United States and American History: 1920

About the history of the United States in 1920, population, F. Scott Fitzgerald's first novel, Al Capone biography, IWW crackdown, Black Sox Scandal, women get the right to vote, first airport in the U.S.


-U.S. population-105,710,620. For the 1st time in U.S. history the farm population stood below 50% of the total. It was, in fact, less than 30%.

-F. Scott Fitzgerald published his 1st novel, This Side of Paradise. It was a tremendous financial success.

-Chicago Underworld leader Johnny Torio hired a new bodyguard from Brooklyn-Al Brown. In the next 12 years, with Brown gaining control of the Underworld, Chicago experienced 629 unsolved gang murders, not to mention 5,000 non-gang killings. Al Brown became quite famous under his real name-Alphonse Capone.

Jan. 2 Government agents in 33 cities made simultaneous assaults on members of the IWW and the Communist party. In Boston, 500 men and women were arrested, shackled, and driven through the streets. Nationwide, 556 aliens were deported because of their political beliefs. Jan. 16 The 18th Amendment prohibiting the manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors went into effect at midnight. Prior to the Federal amendment, 32 States had already passed liquor prohibition laws beginning with Maine in 1851. Soon after the Amendment passed, Daniel C. Roper of the Internal Revenue Service commented that he expected a few problems of enforcement but eventually the nation would not know alcohol. As for home brew, it was too much trouble for uncertain results according to Dr. A. B. Adams, chief chemist of the Treasury Bureau.

-Harry M. Daugherty, Ohio politician, commenting on the upcoming presidential nominating convention:

The convention will be deadlocked, and after the other candidates have gone their limit, some 12 or 15 men, worn out and bleary-eyed for lack of sleep, will sit down about 2 o'clock in the morning around a table in a smoke-filled room in some hotel and decide the nomination. When that time comes, Harding will be selected.

-Alice Roosevelt Longworth, daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt and wife of the Speaker of the House, recalled that "Harding was not a bad man, he was just a slob."

Aug. 18 Tennessee became the 36th State to ratify the Woman's Suffrage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The deciding vote was cast by 24-year-old Harry Burns, the youngest member of the Tennessee House of Representatives. His mother had written to him, "I've been watching to see how you stood but have noticed nothing yet. Don't forget to be a good boy and help Mrs. Catt [President of the National American Woman Suffrage Association] put 'Rat' in Ratification." The law went into effect on August 26, 1920.

Sept. 28 Professional baseball had been regarded as one of the most honest of professional sports until it suffered the Black Sox scandal, the worst scandal in baseball history. In Chicago, a grand jury brought indictments against 8 players of the Chicago team for "throwing" the 1919 World Series baseball games between the Chicago White Sox and the Cincinnati Reds. The trial, held in late July, ended in a verdict of Not Guilty. However, the 8 players were forbidden to return to big league baseball.

Nov. 20 Tucson, Ariz., inaugurated the 1st municipal airport in the U.S.

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