it was a woman crying--"a big white-
haired woman doing something with her hand, crying something."  She
said this woman was Mrs. Hall.  All this testimony the "pig woman"
gave from her bed in a wailing voice, while trained nurses stood
beside her and took her pulse; then, crying out to the defendants,
"I have told the truth!  So help me God!  And you know I've told
the truth!" she was borne from the room.

The testimony of the "pig woman" did not gain in force from what
was brought out about her previous checkered career; it would have
made even less impression upon the jury had they known that their
"dying witness," whose appearance in the courtroom had been so
ingeniously staged, was destined to live four years more.  Mrs.
Hall and her brothers came magnificently through their ordeal, slow-
witted Willie Stevens in particular delighting millions of murder-
trial fans by the way in which he stoutly resisted the efforts of
Senator Simpson to bullyrag him into confusion.  The new evidence
dug up by the tabloid--consisting chiefly of a calling-card which
was supposed to have Willie Steven's fingerprint on it--did not
impress the jury.

But though the prosecution's case thus collapsed, the reputation of
the Stevens family had been butchered to make a Roman holiday of
the first magnitude for newspaper readers.  Five million words were
written and sent from Somerville, New Jersey, during the first
eleven days of the trial.  Twice as many newspapermen were there as
at Dayton.  The reporters included Mary Roberts Rinehart, the
novelist, Billy Sunday, the revivalist, and James Mills, the
husband of the murdered choir-singer; and the man who had claimed
the mantle of Bryan as the leader of Fundamentalism, the Reverend
John Roach Straton, wrote a daily editorial moralizing about the
case.  Over wires jacked into the largest telegraph switchboard in
the world traveled the tidings of lust and crime to every corner of
the United States, and the public lapped them up and cried for

So insistently did they cry that when, a few short months later, an
art editor named Albert Snyder was killed with a sash-weight by his
wife and her lover, a corset salesman named Judd Gray, once more
the forces of ballyhoo got into action.  In this case there was no
mystery, nor was the victim highly placed; the only excuses for
putting the Snyder-Gray trial on the front page were that it
involved a sex triangle and that the Snyders were ordinary people
living in an ordinary New York suburb--the sort of people with whom
the ordinary reader could easily identify himself.  Yet so great
was the demand for vicarious horrors that once more the great
Western Union switchboard was brought into action, an even more
imposing galaxy of special writers interpreted the sordid drama
(including David Wark Griffith, Peggy Joyce, and Will Durant, as
well as Mrs. Rinehart, Billy Sunday, and Doctor Straton), and once
more the American people tasted blood.

In the interval between the Hall-Mills case and the Snyder-Gray
case, they had had a chance to roll an even riper scandal on their
tongues.  Frances Heenan Browning, known to the multitude as
"Peaches," brought suit for separation from Edward W. Browning, a
New York real-estate man who had a penchant for giving to very
young girls the delights of a Cinderella.  Supposedly sober and
reputable newspapers recited the unedifying details of "Daddy"
Browning's adventures; and when the New York Graphic, a tabloid,
printed a "composograph" of Browning in pajamas shouting "Woof!
Woof!  Don't be a goof!" to his half-clad wife because--according
to the caption--she "refused to parade nude," even the Daily News,
which in the past had shown no distaste for scandal, expressed its
fear that if such things went on the public would be "drenched in

A great many people felt as the Daily News did, and regarded with
dismay the depths to which the public taste seemed to have fallen.
Surely a change must come, they thought.  This carnival of
commercialized degradation could not continue.

The change came--suddenly.


The owner of the Brevoort and Lafayette Hotels in New York, Raymond
Orteig, had offered--way back in 1919--a prize of $25,000 for the
first non-stop flight between New York and Paris.  Only a few days
after the conclusion of the Snyder-Gray trial, three planes were
waiting for favorable weather conditions to hop off from Roosevelt
Field, just outside New York, in quest of this prize: the Columbia,
which was to be piloted by Clarence Chamberlin and Lloyd Bertaud;
the America, with Lieutenant-Commander Byrd of North Pole fame in
command; and the Spirit of St. Louis, which had abruptly arrived
from the Pacific coast with a lone young man named Charles A.
Lindbergh at the controls.  There was no telling which of the three
planes would get off first, but clearly the public favorite was the
young man from the West.  He was modest, he seemed to know his
business, there was something particularly daring about his idea of
making the perilous journey alone, and he was as attractive-looking
a youngster as ever had faced a camera man.  The reporters--to his
annoyance--called him "Lucky Lindy" and the "Flying Fool."  The
spotlight of publicity was upon him.  Not yet, however, was he a

On the evening of May 19, 1927, Lindbergh decided that although it
was drizzling on Long Island, the weather reports gave a chance of
fair skies for his trip and he had better get ready.  He spent the
small hours of the next morning in sleepless preparations, went to
Curtiss Field, received further weather news, had his plane
trundled to Roosevelt Field and fueled, and a little before eight
o'clock--on the morning of May 20th--climbed in and took off for

Then something very like a miracle took place.

No sooner had the word been flashed along the wires that Lindbergh
had started than the whole population of the country became united
in the exaltation of a common emotion.  Young and old, rich and
poor, farmer and stockbroker, Fundamentalist and skeptic, highbrow
and lowbrow, all with one accord fastened their hopes upon the
young man in the Spirit of St. Louis.  To give a single instance of
the intensity of their mood: at the Yankee Stadium in New York,
where the Maloney-Sharkey fight was held on the evening of the
20th, forty thousand hard-boiled boxing fans rose as one man and
stood with bared heads in impressive silence when the announcer
asked them to pray for Lindbergh.  The next day came the successive
reports of Lindbergh's success--he had reached the Irish coast, he
was crossing over England, he was over the Channel, he had landed
at Le Bourget to be enthusiastically mobbed by a vast crowd of
Frenchmen--and the American people went almost mad with joy and
relief.  And when the reports of Lindbergh's first few days in
Paris showed that he was behaving with charming modesty and
courtesy, millions of his countrymen took him to their hearts as
they had taken no other human being in living memory.

Every record for mass excitement and mass enthusiasm in the age of
ballyhoo was smashed during the next few weeks.  Nothing seemed to
matter, either to the newspapers or to the people who read them,
but Lindbergh and his story.  On the day the flight was completed
the Washington Star sold 16,000 extra copies, the St. Louis Post-
Dispatch 40,000, the New York Evening World 114,000.  The huge
headlines which described Lindbergh's triumphal progress from day
to day in newspapers from Maine to Oregon showed how thorough was
public agreement with the somewhat extravagant dictum of the
Evening World that Lindbergh had performed "the greatest feat of a
solitary man in the records of the human race."  Upon his return to
the United States, a single Sunday issue of a single paper
contained one hundred columns of text and pictures devoted to him.
Nobody appeared to question the fitness of President Coolidge's
action in sending a cruiser of the United States navy to bring this
young private citizen and his plane back from France.  He was
greeted in Washington at a vast open-air gathering at which the
President made--according to Charles Merz--"the longest and most
impressive address since his annual message to Congress."  The
Western Union having provided form messages for telegrams of
congratulations to Lindbergh on his arrival, 55,000 of them were
sent to him--and were loaded on a truck and trundled after him in
the parade through Washington.  One telegram, from Minneapolis, was
signed with 17,500 names and made up a scroll 520 feet long, under
which ten messenger boys staggered.  After the public welcome in
New York, the Street Cleaning Department gathered up 1,800 tons of
paper which had been torn up and thrown out of windows of office
buildings to make a snowstorm of greeting--1,800 tons as against a
mere 155 tons swept up after the premature Armistice celebration of
November 7, 1918!

Lindbergh was commissioned Colonel, and received the Distinguished
Flying Cross, the Congressional Medal of Honor, and so many foreign
decorations and honorary memberships that to repeat the list would
be a weary task.  He was offered two and a half million dollars for
a tour of the world by air, and $700,000 to appear in the films;
his signature was sold for $1,600; a Texas town was named for him,
a thirteen-hundred-foot Lindbergh tower was proposed for the city
of Chicago, "the largest dinner ever tendered to an individual in
modern history" was consumed in his honor, and a staggering number
of streets, schools, restaurants, and corporations sought to share
the glory of his name.

Nor was there any noticeable group of dissenters from all this
hullabaloo.  Whatever else people might disagree about, they joined
in praise of him.

To appreciate how extraordinary was this universal outpouring of
admiration and love--for the word love is hardly too strong--one
must remind oneself of two or three facts.

Lindbergh's flight was not the first crossing of the Atlantic by
air.  Alcock and Brown had flown direct from Newfoundland to
Ireland in 1919.  That same year the N-C 4, with five men aboard,
had crossed by way of the Azores, and the British dirigible R-34
had flown from Scotland to Long Island with 31 men aboard, and then
had turned about and made a return flight to England.  The German
dirigible ZR-3 (later known as the Los Angeles) had flown from
Friedrichshafen to Lakehurst, New Jersey, in 1924 with 32 people
aboard.  Two Round-the-World American army planes had crossed the
North Atlantic by way of Iceland, Greenland, and Newfoundland in
1924.  The novelty of Lindbergh's flight lay only in the fact that
he went all the way from New York to Paris instead of jumping off
from Newfoundland, that he reached his precise objective, and that
he went alone.

Furthermore, there was little practical advantage in such an
exploit.  It brought about a boom in aviation, to be sure, but a
not altogether healthy one, and it led many a flyer to hop off
blindly for foreign shores in emulation of Lindbergh and be
drowned.  Looking back on the event after a lapse of years, and
stripping it of its emotional connotations, one sees it simply as a
daring stunt flight--the longest up to that time--by a man who did
not claim to be anything but a stunt flyer.  Why, then, this
idolization of Lindbergh?

The explanation is simple.  A disillusioned nation fed on cheap
heroics and scandal and crime was revolting against the low
estimate of human nature which it had allowed itself to entertain.
For years the American people had been spiritually starved.  They
had seen their early ideals and illusions and hopes one by one worn
away by the corrosive influence of events and ideas--by the
disappointing aftermath of the war, by scientific doctrines and
psychological theories which undermined their religion and
ridiculed their sentimental notions, by the spectacle of graft in
politics and crime on the city streets, and finally by their recent
newspaper diet of smut and murder.  Romance, chivalry and self-
dedication had been debunked; the heroes of history had been shown
to have feet of clay, and the saints of history had been revealed
as people with queer complexes.  There was the god of business to
worship--but a suspicion lingered that he was made of brass.
Ballyhoo had given the public contemporary heroes to bow down
before--but these contemporary heroes, with their fat profits from
moving-picture contracts and ghost-written syndicated articles,
were not wholly convincing.  Something that people needed, if they
were to live at peace with themselves and with the world, was
missing from their lives.  And all at once Lindbergh provided it.
Romance, chivalry, self-dedication--here they were, embodied in a
modern Galahad for a generation which had foresworn Galahads.
Lindbergh did not accept the moving-picture offers that came his
way, he did not sell testimonials, did not boast, did not get
himself involved in scandal, conducted himself with unerring taste--
and was handsome and brave withal.  The machinery of ballyhoo was
ready and waiting to lift him up where every eye could see him.  Is
it any wonder that the public's reception of him took on the
aspects of a vast religious revival?

Lindbergh did not go back on his admirers.  He undertook a series
of exhibition flights and good-will flights--successfully and with
quiet dignity.  He married a daughter of the ambassador to Mexico,
and in so doing delighted the country by turning the tables on
ballyhoo itself--by slipping away with his bride on a motor-boat
and remaining hidden for days despite the efforts of hundreds of
newspapermen to spy upon his honeymoon.  Wherever he went, crowds
fought for a chance to be near him, medals were pinned upon him,
tributes were showered upon him, his coming and going was news.  He
packed away a good-sized fortune earned chiefly as consultant for
aviation companies, but few people grudged him that.  Incredibly,
he kept his head and his instinct for fine conduct.

And he remained a national idol.

Even three and four years after his flight, the roads about his New
Jersey farm were blocked on week-ends with the cars of admirers who
wanted to catch a glimpse of him, and it was said that he could not
even send his shirts to a laundry because they did not come back--
they were too valuable as souvenirs.  His picture hung in hundreds
of schoolrooms and in thousands of houses.  No living American--no
dead American, one might almost say, save perhaps Abraham Lincoln--
commanded such unswerving fealty.  You might criticize Coolidge or
Hoover or Ford or Edison or Bobby Jones or any other headline hero;
but if you decried anything that Lindbergh did, you knew that you
had wounded your auditors.  For Lindbergh was a god.

Pretty good, one reflects, for a stunt flyer.  But also, one must
add, pretty good for the American people.  They had shown that they
had better taste in heroes than anyone would have dared to predict
during the years which immediately preceded the 20th of May, 1927.


After Lindbergh's flight the profits of heroism were so apparent
that a horde of seekers after cash and glory appeared, not all of
whom seemed to realize that one of the things which had endeared
Lindbergh to his admirers had been his indifference both to easy
money and to applause.  The formula was simple.  You got an
airplane, some financial backing, and a press agent, and made the
first non-stop flight from one place to another place (there were
still plenty of places that nobody had flown between).  You
arranged in advance to sell your personal story to a syndicate if
you were successful.  If necessary you could get a good deal of
your equipment without paying for it, on condition that the
purveyors of your oil or your flying suit or your five-foot shelf
might say how useful you had found it.  Having landed at your
destination--and on the front pages--you promptly sold your book,
your testimonials, your appearance in vaudeville, your appearance
in the movies, or whatever else there was demand for.  If you did
not know how to pilot a plane you could still be a passenger; a
woman passenger, in fact, had better news value than a male pilot.
And if flying seemed a little hazardous for your personal taste,
you could get useful publicity by giving a prize for other people
to fly after.

When Chamberlin followed Lindbergh across the Atlantic, Charles A.
Levine, the owner of the plane, was an extremely interested
passenger.  He got an official welcome at New York.  Everybody was
getting official welcomes at New York.  Grover Whalen, the well-
dressed Police Commissioner, was taking incessant advantage of what
Alva Johnston called the great discovery that anybody riding up
Broadway at noon with a motorcycle escort would find thousands of
people gathered there in honor of luncheon.  British open golf
champions, Channel swimmers, and the Italian soccer team were
greeted by Mr. Whalen as deferentially as the Persian Minister of
Finance and the Mayor of Leipzig, and it was always fun for the
citizenry to have an excuse to throw ticker tape and fragments of
the Bronx telephone directory out the window.

Byrd and his men hopped off from Roosevelt Field a few weeks after
Chamberlin and Levine, and came down in the sea--but so close to
the French coast that they waded ashore.  Brock and Schlee not only
crossed the Atlantic, but continued on in a series of flights till
they reached Japan.  And then a good-looking dentist's assistant
from Lakeland.  Florida, named Ruth Elder, who had been taking
flying lessons from George Haldeman, got a citrus-grower and a real-
estate man to back her, and Haldeman to pilot her, and set out to
become the first woman transatlantic airplane rider.  She dropped
into the sea much too far out to wade ashore, as it happened; but
what matter?  She and Haldeman were picked up providentially by a
tanker; her manager did good business for her; and she got her
welcome--though the City of New York spent only $333.90 on greeting
her, as compared with more than $1,000 for Levine, $12,000 for the
President of the Irish Free State, $26,000 for Byrd, and $71,000
for Lindbergh.

After Ruth Elder there were so many flights, successful or
disastrous, that one could hardly keep track of them.  They were
always front-page news, but they were less exciting than the
unveiling of the new Ford (in December, 1927) and the sinking of
the steamship Vestris, which (late in 1928) was so hysterically
reported that one might have imagined it to be the greatest marine
disaster in history.  There were no more Lindberghs.

The procession of sporting heroes continued.  Bobby Jones went on
from triumph to triumph, until no one could doubt that he was the
greatest golfer of all time.  Babe Ruth remained the home-run king.
Cagle and Booth gave the football writers a chance to be the
romantic fellows they longed to be.  Tilden was slipping, but could
still beat almost anybody but a Frenchman.  Prize-fighting,
however, languished, and there were signs that the public taste in
sporting exhibitions was becoming a little jaded.  The efforts to
find something novel enough to arouse the masters of ballyhoo
became almost pathological: Marathon dancers clung to one another
by the hour and day and week, shuffling about the floor in an agony
of weariness, and the unhappy participants in C. C. Pyle's "Bunion
Derby" ran across the continent with results painful both to their
feet and to Mr. Pyle's fortunes as a promoter.  Thousands stood and
gaped while Alvin Shipwreck Kelly sat on a flagpole.  There was
still money in breaking records, even if your achievement was that
of perching on a flagpole in Baltimore for 23 days and 7 hours,
having your food and drink hoisted to you in a bucket, and hiring a
man to shout at you if you showed signs of dozing for more than
twenty minutes at a time.  But nobody seemed to be persuaded that
there was anything epic about Mr. Kelly.  Flagpole sitting and
Marathon dancing were just freak shows to watch in an idle moment.

Perhaps the bloom of youth was departing from ballyhoo: the
technique was becoming a little too obvious.  Perhaps Lindbergh had
spoiled the public for lesser heroes.  Perhaps the grim execution
of Sacco and Vanzetti in 1927 and the presidential campaign of 1928
reminded a well-fed people that there were such things as public
issues, after all.  But perhaps, too, there was some significance
in the fact that in March, 1928, only a few months after the new
Ford appeared and less than a year after Lindbergh's flight, the
Big Bull Market went into its sensational phase.  A ten-point gain
in Radio common in a single day promised more immediate benefits
than all the non-stop flyers and heavyweight champions in the



"Here was a new generation . . . grown up to find all Gods dead,
all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken."

                     --F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise.

By the end of the war with Germany, social compulsion had become a
national habit.  The typical American of the old stock had never
had more than a half-hearted enthusiasm for the rights of the
minority; bred in a pioneer tradition, he had been accustomed to
set his community in order by the first means that came to hand--a
sumptuary law, a vigilance committee, or if necessary a shotgun.
Declarations of Independence and Bills of Rights were all very well
in the history books, but when he was running things himself he had
usually been open to the suggestion that liberty was another name
for license and that the Bill of Rights was the last resort of
scoundrels.  During the war he had discovered how easy it was to
legislate and propagandize and intimidate his neighbors into what
seemed to him acceptable conduct, and after peace was declared he
went on using the same sort of methods to see that they continued
to conform.

From Liberty-loan campaigns--with a quota for everybody and often a
threat for those who were slow to contribute--he turned to
community-chest drives and college-endowment-fund drives and church-
membership drives and town-boosting drives and a multitude of other
public campaigns: committees and subcommittees were organized,
press agents distributed their canned releases, orators bellowed,
and the man who kept a tight grip on his pocketbook felt the
uncomfortable pressure of mass opinion.  From the coercion of alien
enemies and supposed pro-Germans it was a short step, as we have
seen, to the coercion of racial minorities and supposed Bolsheviks.
From war-time censorship it was a short step to peace-time
censorship of newspapers and books and public speech.  And from
legislating sobriety in war-time it was a short step to imbedding
prohibition permanently in the Constitution and trying to write the
moral code of the majority into the statute-books.  Business, to be
sure, was freed of most of the shackles which had bound it in 1917
and 1918, for the average American now identified his own interests
with those of business.  But outside of business he thought he knew
how people ought to behave, and he would stand for no nonsense.

After the early days of the Big Red Scare, the American middle-
class majority met with little resistance in its stern measures
against radicalism and its insistence upon laissez faire for
business.  While labor was being cowed by the police or lured into
compliance by stock ownership and the hope of riches, the educated
liberals who a few years before had been ready to die at the
barricades for minimum-wage laws and equal suffrage and the right
to collective bargaining were sinking into hopeless discouragement.
Politics, they were deciding, was a vulgar mess; the morons always
outnumbered the enlightened, the tobacco-spitting district leaders
held the morons in a firm grip, and the right to vote was a joke.
Welfare work was equally futile: it was stuffy, sentimental, and
presumptuous.  The bright young college graduate who in 1915 would
have risked disinheritance to march in a Socialist parade yawned at
Socialism in 1925, called it old stuff, and cared not at all
whether the employees of the Steel Corporation were underpaid or
overpaid.  Fashions had changed: now the young insurgent enraged
his father by arguing against monogamy and God.

When, however, the middle-class majority turned from persecuting
political radicals to regulating personal conduct, they met with
bitter opposition not only from the bright young college graduate
but from the whole of a newly class-conscious group.  The
intellectuals of the country--the "civilized minority," as the
American Mercury liked to call them--rose in loud and bitter

They were never an organized group, these embattled highbrows.
They differed vehemently among themselves, and even if they had
agreed, the idea of organizing would have been repugnant to them as
individualists.  They were widely dispersed; New York was their
chief rallying-point, but groups of them were to be found in all
the other urban centers.  They consisted mostly of artists and
writers, professional people, the intellectually restless element
in the college towns, and such members of the college-educated
business class as could digest more complicated literature than was
to be found in the Saturday Evening Post and McCall's Magazine; and
they were followed by an ill-assorted mob of faddists who were
ready to take up with the latest idea.  They may be roughly and
inclusively defined as the men and women who had heard of James
Joyce, Proust, Czanne, Jung, Bertrand Russell, John Dewey,
Petronius, Eugene O'Neill, and Eddington; who looked down on the
movies but revered Charlie Chaplin as a great artist, could talk
about relativity even if they could not understand it, knew a few
of the leading complexes by name, collected Early American
furniture, had ideas about progressive education, and doubted the
divinity of Henry Ford and Calvin Coolidge.  Few in numbers though
they were, they were highly vocal, and their influence not merely
dominated American literature but filtered down to affect by slow
degrees the thought of the entire country.

These intellectuals felt the full disenchantment of the Peace of
Versailles while the returning heroes of Armageddon were still
parading past the reviewing-stands.  The dreary story of a brutal
war and a sordid settlement was spread before their resentful eyes
in books like Sir Philip Gibb's Now It Can Be Told, John Dos
Passos's Three Soldiers, E. E. Cummings's The Enormous Room, and
John Maynard Keynes's Economic Consequences of the Peace.  They
were early converts to the devastating new psychology; the more
youthful of them, in fact, were petting according to Freud while
their less tutored contemporaries were petting simply because they
liked it and could get away with it.  Many of the intellectuals had
felt the loss of certainty which resulted from new scientific
knowledge long before the word Fundamentalism had even been coined
or the Einstein theory had reached the research laboratories.
Their revolt against the frock-coated respectability and decorous
formality of American literature had been under way for several
years; Theodore Dreiser, Willa Cather, Carl Sandburg, Edgar Lee
Masters, Robert Frost, Vachel Lindsay, Amy Lowell, and the Imagists
and exponents of free verse had been breaking new ground since
before the war.  When twenty of the intellectuals collaborated in
the writing of Civilization in the United States (published in 1922
under the editorship of Harold Stearns) they summed up the opinion
of thousands of their class in their agreement that "the most
amusing and pathetic fact in the social life of America today is
its emotional and sthetic starvation."  But the revolt of the
highbrows against this emotional and sthetic starvation, and
against "the mania for petty regulation" to which it led, would
hardly have gathered imposing force as soon as it did had Sinclair
Lewis not brought out Main Street in October, 1920, and Babbitt
some two years later.

The effect of these two books was overwhelming.  In two volumes of
merciless literary photography and searing satire, Lewis revealed
the ugliness of the American small town, the cultural poverty of
its life, the tyranny of its mass prejudices, and the blatant
vulgarity and insularity of the booster.  There were other things
which he failed to reveal--such as the friendly sentiment and easy
generosity of the Gopher Prairies and Zeniths of America--but his
books were all the more widely devoured for their very one-
sidedness.  By the end of 1922 the sale of Main Street had reached
390,000 copies.  The intellectuals had only to read Lewis's books
to realize that the qualities in American life which they most
despised and feared were precisely the ones which he put under the
microscope for cold-blooded examination.  It was George F. Babbitt
who was the arch enemy of the enlightened, and it was the Main
Street state of mind which stood in the way of American

After Babbitt, a flood of books reflected the dissatisfaction of
the highbrows with the rule of America by the businessman and their
growing disillusionment.  The keynoter of this revolt, its chief
tomtom beater, was H. L. Mencken.


For several years Mencken, a Baltimorean trained in newspaper work
on the Baltimore Sun, had been editing the Smart Set in company
with George Jean Nathan.  The Smart Set did not prosper; its name
and its somewhat dubious previous reputation were against it.  When
it was languishing Alfred A. Knopf, the book-publisher, engaged
Mencken and Nathan to conduct a new monthly magazine addressed to
the intellectual left wing, and the first issue of the American
Mercury appeared at the close of 1923.  This--if you are uncertain
about dates--was a few weeks before Woodrow Wilson's death; it was
at the moment when Senator Walsh was trying to find out who had
bestowed money upon Secretary Fall, when Richard Simon was about to
hatch the Cross-Word Puzzle Book idea, and the Bok Peace Prize was
about to be awarded to Charles H. Levermore.

The green cover of the Mercury and its format were as sedate as the
marble-trimmed faade of Mencken's house in Baltimore, but its
contents were explosive.  It carried over from the Smart Set as
regular features Mencken's literary notes, Nathan's theatrical
criticisms, a series of editorial jottings which had been called
Rptition Generale and now became Clinical Notes, and a museum of
American absurdities known as Americana.  Every month Mencken
occupied several pages with a polemic against the lowbrow majority
and its works.  The magazine lustily championed writers such as
Dreiser, Cabell, Sherwood Anderson, Willa Cather, and Sinclair
Lewis, who defied the polite traditions represented by the American
Academy of Arts and Letters; it poured critical acid upon
sentimentality and evasion and academic pomposity in books and in
life; it lambasted Babbitts, Rotarians, Methodists, and reformers,
ridiculed both the religion of Coolidge Prosperity and what Mencken
called the "bilge of idealism," and looked upon the American scene
in general with raucous and profane laughter.

The Mercury made an immediate hit.  It was new, startling, and
delightfully destructive.  It crystallized the misgivings of
thousands.  Soon its green cover was clasped under the arms of the
young iconoclasts of a score of college campuses.  Staid small-town
executives, happening upon it, were shocked and bewildered; this
man Mencken, they decided, must be a debauched and shameless
monster if not a latter-day emissary of the devil.  When Mencken
visited Dayton to report the Scopes trial and called the Daytonians
yokels, hillbillies, and peasants, the Reverend A. C. Stribling
replied that Mencken was a "cheap blatherskite of a pen-pusher";
and to such retorts there was a large section of outraged public
opinion ready to cry Amen.  After a few years so much abuse had
been heaped upon the editor of the Mercury that it was possible to
publish for the delectation of his admirers a Schimpflexicon--a
book made up entirely of highly uncomplimentary references to him.
Meanwhile the circulation of his magazine climbed to more than
77,000 by 1927; and in that same year Walter Lippmann called him,
without exaggeration, "the most powerful personal influence on this
whole generation of educated people."

