United States and American History: 1919

About the history of the United States in 1919, America enacts Prohibition, first parachute tests, U.S. does not ratify Treaty of Versailles, World War I ends.


Jan. 29 The Secretary of State announced the ratification of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution: the Prohibition Amendment. Liquor was legally outlawed for all U.S. citizens.

Feb. In bitter cold weather just south of the Arctic Circle, 3 U.S. battalions, attached to British command, suffered 400 casualties fighting the Bolsheviki at Archangel. Some 10,000 others were in action in Siberia as far East as Vladivostok, the Pacific terminus for the Trans-Siberian Railroad.

Apr. 28 Leslie Irving successfully jumped using the new Army Air Corps parachute at McCook Field, Dayton, O. The experimental design called for the rip cord to be pulled after falling free of the airplane.

Sept. 22 Three hundred and fifty thousand steelworkers struck, followed by 400,000 miners 40 days later. Union demands among the 4 million who walked off the job during the year: Reduce the average work week of 68.7 hours, and increase the "inhuman" pay. Big Steel broke numerous strikes with the aid of the military.

Nov. 7 Department of Justice agents, under orders from Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, raided leftist headquarters in more than a dozen cities. About 2,000 people in New York alone were arrested.

Nov. 19 The Senate failed to ratify the Treaty of Versailles, voting 55 to 39-9 votes short of the required 2/3 majority. Wilson's opposition had come from many sides. Some were the hard-line imperialists who wanted the U.S. free to expand. Others, like Sens. Hiram Johnson and William Borah, were isolationists who wanted no international entanglements. But Wilson's main enemies were the Republican party leaders, and chiefly Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge, chairman of the powerful Foreign Relations Committee. To lend his support, Lodge wanted 14 amendments plus other changes inserted, to "Americanize" the treaty.

A Wilson-Lodge feud began, and neither man would give in. Wilson, in September, had decided to go on a national tour, to take his case to the people. On September 25, he delivered his 40th speech, in Pueblo, Colo., and that night collapsed from a stroke. After his recovery in November, he still maintained that none of the Republican changes were acceptable to him. His refusal to compromise cost him the necessary Republican votes needed for ratification.

Dec. 11 Enterprise, Ala., farmers dedicated a monument to the Boll Weevil. The insect's devastation of the cotton crop had forced them to diversify, and their income now tripled that of the best cotton years.

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