How did the policies of Harding and Coolidge affect America?
The 1920’s were a time of great character and change yet Presidents
Harding and Coolidge were conservative Presidents. The policies they
set in place were popular at the time but as we shall see their lack
of fore sight and unwillingness to stay involved internationally
eventually led America into its most desperate hour… the Great
I. America in the 1920’s – Presidential Policies
A. What did Harding mean by a “return to normalcy?”
1. Simpler times – Harding was a conservative. He
felt that the Progressive Era had complicated things.
2. A return to Laissez Faire. Harding felt that Progressive
Legislation was un American and hurt our industrial capacity.
3. Isolation – Harding believed that the less we were involved in
foreign affairs the better. While he did deviate from this on
several occasions his foreign policies were always directed towards
reducing the chances of being involved in another conflict.
B. What were American attitudes like during the Harding
administration? (See Lesson 56)
2. Red Scare, Sacco Vanzetti, Palmer Raids, Ku Klux Klan
3. Emergency Quota Act
C. How involved was America in foreign policy?
1. Washington Arms Conference (1922)
-Nine Power Act – Open Door in Asia is recognized.
This limited imperialistic competition.
-Five Power Act – Ship building froze for ten years. Some ships
scrapped. Ratios set at 5:5:3:1.75:1.75 between US, GB, Japan,
2. Passage of Fordney-McCumber Tariff (1920)
-High protective tariffs. European exports to US fell
from 5 billion to 2.5 billion in 1922.
3. Demand for reparations.
D. Policies of Calvin Coolidge – Coolidge took office when Harding
died. He too was a simple man with simple policies. Coolidge rarely
spoke and was dubbed “Silent Cal.” After the tumult of the scandal
ridden Harding Administration Silent Cal’s quiet leadership, simple
policies and conservative values were very popular.
1. Great prosperity, simple policies.
2. Kellogg Briand Pact (1928)
-15 nations agree to renounce war. Eventually 62 sign
E. Effects of Coolidge’s and Harding’s policies
1. Rich got richer and poor got poorer.
2. Wild speculation on stocks
3. Agricultural overproduction and farm foreclosures.
4. Continuing decrease international trade caused by a terrible
depression in Europe and our protective tariffs.
Return To Syllabus