To many readers it seemed as if Mencken were against everything.
This was not true, but certainly rebellion was the breath of his
life.  He was "against all theologians, professors, editorial-
writers, right thinkers, and reformers" (to quote his own words).
He was "against patriotism because it demands the acceptance of
propositions that are obviously imbecile--e.g., that an American
Presbyterian is the equal of Anatole France, Brahms, or
Ludendorff."  He did not believe that "civilized life was possible
under a democracy."  He spoke of socialists and anarchists as
fools.  He was against prohibition, censorship, and all other
interferences with personal liberty.  He scoffed at morality and
Christian marriage.  There was an apparent inconsistency in this
formidable collection of prejudices: how, some of his critics
asked, could one expect an aristocracy of intellect, such as he
preferred, to permit such liberties as he insisted upon, unless it
happened to be made up entirely of Menckens--a rather unlikely
premise?  Inconsistencies, however, bothered Mencken not at all,
and at first bothered few of his followers.  For it was not easy to
be coolly analytical in the face of such a prose style as he

He brought to his offensive against the lowbrows an unparalleled
vocabulary of invective.  He pelted his enemies with words and
phrases like mountebank, charlatan, swindler, numskull,
swine, witch-burner, homo boobiens, and imbecile; he said of
sentimentalists that they squirted rosewater about, of Bryan that
"he was born with a roaring voice and it had a trick of inflaming
half-wits," of books which he disliked that they were garbage; he
referred to the guileless farmers of Tennessee as "gaping primates"
and "the anthropoid rabble."  On occasion--as in his scholarly book
on The American Language--Mencken could write measured and precise
English, but when his blood was up, his weapons were gross
exaggeration and gross metaphors.  The moment he appeared the air
was full of flying brick-bats; and to read him for the first time
gave one, if not blind rage, the sort of intense visceral delight
which comes from heaving baseballs at crockery in an amusement

The years when Mencken's wholesale idol-smashing first attracted
wide attention, be it remembered, were the very years when the
prosperity chorus was in full voice, Bruce Barton was revising
Christian doctrine for the glorification of the higher salesmanship,
the Fundamentalists were on the rampage against evolution, and the
Methodist Board of Temperance, Prohibition, and Public Morals was
trying to mold the country into sober conformity.  Up to this time
the intellectuals had been generally on the defensive.  But now,
with Mencken's noisy tub-thumping to give them assurance, they
changed their tone.  Other magazines joined, though less stridently,
in the cry of dissent: Harper's put on an orange cover in 1925 and
doubled its circulation by examining American life with a new
critical boldness, The Forum debated subjects which Main Street
considered undebatable, the Atlantic published the strictures of
James Truslow Adams, and by the end of the decade even Scribner's
was banned from the newsstands of Boston for printing a Hemingway
serial.  Books reflecting the intellectual minority's views of the
United States and of life gushed from the presses.  Slowly the
volume of protest grew, until by 1926 or 1927 anybody who uttered a
good word for Rotary or Bryan in any house upon whose walls hung a
reproduction of Picasso or Marie Laurencin, or upon whose shelves
stood The Sun Also Rises or Notes on Democracy, was likely to be set
down as an incurable moron.


What was the credo of the intellectuals during these years of
revolt?  Not many of them accepted all the propositions in the
following rough summary; yet it suggests, perhaps, the general
drift of their collective opinion:

1.  They believed in a greater degree of sex freedom than had been
permitted by the strict American code; and as for discussion of
sex, not only did they believe it should be free, but some of them
appeared to believe it should be continuous.  They formed the
spearhead of the revolution in manners and morals which has been
described in Chapter Five.  From the early days of the decade, when
they thrilled at the lackadaisical petting of F. Scott Fitzgerald's
young thinkers and at the boldness of Edna St. Vincent Millay's
announcement that her candle burned at both ends and could not last
the night, to the latter days when they were all agog over the
literature of homosexuality and went by the thousand to take Eugene
O'Neill's five-hour lesson in psychopathology, Strange Interlude,
they read about sex, talked about sex, thought about sex, and
defied anybody to say No.

2.  In particular, they defied the enforcement of propriety by
legislation and detested all the influences to which they
attributed it.  They hated the Methodist lobby, John S. Sumner, and
all other defenders of censorship; they pictured the Puritan, even
of Colonial days, as a blue-nosed, cracked-voiced hypocrite; and
they looked at Victorianism as half indecent and half funny.  The
literary reputations of Thackeray, Tennyson, Longfellow, and the
Boston literati of the last century sank in their estimation to new
lows for all time.  Convinced that the era of short skirts and
literary dalliance had brought a new enlightenment, the younger
intellectuals laughed at the "Gay Nineties" as depicted in Life and
joined Thomas Beer in condescending scrutiny of the voluminous
dresses and fictional indirections of the Mauve Decade.  Some of
them, in fact, seemed to be persuaded that all periods prior to the
coming of modernity had been ridiculous--with the exception of
Greek civilization, Italy at the time of Casanova, France at the
time of the great courtesans, and eighteenth-century England.

3.  Most of them were passionate anti-prohibitionists, and this
fact, together with their dislike of censorship and their
skepticism about political and social regeneration, made them
dubious about all reform movements and distrustful of all
reformers.  They emphatically did not believe that they were their
brothers' keepers; anybody who did not regard tolerance as one of
the supreme virtues was to them intolerable.  If one heard at a
single dinner party of advanced thinkers that there were "too many
laws" and that people ought to be let alone, one heard it at a
hundred.  In 1915 the word reformer had been generally a
complimentary term; in 1925 it had become--among the intellectuals,
at least--a term of contempt.

4.  They were mostly, though not all, religious skeptics.  If there
was less shouting agnosticism and atheism in the nineteen-twenties
than in the eighteen-nineties it was chiefly because disbelief was
no longer considered sensational and because the irreligious
intellectuals, feeling no evangelical urge to make over others in
their own image, were content quietly to stay away from church.  It
is doubtful if any college undergraduate of the 'nineties or of any
other previous period in the United States could have said "No
intelligent person believes in God any more" as blandly as
undergraduates said it during the discussions of compulsory college
chapel which raged during the 'twenties.  Never before had so many
books addressed to the thinking public assumed at the outset that
their readers had rejected the old theology.

5.  They were united in a scorn of the great bourgeois majority
which they held responsible for prohibition, censorship,
Fundamentalism, and other repressions.  They emulated Mencken in
their disgust at Babbitts, Rotarians, the Ku Klux Klan, Service-
with-a-Smile, boosters, and super-salesmen.  Those of them who
lived in the urban centers prided themselves on their superiority
to the denizens of the benighted outlying cities and towns where
Babbittry flourished; witness, for example, the motto of the New
Yorker when it was first established in the middle of the decade:
"Not for the old lady from Dubuque."  Particularly did they despise
the mobs of prosperous American tourists which surged through
Europe; one could hardly occupy a steamer chair next to anybody who
had Aldous Huxley's latest novel on his lap without being told of a
delightful little restaurant somewhere in France which was quite
"unspoiled by Americans."

6.  They took a particular pleasure in overturning the idols of the
majority; hence the vogue among them of the practice for which W.
E. Woodward, in a novel published in 1923, invented the word
"debunking."  Lytton Strachey's Queen Victoria, which had been a
best seller in the United States in 1922, was followed by a deluge
of debunking biographies.  Rupert Hughes removed a few coats of
whitewash from George Washington and nearly caused a riot when he
declared in a speech that "Washington was a great card-player, a
distiller of whisky, and a champion curser, and he danced for three
hours without stopping with the wife of his principal general."
Other American worthies were portrayed in all their erring
humanity, and the notorious rascals of history were rediscovered as
picturesque and glamorous fellows; until for a time it was almost
taken for granted that a biographer, if he were to be successful,
must turn conventional white into black and vice versa.

7.  They feared the effect upon themselves and upon American
culture of mass production and the machine, and saw themselves as
fighting at the last ditch for the right to be themselves in a
civilization which was being leveled into monotony by Fordismus and
the chain-store mind.  Their hatred of regimentation gave impetus
to the progressive school movement and nourished such innovations
in higher education as Antioch, Rollins, Meiklejohn's Experimental
College at Wisconsin, and the honors plan at Swarthmore and
elsewhere.  It gave equal impetus to the little-theater movement,
which made remarkable headway from coast to coast, especially in
the schools.  The heroes of current novels were depicted as being
stifled in the air of the home town, and as fleeing for their
cultural lives either to Manhattan or, better yet, to Montparnasse
or the Riviera.  In any caf in Paris one might find an American
expatriate thanking his stars that he was free from standardization
at last, oblivious of the fact that there was no more standardized
institution even in the land of automobiles and radio than the
French sidewalk caf.  The intellectuals lapped up the criticisms
of American culture offered them by foreign lecturers imported in
record-breaking numbers, and felt no resentment when the best
magazines flaunted before their eyes, month after month, titles
like "Our American Stupidity" and "Childish Americans."  They quite
expected to be told that America was sinking into barbarism and was
an altogether impossible place for a civilized person to live in--
as when James Truslow Adams lamented in the Atlantic Monthly, "I am
wondering, as a personal but practical question, just how and where
a man of moderate means who prefers simple living, simple
pleasures, and the things of the mind is going to be able to live
any longer in his native country."

Few of the American intellectuals of the nineteen-twenties, let it
be repeated, subscribed to all the propositions in this credo; but
he or she who accepted none of them was suspect among the
enlightened.  He was not truly civilized, he was not modern.  The
prosperity band-wagon rolled on, but by the wayside stood the
highbrows with voices upraised in derision and dismay.


Mencken enjoyed his battle enormously, cynic though he was.  He
went on to meet the armed men, and said among the trumpets, Ha-ha.
Everything might be wrong with American civilization, but at least
it made a lovely target for his blunderbuss.  "If you find so much
that is unworthy of reverence in the United States, then why do you
live here?" he asked himself in the Fifth Series of his Prejudices,
only to answer, "Why do men go to zoos?"  Nobody had such a good
time in the American zoo as Mencken; he even got a good laugh out
of the Tennessee anthropoids.

Not so, however, with most of his confrres in the camp of the
intellectuals.  The word disillusionment has been frequently
employed in this history, for in a sense disillusionment (except
about business and the physical luxuries and improvements which
business would bring) was the keynote of the nineteen-twenties.
With the majority of Americans its workings were perhaps
unconscious; they felt a queer disappointment after the war, they
felt that life was not giving them all they had hoped it would,
they knew that some of the values which had once meant much to them
were melting away, but they remained cheerful and full of gusto,
quite unaware of the change which was taking place beneath the
surface of their own minds.  Most of the intellectuals, however,
in America as elsewhere, knew all too well that they were
disillusioned.  Few of them, unfortunately, had grown up with as
low expectations for humanity as Mencken.  You cannot fully enjoy a
zoo if you have been led to think of it as the home of an
enlightened citizenry.

The intellectuals believed in a greater degree of sex freedom--and
many of them found it disappointing when they got it, either in
person or vicariously through books and plays.  They were
discovering that the transmutation of love into what Krutch called
a "carefully catalogued psychosis" had robbed the loveliest
passages of life of their poetry and their meaning.  "Emotions," as
Krutch said, "cannot be dignified unless they are first respected,"
and love was becoming too easy and too biological to be an object
of respect.  Elmer Davis referred in one of his essays to the
heroine of a post-war novel who "indulged in 259 amours, if I
remember correctly, without getting the emotional wallop out of any
of them, or out of all of them together, that the lady of Victorian
literature would have derived from a single competently conducted
seduction."  This busy heroine had many a literary counterpart and
doubtless some in real life; and if one thing became clear to them,
it was that romance cannot be put into quantity production, that
the moment love becomes casual, it becomes commonplace as well.
Even their less promiscuous contemporaries felt something of the
sense of futility which came when romantic love was marked down.

As enemies of standardization and repression, the intellectuals
believed in freedom--but freedom for what?  Uncomfortable as it was
to be harassed by prohibition agents and dictated to by chambers of
commerce, it was hardly less comfortable in the long run to have
their freedom and not know what to do with it.  In all the nineteen-
twenties there was no more dismal sight than that described by
Richmond Barrett in an article in Harper's entitled "Babes in the
Bois"--the sight of young Americans dashing to Paris to be free to
do what Buffalo or Iowa City would not permit, and after being
excessively rude to everybody they met and tasting a few short and
tasteless love-affairs and soaking themselves in gin, finally
passing out undecoratively under a table in the Caf du Dme.  Mr.
Barrett, to be sure, was portraying merely the lunatic fringe of
the younger generation of intellectuals; but who during the
nineteen-twenties did not recognize the type characterized in the
title of one of Scott Fitzgerald's books as "All the Sad Young
Men"?  Wrote Walter Lippmann, "What most distinguishes the
generation who have approached maturity since the dbcle of
idealism at the end of the war is not their rebellion against the
religion and the moral code of their parents, but their
disillusionment with their own rebellion.  It is common for young
men and women to rebel, but that they should rebel sadly and
without faith in their rebellion, and that they should distrust the
new freedom no less than the old certainties--that is something of
a novelty."  It may be added that there were older and wiser heads
than these who, in quite different ways, felt the unanswerability
of the question, After freedom, what next?

They believed also, these intellectuals, in scientific truth and
the scientific method--and science not only took their God away
from them entirely, or reduced Him to a principle of order in the
universe or a figment of the mind conjured up to meet a
psychological need, but also reduced man, as Krutch pointed out in
The Modern Temper, to a creature for whose ideas of right and wrong
there was no transcendental authority.  No longer was it possible
to say with any positiveness, This is right, or, This is wrong; an
act which was considered right in Wisconsin might be (according to
the ethnologists) considered wrong in Borneo, and even in Wisconsin
its merits seemed to be a matter of highly fallible human opinion.
The certainty had departed from life.  And what was worse still, it
had departed from science itself.  In earlier days those who denied
the divine order had still been able to rely on a secure order of
nature, but now even this was wabbling.  Einstein and the quantum
theory introduced new uncertainties and new doubts.  Nothing, then,
was sure; the purpose of life was undiscoverable, the ends of life
were less discoverable still; in all this fog there was no solid
thing on which a man could lay hold and say, This is real; this
will abide.


Yet in all this uncertainty there was new promise for the
intellectual life of the country.  With the collapse of fixed
values went a collapse of the old water-tight critical standards in
the arts, opening the way for fresh and independent work to win
recognition.  Better still, the idea was gaining ground that this
fresh and independent work might as well be genuinely native, that
the time had come when the most powerful nation in the world might
rid itself of its cultural subjection to Europe.

It was still hard to persuade the cognoscenti that first-class
painting or music might come out of America.  Rejecting scornfully
the pretty confections of the Academicians, art collectors went in
so wholeheartedly for the work of the French moderns and their
imitators that the United States became almost--from the artistic
point of view--a French colony.  American orchestras remained under
the domination of foreign conductors, played foreign compositions
almost exclusively, and gave scant opportunity to the native
composer.  Even in art and music, however, there were signs of
change.  Artists were beginning to open their eyes to the pictorial
possibilities of the skyscraper and the machine, and collectors
waited only for George Bellows to die to bid up his rugged oils and
lithographs of the American prize-ring.  Music-lovers recognized at
last the glory of the Negro spirituals, dabbled with the idea that
George Gershwin might bridge the gap between popular jazz and vital
music, permitted singers with such un-European names as Marion
Talley and Lawrence Tibbett to become stars at the Metropolitan,
and listened approvingly to an American opera (without, to be sure,
an American subject) composed by Deems Taylor.

In architecture there was a somewhat more eager welcome for the
indigenous product.  Though the usual American country house was
still a Georgian manor-house or a French farmhouse or a Spanish
villa fitted out with bathrooms and a two-car garage, but trying to
recapture, even in Lake Forest, what the real-estate agents called
"Old World charm"; though the American bank was still a classical
temple and there were still architects who tried to force the life
of a modern American university into a medieval Gothic frame;
nevertheless there was an increasing agreement with Lewis Mumford
that new materials and new uses for them called for new treatment
without benefit of the Beaux Arts.  The Chicago Tribune's
competition early in the decade, and particularly the startling
design by Saarinen which won second prize, suggested new
possibilities for the skyscraper--possibilities at which Louis
Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright and Cass Gilbert's Woolworth
Building had already hinted.  The skyscraper was peculiarly
American--why not solve this problem of steel construction in a
novel and American way?  Gradually an American architecture began
to evolve.  Goodhue's Public Library in Los Angeles, his Nebraska
State Capitol, Arthur Loomis Harmon's Shelton Hotel in New York,
the Barclay-Vesey Telephone Building (by McKenzie, Voorhees &
Gmelin and Ralph Thomas Loamas), and other fine achievements at
least paved the way for something which might be the logical and
beautiful expression of an American need.

Finally, in literature the foreign yoke was almost completely
thrown off.  Even if the intellectuals bought more foreign books
than ever before and migrated by the thousands to Montparnasse and
Antibes, they expected to write and to appreciate American
literature.  Their writing and their appreciation were both
stimulated by Mencken's strenuous praise of uncompromisingly native
work, by the establishment of good critical journals (such as the
Saturday Review of Literature), and by researches into the American
background which disclosed such native literary material as the
Paul Bunyan legends and the cowboy ballads and such potential
material as the desperadoes of the frontier and the show-boats of
the rivers.  There was a new ferment working, and at last there was
an audience quite unconvinced that American literature must be
forever inferior or imitative.  Certainly a decade which produced
Sinclair Lewis's Arrowsmith, Dreiser's An American Tragedy,
Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms, Willa Cather's novels, Benet's John
Brown's Body, some of the plays of Eugene O'Neill, and such short
stories as Ring Lardner's "Golden Honeymoon"--to make invidious
mention of only a few performances--could lay claim to something
better than mere promise for the future.


Gradually the offensive against Babbittry spent itself, if only
because the novelty of rebellion wore off.  The circulation of the
Mercury (and with it, perhaps, the influence of its editor) reached
its peak in 1927 and thereafter slowly declined.  The New Yorker
forgot the old lady from Dubuque and developed a casual and
altogether charming humor with malice toward none; the other
magazines consumed by the urban intelligentsia tired somewhat of
viewing the American scene with alarm.  Sex fiction began to seem a
little less adventurous and the debunking fad ran its course.  And
similarly there began to be signs, here and there, that the mental
depression of the intellectuals might have seen its worst days.

In 1929--the very year which produced Krutch's The Modern Temper, a
dismally complete statement of the philosophical disillusionment of
the times--Walter Lippmann tried to lay the foundations for a new
system of belief and of ethics which might satisfy even the
disillusioned.  The success of A Preface to Morals suggested that
many people were tired of tobogganing into mental chaos.  That same
year there was a great hue and cry among the highbrows over
humanism.  The humanist fad was not without its comic aspect, since
very few of those who diligently talked about it were clear as to
which of three or four varieties of humanism they had in mind, and
such cloistered beings as Paul Elmer More and Irving Babbitt were
hardly the leaders to rally a popular movement of any dimensions;
but it gave further evidence of a disposition among the doubters to
dig in and face confusion along a new line of defense.  There was
also a widespread effort to find in the scientific philosophizing
of Whitehead and Eddington and Jeans some basis for a belief that
life might be worth living, after all.  Perhaps the values which
had been swept away during the post-war years had departed never to
return, but at least there was a groping for new ones to take their

If there was, it came none too soon.  For to many men and women the
new day so sonorously heralded by the optimists and propagandists
of war-time had turned into night before it ever arrived, and in
the uncertain blackness they did not know which way to turn.  They
could revolt against stupidity and mediocrity, they could derive a
meager pleasure from regarding themselves with pity as members of a
lost generation, but they could not find peace.



If in the year 1919--when the Peace Treaty still hung in the
balance, and Woodrow Wilson was chanting the praises of the League,
and the Bolshevist bogey stalked across the land, and fathers and
mothers were only beginning to worry about the younger generation--
you had informed the average American citizen that prohibition was
destined to furnish the most violently explosive public issue of
the nineteen-twenties, he would probably have told you that you
were crazy.  If you had been able to sketch for him a picture of
conditions as they were actually to be--rum-ships rolling in the
sea outside the twelve-mile limit and transferring their cargoes of
whisky by night to fast cabin cruisers, beer-running trucks being
hijacked on the interurban boulevards by bandits with Thompson sub-
machine guns, illicit stills turning out alcohol by the carload,
the fashionable dinner party beginning with contraband cocktails as
a matter of course, ladies and gentlemen undergoing scrutiny from
behind the curtained grill of the speakeasy, and Alphonse Capone,
multi-millionaire master of the Chicago bootleggers, driving
through the streets in an armor-plated car with bullet-proof
windows--the innocent citizen's jaw would have dropped.  The
Eighteenth Amendment had been ratified, to go into effect on
January 16, 1920; and the Eighteenth Amendment, he had been assured
and he firmly believed, had settled the prohibition issue.  You
might like it or not, but the country was going dry.

Nothing in recent American history is more extraordinary, as one
looks back from the nineteen-thirties, than the ease with which--
after generations of uphill fighting by the drys--prohibition was
finally written upon the statute-books.  The country accepted it
not only willingly, but almost absent-mindedly.  When the
Eighteenth Amendment came before the Senate in 1917, it was passed
by a one-sided vote after only thirteen hours of debate, part of
which was conducted under the ten-minute rule.  When the House of
Representatives accepted it a few months later, the debate upon the
Amendment as a whole occupied only a single day.  The state
legislatures ratified it in short order; by January, 1919, some two
months after the Armistice, the necessary three-quarters of the
states had fallen into line and the Amendment was a part of the
Constitution.  (All the rest of the states but two subsequently
added their ratifications--only Connecticut and Rhode Island
remained outside the pale.)  The Volstead Act for the enforcement
of the Amendment, drafted after a pattern laid down by the Anti-
Saloon League, slipped through with even greater ease and dispatch.
Woodrow Wilson momentarily surprised the country by vetoing it, but
it was promptly repassed over his veto.  There were scattered
protests--a mass-meeting in New York, a parade in Baltimore, a
resolution passed by the American Federation of Labor demanding
modification in order that the workman might not be deprived of his
beer, a noisy demonstration before the Capitol in Washington--but
so half-hearted and ineffective were the forces of the opposition
and so completely did the country as a whole take for granted the
inevitability of a dry rgime, that few of the arguments in the
press or about the dinner table raised the question whether the law
would or would not prove enforceable; the burning question was what
a really dry country would be like, what effect enforced national
sobriety would have upon industry, the social order, and the next

How did it happen?  Why this overwhelming, this almost casual
acceptance of a measure of such huge importance?

As Charles Merz has clearly shown in his excellent history of the
first ten years of the prohibition experiment, the forces behind
the Amendment were closely organized; the forces opposed to the
Amendment were hardly organized at all.  Until the United States
entered the war, the prospect of national prohibition had seemed
remote, and it is always hard to mobilize an unimaginative public
against a vague threat.  Furthermore, the wet leadership was
discredited; for it was furnished by the dispensers of liquor,
whose reputation had been unsavory and who had obstinately refused
to clean house even in the face of a growing agitation for

The entrance of the United States into the war gave the dry leaders
their great opportunity.  The war diverted the attention of those
who might have objected to the bone-dry program: with the very
existence of the nation at stake, the future status of alcohol
seemed a trifling matter.  The war accustomed the country to
drastic legislation conferring new and wide powers upon the Federal
Government.  It necessitated the saving of food and thus commended
prohibition to the patriotic as a grain-saving measure.  It turned
public opinion against everything German--and many of the big
brewers and distillers were of German origin.  The war also brought
with it a mood of Spartan idealism of which the Eighteenth
Amendment was a natural expression.  Everything was sacrificed to
efficiency, production, and health.  If a sober soldier was a good
soldier and a sober factory hand was a productive factory hand, the
argument for prohibition was for the moment unanswerable.
Meanwhile the American people were seeing Utopian visions; if it
seemed possible to them that the war should end all wars and that
victory should bring a new and shining world order, how much easier
to imagine that America might enter an endless era of efficient
sobriety!  And finally, the war made them impatient for immediate
results.  In 1917 and 1918, whatever was worth doing at all was
worth doing at once, regardless of red tape, counter-arguments,
comfort, or convenience.  The combination of these various forces
was irresistible.  Fervently and with headlong haste the nation
took the shortcut to a dry Utopia.

Almost nobody, even after the war had ended, seemed to have any
idea that the Amendment would be really difficult to enforce.
Certainly the first Prohibition Commissioner, John F. Kramer,
displayed no doubts.  "This law," he declared in a burst of
somewhat Scriptural rhetoric, "will be obeyed in cities, large and
small, and in villages, and where it is not obeyed it will be
enforced. . . .  The law says that liquor to be used as a beverage
must not be manufactured.  We shall see that it is not manufactured.
Nor sold, nor given away, nor hauled in anything on the surface of
the earth or under the earth or in the air."  The Anti-Saloon League
estimated that an appropriation by Congress of five million dollars
a year would be ample to secure compliance with the law (including,
presumably, the prevention of liquor-hauling "under the earth").
Congress voted not much more than that, heaved a long sigh of relief
at having finally disposed of an inconvenient and vexatious issue,
and turned to other matters of more pressing importance.  The
morning of January 16, 1920, arrived and the era of promised aridity
began.  Only gradually did the dry leaders, or Congress, or the
public at large begin to perceive that the problem with which they
had so light-heartedly grappled was a problem of gigantic


Obviously the surest method of enforcement was to shut off the
supply of liquor at its source.  But consider what this meant.

The coast lines and land borders of the United States offered an
18,700-mile invitation to smugglers.  Thousands of druggists were
permitted to sell alcohol on doctors' prescriptions, and this sale
could not be controlled without close and constant inspection.
Near-beer was still within the law, and the only way to manufacture
near-beer was to brew real beer and then remove the alcohol from it--
and it was excessively easy to fail to remove it from the entire
product.  The manufacture of industrial alcohol opened up inviting
opportunities for diversion which could be prevented only by
watchful and intelligent inspection--and after the alcohol left the
plant where it was produced, there was no possible way of following
it down the line from purchaser to purchaser and making sure that
the ingredients which had been thoughtfully added at the behest of
the Government to make it undrinkable were not extracted by
ingenious chemists.  Illicit distilling could be undertaken almost
anywhere, even in the householder's own cellar; a commercial still
could be set up for five hundred dollars which would produce fifty
or a hundred highly remunerative gallons a day, and a one-gallon
portable still could be bought for only six or seven dollars.

To meet all these potential threats against the Volstead Act, the
Government appropriations provided a force of prohibition agents
which in 1920 numbered only 1,520 men and as late as 1930 numbered
only 2,836; even with the sometimes unenthusiastic aid of the Coast
Guard and the Customs Service and the Immigration Service, the
force was meager.  Mr. Merz puts it graphically: if the whole army
of agents in 1920 had been mustered along the coasts and borders--
paying no attention for the moment to medicinal alcohol, breweries,
industrial alcohol, or illicit stills--there would have been one
man to patrol every twelve miles of beach, harbor, headland,
forest, and river-front.  The agents' salaries in 1920 mostly
ranged between $1,200 and $2,000; by 1930 they had been
munificently raised to range between $2,300 and $2,800.  Anybody
who believed that men employable at thirty-five or forty or fifty
dollars a week would surely have the expert technical knowledge and
the diligence to supervise successfully the complicated chemical
operations of industrial-alcohol plants or to outwit the craftiest
devices of smugglers and bootleggers, and that they would surely
have the force of character to resist corruption by men whose
pockets were bulging with money, would be ready to believe also in
Santa Claus, perpetual motion, and pixies.

Yet even this body of prohibition agents, small and underpaid as it
was in view of the size and complexity of its task and the terrific
pressure of temptation, might conceivably have choked off the
supply of alcohol if it had had the concerted backing of public
opinion.  But public opinion was changing.  The war was over; by
1920 normalcy was on the way.  The dry cause confronted the same
emotional let-down which defeated Woodrow Wilson and hastened the
Revolution in Manners and Morals.  Spartan idealism was collapsing.
People were tired of girding up their loins to serve noble causes.
They were tired of making the United States a land fit for heroes
to live in.  They wanted to relax and be themselves.  The change of
feeling toward prohibition was bewilderingly rapid.  Within a few
short months it was apparent that the Volstead Act was being
smashed right and left and that the formerly inconsiderable body of
wet opinion was growing to sizable proportions.  The law was on the
statute-books, the Prohibition Bureau was busily plying its broom
against the tide of alcohol, and the corner saloon had become a
memory; but the liquorless millennium had nevertheless been
indefinitely postponed.


