Modern America (1914-1929)
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The United States acquired the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico in 1898 after its victory in the Spanish-American War. After a period of limited local autonomy, the U.S. granted Puerto Ricans American citizenship in 1917. The arrival of large, U.S.-backed sugar plantations of the island displaced many erstwhile subsistence farmers, creating a rural…

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Item Type: Government Document
Date: 1918

During World War I, the U.S. government needed to raise money to pay for the soldiers, tanks, airplanes, and other equipment it needed to fight the war. To do this, it sold war bonds, which citizens could buy and then be paid back after the war. This poster tried to convince Americans that it was their patriotic duty to buy war bonds by listing…

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Item Type: Poster/Print
Date: Circa 1919

In the years after World War I, American workers sought to consolidate and expand the gains they had achieved during the war years. In September 1919, some 350,000 steelworkers went on strike, seeking higher wages, shorter hours and better working conditions. Steel companies, often with assistance of local governments, responded with violent…

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Item Type: Pamphlet/Petition
Date: 1919

In July 1919, Chicago suffered a terrible race riot. An African-American teenager swimming in Lake Michigan floated into a "white" area and drowned after being stoned by a white crowd. Violence spread rapidly. Black Chicagoans, including World War I veterans, fought back. By the riot's end, 23 people had been killed and more than five hundred…

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Item Type: Photograph
Date: 1919

The steel strike of 1919 saw some 350,000 workers walk off the job, temporarily bringing the steel industry to a halt. The U.S. Senate Committee on Education and Labor investigated, interviewing striking steelworkers such as Slavic immigrant Andrew Pido. In his testimony to the committee, Pido tells of his abuse at the hands of local police, the…

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Item Type: Government Document
Date: 1919

After World War I a "Red Scare" broke out as anxieties about political extremists and radicals led to widespread demonization and political persecution of leftists and immigrants. A series of high-profile events from the late-nineteenth century on, such as the Haymarket Square bombing and the assassination of President McKinley by Leon Czolgosz,…

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Item Type: Cartoon
Date: 1919

After Congress approved the 19th Amendment in June 1919, the amendment had to be ratified by three fourths of the states. Fortunately, suffragists were well organized at the local level to pressure state legislatures into approving the amendment. To keep track of the amendment’s progress, the National Women’s Party created a…
In the early twentieth century, African Americans had plenty of reasons to leave the rural South: disfranchisement, segregation, poverty, racial violence, lack of educational opportunities, and the drudgery of farm life. As the cartoon below from The Crisis magazine shows, lynching stood out as particularly horrific and unjust. Violently…

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Item Type: Cartoon
Date: 1920

Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican immigrant, was the leader of the largest black mass movement in the nation's history. His Universal Negro Improvement Association, which had chapters throughout the U.S., the Caribbean and Africa, promoted race pride, economic self-sufficiency in the black community, and pan-Africanism. At its height, the U.N.I.A. boasted…

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Item Type: Newspaper/Magazine
Date: 1920

Ernestine Alvarado, of New York's YWCA, sharply criticized Americans who disparaged Mexico and did not welcome Mexican immigrants. She defended Mexican immigrants, calling them "bold dreamers," and castigated nativist stereotypes and unwelcoming labor unions.

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Item Type: Speech
Date: 1920