The events of the next few years present one of those paradoxes
which fascinate the observer of democratic government.  Obviously
there were large sections of the country in which prohibition was
not prohibiting.  A rational observer would have supposed that the
obvious way out of this situation would be either to double or
treble or quadruple the enforcement squad or to change the law.
But nothing of the sort was done.  The dry leaders, being unwilling
to admit that the task of mopping up the United States was bigger
than they had expected, did not storm the Capitol to recommend huge
increases in the appropriations for enforcement; it was easier to
denounce the opponents of the law as Bolshevists and destroyers of
civilization and to hope that the tide of opinion would turn again.
Congress was equally unwilling to face the music; there was a
comfortable dry majority in both Houses, but it was one thing to be
a dry and quite another to insist on enforcement at whatever cost
and whatever inconvenience to some of one's influential
constituents.  The Executive was as wary of the prohibition issue
as of a large stick of dynamite; the contribution of Presidents
Harding and Coolidge to the problem--aside from negotiating
treaties which increased the three-mile limit to twelve miles, and
trying to improve the efficiency of enforcement without calling for
too much money from Congress--consisted chiefly of uttering
resounding platitudes on the virtues of law observance.  The state
governments were supposed to help the Prohibition Bureau, but by
1927 their financial contribution to the cause was about one-eighth
of the sum they spent enforcing their own fish and game laws.  Some
legislatures withdrew their aid entirely, and even the driest
states were inclined to let Uncle Sam bear the brunt of the
Volstead job.  Local governments were supposed to war against the
speakeasy, but did it with scant relish except where local opinion
was insistent.  Nor could the wets, for their part, agree upon any
practical program.  It seemed almost hopeless to try to repeal or
modify the Amendment, and for the time being they contented
themselves chiefly with loud and indignant lamentation.  The law
was not working as it had been intended to, but nobody seemed
willing or able to do anything positive about it one way or the

Rum-ships plied from Bimini or Belize or St. Pierre, entering
American ports under innocent disguises or transferring their
cargoes to fast motor-boats which could land in any protected cove.
Launches sped across the river at Detroit with good Canadian whisky
aboard.  Freighters brought in cases of contraband gin mixed among
cases of other perfectly legal and properly labeled commodities.
Liquor was hidden in freight-cars crossing the Canadian border;
whole carfuls of whisky were sometimes smuggled in by judicious
manipulation of seals.  These diverse forms of smuggling were
conducted with such success that in 1925 General Lincoln C.
Andrews, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in charge of
enforcement, hazarded the statement that his agents succeeded in
intercepting only about 5 per cent of the liquor smuggled into the
country; and the value of the liquor which filtered in during the
single year 1924 was estimated by the Department of Commerce at
$40,000,000!  Beer leaked profusely from the breweries; alley
breweries unknown to the dry agents flourished and coined money.
The amount of industrial alcohol illegally diverted was variously
estimated in the middle years of the decade at from thirteen to
fifteen million gallons a year; and even in 1930, after the
Government had improved its technique of dealing with this
particular source of supply (by careful control of the permit
system and otherwise), the Director of Prohibition admitted that
the annual diversion still amounted to nine million gallons, and
other estimates ran as high as fifteen million.  (Bear in mind that
one gallon of diverted alcohol, watered down and flavored, was
enough to furnish three gallons of bogus liquor, bottled with
lovely Scotch labels and described by the bootlegger at the leading
citizen's door as "just off the boat.")

As for illicit distilling, as time went on this proved the most
copious of all sources of supply.  At the end of the decade it
furnished, on the testimony of Doctor Doran of the prohibition
staff, perhaps seven or eight times as much alcohol as even the
process of diversion.  If anything was needed to suggest how
ubiquitous was the illicit still in America, the figures for the
production of corn sugar provided it.  Between 1919 and 1929 the
output of this commodity increased SIXFOLD, despite the fact that,
as the Wickersham Report put it, the legitimate uses of corn sugar
"are few and not easy to ascertain."  Undoubtedly corn whisky was
chiefly responsible for the vast increase.

This overwhelming flood of outlaw liquor introduced into the
American scene a series of picturesque if unedifying phenomena: hip
flasks uptilted above faces both masculine and feminine at the big
football games; the speakeasy, equipped with a regular old-
fashioned bar, serving cocktails made of gin turned out, perhaps,
by a gang of Sicilian alky-cookers (seventy-five cents for patrons,
free to the police); well-born damsels with one foot on the brass
rail, tossing off Martinis; the keg of grape juice simmering
hopefully in the young couple's bedroom closet, subject to
periodical inspection by a young man sent from a "service station";
the business executive departing for the trade convention with two
bottles of gin in his bag; the sales manager serving lavish drinks
to the visiting buyer as in former days he had handed out lavish
boxes of cigars; the hotel bellhop running to Room 417 with another
order of ginger ale and cracked ice, provided by the management on
the ironical understanding that they were "not to be mixed with
spirituous liquors"; federal attorneys padlocking nightclubs and
speakeasies, only to find them opening shortly at another address
under a different name; Izzy Einstein and Moe Smith, prohibition
agents extraordinary, putting on a series of comic-opera disguises
to effect miraculous captures of bootleggers; General Smedley
Butler of the Marines advancing in military formation upon the rum-
sellers of Philadelphia, and retiring in disorder after a few
strenuous months with the admission that politics made it
impossible to dry up the city; the Government putting wood alcohol
and other poisons into industrial alcohol to prevent its diversion,
and the wets thereupon charging the Government with murder;
Government agents, infuriated by their failure to prevent liquor-
running by polite methods, finally shooting to kill--and sometimes
picking off an innocent by-stander; the good ship I'm Alone, of
Canadian registry, being pursued by a revenue boat for two and a
half days and sunk at a distance of 215 miles from the American
coast, to the official dismay of the Canadian Government; the
federal courts jammed with prohibition cases, jurymen in wet
districts refusing to pronounce bootleggers guilty, and the coin of
corruption sifting through the hands of all manner of public

Whatever the contribution of the prohibition rgime to temperance,
at least it produced intemperate propaganda and counter-propaganda.
Almost any dry could tell you that prohibition was the basis of
American prosperity, as attested by the mounting volume of savings-
banks deposits and by what some big manufacturer had said about the
men returning to work on Monday morning with clear eyes and steady
hands.  Or that prohibition had reduced the deaths from alcoholism,
emptied the jails, and diverted the workman's dollar to the
purchase of automobiles, radios, and homes.  Almost any wet could
tell you that prohibition had nothing to do with prosperity but had
caused the crime wave, the increase of immorality and of the
divorce rate, and a disrespect for all law which imperiled the very
foundations of free government.  The wets said the drys fostered
Bolshevism by their fanatical zeal for laws which were inevitably
flouted; the drys said the wets fostered Bolshevism by their
cynical lawbreaking.  Even in matters of supposed fact you could
find, if you only read and listened, any sort of ammunition that
you wanted.  One never saw drunkards on the streets any more; one
saw more drunkards than ever.  Drinking in the colleges was hardly
a problem now; drinking in the colleges was at its worst.  There
was a still in every other home in the mining districts of
Pennsylvania; drinking in the mining districts of Pennsylvania was
a thing of the past.  Cases of poverty as a result of drunkenness
were only a fraction of what they used to be; the menace of drink
in the slums was three times as great as in pre-Volstead days.
Bishop A and Doctor B and Governor C were much encouraged by the
situation; Bishop X and Doctor Y and Governor Z were appalled by
it.  And so the battle raged, endlessly and loudly, back and forth.

The mass of statistics dragged to light by professional drys and
professional wets and hurled at the public need not detain us here.
Many of them were grossly unreliable, and the use of most of them
would have furnished an instructor in logic with perfect specimens
of the post hoc fallacy.  It is perhaps enough to point out a
single anomaly--that with the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead
Act in force, there should actually have been constant and
vociferous argument throughout the nineteen-twenties over the
question whether there was more drinking or less in the United
States than before the war.  Presumably there was a good deal less
except among the prosperous; but the fact that it was not
transparently obvious that there was less, showed how signal was
the failure of the law to accomplish what almost everyone in 1919
had supposed it would accomplish.


By 1928 the argument over prohibition had reached such intensity
that it could no longer be kept out of presidential politics.
Governor Smith of New York was accepted as the Democratic nominee
despite his unterrified wetness, and campaigned lustily for two
modifications: first, an amendment to the Volstead law giving a
"scientific definition of the alcoholic content of an intoxicating
beverage" (a rather large order for science), each state being
allowed to fix its own standard if this did not exceed the standard
fixed by Congress; and second, "an amendment in the Eighteenth
Amendment which would give to each individual state itself, only
after approval by a referendum popular vote of its people, the
right wholly within its borders to import, manufacture, or cause to
be manufactured and sell alcoholic beverages, the sale to be made
only by the state itself and not for consumption in any public
place."  The Republican candidate, in reply, stepped somewhat
definitely off the fence on the dry side.  Herbert Hoover's dry
declaration, to be sure, left much unsaid; he called prohibition "a
great social and economic experiment, noble in motive and far-
reaching in purpose," but he did not claim nobility for its
results.  The omission, however, was hardly noticed by an
electorate which regarded endorsement of motives as virtually
equivalent to endorsement of performance.  Hoover was considered a

The Republican candidate was elected in a landslide, and the drys
took cheer.  Despite the somewhat equivocal results of various
state referenda and straw ballots, they had always claimed that
they had a substantial majority in the country as well as in
Congress; now they were sure of it.  Still the result of the
election left room for haunting doubts.  Who could tell whether the
happy warrior from the East Side had been defeated because he was a
wet, or because he was a Roman Catholic, or because he was
considered a threat to the indefinite continuance of the delights
of Coolidge Prosperity, or because he was a Democrat?

But Herbert Hoover had done more than endorse the motives of the
prohibitionists.  He had promised a study of the enforcement
problem by a governmental commission.  Two and a half months after
his arrival at the White House, the commission, consisting of
eleven members under the chairmanship of George W. Wickersham of
New York, was appointed and immersed itself in its prodigious task.

By the time the Wickersham Commission emerged from the sea of fact
and theory and contention in which it had been delving, and handed
its report to the President, the Post-war Decade was dead and done
with.  Not until January, 1931, nineteen months after his
appointment, did Mr. Wickersham lay the bulky findings of the
eleven investigators upon the presidential desk.  Yet the report
calls for mention here, if only because it represented the findings
of a group of intelligent and presumably impartial people with
regard to one of the critical problems of the nineteen-twenties.

It was a paradoxical document.  In the first place, the complete
text revealed very clearly the sorry inability of the enforcement
staff to dry up the country.  In the second place, each of the
eleven commissioners submitted a personal report giving his
individual views, and only five of the eleven--a minority--favored
further trial for the prohibition experiment without substantial
change; four of them favored modification of the Amendment, and two
were for outright repeal.  But the commission AS A WHOLE cast its
vote for further trial, contenting itself with suggesting a method
of modification if time proved that the experiment was a failure.
The confusing effect of the report was neatly satirized in
Flaccus's summary of it in F. P. A.'s column in the New York World:

     Prohibition is an awful flop.
                 We like it.
     It can't stop what it's meant to stop.
                 We like it.
     It's left a trail of graft and slime,
     It's filled our land with vice and crime,
     It don't prohibit worth a dime,
                 Nevertheless we're for it.

Yet if the Wickersham report was confusing, this was highly
appropriate; for so also was the situation with which it dealt.
Although it seemed reasonably clear to an impartial observer that
the country had chosen the wrong road in 1917-20, legislating with
a sublime disregard for elementary chemistry--which might have
taught it how easily alcohol may be manufactured--and for
elementary psychology--which might have suggested that common human
impulses are not easily suppressed by fiat--it was nevertheless
very far from clear how the country could best extricate itself
from the morass into which it had so blithely plunged.  How
could people who had become gin-drinkers be expected to
content themselves with light wines and beers, as some of the
modificationists suggested?  How could any less drastic system of
governmental regulation or governmental sale of liquor operate
without continued transgression and corruption, now that a large
element had learned how to live with impunity on the fruits of
lawbreaking?  To what sinister occupations might not the
bootlegging gentry turn if outright repeal took their accustomed
means of livelihood away from them?  How could any new national
policy toward alcohol be successfully put into effect when there
was still violent disagreement, even among those who wanted the law
changed, as to whether alcohol should be regarded as a curse, as a
blessing to be used in moderation, or as a matter of personal
rather than public concern?  Even if a clear majority of the
American people were able to decide to their own satisfaction what
was the best way out of the morass, what chance was there of
putting through their program when thirteen dry states could block
any change in the Amendment?  No problem which had ever faced the
United States had seemed more nearly insoluble.


In 1920, when prohibition was very young, Johnny Torrio of Chicago
had an inspiration.  Torrio was a formidable figure in the Chicago
underworld.  He had discovered that there was big money in the
newly outlawed liquor business.  He was fired with the hope of
getting control of the dispensation of booze to the whole city of
Chicago.  At the moment there was a great deal too much
competition; but possibly a well-disciplined gang of men handy with
their fists and their guns could take care of that, by intimidating
rival bootleggers and persuading speakeasy proprietors that life
might not be wholly comfortable for them unless they bought Torrio
liquor.  What Torrio needed was a lieutenant who could mobilize and
lead his shock troops.

Being a graduate of the notorious Five Points gang in New York and
a disciple of such genial fellows as Lefty Louie and Gyp the Blood
(he himself had been questioned about the murder of Herman
Rosenthal in the famous Becker case in 1912), he naturally turned
to his alma mater for his man.  He picked for the job a bullet-
headed twenty-three-year-old Neapolitan roughneck of the Five
Points gang, and offered him a generous income and half the profits
of the bootleg trade if he would come to Chicago and take care of
the competition.  The young hoodlum came, established himself at
Torrio's gambling-place, the Four Deuces, opened by way of
plausible stage setting an innocent-looking office which contained
among its properties a family Bible, and had a set of business
cards printed:

                          ALPHONSE CAPONE
   Second Hand Furniture Dealer     2220 South Wabash Avenue

Torrio had guessed right--in fact, he had guessed right three
times.  The profits of bootlegging in Chicago proved to be
prodigious, allowing an ample margin for the mollification of the
forces of the law.  The competition proved to be exacting: every
now and then Torrio would discover that his rivals had approached a
speakeasy proprietor with the suggestion that he buy their beer
instead of the Torrio-Capone brand, and on receipt of an
unfavorable answer had beaten the proprietor senseless and smashed
up his place of business.  But Al Capone had been an excellent
choice as leader of the Torrio offensives; Capone was learning how
to deal with such emergencies.

Within three years it was said that the boy from the Five Points
had seven hundred men at his disposal, many of them adept in the
use of the sawed-off shotgun and the Thompson sub-machine gun.  As
the profits from beer and "alky-cooking" (illicit distilling)
rolled in, young Capone acquired more finesse--particularly finesse
in the management of politics and politicians.  By the middle of
the decade he had gained complete control of the suburb of Cicero,
had installed his own mayor in office, had posted his agents in the
wide-open gambling-resorts and in each of the 161 bars, and had
established his personal headquarters in the Hawthorne Hotel.  He
was taking in millions now.  Torrio was fading into the background;
Capone was becoming the Big Shot.  But his conquest of power did
not come without bloodshed.  As the rival gangs--the O'Banions, the
Gennas, the Aiellos--disputed his growing domination, Chicago was
afflicted with such an epidemic of killings as no civilized modern
city had ever before seen, and a new technique of wholesale murder
was developed.

One of the standard methods of disposing of a rival in this warfare
of the gangs was to pursue his car with a stolen automobile full of
men armed with sawed-off shotguns and sub-machine guns; to draw up
beside it, forcing it to the curb, open fire upon it--and then
disappear into the traffic, later abandoning the stolen car at a
safe distance.  Another favorite method was to take the victim "for
a ride": in other words, to lure him into a supposedly friendly
car, shoot him at leisure, drive to some distant and deserted part
of the city, and quietly throw his body overboard.  Still another
was to lease an apartment or a room overlooking his front door,
station a couple of hired assassins at the window, and as the
victim emerged from the house some sunny afternoon, to spray him
with a few dozen machine-gun bullets from behind drawn curtains.
But there were also more ingenious and refined methods of

Take, for example, the killing of Dion O'Banion, leader of the gang
which for a time most seriously menaced Capone's reign in Chicago.
The preparation of this particular murder was reminiscent of the
kiss of Judas.  O'Banion was a bootlegger and a gangster by night,
but a florist by day: a strange and complex character, a
connoisseur of orchids and of manslaughter.  One morning a sedan
drew up outside his flower shop and three men got out, leaving the
fourth at the wheel.  The three men had apparently taken good care
to win O'Banion's trust, for although he always carried three guns,
now for the moment he was off his guard as he advanced among the
flowers to meet his visitors.  The middle man of the three
cordially shook hands with O'Banion--AND THEN HELD ON while his two
companions put six bullets into the gangster-florist.  The three
conspirators walked out, climbed into the sedan, and departed.
They were never brought to justice, and it is not recorded that any
of them hung themselves to trees in remorse.  O'Banion had a first-
class funeral, gangster style: a ten-thousand-dollar casket, twenty-
six truck-loads of flowers, and among them a basket of flowers
which bore the touching inscription, "From Al."

In 1926 the O'Banions, still unrepentant despite the loss of their
leader, introduced another novelty in gang warfare.  In broad
daylight, while the streets of Cicero were alive with traffic, they
raked Al Capone's headquarters with machine-gun fire from eight
touring cars.  The cars proceeded down the crowded street outside
the Hawthorne Hotel in solemn line, the first one firing blank
cartridges to disperse the innocent citizenry and to draw the
Capone forces to the doors and windows, while from the succeeding
cars, which followed a block behind, flowed a steady rattle of
bullets, spraying the hotel and the adjoining buildings up and
down.  One gunman even got out of his car, knelt carefully upon the
sidewalk at the door of the Hawthorne, and played one hundred
bullets into the lobby--back and forth, as one might play the hose
upon one's garden.  The casualties were miraculously light, and
Scarface Al himself remained in safety, flat on the floor of the
Hotel Hawthorne restaurant; nevertheless, the bombardment quite
naturally attracted public attention.  Even in a day when bullion
was transported in armored cars, the transformation of a suburban
street into a shooting-gallery seemed a little unorthodox.

The war continued, one gangster after another crumpling under a
rain of bullets; not until St. Valentine's Day of 1929 did it reach
its climax in a massacre which outdid all that had preceded it in
ingenuity and brutality.  At half-past ten on the morning of
February 14, 1929, seven of the O'Banions were sitting in the
garage which went by the name of the S. M. C. Cartage Company, on
North Clark Street, waiting for a promised consignment of hijacked
liquor.  A Cadillac touring-car slid to the curb, and three men
dressed as policemen got out, followed by two others in civilian
dress.  The three supposed policemen entered the garage alone,
disarmed the seven O'Banions, and told them to stand in a row
against the wall.  The victims readily submitted; they were used to
police raids and thought nothing of them; they would get off easily
enough, they expected.  But thereupon the two men in civilian
clothes emerged from the corridor and calmly mowed down all seven
O'Banions with sub-machine gun fire as they stood with hands
upraised against the wall.  The little drama was completed when the
three supposed policemen solemnly marched the two plain-clothes
killers across the sidewalk to the waiting car, and all five got in
and drove off--having given to those in the wintry street a perfect
tableau of an arrest satisfactorily made by the forces of the law!

These killings--together with that of "Jake" Lingle, who led a
double life as reporter for the Chicago Tribune and as associate of
gangsters, and who was shot to death in a crowded subway leading to
the Illinois Central suburban railway station in 1930--were perhaps
the most spectacular of the decade in Chicago.  But there were over
five hundred gang murders in all.  Few of the murderers were
apprehended; careful planning, money, influence, the intimidation
of witnesses, and the refusal of any gangster to testify against
any other, no matter how treacherous the murder, met that danger.
The city of Chicago was giving the whole country, and indeed the
whole world, an astonishing object lesson in violent and unpunished
crime.  How and why could such a thing happen?

To say that prohibition--or, if you prefer, the refusal of the
public to abide by prohibition--caused the rise of the gangs to
lawless power would be altogether too easy an explanation.  There
were other causes: the automobile, which made escape easy, as the
officers of robbed banks had discovered; the adaptation to peace-
time use of a new arsenal of handy and deadly weapons; the
murderous traditions of the Mafia, imported by Sicilian gangsters;
the inclination of a wet community to wink at the by-products of a
trade which provided them with beer and gin; the sheer size and
unwieldiness of the modern metropolitan community, which prevented
the focusing of public opinion upon any depredation which did not
immediately concern the average individual citizen; and, of course,
the easy-going political apathy of the times.  But the immediate
occasion of the rise of gangs was undoubtedly prohibition--or, to
be more precise, beer-running.  (Beer rather than whisky on account
of its bulk; to carry on a profitable trade in beer one must
transport it in trucks, and trucks are so difficult to disguise
that the traffic must be protected by bribery of the prohibition
staff and the police and by gunfire against bandits.)  There was
vast profit in the manufacture, transportation, and sale of beer.
In 1927, according to Fred D. Pasley, Al Capone's biographer,
federal agents estimated that the Capone gang controlled the
sources of a revenue from booze of something like sixty million
dollars a year, and much of this--perhaps most of it--came from
beer.  Fill a man's pockets with money, give him a chance at a huge
profit, put him into an illegal business and thus deny him recourse
to the law if he is attacked, and you have made it easy for him to
bribe and shoot.  There have always been gangs and gangsters in
American life and doubtless always will be; there has always been
corruption of city officials and doubtless always will be; yet it
is ironically true, none the less, that the outburst of corruption
and crime in Chicago in the nineteen-twenties was immediately
occasioned by the attempt to banish the temptations of liquor from
the American home.

The young thug from the Five Points, New York, had traveled fast
and far since 1920.  By the end of the decade he had become as
widely renowned as Charles Evans Hughes or Gene Tunney.  He had
become an American portent.  Not only did he largely control the
sale of liquor to Chicago's ten thousand speakeasies; he controlled
the sources of supply, it was said, as far as Canada and the
Florida coast.  He had amassed, and concealed, a fortune the extent
of which nobody knew; it was said by federal agents to amount to
twenty million.  He was arrested and imprisoned once in
Philadelphia for carrying a gun, but otherwise he seemed above the
law.  He rode about Chicago in an armored car, a traveling
fortress, with another car to patrol the way ahead and a third car
full of his armed henchmen following behind; he went to the theater
attended by a body-guard of eighteen young men in dinner coats,
with guns doubtless slung under their left armpits in approved
gangster fashion; when his sister was married, thousands milled
about the church in the snow, and he presented the bride with a
nine-foot wedding cake and a special honeymoon car; he had a fine
estate at Miami where he sometimes entertained seventy-five guests
at a time; and high politicians--and even, it has been said, judges--
took orders from him over the telephone from his headquarters in a
downtown Chicago hotel.  And still he was only thirty-two years
old.  What was Napoleon doing at thirty-two?

Meanwhile gang rule and gang violence were quickly penetrating
other American cities.  Toledo had felt them, and Detroit, and New
York, and many another.  Chicago was not alone.  Chicago had merely
led the way.


By the middle of the decade it was apparent that the gangs were
expanding their enterprises.  In Mr. Pasley's analysis of the gross
income of the Capone crew in 1927, as estimated by federal agents,
the item of $60,000,000 from beer and liquor, including alky-
cooking, and the items of $25,000,000 from gambling-establishments
and dog-tracks, and of $10,000,000 from vice, dance-halls,
roadhouses, and other resorts, were followed by this entry:
Rackets, $10,000,000.  The bootlegging underworld was venturing
into fresh fields and pastures new.

The word "racket," in the general sense of an occupation which
produces easy money, is of venerable age: it was employed over
fifty years ago in Tammany circles in New York.  But it was not
widely used in its present meaning until the middle nineteen-
twenties, and the derived term "racketeering" did not enter the
American vocabulary until the year when Sacco and Vanzetti were
executed and Lindbergh flew the Atlantic and Calvin Coolidge did
not choose to run--the year 1927.  The name was a product of the
Post-war Decade; and so was the activity to which it was attached.

Like the murderous activities of the bootlegging gangs,
racketeering grew out of a complex of causes.  One of these was
violent labor unionism.  Since the days of the Molly Maguires,
organized labor had now and again fought for its rights with brass
knuckles and bombs.  During the Big Red Scare the labor unions had
lost the backing of public opinion, and Coolidge Prosperity was
making things still more difficult for them by persuading thousands
of their members that a union card was not the only ticket to good
fortune.  More than one fighting labor leader thereupon turned once
more to dynamite in the effort to maintain his job and his power.
Gone was the ardent radicalism of 1919, the hope of a new
industrial order; the labor leader now found himself simply a man
who hoped to get his when others were getting theirs, a man tempted
to smash the scab's face or to blow the roof off the anti-union
factory to show that he meant business and could deliver the goods.
In many cases he turned for aid to the hired thug, the killer; he
protected himself from the law by bribery or at least by political
influence; he connived with businessmen who were ready to play his
game for their own protection or for profit.  These unholy
alliances were now the more easily achieved because the illicit
liquor trade was making the underworld rich and confident and quick
on the trigger and was accustoming many politicians and businessmen
to large-scale graft and conspiracy.  Gangsters and other crafty
fellows learned of the labor leader's tricks and went out to
organize rackets on their own account.  Thus by 1927 the city which
had nourished Al Capone was nourishing also a remarkable assortment
of these curious enterprises.

Some of them were labor unions perverted to criminal ends; some
were merely conspiracies for extortion masquerading as labor
unions; others were conspiracies masquerading as trade associations,
or were combinations of these different forms.  But the basic
principle was fairly uniform: the racket was a scheme for collecting
cash from businessmen to protect them from damage, and it prospered
because the victim soon learned that if he did not pay, his shop
would be bombed, or his trucks wrecked, or he himself might be shot
in cold blood--and never a chance to appeal to the authorities for
aid, because the authorities were frightened or fixed.

There was the cleaners' and dyers' racket, which collected heavy
dues from the proprietors of retail cleaning shops and from master
cleaners, and for a time so completely controlled the industry in
Chicago that it could raise the price which the ordinary citizen
paid for having his suit cleaned from $1.25 to $1.75.  A cleaner
and dyer who defied this racket might have his place of business
bombed, or his delivery truck drenched with gasoline and set on
fire, or he might be disciplined in a more devilish way: explosive
chemicals might be sewn into the seams of trousers sent to him to
be cleaned.  There was the garage racket, product of the master
mind of David Ablin, alias "Cockeye" Mulligan: if a garage owner
chose not to join in the Mid-West Garage Association, as this
enterprise was formally entitled, his garage would be bombed, or
his mechanics would be slugged, or thugs would enter at night and
smash windshields or lay about among the sedans with sledge-
hammers, or tires would be flattened by the expert use of an ice-
pick.  There was the window-washing racket; when Max Wilner, who
had been a window-washing contractor in Cleveland, moved to Chicago
and tried to do business there, and was told that he could not
unless he bought out some contractor already established, and
refused to do so, he was not merely slugged or cajoled with
explosives--he was shot dead.  The list of rackets and of crimes
could be extended for pages; in 1929, according to the State
Attorney's office, there were ninety-one rackets in Chicago,
seventy-five of them in active operation, and the Employers'
Association figured the total cost to the citizenry at $136,000,000
a year.

As the favorite weapon of the bootlegging gangster was the machine
gun, so the favorite weapon of the racketeer was the bomb.  He
could hire a bomber to do an ordinary routine job with a black-
powder bomb for $100, but a risky job with a dynamite bomb might
cost him all of $1,000.  In the course of a little over fifteen
months--from October 11, 1927, to January 15, 1929--no less than
157 bombs were set or exploded in the Chicago district, and
according to Gordon L. Hostetter and Thomas Quinn Beesley, who made
a careful compilation of these outrages in It's a Racket, there was
no evidence that the perpetrators of ANY OF THEM were brought to

A merry industry, and reasonably safe, it seemed--for the
racketeers.  Indeed, before the end of the decade racketeering had
made such strides in Chicago that businessmen were turning in
desperation to Al Capone for protection; Capone's henchmen were
quietly attending union meetings to make sure that all proceeded
according to the Big Shot's desires, and it was said that there
were few more powerful figures in the councils of organized labor
than the lord of the bootleggers had come to be.  Racketeering,
like gang warfare, had invaded other American cities, too.  New
York had laughed at Chicago's lawlessness, had it?  New York was
acquiring a handsome crop of rackets of its own--a laundry racket,
a slot-machine racket, a fish racket, a flour racket, an artichoke
racket, and others too numerous to mention.  In every large urban
community the racketeer was now at least a potential menace.  In
the course of a few short years he had become a national


The prohibition problem, the gangster problem, the racket problem:
as the Post-war Decade bowed itself out, all of them remained
unsolved, to challenge the statesmanship of the nineteen-thirties.
Still the rum-running launch slipped across the river, the alky-
cooker's hidden apparatus poured forth alcohol, entrepreneurs of
the contraband liquor industry put one another "on the spot,"
"typewriters" rattled in the Chicago streets, automobiles laden
with roses followed the gangster to his grave, professional
sluggers swung on non-union workmen, bull-necked gentlemen with
shifty eyes called on the tradesman to suggest that he do business
with them or they could not be responsible for what might happen,
bombs reduced little shops to splintered wreckage; and tabloid-
readers, poring over the stories of gangster killings, found in
them adventure and splendor and romance.



. . . "GO TO FLORIDA--


"Where you sit and watch at twilight the fronds of the graceful
palm, latticed against the fading gold of the sun-kissed sky--

"Where sun, moon and stars, at eventide, stage a welcome
constituting the glorious galaxy of the firmament--

"Where the whispering breeze springs fresh from the lap of
Caribbean and woos with elusive cadence like unto a mother's

"Where the silver cycle is heaven's lavalier, and the full orbit
[sic] its glorious pendant."

This outburst of unbuttoned rhetoric was written in the autumn of
1925, when the Scopes trial was receding into memory, Santa Barbara
was steadying itself from the shock of earthquake, Red Grange was
plunging to fame, the cornerstone of Bishop Manning's house of
prayer for all people was about to be laid, Brigadier-General
Smedley Butler was wishing he had never undertaken to mop up
Philadelphia, The Man Nobody Knows was selling its ten thousands--
and the Florida boom was at its height.  The quotation is not, as
you might imagine, from the collected lyrics of an enraptured
schoolgirl, but from the conclusion of an article written for the
Miamian by the vice-president of a bank.  It faintly suggests what
happened to the mental processes of supposedly hard-headed men and
women when they were exposed to the most delirious fever of real-
estate speculation which had attacked the United States in ninety

There was nothing languorous about the atmosphere of tropical Miami
during that memorable summer and autumn of 1925.  The whole city
had become one frenzied real-estate exchange.  There were said to
be 2,000 real-estate offices and 25,000 agents marketing house-lots
or acreage.  The shirt-sleeved crowds hurrying to and fro under the
widely advertised Florida sun talked of binders and options and
water-frontages and hundred-thousand-dollar profits; the city
fathers had been forced to pass an ordinance forbidding the sale of
property in the street, or even the showing of a map, to prevent
inordinate traffic congestion.  The warm air vibrated with the
clatter of riveters, for the steel skeletons of skyscrapers were
rising to give Miami a skyline appropriate to its metropolitan
destiny.  Motor-busses roared down Flagler Street, carrying
"prospects" on free trips to watch dredges and steam-shovels
converting the outlying mangrove swamps and the sandbars of the Bay
of Biscayne into gorgeous Venetian cities for the American
homemakers and pleasure-seekers of the future.  The Dixie Highway
was clogged with automobiles from every part of the country; a
traveler caught in a traffic jam counted the license-plates of
eighteen states among the sedans and flivvers waiting in line.
Hotels were overcrowded.  People were sleeping wherever they could
lay their heads, in station waiting-rooms or in automobiles.  The
railroads had been forced to place an embargo on imperishable
freight in order to avert the danger of famine; building materials
were now being imported by water and the harbor bristled with
shipping.  Fresh vegetables were a rarity, the public utilities of
the city were trying desperately to meet the suddenly multiplied
demand for electricity and gas and telephone service, and there
were recurrent shortages of ice.

How Miami grew!  In 1920 its population had been only 30,000.
According to the state census of 1925 it had jumped to 75,000--and
probably if one had counted the newcomers of the succeeding months
and Miami's share of the visitors who swarmed down to Florida from
the North in one of the mightiest popular migrations of all time,
the figure would have been nearer 150,000.  And this, one was told,
was only a beginning.  Had not S. Davies Warfield, president of the
Seaboard Air Line Railway, been quoted as predicting for Miami a
population of a million within the next ten years?  Did not the
Governor of Florida, the Honorable John W. Martin, assert that
"marvelous as is the wonder-story of Florida's recent achievements,
these are but heralds of the dawn"?

Everybody was making money on land, prices were climbing to
incredible heights, and those who came to scoff remained to

Nor was Miami alone booming.  The whole strip of coast line from
Palm Beach southward was being developed into an American Riviera;
for sixty-odd miles it was being rapidly staked out into fifty-foot
lots.  The fever had spread to Tampa, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, and
other cities and towns on the West Coast.  People were scrambling
for lots along Lake Okeechobee, about Sanford, all through the
state; even in Jacksonville, near its northern limit, the
"Believers in Jacksonville" were planning a campaign which would
bring their city its due in growth and riches.


For this amazing boom, which had gradually been gathering headway
for several years but had not become sensational until 1924, there
were a number of causes.  Let us list them categorically.

1.  First of all, of course, the climate--Florida's unanswerable

2.  The accessibility of the state to the populous cities of the
Northeast--an advantage which Southern California could not well

3.  The automobile, which was rapidly making America into a nation
of nomads; teaching all manner of men and women to explore their
country, and enabling even the small farmer, the summer-boarding-
house keeper, and the garage man to pack their families into
flivvers and tour southward from auto-camp to auto-camp for a
winter of sunny leisure.

4.  The abounding confidence engendered by Coolidge Prosperity,
which persuaded the four-thousand-dollar-a-year salesman that in
some magical way he too might tomorrow be able to buy a fine house
and all the good things of earth.

5.  A paradoxical, widespread, but only half-acknowledged revolt
against the very urbanization and industrialization of the country,
the very concentration upon work, the very routine and smoke and
congestion and twentieth-century standardization of living upon
which Coolidge Prosperity was based.  These things might bring the
American businessman money, but to spend it he longed to escape
from them--into the free sunshine of the remembered countryside,
into the easy-going life and beauty of the European past, into some
never-never land which combined American sport and comfort with
Latin glamour--a Venice equipped with bathtubs and electric
iceboxes, a Seville provided with three eighteen-hole golf courses.

6.  The example of Southern California, which had advertised its
climate at the top of its lungs and had prospered by so doing: why,
argued the Floridians, couldn't Florida do likewise?

7.  And finally, another result of Coolidge Prosperity: not only
did John Jones expect that presently he might be able to afford a
house at Boca Raton and a vacation-time of tarpon-fishing or polo,
but he also was fed on stories of bold business enterprise and
sudden wealth until he was ready to believe that the craziest real-
estate development might be the gold-mine which would work this
miracle for him.

Crazy real-estate developments?  But were they crazy?  By 1925 few
of them looked so any longer.  The men whose fantastic projects had
seemed in 1923 to be evidences of megalomania were now coining
millions: by the pragmatic test they were not madmen but--as the
advertisements put it--inspired dreamers.  Coral Gables, Hollywood-
by-the-Sea, Miami Beach, Davis Islands--there they stood: mere
patterns on a blue-print no longer, but actual cities of brick and
concrete and stucco; unfinished, to be sure, but growing with
amazing speed, while prospects stood in line to buy and every
square foot within their limits leaped in price.

Long years before, a retired Congregational minister named Merrick
had bought cheap land outside Miami, built a many-gabled house out
of coral rock, and called it "Coral Gables."  Now his son, George
Edgar Merrick, had added to this parcel of land and was building
what the advertisements called "America's Most Beautiful Suburb."
The plan was enticing, for Merrick had had sense enough to insist
upon a uniform type of architecture--what he called a "modified
Mediterranean" style.  By 1926 his development, which had
incorporated itself as the City of Coral Gables, contained more
than two thousand houses built or building, with "a bustling
business center, schools, banks, hotels, apartment houses and club
houses"; with shady streets, lagoons, and anchorages.  Merrick
advertised boldly and in original ways: at one time he engaged
William Jennings Bryan to sit under a sun-umbrella on a raft in a
lagoon and lecture (at a handsome price) to the crowds on the shore--
not upon the Prince of Peace or the Cross of Gold, but upon the
Florida climate.  (Bryan's tribute to sunshine was followed with
dancing by Gilda Gray.)  Merrick also knew how to make a romantic
virtue of necessity: having low-lying land to drain and build on,
he dug canals and imported real gondolas and gondoliers from
Venice.  The Miami-Biltmore Hotel at Coral Gables rose to a height
of twenty-six stories; the country club had two eighteen-hole golf
courses, and Merrick was making further audacious plans for a great
casino, a yacht club, and a University of Miami.  "Ten years of
hard work, a hundred millions of hard money, is what George Merrick
plans to spend before he rests," wrote Rex Beach in a brochure on
Coral Gables.  "Who can envisage what ten years will bring to that
wonderland of Ponce de Leon's?  Not you nor I.  Nor Mr. Merrick,
with all his soaring vision."  (Alas for soaring vision!  Among the
things which ten years were to bring was an advertisement in the
New York Times reminding the holders of nine series of bonds of the
City of Coral Gables that the city had been "in default of the
payment of principal and interest of a greater part of the above
bonds since July 1, 1930.")

There were other miracle-workers besides Merrick.  Miami Beach had
been a mangrove swamp until Carl G. Fisher cut down the trees,
buried their stumps under five feet of sand, fashioned lagoons and
islands, built villas and hotels, and--so it was said--made nearly
forty million dollars selling lots.  Joseph W. Young built
Hollywood-by-the-Sea on the same grand scale, and when the freight
embargo cut off his supply of building materials, bought his own
seagoing fleet to fetch them to his growing "city."  Over on the
West Coast, D. P. Davis bought two small islets in the bay at Tampa--
"two small marshy clumps of mangrove, almost submerged at high
tide"--and by dredging and piling sand, raised up an island on
which he built paved streets, hotels, houses.  On the first day
when Davis offered his lots to the public he sold three million
dollars' worth--though at that time it is said that not a single
dredge had begun to scoop up sand!

Yes, the public bought.  By 1925 they were buying anything,
anywhere, so long as it was in Florida.  One had only to announce a
new development, be it honest or fraudulent, be it on the Atlantic
Ocean or deep in the wasteland of the interior, to set people
scrambling for house lots.  "Manhattan Estates" was advertised as
being "not more than three-fourths of a mile from the prosperous
and fast-growing city of Nettie"; there was no such city as Nettie,
the name being that of an abandoned turpentine camp, yet people
bought.  Investigators of the claims made for "Melbourne Gardens"
tried to find the place, found themselves driving along a trail
"through prairie muck land, with a few trees and small clumps of
palmetto," and were hopelessly mired in the mud three miles short
of their destination.  But still the public bought, here and
elsewhere, blindly, trustingly--natives of Florida, visitors to
Florida, and good citizens of Ohio and Massachusetts and Wisconsin
who had never been near Florida but made out their checks for lots
in what they were told was to be "another Coral Gables" or was
"next to the right of way of the new railroad" or was to be a
"twenty-million-dollar city."  The stories of prodigious profits
made in Florida land were sufficient bait.  A lot in the business
center of Miami Beach had sold for $800 in the early days of the
development and had resold for $150,000 in 1924.  For a strip of
land in Palm Beach a New York lawyer had been offered $240,000 some
eight or ten years before the boom; in 1923 he finally accepted
$800,000 for it; the next year the strip of land was broken up into
building lots and disposed of at an aggregate price of $1,500,000;
and in 1925 there were those who claimed that its value had risen
to $4,000,000.  A poor woman who had bought a piece of land near
Miami in 1896 for $25 was able to sell it in 1925 for $150,000.
Such tales were legion; every visitor to the Gold Coast could pick
them up by the dozen; and many if not most of them were quite true--
though the profits were largely on paper.  No wonder the rush for
Florida land justified the current anecdote of a native saying to a
visitor, "Want to buy a lot?" and the visitor at once replying,

Speculation was easy--and quick.  No long delays while titles were
being investigated and deeds recorded; such tiresome formalities
were postponed.  The prevalent method of sale was thus described by
Walter C. Hill of the Retail Credit Company of Atlanta in the
Inspection Report issued by his concern:  "Lots are bought from
blueprints.  They look better that way. . . .  Around Miami,
subdivisions, except the very large ones, are often sold out the
first day of sale.  Advertisements appear describing the location,
extent, special features, and approximate price of the lots.
Reservations are accepted.  This requires a check for 10 per cent
of the price of the lot the buyer expects to select.  On the first
day of sale, at the promoter's office in town, the reservations are
called out in order, and the buyer steps up and, from a beautifully
drawn blueprint, with lots and dimensions and prices clearly shown,
selects a lot or lots, gets a receipt in the form of a 'binder'
describing it, and has the thrill of seeing 'Sold' stamped in the
blue-lined square which represents his lot, a space usually fifty
by a hundred feet of Florida soil or swamp.  There are instances
where these first-day sales have gone into several millions of
dollars.  And the prices! . . .  Inside lots from $8,000 to
$20,000.  Water-front lots from $15,000 to $25,000.  Seashore lots
from $20,000 to $75,000.  And these are not in Miami.  They are
miles out--ten miles out, fifteen miles out, and thirty miles out."

The binder, of course, did not complete the transaction.  But few
people worried much about the further payments which were to come.
Nine buyers out of ten bought their lots with only one idea, to
resell, and hoped to pass along their binders to other people at a
neat profit before even the first payment fell due at the end of
thirty days.  There was an immense traffic in binders--immense and

Steadily, during that feverish summer and autumn of 1925, the
hatching of new plans for vast developments continued.  A great
many of them, apparently, were intended to be occupied by what the
advertisers of Miami Beach called "America's wealthiest sportsmen,
devotees of yachting and the other expensive sports," and the
advertisers of Boca Raton called "the world of international wealth
that dominates finance and industry . . . that sets fashions . . .
the world of large affairs, smart society and leisured ease."  Few
of those in the land-rush seemed to question whether there would be
enough devotees of yachting and men and women of leisured ease to
go round.

Everywhere vast new hotels, apartment houses, casinos were being
projected.  At the height of the fury of building a visitor to West
Palm Beach noticed a large vacant lot almost completely covered
with bathtubs.  The tubs had apparently been there some time; the
crates which surrounded them were well weathered.  The lot, he was
informed, was to be the site of "One of the most magnificent
apartment buildings in the South"--but the freight embargo had held
up the contractor's building material and only the bathtubs had
arrived!  Throughout Florida resounded the slogans and hyperboles
of boundless confidence.  The advertising columns shrieked with
them, those swollen advertising columns which enabled the Miami
Daily News, one day in the summer of 1925, to print an issue of 504
pages, the largest in newspaper history, and enabled the Miami
Herald to carry a larger volume of advertising in 1925 than any
paper anywhere had ever before carried in a year.  Miami was not
only "The Wonder City," it was also "The Fair White Goddess of
Cities," "The World's Playground," and "The City Invincible,"  Fort
Lauderdale became "The Tropical Wonderland," Orlando "The City
Beautiful," and Sanford "The City Substantial."

Daily the turgid stream of rhetoric poured forth to the glory of
Florida.  It reached its climax, perhaps, in the joint Proclamation
issued by the mayors of Miami, Miami Beach, Hialeah, and Coral
Gables (who modestly referred to their county as "the most Richly
Blessed Community of the most Bountifully Endowed State of the most
Highly Enterprising People of the Universe"), setting forth the
last day of 1925 and the first two days of 1926 as "The Fiesta of
the American Tropics"--"our Season of Fiesta when Love, Good
Fellowship, Merrymaking, and Wholesome Sport shall prevail
throughout Our Domains."  The mayors promised that there would be
dancing: "that our Broad Boulevards, our Beautiful Plazas and
Ballroom Floors, our Patios, Clubs and Hostelries shall be the
scenes where Radiant Terpsichore and her Sparkling Devotees shall
follow with Graceful Tread the Measure of the Dance."  They
promised much more, to the extent of a page of flatulent text
sprinkled with capitals; but especially they promised "that through
our Streets and Avenues shall wind a glorious Pageantry of Sublime
Beauty Depicting in Floral Loveliness the Blessing Bestowed upon us
by Friendly Sun, Gracious Rain, and Soothing Tropic Wind."

Presumably the fiesta was successful, with its full quota of
Sparkling Devotees and Sublime Beauty.  But by New Year's Day of
1926 the suspicion was beginning to insinuate itself into the minds
of the merrymakers that new buyers of land were no longer so
plentiful as they had been in September and October, that a good
many of those who held binders were exceedingly anxious to dispose
of their stake in the most Richly Blessed Community, and that
Friendly Sun and Gracious Rain were not going to be able,
unassisted, to complete the payments on lots.  The influx of winter
visitors had not been quite up to expectations.  Perhaps the boom
was due for a "healthy breathing-time."


As a matter of fact, it was due for a good deal more than that.  It
began obviously to collapse in the spring and summer of 1926.
People who held binders and had failed to get rid of them were
defaulting right and left on their payments.  One man who had sold
acreage early in 1925 for twelve dollars an acre, and had cursed
himself for his stupidity when it was resold later in the year for
seventeen dollars, and then thirty dollars, and finally sixty
dollars an acre, was surprised a year or two afterward to find that
the entire series of subsequent purchases was in default, that he
could not recover the money still due him, and that his only
redress was to take his land back again.  There were cases in which
the land not only came back to the original owner, but came back
burdened with taxes and assessments which amounted to more than the
cash he had received for it; and furthermore he found his land
blighted with a half-completed development.

Just as it began to be clear that a wholesale deflation was
inevitable, two hurricanes showed what a Soothing Tropic Wind could
do when it got a running start from the West Indies.

No malevolent Providence bent upon the teaching of humility could
have struck with a more precise aim than the second and worst of
these Florida hurricanes.  It concentrated upon the exact region
where the boom had been noisiest and most hysterical--the region
about Miami.  Hitting the Gold Coast early in the morning of
September 18, 1926, it piled the waters of Biscayne Bay into the
lovely Venetian developments, deposited a five-masted steel
schooner high in the street at Coral Gables, tossed big steam
yachts upon the avenues of Miami, picked up trees, lumber, pipes,
tiles, dbris, and even small automobiles and sent them crashing
into the houses, ripped the roofs off thousands of jerry-built
cottages and villas, almost wiped out the town of Moore Haven on
Lake Okeechobee, and left behind it some four hundred dead, sixty-
three hundred injured, and fifty thousand homeless.  Valiantly the
Floridians insisted that the damage was not irreparable; so
valiantly, in fact, that the head of the American Red Cross, John
Barton Payne, was quoted as charging that the officials of the
state had "practically destroyed" the national Red Cross campaign
for relief of the homeless.  Mayor Romfh of Miami declared that he
saw no reason "why this city should not entertain her winter
visitors the coming season as comfortably as in past seasons."  But
the Soothing Tropic Wind had had its revenge; it had destroyed the
remnants of the Florida boom.

By 1927, according to Homer B. Vanderblue, most of the elaborate
real-estate offices on Flagler Street in Miami were either closed
or practically empty; the Davis Islands project, "bankrupt and
unfinished," had been taken over by a syndicate organized by Stone
& Webster; and many Florida cities, including Miami, were having
difficulty collecting their taxes.  By 1928 Henry S. Villard,
writing in The Nation, thus described the approach to Miami by
road:  "Dead subdivisions line the highway, their pompous names
half-obliterated on crumbling stucco gates.  Lonely white-way
lights stand guard over miles of cement sidewalks, where grass and
palmetto take the place of homes that were to be. . . .  Whole
sections of outlying subdivisions are composed of unoccupied
houses, past which one speeds on broad thoroughfares as if
traversing a city in the grip of death."  In 1928 there were thirty-
one bank failures in Florida; in 1929 there were fifty-seven; in
both of these years the liabilities of the failed banks reached
greater totals than were recorded for any other state in the Union.
The Mediterranean fruitfly added to the gravity of the local
economic situation in 1929 by ravaging the citrus crop.  Bank
clearings for Miami, which had climbed sensationally to over a
billion dollars in 1925, marched sadly downhill again:

1925 ....................................... $1,066,528,000
1926 .......................................... 632,867,000
1927 .......................................... 260,039,000
1928 .......................................... 143,364,000
1929 .......................................... 142,316,000

And those were the very years when elsewhere in the country
prosperity was triumphant!  By the middle of 1930, after the
general business depression had set in, no less than twenty-six
Florida cities had gone into default of principal or interest on
their bonds, the heaviest defaults being those of West Palm Beach,
Miami, Sanford, and Lake Worth; and even Miami, which had a minor
issue of bonds maturing in August, 1930, confessed its inability to
redeem them and asked the bondholders for an extension.

The cheerful custom of incorporating real-estate developments as
"cities" and financing the construction of all manner of
improvements with "tax-free municipal bonds," as well as the custom
on the part of development corporations of issuing real-estate
bonds secured by new structures located in the boom territory, were
showing weaknesses unimagined by the inspired dreamers of 1925.
Most of the millions piled up in paper profits had melted away,
many of the millions sunk in developments had been sunk for good
and all, the vast inverted pyramid of credit had toppled to earth,
and the lesson of the economic falsity of a scheme of land values
based upon grandiose plans, preposterous expectations, and hot air
had been taught in a long agony of deflation.  For comfort there
were only a few saving facts to cling to.  Florida still had her
climate, her natural resources.  The people of Florida still had
energy and determination, and having recovered from their debauch
of hope, were learning from the relentless discipline of events.
Not all Northerners who had moved to Florida in the days of plenty
had departed in the days of adversity.  Far from it: the census of
1930, in fact, gave Florida an increase in population of over 50
per cent since 1920--a larger increase than that of any other state
except California--and showed that in the same interval Miami had
grown by nearly 400 per cent.  Florida still had a future; there
was no doubt of that, sharp as the pains of enforced postponement
were.  Nor, for that matter, were the people of Florida alone
blameworthy for the insanity of 1925.  They, perhaps, had done most
of the shouting, but the hysteria which had centered in their state
had been a national hysteria, enormously increased by the influx of
outlanders intent upon making easy money.


The Florida boom, in fact, was only one--and by all odds the most
spectacular--of a series of land and building booms during the
Postwar Decade, each of which had its marked effect upon the
national economy and the national life.

At the very outset of the decade there had been a sensational
market in farm lands, caused by the phenomenal prices brought by
wheat and other crops during and immediately after the war.  Prices
of farm property leaped, thousands of mortgages and loans were
based upon these exaggerated values, and when the bottom dropped
out of the agricultural markets in 1920-21, the distress of the
farmers was intensified by the fact that in innumerable cases they
could not get money enough from their crops to cover the interest
due at the bank or to pay the taxes which were now levied on the
increased valuation.  Thousands of country banks, saddled with
mortgages and loans in default, ultimately went to the wall.  In
one of the great agricultural states, the average earnings of ALL
the national and state banks during the years 1924-29, a time of
great prosperity for the country at large, were less than 1 1/2 per
cent; and in seven states of the country, between 40 and 50 per
cent of the banks which had been in business prior to 1920 had
failed before 1929.  Just how many of these failures were directly
attributable to the undisciplined rise and subsequent fall in real-
estate prices it is, of course, impossible to say; but undoubtedly
many of the little country banks which suffered so acutely would
never have gone down to ruin if there had been no boom in farm

All through the decade, but especially during and immediately after
the Florida fever, there was an epidemic of ambitious schemes
hatched by promoters and boosters to bring prosperity to various
American cities, towns, and resorts, by presenting each of them, in
sumptuous advertisements, circulars, and press copy put out by
hustling chambers of commerce, as the "center of a rising
industrial empire" or as the "new playground of America's rich."
Some of these ventures prospered; in California, for example, where
the technique of boosting had been brought to poetic perfection
long years previously, concerted campaigns brought industries,
winter visitors, summer visitors, and good fortune for the
businessman and the hotel-keeper alike.  It was estimated that a
million people a year went to California "just to look and play"--
and, of course, to spend money.  But not all such ventures could
prosper, the number of factories and of wealthy vacationists being
unhappily limited.  City after city, hoping to attract industries
within its limits, eloquently pointed out its "advantages" and
tried to "make its personality felt" and to "carry its constructive
message to the American people"; but at length it began to dawn
upon the boosters that attracting industries bore some resemblance
to robbing Peter to pay Paul, and that if all of them were
converted to boosting, each of them was as likely to find itself in
the role of Peter as in that of Paul.  And exactly as the
developers of the tropical wonderlands of Florida had learned that
there were more land-speculators able and willing to gamble in
houses intended for the polo-playing class than there were members
of this class, so also those who carved out playgrounds for the
rich in North Carolina or elsewhere learned to their ultimate
sorrow that the rich could not play everywhere at once.  And once
more the downfall of their bright hopes had financial repercussions,
as bankrupt developments led to the closing of bank after bank.

Again, all through the decade, but especially during its middle
years, there was a boom in suburban lands outside virtually every
American city.  As four million discouraged Americans left the
farms, and the percentage of city-dwellers in the United States
increased from 51.4 to 57.6, and the cities grew in size and in
stridency, and urban traffic became more noisy and congested, and
new high buildings cut off the city-dweller's light and air, the
drift of families from the cities to the urban-rural compromise of
the neighboring countryside became more rapid.  Here again the
automobile played its part in changing the conditions of American
life, by bringing within easy range of the suburban railroad
station, and thus of the big city, great stretches of woodland and
field which a few years before had seemed remote and inaccessible.
Attractive suburbs grew with amazing speed, blossoming out with
brand-new Colonial farmhouses (with attached garage), Tudor
cottages (with age-old sagging roofs constructed by inserting wedge-
shaped blocks of wood at the ends of the roof-trees), and Spanish
stucco haciendas (with built-in radios).  Once more the real-estate
developer had his golden opportunity.  The old Jackson farm with
its orchards and daisy-fields was staked out in lots and attacked
by the steam-shovel and became Jacobean Heights or Colonial Terrace
or Alhambra Gardens, with paved roads, twentieth-century comforts,
Old World charm, and land for sale on easy payments.

On the immediate outskirts of great cities such as New York,
Chicago, Los Angeles, and Detroit huge tracts were less luxuriously
developed.  The Borough of Queens, just across the East River from
New York, grew vastly and hideously: its population more than
doubled during the decade, reaching a total of over a million.
Outside Detroit immense districts were subdivided and numerous lots
in them were bought by people so poor that they secured permits to
build "garage dwellings"--temporary one-room shacks--and lived in
them for years without ever building real houses.  So furious was
the competition among developers that it was estimated that in a
single year there were subdivided in the Chicago region enough lots
to accommodate the growth of the city for twenty years to come (at
the rate at which it had previously grown), and that by the end of
the decade enough lots had been staked out between Patchogue, Long
Island, and the New York City limits to house the entire
metropolitan population of six million.

For a time the Florida boom had a picturesque influence on suburban
developments.  Many of them went Venetian.  There was, for example,
American Venice, thirty-four miles from New York on Long Island,
where the first bridge to be built was "a replica of the famous
Della Paglia Bridge at Venice," and the whole scene, according to
the promoters, "recalls the famous city of the Doges, only more
charming--and more homelike."  "To live at American Venice,"
chanted one of the advertisements of this proposed retreat for
stockbrokers and insurance salesmen, "is to quaff the very Wine of
Life. . . .  A turquoise lagoon under an aquamarine sky!  Lazy
gondolas!  Beautiful Italian gardens! . . .  And, ever present, the
waters of the Great South Bay lapping lazily all day upon a beach
as white and fine as the soul of a little child."  And there was
Biltmore Shores, also developed on Long Island (by William Fox of
the movies and Jacob Frankel of the clothing business) where, in
1926, "an artistic system of canals and waterways" was advertised
as being "in progress of completion."

The Venetian phase of the suburban boom was of short duration:
after 1926 the mention of lagoons introduced painful thoughts into
the minds of prospective purchasers.  But the suburban boom itself
did not begin to languish in most localities until 1928 or 1929.
By that time many suburbs were plainly overbuilt: as one drove out
along the highways, one began to notice houses that must have stood
long untenanted, shops with staring vacant windows, districts
blighted with half-finished and abandoned "improvements"; one heard
of suburban apartment houses which had changed hands again and
again as mortgages were foreclosed, or of householders in
uncompleted subdivisions who were groaning under a navely
unexpected burden of taxes and assessments.  Yet even then it was
clear that, like Florida, the suburb had a future.  The need of men
and women for space and freedom, as well as for access to the
centers of population, had not come to an end.

The final phase of the real-estate boom of the nineteen-twenties
centered in the cities themselves.  To picture what happened to the
American skyline during those years, compare a 1920 airplane view
of almost any large city with one taken in 1930.  There is scarcely
a city which does not show a bright new cluster of skyscrapers at
its center.  The tower-building mania reached its climax in New
York--since towers in the metropolis are a potent advertisement--
and particularly in the Grand Central district of New York.  Here
the building boom attained immense proportions, coming to its peak
of intensity in 1928.  New pinnacles shot into the air forty
stories, fifty stories, and more; between 1918 and 1930 the amount
of space available for office use in large modern buildings in that
district was multiplied approximately by ten.  In a photograph of
uptown New York taken from the neighborhood of the East River early
in 1931, the twenty most conspicuous structures were all products
of the Post-war Decade.  The tallest two of all, to be sure, were
not completed until after the panic of 1929; by the time the
splendid shining tower of the Empire State Building stood clear of
scaffolding there were apple salesmen shivering on the curbstone
below.  Yet it was none the less a monument to the abounding
confidence of the days in which it was conceived.

The confidence had been excessive.  Skyscrapers had been over-
produced.  In the spring of 1931 it was reliably stated that some
17 per cent of the space in the big office buildings of the Grand
Central district, and some 40 per cent of that in the big office
buildings of the Plaza district farther uptown, were not bringing
in a return; owners of new skyscrapers were inveigling business
concerns into occupying vacant floors by offering them space rent-
free for a period or by assuming their leases in other buildings;
and financiers were shaking their heads over the precarious
condition of many realty investments in New York.  The metropolis,
too, had a future, but speculative enthusiasm had carried it upward
a little too fast.


After the Florida hurricane, real-estate speculation lost most of
its interest for the ordinary man and woman.  Few of them were much
concerned, except as householders or as spectators, with the
building of suburban developments or of forty-story experiments in
modernist architecture.  Yet the national speculative fever which
had turned their eyes and their cash to the Florida Gold Coast in
1925 was not chilled; it was merely checked.  Florida house-lots
were a bad bet?  Very well, then, said a public still enthralled by
the radiant possibilities of Coolidge Prosperity: what else was
there to bet on?  Before long a new wave of popular speculation was
accumulating momentum.  Not in real-estate this time; in something
quite different.  The focus of speculative infection shifted from
Flagler Street, Miami, to Broad and Wall Streets, New York.  The
Big Bull Market was getting under way.



One day in February, 1928, an investor asked an astute banker about
the wisdom of buying common stocks.  The banker shook his head.
"Stocks look dangerously high to me," he said.  "This bull market
has been going on for a long time, and although prices have slipped
a bit recently, they might easily slip a good deal more.  Business
is none too good.  Of course if you buy the right stock you'll
probably be all right in the long run and you may even make a
profit.  But if I were you I'd wait awhile and see what happens."

By all the canons of conservative finance the banker was right.
That enormous confidence in Coolidge Prosperity which had lifted
the businessman to a new preminence in American life and had
persuaded innumerable men and women to gamble their savings away in
Florida real estate had also carried the prices of common stocks
far upward since 1924, until they had reached what many hard-headed
financiers considered alarming levels.  Throughout 1927 speculation
had been increasing.  The amount of money loaned to brokers to
carry margin accounts for traders had risen during the year from
$2,818,561,000 to $3,558,355,000--a huge increase.  During the week
of December 3, 1927, more shares of stock had changed hands than in
any previous week in the whole history of the New York Stock
Exchange.  One did not have to listen long to an after-dinner
conversation, whether in New York or San Francisco or the lowliest
village of the plain, to realize that all sorts of people to whom
the stock ticker had been a hitherto alien mystery were carrying a
hundred shares of Studebaker or Houston Oil, learning the
significance of such recondite symbols as GL and X and ITT, and
whipping open the early editions of afternoon papers to catch the
1:30 quotations from Wall Street.

The speculative fever had been intensified by the action of the
Federal Reserve System in lowering the rediscount rate from 4 per
cent to 3 1/2 per cent in August, 1927, and purchasing Government
securities in the open market.  This action had been taken from the
most laudable motives: several of the European nations were having
difficulty in stabilizing their currencies, European exchanges were
weak, and it seemed to the Reserve authorities that the easing of
American money rates might prevent the further accumulation of gold
in the United States and thus aid in the recovery of Europe and
benefit foreign trade.  Furthermore, American business was
beginning to lose headway; the lowering of money rates might
stimulate it.  But the lowering of money rates also stimulated the
stock market.  The bull party in Wall Street had been still further
encouraged by the remarkable solicitude of President Coolidge and
Secretary Mellon, who whenever confidence showed signs of waning
came out with opportunely reassuring statements which at once sent
prices upward again.  In January 1928, the President had actually
taken the altogether unprecedented step of publicly stating that he
did not consider brokers' loans too high, thus apparently giving
White House sponsorship to the very inflation which was worrying
the sober minds of the financial community.

While stock prices had been climbing, business activity had been
undeniably subsiding.  There had been such a marked recession
during the latter part of 1927 that by February, 1928, the director
of the Charity Organization Society in New York reported that
unemployment was more serious than at any time since immediately
after the war.  During January and February the stock market turned
ragged and unsettled, and no wonder--for with prices still near
record levels and the future trend of business highly dubious, it
was altogether too easy to foresee a time of reckoning ahead.

The tone of the business analysts and forecasters--a fraternity
whose numbers had hugely increased in recent years and whose
lightest words carried weight--was anything but exuberant.  On
January 5, 1928, Moody's Investors Service said that stock prices
had "over-discounted anticipated progress" and wondered "how much
of a readjustment may be required to place the stock market in a
sound position."  On March 1st this agency was still uneasy:  "The
public," it declared, "is not likely to change its bearish state of
mind until about the time when money becomes so plethoric as to
lead the banks to encourage credit expansion."  Two days later the
Harvard Economic Society drew from its statistical graphs the
chilly conclusion that "the developments of February suggest that
business is entering upon a period of temporary readjustment"; the
best cheer which the Harvard prognosticators could offer was a
prophecy that "intermediate declines in the stock market will not
develop into such MAJOR movements as forecast business depression."
The National City Bank looked for gradual improvement in business
and the Standard Statistics Company suggested that a turn for the
better had already arrived; but the latter agency also sagely
predicted that the course of stocks during the coming months would
depend "almost entirely upon the money situation."  The financial
editor of the New York Times described the picture of current
conditions presented by the mercantile agencies as one of
"hesitation."  The newspaper advertisements of investment services
testified to the uncomfortable temper of Wall Street with headlines
like "Will You 'Overstay' This Bull Market?" and "Is the Process of
Deflation Under Way?"  The air was fogged with uncertainty.

Anybody who had chosen this moment to predict that the bull market
was on the verge of a wild advance which would make all that had
gone before seem trifling would have been quite mad--or else
inspired with a genius for mass psychology.  The banker who advised
caution was quite right about financial conditions, and so were the
forecasters.  But they had not taken account of the boundless
commercial romanticism of the American people, inflamed by year
after plentiful year of Coolidge Prosperity.  For on March 3,
1928--the very day when the Harvard prophets were talking about
intermediate declines and the Times was talking about hesitation--
the stock market entered upon its sensational phase.


Let us glance for a moment at the next morning's paper, that arm-
breaking load of reading-matter which bore the date of Sunday,
March 4, 1928.  It was now many months since Calvin Coolidge had
stated, with that characteristic simplicity which led people to
suspect him of devious meanings, that he did not "choose to run for
President in 1928"; and already his Secretary of Commerce, who
eight years before had been annoyed at being called an amateur in
politics, was corralling delegates with distinctly professional
efficiency against the impending Republican convention.  It was
three months since Henry Ford had unveiled Model A, but eyes still
turned to stare when a new Ford went by, and those who had blithely
ordered a sedan in Arabian Sand were beginning to wonder if they
would have to wait until September and then have to take Dawn Gray
or leave it.  Colonel Lindbergh had been a hero these nine months
but was still a bachelor: on page 21 of that Sunday paper of March
4, 1928, he was quoted in disapproval of a bill introduced in
Congress to convert the Lindbergh homestead at Little Falls,
Minnesota, into a museum.  Commander Byrd was about to announce his
plans for a flight to the South Pole.  Women's skirts, as pictured
in the department store advertisements, were at their briefest;
they barely covered the kneecap.  The sporting pages contained the
tidings that C. C. Pyle's lamentable Bunion Derby was about to
start from Los Angeles with 274 contestants.  On another page Mrs.
William Jay, Mrs. Robert Low Bacon, and Mrs. Charles Cary Rumsey
exemplified the principle of noblesse oblige by endorsing Simmons
beds.  The Bridge of San Luis Rey was advertised as having sold
100,000 copies in ninety days.  The book section of the newspaper
also advertised The Greene Murder Case by S. S. Van Dine (not yet
identified as Willard Huntington Wright), Willa Cather's Death
Comes for the Archbishop, and Ludwig Lewisohn's The Island Within.
The theatrical pages disclosed that "The Trial of Mary Dugan" had
been running in New York for seven months, Galsworthy's "Escape"
for five; New York theater-goers might also take their choice
between "Strange Interlude," "Show Boat," "Paris Bound," "Porgy,"
and "Funny Face."  The talking pictures were just beginning to
rival the silent films: Al Jolson was announced in "The Jazz
Singer" on the Vitaphone, and two Fox successes "with symphonic
movietone accompaniment" were advertised.  The stock market--but
one did not need to turn to the financial pages for that.  For on
page 1 appeared what was to prove a portentous piece of news.

General Motors stock, opening at 139 3/4 on the previous morning,
had skyrocketed in two short hours to 144 1/4, with a gain of more
than five points since the Friday closing.  The trading for the day
had amounted to not much more than 1,200,000 shares, but nearly a
third of it had been in Motors.  The speculative spring fever of
1928 had set in.

It may interest some readers to be reminded of the prices brought
at the opening on March 3rd by some of the leading stocks of that
day or of subsequent days.  Here they are, with the common dividend
rate for each stock in parentheses:

     American Can (2), 77
     American Telephone & Telegraph (9), 179 1/2
     Anaconda (3), 54 1/2
     Electric Bond & Share (1), 89 3/4
     General Electric (5 including extras), 128 3/4
     General Motors (5), 139 3/4
     Montgomery Ward (5 including extras), 132 3/4
     New York Central (8), 160 1/2
     Radio (no dividend), 94 1/2
     Union Carbide & Carbon (6), 145
     United States Steel (7), 138 1/8
     Westinghouse (4), 91 5/8
     Woolworth (5), 180 3/4

On Monday General Motors gained 2 1/4 points more, on Tuesday 3
1/2; there was great excitement as the stock "crossed 150."  Other
stocks were beginning to be affected by the contagion as day after
day the market "made the front page": Steel and Radio and
Montgomery Ward were climbing, too.  After a pause on Wednesday and
Thursday, General Motors astounded everybody on Friday by pushing
ahead a cool 9 1/4 points as the announcement was made that its
Managers Securities Company had bought 200,000 shares in the open
market for its executives at around 150.  And then on Saturday the
common stock of the Radio Corporation of America threw General
Motors completely into the shade by leaping upward for a net gain
of 12 3/4 points, closing at 120 1/2.

What on earth was happening?  Wasn't business bad, and credit
inflated, and the stock-price level dangerously high?  Was the
market going crazy?  Suppose all these madmen who insisted on
buying stocks at advancing prices tried to sell at the same moment!
Canny investors, reading of the wild advance in Radio, felt much as
did the forecasters of Moody's Investors Service a few days later:
the practical question, they said, was "how long the opportunity to
sell at the top will remain."

What was actually happening was that a group of powerful
speculators with fortunes made in the automobile business and in
the grain markets and in the earlier days of the bull market in
stocks--men like W. C. Durant and Arthur Cutten and the Fisher
Brothers and John J. Raskob--were buying in unparalleled volume.
They thought that business was due to come out of its doldrums.
They knew that with Ford production delayed, the General Motors
Corporation was likely to have a big year.  They knew that the
Radio Corporation had been consolidating its position and was now
ready to make more money than it had ever made before, and that as
scientific discovery followed discovery, the future possibilities
of the biggest radio company were exciting.  Automobiles and radios--
these were the two most characteristic products of the decade of
confident mass production, the brightest flowers of Coolidge
Prosperity: they held a ready-made appeal to the speculative
imagination.  The big bull operators knew, too, that thousands of
speculators had been selling stocks short in the expectation of a
collapse in the market, would continue to sell short, and could be
forced to repurchase if prices were driven relentlessly up.  And
finally, they knew their American public.  It could not resist the
appeal of a surging market.  It had an altogether normal desire to
get rich quick, and it was ready to believe anything about the
golden future of American business.  If stocks started upward the
public would buy, no matter what the forecasters said, no matter
how obscure was the business prospect.

They were right.  The public bought.

Monday the 12th of March put the stock market on the front page
once more.  Radio opened at 120 1/2--and closed at 138 1/2.  Other
stocks made imposing gains, the volume of trading broke every known
record by totaling 3,875,910 shares, the ticker fell six minutes
behind the market, and visitors to the gallery of the Stock
Exchange reported that red-haired Michael Meehan, the specialist in
Radio, was the center of what appeared to be a five-hour scrimmage
on the floor.  "It looked like a street fight," said one observer.

Tuesday the 13th was enough to give anybody chills and fever.
Radio opened at 160, a full 21 1/2 points above the closing price
the night before--a staggering advance.  Then came an announcement
that the Stock Exchange officials were beginning an investigation
to find out whether a technical corner in the stock existed, and
the price cascaded to 140.  It jumped again that same day to 155
and closed at 146, 7 1/2 points above Monday's closing, to the
accompaniment of rumors that one big short trader had been wiped
out.  This time the ticker was twelve minutes late.

And so it went on, day after day and week after week.  On March
16th the ticker was thirty-three minutes late and one began to hear
people saying that some day there might occur a five-million-share
day--which seemed almost incredible.  On the 20th, Radio jumped 18
points and General Motors 5.  On March 26th the record for total
volume of trading was smashed again.  The new mark lasted just
twenty-four hours, for on the 27th--a terrifying day when a storm
of unexplained selling struck the market and General Motors dropped
abruptly, only to recover on enormous buying--there were 4,790,000
shares traded.  The speculative fever was infecting the whole
country.  Stories of fortunes made overnight were on everybody's
lips.  One financial commentator reported that his doctor found
patients talking about the market to the exclusion of everything
else and that his barber was punctuating with the hot towel more
than one account of the prospects of Montgomery Ward.  Wives were
asking their husbands why they were so slow, why they weren't
getting in on all this, only to hear that their husbands had bought
a hundred shares of American Linseed that very morning.  Brokers'
branch offices were jammed with crowds of men and women watching
the shining transparency on which the moving message of the ticker
tape was written; whether or not one held so much as a share of
stock, there was a thrill in seeing the news of that abrupt break
and recovery in General Motors on March 27th run across the field
of vision in a long string of quotations:

GM 50.85 (meaning 5,000 shares at 185) 20.80.  50.82.  14.83.
30.85.  20.86.  25.87.  40.88.  30.87. . . .

New favorites took the limelight as the weeks went by.  Montgomery
Ward was climbing.  The aviation stocks leaped upward; in a single
week in May, Wright Aeronautical gained 34 3/4 points to reach 190,
and Curtiss gained 35 1/2 to reach 142.  Several times during the
spring of 1928 the New York Stock Exchange had to remain closed on
Saturday to give brokers' clerks a chance to dig themselves out
from under the mass of paper work in which this unprecedented
trading involved them.  And of course brokers' loans were
increasing; the inflation of American credit was becoming steadily

The Reserve authorities were disturbed.  They had raised the
rediscount rate in February from 3 1/2 to 4 per cent, hoping that
if a lowering of the rate in 1927 had encouraged speculation, a
corresponding increase would discourage it--and instead they had
witnessed a common-stock mania which ran counter to all logic and
all economic theory.  They raised the rate again in May to 4 1/2
per cent, but after a brief shudder the market went boiling on.
They sold the Government bonds they had accumulated during 1927,
and the principal result of their efforts was that the Government-
bond market became demoralized.  Who would ever have thought the
situation would thus get out of hand?

In the latter part of May, 1928, the pace of the bull market
slackened.  Prices fell off, gained, fell off again.  The
reckoning, so long expected, appeared at last to be at hand.  It
came in June, after several days of declining prices.  The Giannini
stocks, the speculative favorites of the Pacific coast, suddenly
toppled for gigantic losses.  On the San Francisco Stock Exchange
the shares of the Bank of Italy fell 100 points in a single day
(June 11th), Bancitaly fell 86 points, Bank of America 120, and
United Security 80.  That same day, on the New York Curb Exchange,
Bancitaly dove perpendicularly from 200 to 110, dragging with it to
ruin a horde of small speculators who, despite urgent warnings from
A. P. Giannini himself that the stock was overvalued, had navely
believed that it was "going to a thousand."

The next day, June 12th, this Western tornado struck Wall Street in
full force.  As selling orders poured in, the prophecy that the
Exchange would some day see a five-million-share day was quickly
fulfilled.  The ticker slipped almost two hours behind in recording
prices on the floor.  Radio, which had marched well beyond the 200
mark in May, lost 23 1/2 points.  The day's losses for the general
run of securities were not, to be sure, very large by subsequent
standards; the New York Times averages for fifty leading stocks
dropped only a little over three points.  But after the losses of
the preceding days, it seemed to many observers as if the end had
come at last, and one of the most conservative New York papers
began its front-page account of the break with the unqualified
sentence, "Wall Street's bull market collapsed yesterday with a
detonation heard round the world."

(If the Secretary of Commerce had been superstitious, he might have
considered that day of near-panic an omen of troubles to come; for
on that same front page, streamer headlines bore the words, "HOOVER

But had the bull market collapsed?  On June 13th it appeared to
have regained its balance.  On June 14th, the day of Hoover's
nomination, it extended its recovery.  The promised reckoning had
been only partial.  Prices still stood well above their February
levels.  A few thousand traders had been shaken out, a few big
fortunes had been lost, a great many pretty paper profits had
vanished; but the Big Bull Market was still young.


A few weeks after the somewhat unenthusiastic nomination of Herbert
Hoover by the Republicans, that coalition of incompatibles known as
the Democratic party nominated Governor Alfred E. Smith of New
York, a genial son of the East Side with a genius for governmental
administration and a taste for brown derbies.  Al Smith was a
remarkable choice.  His Tammany affiliations, his wetness, and
above all the fact that he was a Roman Catholic made him repugnant
to the South and to most of the West.  Although the Ku Klux Klan
had recently announced the abandonment of its masks and the change
of its name to "Knights of the Great Forest," anti-Catholic feeling
could still take ugly forms.  That the Democrats took the plunge
and nominated Smith on the first ballot was eloquent testimony to
the vitality of his personality, to the wide-spread respect for his
ability, to the strength of the belief that any Democrat could
carry the Solid South and that a wet candidate of immigrant stock
would pull votes from the Republicans in the industrial North and
the cities generally--and to the lack of other available

The campaign of 1928 began.

It was a curious campaign.  One great issue divided the candidates.
As already recorded in Chapter Ten, Al Smith made no secret of his
distaste for prohibition; Hoover, on the other hand, called it "a
great social and economic experiment, noble in motive and far-
reaching in purpose," which "must be worked out constructively."
Although Republican spellbinders in the damply urban East seemed to
be under the impression that what Hoover really meant was "worked
out of constructively," and Democratic spellbinders in the South
and rural West explained that Smith's wetness was just an odd
personal notion which he would be powerless to impose upon his
party, the division between the two candidates remained:
prohibition had forced its way at last into a presidential
campaign.  There was also the ostensible issue of farm-relief, but
on this point there was little real disagreement; instead there was
a competition to see which candidate could most eloquently offer
largesse to the unhappy Northwest.  There was Smith's cherished
water-power issue, but this aroused no flaming enthusiasm in the
electorate, possibly because too many influential citizens had rosy
hopes for the future of Electric Bond & Share or Cities Service.
There were also, of course, many less freely advertised issues:
millions of men and women turned to Hoover because they thought
Smith would make the White House a branch office of the Vatican, or
turned to Smith because they wished to strike at religious
intolerance, or opposed Hoover because they thought he would prove
to be a stubborn doctrinaire, or were activated chiefly by dislike
of Smith's hats or Mrs. Smith's jewelry.  But no aspect of the
campaign was more interesting than the extent to which it reflected
the obsession of the American people with bull-market prosperity.

To begin with, there was no formidable third party in the field in
1928 as there had been in 1924.  The whispering radicals had been
lulled to sleep by the prophets of the new economic era.  The
Socialists nominated Norman Thomas, but were out of the race from
the start.  So closely had the ticker tape bound the American
people to Wall Street, in fact, that even the Democrats found
themselves in a difficult position.  In other years they had shown
a certain coolness toward the rulers of the banking and industrial
world; but this would never do now.  To criticize the gentlemen who
occupied front seats on the prosperity band-wagon, or to suggest
that the ultimate destination of the band-wagon might not be the
promised land, would be suicidal.  Nor could they deny that good
times had arrived under a Republican administration.  The best they
could do was to argue by word and deed that they, too, could make
America safe for dividends and rising stock prices.

This they now did with painful earnestness.  For the chairmanship
of the Democratic National Committee, Al Smith chose no wild-eyed
Congressman from the great open spaces; he chose John J. Raskob,
vice-president and chairman of the finance committee of the General
Motors Corporation, vice-president of the General Motors Acceptance
Corporation, vice-president and member of the finance committee of
the E. I. duPont de Nemours & Company, director of the Bankers
Trust Company, the American Surety Company, and the County Trust
Company of New York--and reputed inspirer of the bull forces behind
General Motors.  Mr. Raskob was new to politics; in Who's Who he
not only gave his occupation as "capitalist," but was listed as a
Republican; but what matter?  All the more credit to Al Smith,
thought many Democrats, for having brought him at the eleventh hour
to labor in the vineyard.  With John J. Raskob on the Democratic
side, who could claim that a Democratic victory would prevent
common stocks from selling at twenty times earnings?

Mr. Raskob moved the Democratic headquarters to the General Motors
Building in New York--than which there was no more bullish address.
He proudly announced the fact that Mr. Harkness, "a Standard Oil
financier," and Mr. Spreckels, "a banker and sugar refiner," and
Mr. James, "a New York financier whose interests embrace railroads,
securities companies, real estate, and merchandising," did not
consider that their interests were "in the slightest degree
imperiled by the prospect of Smith's election."  (Shades of a
thousand Democratic orators who had once extolled the New Freedom
and spoken harsh words about Standard Oil magnates and New York
financiers!)  And Mr. Raskob and Governor Smith both applied a
careful soft pedal to the ancient Democratic low-tariff doctrine--
being quite unaware that within two years many of their opponents
would be wishing that the Republican high-tariff plank had fallen
entirely out of the platform and been carted away.

As for the Republicans, they naturally proclaimed prosperity as a
peculiarly Republican product, not yet quite perfected but ready
for the finishing touches.  Herbert Hoover himself struck the
keynote for them in his acceptance speech.

"One of the oldest and perhaps the noblest of human aspirations,"
said the Republican candidate, "has been the abolition of
poverty. . . .  We in America today are nearer to the final triumph
over poverty than ever before in the history of any land.  The
poorhouse is vanishing from among us.  We have not yet reached the
goal, but, given a chance to go forward with the policies of the
last eight years, we shall soon, with the help of God, be in sight
of the day when poverty will be banished from this nation.  There
is no guarantee against poverty equal to a job for every man.  That
is the primary purpose of the policies we advocate."

The time was to come when Mr. Hoover would perhaps regret the
cheerful confidence of that acceptance speech.  It left only one
loophole for subsequent escape: it stipulated that God must assist
the Republican administration.

Mr. Hoover was hardly to be blamed, however, for his optimism.  Was
not business doing far better in the summer of 1928 than it had
done during the preceding winter?  Was not the Big Bull Market
getting under way again after its fainting fit in June?  One drank
in optimism from the very air about one.  And, after all, the first
duty of a candidate is to get himself elected.  However dubious the
abolition of poverty might appear to Hoover the engineer and
economist seated before a series of graphs of the business cycle,
it appeared quite differently to Hoover the politician standing
before the microphone.  Prosperity was a sure-fire issue for a
Republican in 1928.

Al Smith put up a valiant fight, swinging strenuously from city to
city, autographing brown derbies, denouncing prohibition,
denouncing bigotry, and promising new salves for the farmer's
wounds; but it was no use.  The odds against him were too heavy.
Election Day came and Hoover swept the country.  His popular vote
was nearly 21,500,000 Smith's 15,000,000; his electoral vote was
444 to Smith's 87; and he not only carried Smith's own state of New
York and the doubtful border states of Oklahoma, Tennessee, and
Kentucky, but broke the Solid South itself, winning Florida, Texas,
North Carolina, and even Virginia.

It was a famous victory, and in celebration of it the stock market--
which all through the campaign had been pushing into new high
ground--went into a new frenzy.  Now the bulls had a new slogan.
It was "four more years of prosperity."


During that "Hoover bull market" of November, 1928, the records
made earlier in the year were smashed to flinders.  Had brokers
once spoken with awe of the possibility of five-million-share days?
Five-million-share days were now occurring with monotonous
regularity; on November 23rd the volume of trading almost reached
seven million.  Had they been amazed at the rising prices of seats
on the Stock Exchange?  In November a new mark of $580,000 was set.
Had they been disturbed that Radio should sell at such an
exorbitant price as 150?  Late in November it was bringing 400.
Ten-point gains and new highs for all time were commonplace now.
Montgomery Ward, which the previous spring had been climbing toward
200, touched 439 7/8 on November 30.  The copper stocks were
skyrocketing; Packard climbed to 145; Wright Aeronautical flew as
high as 263.  Brokers' loans?  Of course they were higher than
ever; but this, one was confidently told, was merely a sign of
prosperity--a sign that the American people were buying on the part-
payment plan a partnership in the future progress of the country.
Call money rates?  They ranged around 8 and 9 per cent; a little
high, perhaps, admitted the bulls, but what was the harm if people
chose to pay them?  Business was not suffering from high money
rates; business was doing better than ever.  The new era had
arrived, and the abolition of poverty was just around the corner.

In December the market broke again, and more sharply than in June.
There was one fearful day--Saturday, December 7th--when the weary
ticker, dragging far behind the trading on the floor, hammered out
the story of a 72-point decline in Radio.  Horrified tape-watchers
in the brokers' offices saw the stock open at 361, struggle weakly
up to 363, and then take the bumps, point by point, all the way
down to 296--which at that moment seemed like a fire-sale figure.
(The earnings of the Radio Corporation during the first nine months
of 1928 had been $7.54 per share, which on the time-honored basis
of "ten times earnings" would have suggested the appropriateness of
a price of not much over 100; but the ten-times-earnings basis for
prices had long since been discarded.  The market, as Max Winkler
said, was discounting not only the future but the hereafter.)
Montgomery Ward lost 29 points that same nerve-racking Saturday
morning, and International Harvester slipped from 368 1/2 to 307.
But just as in June, the market righted itself at the moment when
demoralization seemed to be setting in.  A few uneasy weeks of
ragged prices went by, and then the advance began once more.

The Federal Reserve authorities found themselves in an unhappy
predicament.  Speculation was clearly absorbing more and more of
the surplus funds of the country.  The inflation of credit was
becoming more and more dangerous.  The normal course for the
Reserve banks at such a juncture would have been to raise the
rediscount rate, thus forcing up the price of money for speculative
purposes, rendering speculation less attractive, liquidating
speculative loans, and reducing the volume of credit outstanding.
But the Reserve banks had already raised the rate (in July) to 5
per cent, and speculation had been affected only momentarily.
Apparently speculators were ready to pay any amount for money if
only prices kept on climbing.  The Reserve authorities had waited
patiently for the speculative fever to cure itself and it had only
become more violent.  Things had now come to such a pass that if
they raised the rate still further, they not only ran the risk of
bringing about a terrific smash in the market--and of appearing to
do so deliberately and wantonly--but also of seriously handicapping
business by forcing it to pay a high rate for funds.  Furthermore,
they feared the further accumulation of gold in the United States
and the effect which this might have upon world trade.  And the
Treasury had a final special concern about interest rates--it had
its own financing to do, and Secretary Mellon was naturally not
enthusiastic about forcing the Government to pay a fancy rate for
money for its own current use.  It almost seemed as if there were
no way to deflation except through disaster.

The Reserve Board finally met the dilemma by thinking up a new and
ingenious scheme.  They tried to prevent the reloaning of Reserve
funds to brokers without raising the rediscount rate.

On February 2, 1929, they issued a statement in which they said:
"The Federal Reserve Act does not, in the opinion of the Federal
Reserve Board, contemplate the use of the resources of the Federal
Reserve Banks for the creation or extension of speculative credit.
A member bank is not within its reasonable claims for rediscount
facilities at its Federal Reserve Bank when it borrows either for
the purpose of making speculative loans or for the purpose of
maintaining speculative loans."  A little less than a fortnight
later the Board wrote to the various Reserve Banks asking them to
"prevent as far as possible the diversion of Federal Reserve funds
for the purpose of carrying loans based on securities."  Meanwhile
the Reserve Banks drastically reduced their holdings of securities
purchased in the open market.  But no increases in rediscount rates
were permitted.  Again and again, from February on, the directors
of the New York Reserve Bank asked Washington for permission to
lift the New York rate, and each time the permission was denied.
The Board preferred to rely on their new policy.

The immediate result of the statement of February 2, 1929, was a
brief overnight collapse in stock prices.  The subsequent result,
as the Reserve Banks proceeded to bring pressure on their member
banks to borrow only for what were termed legitimate business
purposes, was naturally a further increase in call-money rates.
Late in March--after Herbert Hoover had entered the White House and
the previous patron saint of prosperity had retired to Northampton
to explore the delights of autobiography--the pinch in money came
to a sudden and alarming climax.  Stock prices had been falling for
several days when on March 26th the rate for call money jumped from
12 per cent to 15, and then to 17, and finally to 20 per cent--the
highest rate since the dismal days of 1921.  Another dizzy drop in
prices took place.  The turnover in stocks on the Exchange broke
the November record, reaching 8,246,740 shares.  Once again
thousands of requests for more margin found their way into
speculators' mail-boxes, and thousands of participators in the
future prosperity of the country were sold out with the loss of
everything they owned.  Once again the Big Bull Market appeared to
be on its last legs.

That afternoon several of the New York banks decided to come to the
rescue.  Whatever they thought of the new policy of the Federal
Reserve Board, they saw a possible panic brewing--and anything,
they decided, was better than a panic.  The next day Charles E.
Mitchell, president of the National City Bank, announced that his
bank was prepared to lend twenty million dollars on call, of which
five million would be available at 15 per cent, five million more
at 16 per cent, and so on up to 20 per cent.  Mr. Mitchell's action--
which was described by Senator Carter Glass as a slap in the face
of the Reserve Board--served to peg the call money rate at 15 per
cent and the threatened panic was averted.

Whereupon stocks not only ceased their precipitous fall, but
cheerfully recovered!

The lesson was plain: the public simply would not be shaken out of
the market by anything short of a major disaster.

During the next month or two stocks rose and fell uncertainly,
sinking dismally for a time in May, and the level of brokers' loans
dipped a little, but no general liquidation took place.  Gradually
money began to find its way more plentifully into speculative use
despite the barriers raised by the Federal Reserve Board.  A
corporation could easily find plenty of ways to put its surplus
cash out on call at 8 or 9 per cent without doing it through a
member bank of the Federal Reserve System; corporations were eager
to put their funds to such remunerative use, as the increase in
loans "for others" showed; and the member banks themselves,
realizing this, were showing signs of restiveness.  When June came,
the advance in prices began once more, almost as if nothing had
happened.  The Reserve authorities were beaten.


By the summer of 1929, prices had soared far above the stormy
levels of the preceding winter into the blue and cloudless
empyrean.  All the old markers by which the price of a promising
common stock could be measured had long since been passed; if a
stock once valued at 100 went to 300, what on earth was to prevent
it from sailing on to 400?  And why not ride with it for 50 or 100
points, with Easy Street at the end of the journey?

By every rule of logic the situation had now become more perilous
than ever.  If inflation had been serious in 1927, it was far more
serious in 1929, as the total of brokers' loans climbed toward six
billion (it had been only three and a half billion at the end of
1927).  If the price level had been extravagant in 1927 it was
preposterous now; and in economics, as in physics, there is no
gainsaying the ancient principle that the higher they go, the
harder they fall.  But the speculative memory is short.  As people
in the summer of 1929 looked back for precedents, they were
comforted by the recollection that every crash of the past few
years had been followed by a recovery, and that every recovery had
ultimately brought prices to a new high point.  Two steps up, one
step down, two steps up again--that was how the market went.  If
you sold, you had only to wait for the next crash (they came every
few months) and buy in again.  And there was really no reason to
sell at all: you were bound to win in the end if your stock was
sound.  The really wise man, it appeared, was he who "bought and
held on."

Time and again the economists and forecasters had cried, "Wolf,
wolf," and the wolf had made only the most fleeting of visits.
Time and again the Reserve Board had expressed fear of inflation,
and inflation had failed to bring hard times.  Business in danger?
Why, nonsense!  Factories were running at full blast and the
statistical indices registered first-class industrial health.  Was
there a threat of overproduction?  Nonsense again!  Were not
business concerns committed to hand-to-mouth buying, were not
commodity prices holding to reasonable levels?  Where were the
overloaded shelves of goods, the heavy inventories, which business
analysts universally accepted as storm signals?  And look at the
character of the stocks which were now leading the advance!  At a
moment when many of the high-flyers of earlier months were losing
ground, the really sensational advances were being made by the
shares of such solid and conservatively managed companies as United
States Steel, General Electric, and American Telephone--which were
precisely those which the most cautious investor would select with
an eye to the long future.  Their advance, it appeared, was simply
a sign that they were beginning to have a scarcity value.  As
General George R. Dyer of Dyer, Hudson & Company was quoted as
saying in the Boston News Bureau, "Anyone who buys our highest-
class rails and industrials, including the steels, coppers, and
utilities, and holds them, will make a great deal of money, AS
the bull operators had long been saying must be true, after all.
This was a new era.  Prosperity was coming into full and perfect

Still there remained doubters.  Yet so cogent were the arguments
against them that at last the great majority of even the sober
financial leaders of the country were won over in some degree.
They recognized that inflation might ultimately be a menace, but
the fears of immediate and serious trouble which had gripped them
during the preceding winter were being dissipated.  This bull
market had survived some terrific shocks; perhaps it was destined
for a long life, after all.

On every side one heard the new wisdom sagely expressed:
"Prosperity due for a decline?  Why, man, we've scarcely started!"
"Be a bull on America."  "Never sell the United States short."  "I
tell you, some of these prices will look ridiculously low in
another year or two."  "Just watch that stock--it's going to five
hundred."  "The possibilities of that company are UNLIMITED."
"Never give up your position in a good stock."  Everybody heard how
many millions a man would have made if he had bought a hundred
shares of General Motors in 1919 and held on.  Everybody was
reminded at some time or another that George F. Baker never sold
anything.  As for the menace of speculation, one was glibly assured
that--as Ex-Governor Stokes of New Jersey had proclaimed in an
eloquent speech--Columbus, Washington, Franklin, and Edison had all
been speculators.  "The way to wealth," wrote John J. Raskob in an
article in the Ladies' Home Journal alluringly entitled "Everybody
Ought to Be Rich," "is to get into the profit end of wealth
production in this country," and he pointed out that if one saved
but fifteen dollars a month and invested it in good common stocks,
allowing the dividends and rights to accumulate, at the end of
twenty years one would have at least eighty thousand dollars and an
income from investments of at least four hundred dollars a month.
It was all so easy.  The gateway to fortune stood wide open.

Meanwhile, one heard, the future of American industry was to be
assured by the application of a distinctly modern principle.
Increased consumption, as Waddill Catchings and William T. Foster
had pointed out, was the road to plenty.  If we all would only
spend more and more freely, the smoke would belch from every
factory chimney, and dividends would mount.  Already the old
economic order was giving way to the new.  As Dr. Charles Amos
Dice, professor of the somewhat unacademic subject of business
organization at Ohio State University, wrote in a book called New
Levels in the Stock Market, there was taking place "a mighty
revolution in industry, in trade, and in finance."  The stock
market was but "registering the tremendous changes that were in

When Professor Dice spoke of changes in finance, he certainly was
right.  The public no longer wanted anything so stale and
profitless as bonds, it wanted securities which would return
profits.  Company after company was taking shrewd advantage of this
new appetite to retire its bonds and issue new common stock in
their place.  If new bonds were issued, it became fashionable to
give them a palatably speculative flavor by making them convertible
into stock or by attaching to them warrants for the purchase of
stock at some time in the rosy future.  The public also seemed to
prefer holding a hundred shares of stock priced at $50 to holding
twenty shares priced at $250--it made one feel so much richer to be
able to buy and sell in quantity!--and an increasing number of
corporations therefore split up their common shares to make them
attractive to a wide circle of buyers, whether or not any increase
in the dividend was in immediate prospect.  Many concerns had long
made a practice of securing new capital by issuing to their
shareholders the rights to buy new stock at a concession in price;
this practice now became widely epidemic.  Mergers of industrial
corporations and of banks were taking place with greater frequency
than ever before, prompted not merely by the desire to reduce
overhead expenses and avoid the rigors of cut-throat competition,
but often by sheer corporate megalomania.  And every rumor of a
merger or a split-up or an issue of rights was the automatic signal
for a leap in the prices of the stocks affected--until it became
altogether too tempting to the managers of many a concern to
arrange a split-up or a merger or an issue of rights not without a
canny eye to their own speculative fortunes.

For many years rival capitalistic interests, imitating the
brilliant methods of Sidney Z. Mitchell, had sought to secure
control of local electric light and power and gas companies and
water companies and weld them into chains; and as the future
possibilities of the utilities seized upon the speculative
imagination, the battle between these groups led to an amazing
proliferation of utility holding companies.  By the summer of 1929
the competing systems had become so elaborate, and their
interrelations had become so complicated, that it was difficult to
arrive at even the vaguest idea of the actual worth of their
soaring stocks.  Even the professional analyst of financial
properties was sometimes bewildered when he found Company A holding
a 20-per-cent interest in Company B, and B an interest in C, while
C in turn invested in A, and D held shares in each of the others.
But few investors seemed to care about actual worth.  Utilities had
a future and prices were going up--that was enough.

Meanwhile investment trusts multiplied like locusts.  There were
now said to be nearly five hundred of them, with a total paid-in
capital of some three billion and with holdings of stocks--many of
them purchased at the current high prices--amounting to something
like two billion.  These trusts ranged all the way from honestly
and intelligently managed companies to wildly speculative concerns
launched by ignorant or venal promoters.  Some of them, it has been
said, were so capitalized that they could not even pay their
preferred dividends out of the income from the securities which
they held, but must rely almost completely upon the hope of
profits.  Other investment trusts, it must be admitted, served from
time to time the convenient purpose of absorbing securities which
the bankers who controlled them might have difficulty in selling in
the open market.  Reprehensible, you say?  Of course; but it was so
easy!  One could indulge in all manner of dubious financial
practices with an unruffled conscience so long as prices rose.  The
Big Bull Market covered a multitude of sins.  It was a golden day
for the promoter, and his name was legion.

Gradually the huge pyramid of capital rose.  While supersalesmen of
automobiles and radios and a hundred other gadgets were loading the
ultimate consumer with new and shining wares, supersalesmen of
securities were selling him shares of investment trusts which held
stock in holding companies owned the stock of banks which had
affiliates which in turn controlled holding companies--and so on ad
infinitum.  Though the shelves of manufacturing companies and
jobbers and retailers were not overloaded, the shelves of the
ultimate consumer and the shelves of the distributors of securities
were groaning.  Trouble was brewing--not the same sort of trouble
which had visited the country in 1921, but trouble none the less.
Still, however, the cloud in the summer sky looked no bigger than a
man's hand.

How many Americans actually held stock on margin during the
fabulous summer of 1929 there seems to be no way of computing, but
it is probably safe to put the figure at more than a million.
(George Buchan Robinson estimated that three hundred million shares
of stock were being carried on margin.)  The additional number of
those who held common stock outright and followed the daily
quotations with an interest nearly as absorbed as that of the
margin trader was, of course, considerably larger.  As one walked
up the aisle of the 5:27 local, or found one's seat in the trolley
car, two out of three newspapers that one saw were open to the page
of stock market quotations.  Branch offices of the big Wall Street
houses blossomed in every city and in numerous suburban villages.
In 1919 there had been 500 such offices; by October, 1928, there
were 1,192; and throughout most of 1929 they appeared in increasing
numbers.  The broker found himself regarded with a new wonder and
esteem.  Ordinary people, less intimate with the mysteries of Wall
Street than he was supposed to be, hung upon his every word.  Let
him but drop a hint of a possible split-up in General Industries
Associates and his neighbor was off hot-foot the next morning to
place a buying order.

The rich man's chauffeur drove with his ear laid back to catch the
news of an impending move in Bethlehem Steel; he held fifty shares
himself on a twenty-point margin.  The window-cleaner at the
broker's office paused to watch the ticker, for he was thinking of
converting his laboriously accumulated savings into a few shares of
Simmons.  Edwin Lefvre told of a broker's valet who had made
nearly a quarter of a million in the market, of a trained nurse who
cleaned up thirty thousand following the tips given her by grateful
patients; and of a Wyoming cattleman, thirty miles from the nearest
railroad, who bought or sold a thousand shares a day--getting his
market returns by radio and telephoning his orders to the nearest
large town to be transmitted to New York by telegram.  An ex-
actress in New York fitted up her Park Avenue apartment as an
office and surrounded herself with charts, graphs, and financial
reports, playing the market by telephone on an increasing scale and
with increasing abandon.  Across the dinner table one heard
fantastic stories of sudden fortunes: a young banker had put every
dollar of his small capital into Niles-Bement-Pond and now was
fixed for life; a widow had been able to buy a large country house
with her winnings in Kennecott.  Thousands speculated--and won, too--
without the slightest knowledge of the nature of the company upon
whose fortunes they were relying, like the people who bought
Seaboard Air Line under the impression that it was an aviation
stock.  Grocers, motormen, plumbers, seamstresses, and speakeasy
waiters were in the market.  Even the revolting intellectuals were
there: loudly as they might lament the depressing effects of
standardization and mass production upon American life, they found
themselves quite ready to reap the fruits thereof.  Literary
editors whose hopes were wrapped about American Cyanamid B lunched
with poets who swore by Cities Service, and as they left the table,
stopped for a moment in the crowd at the broker's branch office to
catch the latest quotations; and the artist who had once been
eloquent only about Gauguin laid aside his brushes to proclaim the
merits of National Bellas Hess.  The Big Bull Market had become a
national mania.


In September the market reached its ultimate glittering peak.

It was six months, now, since Herbert Hoover had driven down
Pennsylvania Avenue in the rain to take the oath of office as
President of the United States.  He had appointed the Wickersham
Commission to investigate law enforcement in general and
prohibition in particular.  At the President's instance Congress
had passed the Agricultural Marketing Act; and Alexander Legge had
assumed, among his duties as chairman of the new Federal Farm
Board, the task of "preventing and controlling surpluses in any
agricultural commodity."  The Kellogg-Briand Treaty had been
proclaimed in effect, and Ramsay MacDonald was preparing to sail
for the United States to discuss a new treaty for the reduction of
naval armaments.  The long wrangle over the Harding oil scandals
was at last producing definite results: Colonel Stewart, buried
under a mountain of Rockefeller proxies, had left the chairmanship
of the Standard Oil Company of Indiana, and Harry F. Sinclair was
sitting in jail.  Colonel Lindbergh, true to his rle as the
national super-hero, had married Miss Anne Morrow.  Commander Byrd,
the man who put heroism into quantity production, was waiting in
the Antarctic darkness of "Little America" for his chance to fly to
the South Pole.  Nonstop flyers were zooming about over the
American countryside, and emulation of the heroes of the air had
reached its climax of absurdity in the exploit of a twenty-two-year-
old boy who had climbed into the cabin of the Yellow Bird and had
been carried as a stowaway by Assolant and Lefvre from Old
Orchard, Maine, to the Spanish coast.  And on the sands of a
thousand American beaches, girls pulled down the shoulder-straps of
their bathing suits to acquire fashionably tanned backs, and
wondered whether it would be all right to leave their stockings off
when they drove to town, and whether it was true, as the journals
of fashion declared, that every evening dress must soon reach all
the way to the ground.

This was the season when Tilden won his seventh and last American
amateur tennis championship.  It was Bobby Jones's penultimate year
as monarch of amateur golfers--his seventh successive year as
winner of either the amateur or the open championship of the United
States.  Babe Ruth was still hammering out home runs as
successfully as in 1920, but he too was getting older: a sporting
cycle was drawing to its close.  Dempsey had lost his crown to
Tunney, Tunney had hung it on the wall to go and foregather with
the literati, and there was no one to follow them as a magnet for
two-million-dollar crowds.

Everybody was reading All Quiet on the Western Front and singing
the songs which Rudy Vallee crooned over the radio.  The literary
journals were making a great fuss over humanism.  But even sun-tan
and Ramsay MacDonald's proposed good-will voyage and humanism and
All Quiet were dull subjects for talk compared with the Big Bull
Market.  Had not Goldman, Sachs & Company just expressed its
confidence in the present level of prices by sponsoring the Blue
Ridge Corporation, an investment trust which offered to exchange
its stock for those of the leading "blue chips" at the current
figures--324 for Allied Chemical and Dye, 293 for American
Telephone, 179 for Consolidated Gas, 395 for General Electric, and
so on down the list?

Stop for a moment to glance at a few of the prices recorded on the
overworked ticker on September 3, 1929, the day when the Dow-Jones
averages reached their high point for the year; and compare them
with the opening prices of March 3, 1928, when, as you may recall,
it had seemed as if the bull market had already climbed to a
perilous altitude.  Here they are, side by side--first the figures
for March, 1928; then the figures for September, 1929; and finally
the latter figures translated into 1928 terms--or in other words
revised to make allowance for intervening split-ups and issues of
rights.  (Only thus can you properly judge the extent of the
advance during those eighteen confident months.)

                                   Opening     High      Adjusted
                                    price      price    high price
                                   March 3,   Sept. 3,   Sept. 3,
                                    1928       1929        1929

American Can                         77        181 7/8    181 7/8

American Telephone & Telegraph      179 1/2    304        335 5/8

Anaconda Copper                      54 1/2    131 1/2    162

Electric Bond & Share                89 3/4    186 3/4    203 5/8

General Electric                    128 3/4    396 1/4    396 1/4

General Motors                      139 3/4     72 3/4    181 7/8

Montgomery Ward                     132 3/4    137 7/8    466 1/2

New York Central                    160 1/2    256 3/8    256 3/8

Radio                                94 1/2    101        505

Union Carbide & Carbon              145        137 7/8    413 5/8

United States Steel                 138 1/8    261 3/4    279 1/8

Westinghouse E. & M.                 91 5/8    289 7/8    313

Woolworth                           180 3/4    100 3/8    251

Note:  The prices of General Electric, Radio, Union Carbide, and
Woolworth are here adjusted to take account of split-ups occurring
subsequent to March 3, 1928.  The prices of American Telephone,
Anaconda, Montgomery Ward, United States Steel, Westinghouse, and
Electric Bond & Share are adjusted to take account of intervening
issues of rights; they represent the value per share on September
3, 1929, of a holding acquired on March 3, 1928, the adjustment
being based on the assumption that rights offered in the interval
were exercised.

One thing more: as you look at the high prices recorded on
September 3, 1929, remember that on that day few people imagined
that the peak had actually been reached.  The enormous majority
fully expected the Big Bull Market to go on and on.

For the blood of the pioneers still ran in American veins; and if
there was no longer something lost behind the ranges, still the
habit of seeing visions persisted.  What if bright hopes had been
wrecked by the sordid disappointments of 1919, the collapse of
Wilsonian idealism, the spread of political cynicism, the slow
decay of religious certainty, and the debunking of love?  In the
Big Bull Market there was compensation.

Still the American could spin wonderful dreams--of a romantic day
when he would sell his Westinghouse common at a fabulous price and
live in a great house and have a fleet of shining cars and loll at
ease on the sands of Palm Beach.  And when he looked toward the
future of his country, he could envision an America set free--not
from graft, nor from crime, nor from war, nor from control by Wall
Street, nor from irreligion, nor from lust, for the Utopias of an
earlier day left him for the most part skeptical or indifferent; he
envisioned an America set free from poverty and toil.  He saw a
magical order built on the new science and the new prosperity:
roads swarming with millions upon millions of automobiles,
airplanes darkening the skies, lines of high-tension wire carrying
from hilltop to hilltop the power to give life to a thousand labor-
saving machines, skyscrapers thrusting above one-time villages,
vast cities rising in great geometrical masses of stone and
concrete and roaring with perfectly mechanized traffic--and smartly
dressed men and women spending, spending, spending with the money
they had won by being far-sighted enough to foresee, way back in
1929, what was going to happen.



Early in September the stock market broke.  It quickly recovered,
however; indeed, on September 19th the averages as compiled by the
New York Times reached an even higher level than that of September
3rd.  Once more it slipped, farther and faster, until by October
4th the prices of a good many stocks had coasted to what seemed
first-class bargain levels.  Steel, for example, after having
touched 261 3/4 a few weeks earlier, had dropped as low as 204;
American Can, at the closing on October 4th, was nearly twenty
points below its high for the year; General Electric was over fifty
points below its high; Radio had gone down from 114 3/4 to 82 1/2.

A bad break, to be sure, but there had been other bad breaks, and
the speculators who escaped unscathed proceeded to take advantage
of the lessons they had learned in June and December of 1928 and
March and May of 1929: when there was a break it was a good time to
buy.  In the face of all this tremendous liquidation, brokers'
loans as compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York mounted
to a new high record on October 2nd, reaching $6,804,000,000--a
sure sign that margin buyers were not deserting the market but
coming into it in numbers at least undiminished.  (Part of the
increase in the loan figure was probably due to the piling up of
unsold securities in dealers' hands, as the spawning of investment
trusts and the issue of new common stock by every manner of
business concern continued unabated.)  History, it seemed, was
about to repeat itself, and those who picked up Anaconda at 109 3/4
or American Telephone at 281 would count themselves wise investors.
And sure enough, prices once more began to climb.  They had already
turned upward before that Sunday in early October when Ramsay
MacDonald sat on a log with Herbert Hoover at the Rapidan camp and
talked over the prospects for naval limitation and peace.

Something was wrong, however.  The decline began once more.  The
wiseacres of Wall Street, looking about for causes, fixed upon the
collapse of the Hatry financial group in England (which had led to
much forced selling among foreign investors and speculators), and
upon the bold refusal of the Massachusetts Department of Public
Utilities to allow the Edison Company of Boston to split up its
stock.  They pointed, too, to the fact that the steel industry was
undoubtedly slipping, and to the accumulation of "undigested"
securities.  But there was little real alarm until the week of
October 21st.  The consensus of opinion, in the meantime, was
merely that the equinoctial storm of September had not quite blown
over.  The market was readjusting itself into a "more secure
technical position."


In view of what was about to happen, it is enlightening to recall
how things looked at this juncture to the financial prophets, those
gentlemen whose wizardly reputations were based upon their supposed
ability to examine a set of graphs brought to them by a
statistician and discover, from the relation of curve to curve and
index to index, whether things were going to get better or worse.
Their opinions differed, of course; there never has been a moment
when the best financial opinion was unanimous.  In examining these
opinions, and the outgivings of eminent bankers, it must
furthermore be acknowledged that a bullish statement cannot
always be taken at its face value: few men like to assume the
responsibility of spreading alarm by making dire predictions, nor is
a banker with unsold securities on his hands likely to say anything
which will make it more difficult to dispose of them, unquiet as his
private mind may be.  Finally, one must admit that prophecy is at
best the most hazardous of occupations. Nevertheless, the general
state of financial opinion in October, 1929, makes an instructive
contrast with that in February and March, 1928, when, as we have
seen, the skies had not appeared any too bright.

Some forecasters, to be sure, were so unconventional as to counsel
caution.  Roger W. Babson, an investment adviser who had not always
been highly regarded in the inner circles of Wall Street,
especially since he had for a long time been warning his clients of
future trouble, predicted early in September a decline of sixty or
eighty points in the averages.  On October 7th the Standard Trade
and Securities Service of the Standard Statistics Company advised
its clients to pursue an "ultra-conservative policy," and ventured
this prediction:  "We remain of the opinion that, over the next few
months, the trend of common-stock prices will be toward lower
levels."  Poor's Weekly Business and Investment Letter spoke its
mind on the "great common-stock delusion" and predicted "further
liquidation in stocks."  Among the big bankers, Paul M. Warburg had
shown months before this that he was alive to the dangers of the
situation.  These commentators--along with others such as the
editor of the Commercial and Financial Chronicle and the financial
editor of the New York Times--would appear to deserve the 1929 gold
medals for foresight.

But if ever such medals were actually awarded, a goodly number of
leather ones would have to be distributed at the same time.  Not
necessarily to the Harvard Economic Society, although on October
19th, after having explained that business was "facing another
period of readjustment," it predicted that "if recession should
threaten serious consequences for business (as is not indicated at
present) there is little doubt that the Reserve System would take
steps to ease the money market and so check the movement."  The
Harvard soothsayers proved themselves quite fallible: as late as
October 26th, after the first wide-open crack in the stock market,
they delivered the cheerful judgment that "despite its severity, we
believe that the slump in stock prices will prove an intermediate
movement and not the precursor of a business depression such as
would entail prolonged further liquidation."  This judgment turned
out, of course, to be ludicrously wrong; but on the other hand the
Harvard Economic Society was far from being really bullish.  Nor
would Colonel Leonard P. Ayres of the Cleveland Trust Company get
one of the leather medals.  He almost qualified when, on October
15th, he delivered himself of the judgment that "there does not
seem to be as yet much real evidence that the decline in stock
prices is likely to forecast a serious recession in general
business.  Despite the slowing down in iron and steel production,
in automobile output, and in building, the conditions which result
in serious business depressions are not present."  But the skies,
as Colonel Ayres saw them, were at least partly cloudy.  "It seems
probable," he said, "that stocks have been passing not so much from
the strong to the weak as from the smart to the dumb."

Professor Irving Fisher, however, was more optimistic.  In the
newspapers of October 17th he was reported as telling the
Purchasing Agents Association that stock prices had reached "what
looks like a permanently high plateau."  He expected to see the
stock market, within a few months, "a good deal higher than it is
today."  On the very eve of the panic of October 24th he was
further quoted as expecting a recovery in prices.  Only two days
before the panic, the Boston News Bureau quoted R. W. McNeel,
director of McNeel's Financial Service, as suspecting "that some
pretty intelligent people are now buying stocks."  "Unless we are
to have a panic--which no one seriously believes--stocks have hit
bottom," said Mr. McNeel.  And as for Charles E. Mitchell, chairman
of the great National City Bank of New York, he continuously and
enthusiastically radiated sunshine.  Early in October Mr. Mitchell
was positive that, despite the stock-market break, "The industrial
situation of the United States is absolutely sound and our credit
situation is in no way critical. . . .  The interest given by the
public to brokers' loans is always exaggerated," he added.
"Altogether too much attention is paid to it."  A few days later
Mr. Mitchell spoke again:  "Although in some cases speculation has
gone too far in the United States, the markets generally are now in
a healthy condition.  The last six weeks have done an immense
amount of good by shaking down prices. . . .  The market values
have a sound basis in the general prosperity of our country."
Finally, on October 22nd, two days before the panic, he arrived in
the United States from a short trip to Europe with these reassuring
words:  "I know of nothing fundamentally wrong with the stock
market or with the underlying business and credit structure. . . .
The public is suffering from 'brokers' loanitis.'"

Nor was Mr. Mitchell by any means alone in his opinions.  To tell
the truth, the chief difference between him and the rest of the
financial community was that he made more noise.  One of the most
distinguished bankers in the United States, in closing a deal in
the early autumn of 1929, said privately that he saw not a cloud in
the sky.  Habitual bulls like Arthur Cutten were, of course,
insisting that they were "still bullish."  And the general run of
traders presumably endorsed the view attributed to "one large
house" in mid-October in the Boston News Bureau's "Broad Street
Gossip," that "the recent break makes a firm foundation for a big
bull market in the last quarter of the year."  There is no doubt
that a great many speculators who had looked upon the midsummer
prices as too high were now deciding that deflation had been
effected and were buying again.  Presumably most financial opinion
agreed also with the further statement which appeared in the "Broad
Street Gossip" column on October 16th, that "business is now too
big and diversified, and the country too rich, to be influenced by
stock market fluctuations"; and with the editorial opinion of the
News Bureau, on October 19th, that "whatever recessions (in
business) are noted, are those of the runner catching his
breath. . . .  The general condition is satisfactory and
fundamentally sound."

The disaster which was impending was destined to be as bewildering
and frightening to the rich and the powerful and the customarily
sagacious as to the foolish and unwary holder of fifty shares of
margin stock.


The expected recovery in the stock market did not come.  It seemed
to be beginning on Tuesday, October 22nd, but the gains made during
the day were largely lost during the last hour.  And on Wednesday,
the 23rd, there was a perfect Niagara of liquidation.  The volume
of trading was over 6,000,000 shares, the tape was 104 minutes late
when the three-o'clock gong ended trading for the day, and the New
York Times averages for fifty leading railroad and industrial
stocks lost 18.24 points--a loss which made the most abrupt
declines in previous breaks look small.  Everybody realized that an
unprecedented number of margin calls must be on their way to
insecurely margined traders, and that the situation at last was
getting serious.  But perhaps the turn would come tomorrow.
Already the break had carried prices down a good deal farther than
the previous breaks of the past two years.  Surely it could not go
on much longer.

The next day was Thursday, October 24th.

On that momentous day stocks opened moderately steady in price, but
in enormous volume.  Kennecott appeared on the tape in a block of
20,000 shares, General Motors in another of the same amount.
Almost at once the ticker tape began to lag behind the trading on
the floor.  The pressure of selling orders was disconcertingly
heavy.  Prices were going down. . . .  Presently they were going
down with some rapidity. . . .  Before the first hour of trading
was over, it was already apparent that they were going down with an
altogether unprecedented and amazing violence.  In brokers' offices
all over the country, tape-watchers looked at one another in
astonishment and perplexity.  Where on earth was this torrent of
selling orders coming from?

The exact answer to this question will probably never be known.
But it seems probable that the principal cause of the break in
prices during that first hour on October 24th was not fear.  Nor
was it short selling.  It was forced selling.  It was the dumping
on the market of hundreds of thousands of shares of stock held in
the name of miserable traders whose margins were exhausted or about
to be exhausted.  The gigantic edifice of prices was honeycombed
with speculative credit and was now breaking under its own weight.

Fear, however, did not long delay its coming.  As the price
structure crumbled there was a sudden stampede to get out from
under.  By eleven o'clock traders on the floor of the Stock
Exchange were in a wild scramble to "sell at the market."  Long
before the lagging ticker could tell what was happening, word had
gone out by telephone and telegraph that the bottom was dropping
out of things, and the selling orders redoubled in volume.  The
leading stocks were going down two, three, and even five points
between sales.  Down, down, down. . . .  Where were the bargain-
hunters who were supposed to come to the rescue at times like this?
Where were the investment trusts, which were expected to provide a
cushion for the market by making new purchases at low prices?
Where were the big operators who had declared that they were still
bullish?  Where were the powerful bankers who were supposed to be
able at any moment to support prices?  There seemed to be no
support whatever.  Down, down, down.  The roar of voices which rose
from the floor of the Exchange had become a roar of panic.

United States Steel had opened at 205 1/2.  It crashed through 200
and presently was at 193 1/2.  General Electric, which only a few
weeks before had been selling above 400, had opened this morning at
315--now it had slid to 283.  Things were even worse with Radio:
opening at 68 3/4, it had gone dismally down through the sixties
and the fifties and the forties to the abysmal price of 44 1/2.
And as for Montgomery Ward, vehicle of the hopes of thousands who
saw the chain store as the harbinger of the new economic era, it
had dropped headlong from 83 to 50.  In the space of two short
hours, dozens of stocks lost ground which it had required many
months of the bull market to gain.

Even this sudden decline in values might not have been utterly
terrifying if people could have known precisely what was happening
at any moment.  It is the unknown which causes real panic.

Suppose a man walked into a broker's branch office between twelve
and one o'clock on October 24th to see how things were faring.
First he glanced at the big board, covering one wall of the room,
on which the day's prices for the leading stocks were supposed to
be recorded.  The LOW and LAST figures written there took his
breath away, but soon he was aware that they were unreliable: even
with the wildest scrambling, the boys who slapped into place the
cards which recorded the last prices shown on the ticker could not
keep up with the changes--they were too numerous and abrupt.  He
turned to the shining screen across which ran an uninterrupted
procession of figures from the ticker.  Ordinarily the practiced
tape-watcher could tell from a moment's glance at the screen how
things were faring, even though the Exchange now omitted all but
the final digit of each quotation.  A glance at the board, if not
his own memory, supplied the missing digits.  But today, when he
saw a run of symbols and figures like

     R              WX
      6.5 1/2.5.4    9.8 7/8 3/4 1/2 1/4.8.7 1/2.7.

he could not be sure whether the price of "6" shown for Radio meant
66 or 56 or 46; whether Westinghouse was sliding from 189 to 187 or
from 179 to 177.  And presently he heard that the ticker was an
hour and a half late; at one o'clock it was recording the prices of
half-past eleven!  All this that he saw was ancient history.  What
was happening on the floor now?

At ten-minute intervals the bond ticker over in the corner would
hammer off a list of selected prices direct from the floor, and a
broker's clerk would grab the uncoiling sheet of paper and shear it
off with a pair of scissors and read the figures aloud in a
mumbling expressionless monotone to the white-faced men who
occupied every seat on the floor and stood packed at the rear of
the room.  The prices which he read out were TEN OR A DOZEN OR MORE
not included in that select list?  There was no way of finding out.
The telephone lines were clogged as inquiries and orders from all
over the country converged upon the Stock Exchange.  Once in a
while a voice would come barking out of the broker's rear office
where a frantic clerk was struggling for a telephone connection:
"Steel at ninety-six!"  Small comfort, however, to know what Steel
was doing; the men outside were desperately involved in many
another stock than Steel; they were almost completely in the dark,
and their imaginations had free play.  If they put in an order to
buy or to sell, it was impossible to find out what became of it.
The Exchange's whole system for the recording of current prices and
for communicating orders was hopelessly unable to cope with the
emergency, and the sequel was an epidemic of fright.

In that broker's office, as in hundreds of other offices from one
end of the land to the other, one saw men looking defeat in the
face.  One of them was slowly walking up and down, mechanically
tearing a piece of paper into tiny and still tinier fragments.
Another was grinning shamefacedly, as a small boy giggles at a
funeral.  Another was abjectly beseeching a clerk for the latest
news of American & Foreign Power.  And still another was sitting
motionless, as if stunned, his eyes fixed blindly upon the moving
figures on the screen, those innocent-looking figures that meant
the smash-up of the hopes of years. . . .

    GL.                      AWW.            JMP.    3.2 1/2.2. 1/2.

A few minutes after noon, some of the more alert members of a crowd
which had collected on the street outside the Stock Exchange,
expecting they knew not what, recognized Charles E. Mitchell,
erstwhile defender of the bull market, slipping quietly into the
offices of J. P. Morgan & Company on the opposite corner.  It was
scarcely more than nine years since the House of Morgan had been
pitted with the shrapnel-fire of the Wall Street explosion; now its
occupants faced a different sort of calamity equally near at hand.
Mr. Mitchell was followed shortly by Albert H. Wiggin, head of the
Chase National Bank; William Potter, head of the Guaranty Trust
Company; and Seward Prosser, head of the Bankers Trust Company.
They had come to confer with Thomas W. Lamont of the Morgan firm.
In the space of a few minutes these five men, with George F. Baker,
Jr., of the First National Bank, agreed in behalf of their
respective institutions to put up forty million apiece to shore up
the stock market.  The object of the two-hundred-and-forty-million-
dollar pool thus formed, as explained subsequently by Mr. Lamont,
was not to hold prices at any given level, but simply to make such
purchases as were necessary to keep trading on an orderly basis.
Their first action, they decided, would be to try to steady the
prices of the leading securities which served as bellwethers for
the list as a whole.  It was a dangerous plan, for with hysteria
spreading there was no telling what sort of dbcle might be
impending.  But this was no time for any action but the boldest.

The bankers separated.  Mr. Lamont faced a gathering of reporters
in the Morgan offices.  His face was grave, but his words were
soothing.  His first sentence alone was one of the most remarkable
understatements of all time.  "There has been a little distress
selling on the Stock Exchange," said he, "and we have held a
meeting of the heads of several financial institutions to discuss
the situation.  We have found that there are no houses in
difficulty and reports from brokers indicate that margins are being
maintained satisfactorily."  He went on to explain that what had
happened was due to a "technical condition of the market" rather
than to any fundamental cause.

As the news that the bankers were meeting circulated on the floor
of the Exchange, prices began to steady.  Soon a brisk rally set
in.  Steel jumped back to the level at which it had opened that
morning.  But the bankers had more to offer the dying bull market
than a Morgan partner's best bedside manner.

At about half-past one o'clock Richard Whitney, vice-president of
the Exchange, who usually acted as floor broker for the Morgan
interests, went into the "steel crowd" and put in a bid of 205--the
price of the last previous sale--for 10,000 shares of Steel.  He
bought only 200 shares and left the remainder of the order with the
specialist.  Mr. Whitney then went to various other points on the
floor, and offered the price of the last previous sale for 10,000
shares of each of fifteen or twenty other stocks, reporting what
was sold to him at that price and leaving the remainder of the
order with the specialist.  In short, within the space of a few
minutes Mr. Whitney offered to purchase something in the
neighborhood of twenty or thirty million dollars' worth of stock.
Purchases of this magnitude are not undertaken by Tom, Dick, and
Harry; it was clear that Mr. Whitney represented the bankers' pool.

The desperate remedy worked.  The semblance of confidence returned.
Prices held steady for a while; and though many of them slid off
once more in the final hour, the net results for the day might well
have been worse.  Steel actually closed two points higher than on
Wednesday, and the net losses of most of the other leading
securities amounted to less than ten points apiece for the whole
day's trading.

All the same, it had been a frightful day.  At seven o'clock that
night the tickers in a thousand brokers' offices were still
chattering; not till after 7:08 did they finally record the last
sale made on the floor at three o'clock.  The volume of trading had
set a new record--12,894,650 shares.  ("The time may come when we
shall see a five-million-share day," the wise men of the Street had
been saying twenty months before!)  Incredible rumors had spread
wildly during the early afternoon--that eleven speculators had
committed suicide, that the Buffalo and Chicago exchanges had been
closed, that troops were guarding the New York Stock Exchange
against an angry mob.  The country had known the bitter taste of
panic.  And although the bankers' pool had prevented for the moment
an utter collapse, there was no gainsaying the fact that the
economic structure had cracked wide open.


Things looked somewhat better on Friday and Saturday.  Trading was
still on an enormous scale, but prices for the most part held.  At
the very moment when the bankers' pool was cautiously disposing of
as much as possible of the stock which it had accumulated on
Thursday and was thus preparing for future emergencies, traders who
had sold out higher up were coming back into the market again with
new purchases, in the hope that the bottom had been reached.
(Hadn't they often been told that "the time to buy is when things
look blackest"?)  The newspapers carried a very pretty series of
reassuring statements from the occupants of the seats of the
mighty; Herbert Hoover himself, in a White House statement, pointed
out that "the fundamental business of the country, that is,
production and distribution of commodities, is on a sound and
prosperous basis."  But toward the close of Saturday's session
prices began to slip again.  And on Monday the rout was under way
once more.

The losses registered on Monday were terrific--17 1/2 points for
Steel, 47 1/2 for General Electric, 36 for Allied Chemical, 34 1/2
for Westinghouse, and so on down a long and dismal list.  All
Saturday afternoon and Saturday night and Sunday the brokers had
been struggling to post their records and go over their customers'
accounts and sent out calls for further margin, and another
avalanche of forced selling resulted.  The prices at which Mr.
Whitney's purchases had steadied the leading stocks on Thursday
were so readily broken through that it was immediately clear that
the bankers' pool had made a strategic retreat.  As a matter of
fact, the brokers who represented the pool were having their hands
full plugging up the "air-holes" in the list--in other words,
buying stocks which were offered for sale without any bids at all
in sight.  Nothing more than this could have been accomplished,
even if it could have been wisely attempted.  Even six great banks
could hardly stem the flow of liquidation from the entire United
States.  They could only guide it a little, check it momentarily
here and there.

Once more the ticker dropped ridiculously far behind, the lights in
the brokers' offices and the banks burned till dawn, and the
telegraph companies distributed thousands of margin calls and
requests for more collateral to back up loans at the banks.
Bankers, brokers, clerks, messengers were almost at the end of
their strength; for days and nights they had been driving
themselves to keep pace with the most terrific volume of business
that had ever descended upon them.  It did not seem as if they
could stand it much longer.  But the worst was still ahead.  It
came the next day, Tuesday, October 29th.

The big gong had hardly sounded in the great hall of the Exchange
at ten o'clock Tuesday morning before the storm broke in full
force.  Huge blocks of stock were thrown upon the market for what
they would bring.  Five thousand shares, ten thousand shares
appeared at a time on the laboring ticker at fearful recessions in
price.  Not only were innumerable small traders being sold out, but
big ones, too, protagonists of the new economic era who a few weeks
before had counted themselves millionaires.  Again and again the
specialist in a stock would find himself surrounded by brokers
fighting to sell--and nobody at all even thinking of buying.  To
give one single example: during the bull market the common stock of
the White Sewing Machine Company had gone as high as 48; on Monday,
October 28th, it had closed at 11 1/8.  On that black Tuesday,
somebody--a clever messenger boy for the Exchange, it was rumored--
had the bright idea of putting in an order to buy at 1--and in the
temporarily complete absence of other bids he actually got his
stock for a dollar a share!  The scene on the floor was chaotic.
Despite the jamming of the communication system, orders to buy and
sell--mostly to sell--came in faster than human beings could
possibly handle them; it was on that day that an exhausted broker,
at the close of the session, found a large waste-basket which he
had stuffed with orders to be executed and had carefully set aside
for safekeeping--and then had completely forgotten.  Within half an
hour of the opening the volume of trading had passed 3,000,000
shares, by twelve o'clock it had passed 8,000,000, by half-past one
it had passed twelve 12,000,000, and when the closing gong brought
the day's madness to an end the gigantic record of 16,410,030
shares had been set.  Toward the close there was a rally, but by
that time the average prices of fifty leading stocks, as compiled
by the New York Times, had fallen nearly forty points.  Meanwhile
there was a near-panic in other markets--the foreign stock
exchanges, the lesser American exchanges, the grain market.

So complete was the demoralization of the stock market and so
exhausted were the brokers and their staffs and the Stock Exchange
employees, that at noon that day, when the panic was at its worst,
the Governing Committee met quietly to decide whether or not to
close the Exchange.  To quote from an address made some months
later by Richard Whitney:  "In order not to give occasion for
alarming rumors, this meeting was not held in the Governing
Committee Room, but in the office of the president of the Stock
Clearing Corporation directly beneath the Stock Exchange floor. . . .
The forty governors came to the meeting in groups of two and
three as unobtrusively as possible.  The office they met in was
never designed for large meetings of this sort, with the result
that most of the governors were compelled to stand, or to sit on
tables.  As the meeting progressed, panic was raging overhead on
the floor. . . .  The feeling of those present was revealed by
their habit of continually lighting cigarettes, taking a puff or
two, putting them out and lighting new ones--a practice which soon
made the narrow room blue with smoke. . . ."  Two of the Morgan
partners were invited to the meeting and, attempting to slip into
the building unnoticed so as not to start a new flock of rumors,
were refused admittance by one of the guards and had to remain
outside until rescued by a member of the Governing Committee.
After some deliberation, the governors finally decided not to close
the Exchange.

It was a critical day for the banks, that Tuesday the 29th.  Many
of the corporations which had so cheerfully loaned money to brokers
through the banks in order to obtain interest at 8 or 9 per cent
were now clamoring to have these loans called--and the banks were
faced with a choice between taking over the loans themselves and
running the risk of precipitating further ruin.  It was no laughing
matter to assume the responsibility of millions of dollars' worth
of loans secured by collateral which by the end of the day might
prove to have dropped to a fraction of its former value.  That the
call money rate never rose above 6 per cent that day, that a money
panic was not added to the stock panic, and that several Wall
Street institutions did not go down into immediate bankruptcy, was
due largely to the nerve shown by a few bankers in stepping into
the breach.  The story is told of one banker who went grimly on
authorizing the taking over of loan after loan until one of his
subordinate officers came in with a white face and told him that
the bank was insolvent.  "I dare say," said the banker, and went
ahead unmoved.  He knew that if he did not, more than one concern
would face insolvency.

The next day--Wednesday, October 30th--the outlook suddenly and
providentially brightened.  The directors of the Steel Corporation
had declared an extra dividend; the directors of the American Can
Company had not only declared an extra dividend, but had raised the
regular dividend.  There was another flood of reassuring statements--
though by this time a cheerful statement from a financier fell
upon somewhat skeptical ears.  Julius Klein, Mr. Hoover's Assistant
Secretary of Commerce, composed a rhapsody on continued prosperity.
John J. Raskob declared that stocks were at bargain prices and that
he and his friends were buying.  John D. Rockefeller poured
Standard Oil upon the waters:  "Believing that fundamental
conditions of the country are sound and that there is nothing in
the business situation to warrant the destruction of values that
has taken place on the exchanges during the past week, my son and I
have for some days been purchasing sound common stocks."  Better
still, prices rose--steadily and buoyantly.  Now at last the time
had come when the strain on the Exchange could be relieved without
causing undue alarm.  At 1:40 o'clock Vice-President Whitney
announced from the rostrum that the Exchange would not open until
noon the following day and would remain closed all day Friday and
Saturday--and to his immense relief the announcement was greeted,
not with renewed panic, but with a cheer.

Throughout Thursday's short session the recovery continued.  Prices
gyrated wildly--for who could arrive at a reasonable idea of what a
given stock was worth, now that all settled standards of value had
been upset?--but the worst of the storm seemed to have blown over.
The financial community breathed more easily; now they could have a
chance to set their houses in order.

It was true that the worst of the panic was past.  But not the
worst prices.  There was too much forced liquidation still to come
as brokers' accounts were gradually straightened out, as banks
called for more collateral, and terror was renewed.  The next week,
in a series of short sessions, the tide of prices receded once more--
until at last on November 13th the bottom prices for the year 1929
were reached.  Beside the figures hung up in the sunny days of
September they made a tragic showing:

                                     High price       Low price
                                    Sept. 3, 1929   Nov. 13, 1929

American Can                            181 7/8           86

American Telephone & Telegraph          304              197 1/4

Anaconda Copper                         131 1/2           70

Electric Bond & Share                   186 3/4           50 1/4

General Electric                        396 l/4          168 1/8

General Motors                           72 3/4           36

Montgomery Ward                         137 7/8           49 1/4

New York Central                        256 3/8          160

Radio                                   101               28

Union Carbide & Carbon                  137 7/8           59

United States Steel                     261 3/4          150

Westinghouse E. & M.                    289 7/8          102 5/8

Woolworth                               100 3/8           52 1/4

The New York Times averages for fifty leading stocks had been
almost cut in half, falling from a high of 311.90 in September to a
low of 164.43 on November 13th; and the Times averages for twenty-
five leading industrials had fared still worse, diving from 469.49
to 220.95.

The Big Bull Market was dead.  Billions of dollars' worth of
profits--and paper profits--had disappeared.  The grocer, the
window-cleaner, and the seamstress had lost their capital.  In
every town there were families which had suddenly dropped from
showy affluence into debt.  Investors who had dreamed of retiring
to live on their fortunes now found themselves back once more at
the very beginning of the long road to riches.  Day by day the
newspapers printed the grim reports of suicides.

Coolidge-Hoover Prosperity was not yet dead, but it was dying.
Under the impact of the shock of panic, a multitude of ills which
hitherto had passed unnoticed or had been offset by stock-market
optimism began to beset the body economic, as poisons seep through
the human system when a vital organ has ceased to function
normally.  Although the liquidation of nearly three billion dollars
of brokers' loans contracted credit, and the Reserve Banks lowered
the rediscount rate, and the way in which the larger banks and
corporations of the country had survived the emergency without a
single failure of large proportions offered real encouragement,
nevertheless the poisons were there: overproduction of capital;
overambitious expansion of business concerns; overproduction of
commodities under the stimulus of installment buying and buying
with stock-market profits; the maintenance of an artificial price
level for many commodities; the depressed condition of European
trade.  No matter how many soothsayers of high finance proclaimed
that all was well, no matter how earnestly the President set to
work to repair the damage with soft words and White House
conferences, a major depression was inevitably under way.

Nor was that all.  Prosperity is more than an economic condition;
it is a state of mind.  The Big Bull Market had been more than the
climax of a business cycle; it had been the climax of a cycle in
American mass thinking and mass emotion.  There was hardly a man or
woman in the country whose attitude toward life had not been
affected by it in some degree and was not now affected by the
sudden and brutal shattering of hope.  With the Big Bull Market
gone and prosperity going, Americans were soon to find themselves
living in an altered world which called for new adjustments, new
ideas, new habits of thought, and a new order of values.  The
psychological climate was changing; the ever-shifting currents of
American life were turning into new channels.

The Post-war Decade had come to its close.  An era had ended.


AFTERMATH: 1930-31

Not without long and unhappy protest did the country accept as an
inevitable fact the breakdown of Coolidge-Hoover Prosperity.  It
was a bitter draught to swallow; especially bitter for the
Republican party, which had so far forgotten the business cycle's
independence of political policies as to persuade itself that
prosperity was a Republican invention; and bitterest of all for
Herbert Hoover, who had uttered such confident words about the
abolition of poverty.

When the stock market went over the edge of Niagara in October and
November, 1929, and the decline in business became alarming, the
country turned to the President for action.  Something must be done
immediately to restore public confidence and prevent the damage
from spreading too far.  Mr. Hoover was a student of business, a
superlative organizer, and no novice in the art of directing public
opinion; whatever his deficiencies might be in dealing with
politicians and meeting purely political issues, the country felt
that in a public emergency of this sort he would know what to do
and how to do it if anybody on earth did.

The President acted promptly.  He promised a reduction in taxes.
He called a series of conferences of business leaders who expressed
public disapproval of the idea of lowering wages.  He recommended
the building of public works to take up the impending slack in
employment.  And he and his associates resolutely set themselves to
build up the shaken morale of business by proclaiming that
everything was all right and presently would be still better; that
"conditions"--as the everlasting reiterated phrase of the day went--
were "fundamentally sound."  "I am convinced that through these
measures we have restablished confidence," said the President in
his annual message in December.  When the year 1930 opened,
Secretary Mellon predicted "a revival of activity in the spring."
"There is nothing in the situation to be disturbed about," said
Secretary of Commerce Lamont in February. . . .  "There are grounds
for assuming that this is about a normal year."  In March Mr.
Lamont was more specific: he predicted that business would be
normal in two months.  A few days later the President himself set a
definite date for the promised recovery: unemployment would be
ended in sixty days.  On March 16th the indefatigable cheer-leader
of the Presidential optimists, Julius H. Barnes, the head of Mr.
Hoover's new National Business Survey Conference, spoke as if
trouble were already a thing of the past.  "The spring of 1930,"
said he, "marks the end of a period of grave concern. . . .
American business is steadily coming back to a normal level of

At first it seemed as if the Administration would succeed not only
in preventing drastic and immediate wage cuts, but in restoring
economic health by applying the formula of Doctor Cou.  After
sinking to a low level at the end of 1929 and throwing something
like three million men upon the streets, the industrial indices
showed measurable signs of improvement.  The stock market collected
itself and began a new advance.  Common stocks had not lost their
lure; every speculator who had not been utterly cleaned out in the
panic sought eagerly for the hair of the dog that bit him.  During
the first three months of 1930 a Little Bull Market gave a very
plausible imitation of the Big Bull Market.  Trading became as
heavy as in the golden summer of 1929, and the prices of the
leading stocks actually regained more than half the ground they had
lost during the dbcle.  For a time it seemed as if perhaps the
hopeful prophets at Washington were right and prosperity was coming
once more and it would be well to get in on the ground floor and
make up those dismal losses of 1929.

But in April this brief illusion began to sicken and die.  Business
reaction had set in again.  By the end of the sixty-day period set
for recovery by the President and his Secretary of Commerce,
commodity prices were going down, production indices were going
down, the stock market was taking a series of painful tumbles, and
hope deferred was making the American heartsick.  The Cou formula
was failing; for the economic disease was more than a temporary
case of nervous prostration, it was organic and deep-seated.

Grimly but with a set smile on their faces, the physicians at
Washington continued to recite their lesson from Self-Mastery
Through Conscious Auto-Suggestion.  They had begun their course of
treatment with plentiful publicity and could not well change the
prescription now without embarrassment.  Early in May Mr. Hoover
said he was convinced that "we have now passed the worst and with
continued unity of effort we shall rapidly recover."  On May 8th
the governor of the Federal Reserve Board admitted that the country
was in "what appears to be a business depression" ("APPEARS TO BE"--
with factories shutting down, stocks skidding, and bread-lines
stretching down the streets!), but that was as far as anybody at
Washington seemed willing to go in facing the grim reality.  On May
28th Mr. Hoover was reported as predicting that business would be
normal by fall.  The grim farce went on, the physicians uttering
soothing words to the patient and the patient daily sinking lower
and lower--until for a time it seemed as if every cheerful
pronouncement was followed by a fresh collapse.  Only when the
failure of the treatment became obvious to the point of humiliation
did the Administration lapse into temporary silence.

What were the economic diseases from which business was suffering?
A few of them may be listed categorically.

1.  Overproduction of capital and goods.  During the nineteen-
twenties, industry had become more mechanized, and thus more
capable of producing on a huge scale than ever before.  In the
bullish days of 1928 and 1929, when installment buying and stock
profits were temporarily increasing the buying power of the
American people, innumerable concerns had cheerfully overexpanded;
the capitalization of the nation's industry had become inflated,
along with bank credit.  When stock profits vanished and new
installment buyers became harder to find and men and women were
wondering how they could meet the next payment on the car or the
radio or the furniture, manufacturers were forced to operate their
enlarged and all-too-productive factories on a reduced and
unprofitable basis as they waited for buying power to recover.

2.  Artificial commodity prices.  During 1929, as David Friday has
pointed out, the prices of many products had been stabilized at
high levels by pools.  There were pools, for example, in copper and
cotton; there was a wheat pool in Canada, a coffee pool in Brazil,
a sugar pool in Cuba, a wool pool in Australia.  The prices
artificially maintained by these pools had led to overproduction,
which became the more dangerous the longer it remained concealed.
Stocks of these commodities accumulated at a rate out of all
proportion to consumption; eventually the pools could no longer
support the markets, and when the inevitable day of reckoning came,
prices fell disastrously.

3.  A collapse in the price of silver, due partly to the efforts of
several governments to put themselves on a gold basis--with a
resulting paralysis to the purchasing power of the Orient.

4.  The international financial derangement caused by the shifting
of gold in huge quantities to France and particularly to the United

5.  Unrest in foreign countries.  As the international depression
deepened, the political and economic dislocation caused by the war
became newly apparent; the chickens of 1914-18 were coming home to
roost.  Revolutions and the threat of revolutions in various parts
of the world added to the general uncertainty and fear, and
incidentally jeopardized American investments abroad.

6.  The self-generating effect of the depression itself.  Each
bankruptcy, each suspension of payments, and each reduction of
operating schedules affected other concerns, until it seemed almost
as if the business world were a set of tenpins ready to knock one
another over as they fell; each employee thrown out of work
decreased the potential buying power of the country.

And finally--

7.  The profound psychological reaction from the exuberance of
1929.  Fundamentally, perhaps, the business cycle is a psychological
phenomenon.  Only when the memory of hard times has dimmed can
confidence fully establish itself; only when confidence has led to
outrageous excesses can it be checked.  It was as difficult for Mr.
Hoover to stop the psychological pendulum on its down-swing as it
had been for the Reserve Board to stop it on its up-swing.

What happened after the failure of the Hoover campaign of optimism
makes sad reading.  Commodity prices plunged to shocking depths.
Wheat, for instance: during the last few days of 1929, December
wheat had brought $1.35 at Chicago; a year later it brought only 76
cents.  July wheat fell during the same interval from $1.37 to 61
cents.  Mr. Legge's Federal Farm Board was not unmindful of the
distress throughout the wheat belt caused by this frightful
decline; having been empowered by law to undertake the task of
"preventing and controlling surpluses in any agricultural
commodity," it tried to stabilize prices by buying wheat during the
most discouraging stages of the collapse.  But it succeeded chiefly
in accumulating surpluses; for it came into conflict with a law
older than the Agricultural Marketing Act--the law of supply and
demand.  When the dust cleared away the Farm Board had upward of
two hundred million bushels of wheat on its hands, yet prices had
nevertheless fallen all the way to the cellar; and although Mr.
Legge's successor claimed that the Board's purchases had saved from
failure hundreds of banks which had loaned money on the wheat crop,
that was scant comfort to the agonized farmers.  A terrific drought
during the summer of 1930 intensified the prostration of many
communities.  Once more the farm population seemed pursued by a
malignant fate.  They had benefited little from Coolidge
Prosperity, and now they were the worst sufferers of all from the
nightmare of 1930-31.

Meanwhile industrial production was declining steadily.  By the end
of 1930 business had sunk to 28 per cent below normal.  Stock
prices, after rallying slightly during the summer of 1930, turned
downward once more in September, and by December a long series of
shudders of liquidation had brought the price-level well below the
post-panic level of the year before.  Alas! the poor Bull Market!
Radio common, which had climbed to such dizzy heights in 1928 and
1929, retraced its steps down to--yes, and past--the point at which
it had begun its sensational advance less than three years before;
and in many another stock the retreat was even longer and less
orderly.  The drastic shrinkage in brokers' loans testified to the
number of trading accounts closed out unhappily.  The broker had
ceased to be a man of wonderful mystery in the eyes of his
acquaintances; he was approached nowadays with friendly tact, as
one who must not be upset by unfortunate references to the market.
Several brokerage houses tumbled; blue-sky investment companies
formed during the happy bull-market days went to smash, disclosing
miserable tales of rascality; over a thousand banks caved in during
1930, as a result of the marking down both of real estate and of
securities; and in December occurred the largest bank failure in
American financial history, the fall of the ill-named Bank of the
United States in New York.  Unemployment grew steadily, until by
the end of 1930 the number of jobless was figured at somewhere in
the neighborhood of six million; apple salesmen stood on the street
corner, executives and clerks and factory hands lay awake wondering
when they, too, would be thrown off, and contributed anxiously to
funds for the workless; and a stroller on Broadway, seeing a queue
forming outside a theater where Charlie Chaplin was opening in
"City Lights," asked in some concern, "What's that--a bread-line or
a bank?"

Early in 1931 there were faint signs of improvement and the
deflated stock market took cheer, but by March the uncertain dawn
was seen to have been false, and throughout the spring months the
decline was renewed.  Production ebbed once more; commodity prices
fell; stock prices faded until the panic levels of November, 1929,
looked lofty by comparison; and discouragement deepened as
dividends were reduced or omitted and failures multiplied.  Would
the bottom never be reached?

The rosy visions of 1929 had not been utterly effaced: it was
significant that the numbers of holders of common stock in most of
the large corporations increased during 1930.  Investors stubbornly
expected the tide to turn some day, and they wanted to be there
when it happened.  Yet the shock of the drop into the apparently
bottomless pit of depression was telling on their nerves.  "There
are far too many people, from businessmen to laborers," declared an
advertisement inserted in the New York papers by the Evening World
in December, 1930, "who are giving a too eager ear to wild rumors
and spiteful gossip tending to destroy confidence and create an
atmosphere of general distrust.  The victims of vague fear, on the
street and in the market place, are a menace to the community. . . .
They are the feeders of that mob psychology which creates the
spirit of panic."

"Mob psychology"!  There had been mob psychology in the days of the
Big Bull Market, too.  Action and reaction--the picture was now

Two years earlier, when Mr. Hoover had discussed the abolition of
poverty, he had prudently added the words "with God's help."  It
must have seemed to him now that God had prepared for him a cruelly
ironic jest.  Mr. Hoover was hardly more responsible for the
downfall of the business hopes of the nineteen-twenties than for
the invasion of Belgium; yet he who had won renown by administering
relief to the Belgians had now been called upon to administer
relief to the Americans, lest the poverty of which he had once
spoken so lightly make tragic inroads among them.  He was an able
economist and an able leader of men in public crises; yet his
attempts to lead business out of depression had come to conspicuous
failure.  Other businessmen of wide experience had been as
unconvinced as he that the deflation would have to be prolonged and
painful; yet when business was on the road to ruin, these men
forgot their own former optimism and blamed the President for lack
of foresight, lack of leadership, lack of even elementary common
sense.  They had not been forced to put themselves unforgettably on
record; he had.  They were not expected to reintroduce prosperity;
he was.  By the spring of 1931 the President's reputation had
declined along with prices and profits to a new low level, and the
Democrats, cheered by striking gains in the November elections,
were casting a hopeful eye toward 1932.  Observing the plight of
Mr. Hoover, Calvin Coolidge, syndicating two hundred daily words of
mingled hard sense and soft soap from his secure haven at
Northampton, must have thanked Heaven that he had not chosen to run
for President in 1928; and Governor Smith must have felt like the
man who just missed the train which went off the end of the open
drawbridge.  Doubtless the Administration's campaign of optimism
had been overzealous, but Mr. Hoover's greatest mistake had been in
getting himself elected for the 1928-32 term.

The truth was that what had taken place since the Big Bull Market
was more than a cyclical drop in prices and production; it was a
major change in the national economy.  There were encouraging signs
even when things were at their worst: the absence of serious
conflict between capital and labor, for instance, and the ability
of the Federal Reserve System to prevent a money panic even when
banks were toppling.  Doubtless prosperity was due ultimately to
return in full flood.  But it could not be the same sort of
prosperity as in the nineteen-twenties: inevitably it would rest on
different bases, favor different industries, and arouse different
forms of enthusiasm and hysteria.  The panic had written finis to a
chapter of American economic history.


There were other signs of change, too, as the nineteen-thirties
began.  Some of them had begun long before the panic; others
developed some time after it; but taken together they revealed
striking alterations in the national temper and the ways of
American life.

One could hardly walk a block in any American city or town without
noticing some of them.  The women's clothes, for instance.  The
skirt length had come down with stock prices.  Dresses for daytime
wear were longer, if only by a few inches; evening dresses swept
the ground.  Defenders of the knee-length skirt had split the air
with their protests, but the new styles had won out.  Bobbed hair
was progressively losing favor.  Frills, ruffles, and flounces were
coming in again, and the corset manufacturers were once more
learning to smile.  A measure of formality was gradually returning:
witness the long white gloves, the masculine silk hats and swallow-
tail coats.  Nor did these changes follow any mere whim of
manufacturers and stylists.  Manufacturers and stylists may issue
decrees, but not unless the public is willing to follow does the
fashion actually change.  Did not the clothing business try to
bring back the long skirt early in the nineteen-twenties, but
without success?  The long skirts and draperies and white gloves of
1930 and 1931 were the outward signs of a subtle change in the
relations between the sexes.  No longer was it the American woman's
dearest ambition to simulate a flat-breasted, spindle-legged,
carefree, knowing adolescent in a long-waisted child's frock.  The
red-hot baby had gone out of style.  Fashion advertisements in 1930
and 1931 depicted a different type, more graceful, more piquant,
more subtly alluring; decorum and romance began to come once more
within the range of possibilities.

What the fashions suggested was borne out by a variety of other
evidence.  The Revolution in Manners and Morals had at least
reached an armistice.

Not that there was any general return to the old conventions which
had been overthrown in the nineteen-twenties.  The freedom so
desperately won by the flappers of the now graying "younger
generation" had not been lost, and it was difficult to detect much
real change in the uses to which this freedom was put.  What had
departed was the excited sense that taboos were going to smash,
that morals were being made over or annihilated, and that the whole
code of behavior was in flux.  The wages of sin had become
stabilized at a lower level.  Gone, too, at least in some degree,
was that hysterical preoccupation with sex which had characterized
the Post-war Decade.  Books about sex and conversation about sex
were among the commodities suffering from overproduction.  Robert
Benchley expressed a widely prevalent opinion when he wrote in his
dramatic page in the New Yorker, late in 1930, "I am now definitely
ready to announce that Sex, as a theatrical property, is as
tiresome as the Old Mortgage, and that I don't want to hear it
mentioned ever again--I am sick of rebellious youth and I am sick
of Victorian parents and I don't care if all the little girls in
all sections of the United States get ruined or want to get ruined
or keep from getting ruined.  All I ask is: don't write plays about
it and ask me to sit through them."

Apparently a great many playgoers and readers were beginning to
feel as Mr. Benchley did.  George Jean Nathan noted the arrival on
Broadway of a new crop of romantic and poetic playwrights, and
reported that "the hard-boiled school of drama and literature . . .
is all too evidently on the wane."  Henry Seidel Canby, writing in
the Saturday Review of Literature, came to the same conclusion.
Reticence had returned from exile; indeed, even before the Post-war
Decade closed, "Journey's End," which managed to make war real
without the wholesale introduction of profanity or prostitutes, had
been applauded with something like relief.  The contrast between
"Journey's End" and "What Price Glory?" was suggestive of the
change in the popular temper.  The success of such novels as The
Good Companions, Angel Pavement, and The Water-Gypsies was perhaps
a further indication of the change.  There were enough exceptions
to the rule to remind one that easy generalizations are dangerous,
but two conclusions seemed almost inescapable: sex was no longer
front-page news, and glamour was coming into its own again.

Nor, for that matter, were people quite so positive now that every
manifestation of Victorianism and of the eighteen-nineties was to
be laughed at uproariously by "moderns."  Collectors were beginning
to look with less scornful eyes upon Victorian furniture, and
people who had read The Mauve Decade and the debunking biographies
with an air of condescension toward pre-war conventions found
themselves looking with wistful eyes, only a few years later, at
William Gillette's revival of "Sherlock Holmes" and at the
sentimentalization of the 'nineties in "Sweet Adeline."

The young people of the early nineteen-thirties presumably knew
just as much about life as those of the early and middle twenties,
but they were less conspicuously and self-consciously intent upon
showing the world what advanced young devils they were.  LaMar
Warrick, who taught at a large Middle Western university, reported
in Harper's in the autumn of 1930 that the biological novels of
Aldous Huxley, the biological psychology of John B. Watson, and the
biological philosophies of Bertrand Russell were "fast becoming . . .
out of date" among the students in her classes.  She found the
new younger generation tiring of what one of these students called
"a modernism which leaves you washed out and cynical at thirty."  A
staff reporter for the Des Moines Sunday Register queried
professors and undergraduates at three colleges in Iowa as to the
validity of Mrs. Warrick's contentions, and an impressive majority
of those with whom he talked told him that what she had said held
true in Iowa as well as in Illinois.  One young Iowan remarked that
at his college there was not now a single "Flaming Mamie" who could
be compared with "the girls who five years ago were wearing leopard-
skin coats, driving expensive roadsters, and generally raising
hell."  That hell-raising was actually on the decline seemed almost
too much to expect of inflammable human nature; but at least the
burden of testimony suggested that ostentatious hell-raising was
not quite so certain a way to social renown as in the heyday of

The Revolt of the Highbrows had spent its force.  The voice of H.
L. Mencken no longer shook the country from Provincetown to
Hollywood, and people who were always denouncing George F. Babbitt
and the dangers of standardization were beginning to seem a little
tiresome.  Many of the once distraught intellectuals were now
wondering if life was such a ghastly farce as they had supposed.
The philosophical and literary theme of futility had been almost
played out.  Even Hemingway, whom the young migrs to Montparnasse
in 1926 or thereabouts had hailed as a major prophet of the
emptiness of everything, struck a new note, almost a romantic note,
in his Farewell to Arms, published late in 1929; this novel told
the story not of a series of shallow and fleeting passions, but of
a great love which possessed the very values of whose future Joseph
Wood Krutch had despaired.  Lewis Mumford declared in 1931 that Mr.
Krutch should have realized that civilization had merely been
molting a dead skin, not going into dissolution; speaking for the
young intellectuals of the nineteen-thirties, Mr. Mumford announced
that "the mood of defeat is dead.  We have not yet hauled down our
flag, because, like Whitman's Little Captain, we can still say
collectively, We have not yet begun to fight."  Here again, easy
generalizations are dangerous; yet one doubts if any representative
of the intelligentsia could have spoken of fighting in 1925 and
felt that he was representing the opinion of his up-to-date
contemporaries.  The fashionable posture in 1925 had not been
belligerent; it had been the posture of graceful acquiescence in
defeat.  Now the mood of intellectual disillusionment was passing;
the garment of hopeless resignation began to look a little worn at
the elbows.

Whether religion was regaining any of its lost prestige was
doubtful.  The net gain in membership of all the churches in the
United States was only a trifle over one-tenth of one per cent in
1930--the smallest gain since Dr. H. K. Carroll began his annual
compilation in 1890.  But at least the religious scene had changed.
The Fundamentalists and Modernists were tiring of their battle.
Dayton had become ancient history.  The voice of science no longer
seemed to deny so loudly and authoritatively the existence of
spiritual values in the universe; and when readers of Eddington and
Jeans concluded that there was a crack in the airtight system of
scientific materialism after all, and the modernist clergy hastened
to report that the crack was wide enough to admit God, their
assertion attracted less excited rebuttal than formerly, if only
because the new scientific philosophies were too hard to understand
and the argument had been going on for so many weary years.  The
voice of psychology, once so deafening and bewildering, had
especially lost authority; it was evident that neither Freud nor
Watson had infallible answers for all the problems of humanity, and
that the psychologists were no more united than the Democrats.
Those who watched the religious life of the colleges as the
nineteen-twenties gave way to the nineteen-thirties doubted if the
ranks of the agnostics were decreasing, but found, nevertheless, a
change in the general attitude: fewer young men and women bristled
with hostility toward any and all religion, and there was a more
widespread desire, even among the doubters, to find some ground for
a positive and fruitful interpretation of life.  What was true of
the colleges was presumably true of the country as a whole:
although the churches were hardly gaining ground, neither perhaps,
was religion losing it.  Like manners and morals, religion showed
signs of stabilization on a different basis.  Whether the change
was more than temporary remained to be seen.

The great American public was just as susceptible to fads as ever.
Since the panicky autumn of 1929, millions of radios had resounded
every evening at seven o'clock with the voices of Freeman F. Gosden
and Charles J. Correll, better known as Amos 'n' Andy; "I'se
regusted" and "Check and double check" had made their way into the
common speech, and Andy's troubles with the lunchroom and Madam
Queen had become only less real to the national mind than the
vicissitudes of business and the stock market.  In September, 1930,
the Department of Commerce had found at least one thoroughly
prosperous business statistic to announce: there were almost 30,000
miniature golf courses in operation, representing an investment of
$125,000,000, and many of them were earning 300 per cent a month.
If the American people were buying nothing else in the summer of
1930, they were at least buying the right to putt a golf ball over
a surface of crushed cottonseed and through a tin pipe.

Yet the noble art of ballyhoo, which had flourished so successfully
in the nineteen-twenties, had lost something of its vigor.  Admiral
Byrd's flight to the South Pole made him a hero second only to
Lindbergh in the eyes of the country at large, but in the larger
centers of population there was manifest a slight tendency to yawn:
his exploit had been over-publicized, and heroism, however gallant,
lost something of its spontaneous charm when it was subjected to
scientific management and syndicated in daily dispatches.  A few
months after Byrd reached the South Pole, Coste and Bellonte made
the first completely successful non-stop westward flight across the
Atlantic; yet at the end of 1930 it was probable that fewer
Americans could have identified the names of Coste and Bellonte
than the name of Ruth Elder.  Heroism in the air was commonplace by
this time.  Endurance flyers still circled about day after day in
quest of new records, but they were finding the crowds more sparse
and the profits in headlines and in cash less impressive.  As for
Shipwreck Kelly, premier flagpole sitter of the nineteen-twenties,
he was reported to have descended from the summit of the Paramount
Building in 1930 because no one seemed to be watching.  Bathing-
beauty contests?  Something had happened to them, too.  Atlantic
City had given up its annual beauty pageant in 1927.  And in all
1930 there was not one first-class murder trial of nation-wide
interest, not one first-class prize-fight, not one great new
sporting hero crowned.

Indeed, a sporting era was passing.  Rickard, who had known how to
surround two heavyweight fighters with a two-and-a-half-million-
dollar crowd, was dead; pugilism had fallen again into shady
repute.  Dempsey was in retirement.  Tunney was reading
Shakespeare.  Ruth still hammered out home runs, but Jones and
Tilden had both turned professional, and Knute Rockne, the greatest
football coach of the nineteen-twenties, had been killed in an
airplane accident, to the official regret of the President of the
United States.  With the passing of Grover Whalen to the aisles of
Wanamaker's, New York City, the fountain-head of ballyhoo, had lost
some of its lavish taste for welcoming heroes to the Western
Hemisphere; the precipitation of ticker tape and torn-up telephone
books in lower Broadway in 1930 was the smallest in years.  Perhaps
hard times were responsible for the decline of the hero racket.
But perhaps there was more to it than that.  The ballyhoo technique
possessed no longer the freshness of youth.  Times had changed.

The post-war apathy toward politics and everything political
continued apparently undiminished.  In the autumn of 1929, when
Ramsay MacDonald came to America with a message of peace and good
will strikingly reminiscent of the preachments of Woodrow Wilson,
he was received with astonishing enthusiasm, and for a time it
seemed as if idealism were about to manifest itself once more as in
the days before the coming of complacent normalcy.  The mood
persisted long enough for the London Treaty for renewed limitation
of naval armaments to pass the Senate with flying colors, much to
the credit of President Hoover and Secretary Stimson; otherwise,
however, cynicism and hopelessness still prevailed.  Chicago threw
out the notorious Thompson and the Tammany scandals in New York
City aroused some resentment; but the general attitude as the
summer of 1931 approached still seemed to be "What's the use of
trying to do anything about it?" and the racketeer still flourished
like a hardy weed, as did the bootlegger, the rumrunner, and the
prohibition issue.

But if the country still expected as little as ever of politics and
politicians, and still submitted to the rule of the gangster, at
least it was somewhat less satisfied with laissez-faire for
business than in the days of Calvin Coolidge.  The public attitude
during the depression of 1930-31 presented an instructive contrast
with that during previous depressions.  The radical on the soap-box
was far less terrifying than in the days of the Big Red Scare.
Communist propaganda made amazingly little headway, all things
considered, and attracted amazingly little attention; for one
reason, perhaps, because many of the largest employers met the
crisis with far-sighted intelligence, maintaining the wage-rate
wherever possible and reducing hours rather than throwing off
employees; for another reason, because during the Big Bull Market
innumerable potential radicals had received from the stock-market
page a conservative financial education.  Naturally, however,
there was a general sense that something had gone wrong with
individualistic capitalism and must be set right--how could it be
otherwise, with the existing system dragging millions of families
down toward hunger and want?

There was a new interest in the Russian experiment, not unmixed
with sober fear.  Maurice Hindus's Humanity Uprooted, which had
come out during the month of the panic and had sold very slowly at
first, became a best seller during the gloomy autumn of 1930.  In
the summer of 1929 Russia had seemed as remote as China; in 1931,
with breadlines on the streets, the Russian Five-Year Plan became a
topic of anxious American interest.  The longer the paralysis of
industry lasted--and how it lasted!--the more urgent became the
demand for some measure of American economic planning which might
prevent such disasters from recurring, without handing over undue
power to an incompetent or venal bureaucracy.

With the return of full prosperity this demand would doubtless
weaken; nevertheless the inevitable slow drift toward collectivism,
interrupted during the bumptiously successful nineteen-twenties,
promised to be haltingly resumed once more.  Despite the obvious
distaste of the country for state socialism or anything suggesting
it, there was no denying that the economic system had proved itself
too complex, and machine production too powerful, to continue
unbridled.  The chief difficulty, perhaps, was to find any persons
or groups wise enough to know how to apply the bridle and
persuasive enough to be allowed to keep their grip upon it.  The
experience of the past few years had given no very convincing
evidence of the ability of financiers or economists to diagnose the
condition of the country's business, or of the emotional public to
respond to treatment.  Yet there stood the problem, a problem
hardly dreamed of by most Americans when Coolidge Prosperity was
blooming; and as 1931 dragged along, month after month, without any
immediate promise of business revival, no other problem seemed to
the country half so vital or so pressing.


Many of these specific signs of change were of uncertain
significance; possibly some of them were illusory.  Yet the United
States of 1931 was a different place from the United States of the
Post-war Decade; there was no denying that.  An old order was
giving place to new.

Soon the mists of distance would soften the outlines of the
nineteen-twenties, and men and women, looking over the pages of a
book such as this, would smile at the memory of those charming,
crazy days when the radio was a thrilling novelty, and girls wore
bobbed hair and knee-length skirts, and a trans-Atlantic flyer
became a god overnight, and common stocks were about to bring us
all to a lavish Utopia.  They would forget, perhaps, the frustrated
hopes that followed the war, the aching disillusionment of the hard-
boiled era, its oily scandals, its spiritual paralysis, the
harshness of its gaiety; they would talk about the good old
days. . . .

What was to come in the nineteen-thirties?

Only one thing could one be sure of.  It would not be repetition.
The stream of time often doubles on its course, but always it makes
for itself a new channel.



I am under an immense debt to certain writers upon whose books I
have drawn extensively in this chronicle.  Naturally I have made
frequent use, not only in Chapter Five, but elsewhere, of the
extraordinarily varied and precise information collected in
Middletown, that remarkable sociological study of an American city
by Robert S. Lynd and Helen Merrell Lynd; I do not see how any
conscientious historian of the Postwar Decade could afford to
neglect this mine of material.  The concluding chapters of The Rise
of American Civilization, by Charles A. Beard and Mary R. Beard,
have been helpful at many points, particularly in the preparation
of my short account of the Washington Conference and the situation
which led up to it.  William Allen White's biography of Woodrow
Wilson and his extended portraits of Warren G. Harding and Calvin
Coolidge in Masks in a Pageant have been especially useful not only
for the specific information which they contain, but also for their
suggestive interpretations of these three Presidents.  To Charles
Merz I am indebted for many facts and conclusions about the
prohibition experiment, which I have drawn from The Dry Decade, his
admirably impartial account of the first ten years of prohibition;
and also for other facts assembled by him in his other books, And
Then Came Ford and The Great American Bandwagon.  Finally, I have
made constant use of the World Almanac, which is responsible for
many of the statistics embodied in this volume; of the New York
Times Index; and above all of the files of the New York Times
itself in the New York Public Library.  A book of this sort must
inevitably rely very largely on contemporary newspaper and magazine
sources; the newspapers are invaluable not only for their news
accounts of important events, but also for the light which their
advertising columns and picture sections throw upon the fashions,
ideas, and general atmosphere of the period.

The account of the beginnings of radio broadcasting in Chapters One
and Four is based partly upon an address given on April 21, 1928,
by H. P. Davis, vice-president of the Westinghouse Electric and
Manufacturing Company, before the Harvard Business School.

In the preparation of Chapter Two ("Back to Normalcy"), I found Ray
Stannard Baker's Woodrow Wilson and World Settlement especially
valuable for its exhaustive account of Wilson's part in the Peace
Conference.  Mr. Baker's findings have of course been compared with
those of Colonel House, Secretary Lansing, and others.  Lodge's
secret memorandum to Henry White was disclosed in Allan Nevins's
biography of White.  The description of Woodrow Wilson in the last
days of his life is based on a personal visit to him in November,

In Chapter Three ("The Big Red Scare"), I owe many of the facts
about the Palmer raids to the account in Zechariah Chafee's Freedom
of Speech.  Senator Husting's pledge was quoted on the cover of the
New Republic at the time of the coal strike of 1919.  Much of the
material about the super-patriots is derived from a series of
articles contributed to the New Republic in 1924 by Sidney Howard.
The account of the Chicago race-riot is based on the careful study
embodied in Charles S. Johnson's The Negro in Chicago; and the
account of the Wall Street explosion contains many facts from an
article by Sidney Sutherland in Liberty for April 26, 1930.

In Chapter Four ("America Convalescent") the facts cited about the
Sacco-Vanzetti propaganda came largely from a series of
contemporary news stories in the New York World.

Chapter Five ("The Revolution in Manners and Morals") draws freely
upon Middletown, as previously stated; upon Professor Paul H.
Nystrom's Economics of Fashion; and upon Walter Lippmann's A
Preface to Morals and Joseph Wood Krutch's The Modern Temper.

In writing Chapter Six ("Harding and the Scandals") I have made
much use of White's Masks in a Pageant and Beard's The Rise of
American Civilization, as stated above; of M. E. Ravage's The Story
of Teapot Dome, a lively account of the progress of the oil cases
up to 1924; and of Bruce Bliven's series of articles on the Ohio
Gang in the New Republic.  The quotation from Harry M. Daugherty
which appears at the beginning of the chapter is printed as
arranged and repunctuated by Mr. Bliven in one of his New Republic
articles.  George G. Chandler of the Philadelphia law firm of
Montgomery & MacCracken gave me valuable help in connection with
the account of the oil scandals.

Chapter Seven ("Coolidge Prosperity") is based in considerable
degree upon the facts and generalizations in Stuart Chase's concise
book, Prosperity, Fact or Myth, and also cites numerous figures
drawn from Recent Economic Changes.  The sections on the
supersalesmen and on religion and business embody a quantity of
material set forth by that able student of the ways of businessmen,
Jesse Rainsford Sprague, in various articles in Harper's Magazine.
Some of the data about the service clubs I owe to Charles W.
Ferguson, who gathered them in the preparation of his forthcoming
book, The Joiners; some of the facts about business courses and
business methods in the universities come from Abraham Flexner's
Universities: American, English, German.

The basic idea of Chapter Eight ("The Ballyhoo Years") is Silas
Bent's, as any reader of his book, Ballyhoo, will be aware.  I have
taken many facts from that book.  The statistical data on the
status of religion during the decade are drawn from the
"Preliminary Report on Organized Religion for the President's Study
of Social Trends," by C. Luther Fry, to which Robert S. Lynd was
good enough to give me access.  The account of the Dayton trial
makes considerable use of Arthur Garfield Hays's narrative in Let
Freedom Ring.  Richard F. Simon, of Simon & Schuster, provided me
with much material about the cross-word-puzzle craze, and W. B.
Miller, formerly of the Louisville Courier-Journal, told me at
first hand the story of the Floyd Collins episode.

I am under special obligation both to Walter Lippmann's A Preface
to Morals and to Joseph Wood Krutch's The Modern Temper for their
remarkable analyses of disillusionment in the nineteen-twenties;
the discussion of disillusionment in Chapter Nine ("The Revolt of
the Highbrows") could never have been written without the aid of
Mr. Krutch's penetrating book.

Chapter Ten ("Alcohol and Al Capone") makes especially lavish use
of four sources: Charles Merz's The Dry Decade, the Wickersham
Report, Fred D. Pasley's fascinating Al Capone, and It's a Racket,
by Gordon L. Hostetter and Thomas Quinn Beesley.

Many figures and incidents and the quotation from Walter C. Hill in
Chapter Eleven ("Home, Sweet Florida") are from two articles by
Homer B. Vanderblue in the Journal of Land and Public Utility
Economics, Volume 3.  Among other sources, Gertrude Mathews
Shelby's "Florida Frenzy" in Harper's Magazine for January, 1926,
was especially valuable.  The data about rentals of New York City
office space were given me by the real-estate officer of a large
local financial institution.

In Chapter Thirteen ("Crash!") I have cited a number of facts set
forth by Richard Whitney in an address on "The Work of the New York
Stock Exchange in the Panic of 1929," given before the Boston
Association of Stock Exchange Firms on June 10, 1930.

The optimistic statements by leaders of the Hoover Administration,
cited in the last chapter ("Aftermath"), were collected in an
article by James Truslow Adams ("Presidential Prosperity") in
Harper's Magazine for August, 1930.

These are only a few of the innumerable sources drawn upon in the
book; I single them out for mention only because they are not cited
in the text or because my debt to them is especially large.

I am exceedingly grateful to numerous friends who have been kind
enough either to hunt up material for me or to take the time to
read and criticize parts of the manuscript; particularly to Rollin
Alger Sawyer of the New York Public Library, Arthur Besse, John G.
MacKenty, Earle Bailie, C. Alison Scully, Myra Richardson, Gordon
Aymar, Agnes Rogers Hyde, Stuart Chase, Robert K. Haas, Arthur C.
Holden, and Emily Linnard Cobb.  I must especially thank Charles
Merz for encouraging me, at the outset, to undertake what has
proved an endlessly fascinating task.  And finally I must record
the fact that up to the time of her death, my wife, Dorothy Penrose
Allen, helped me more than I can ever acknowledge.


New York June, 1931

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