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The End Of The Series On 1920s America

On Sept. 16, 1920, as high noon struck, Wall Street was rocked by a terrorist bombing. Thirty souls were lost in a flash as the bomb detonated, and eight more would later die from wounds in the aftermath. When the dust settled on the shocking domestic tragedy, hundreds more would be counted as injured from the blast. It was, at the time, the worst act of terrorism on American soil. It was an explosive and tragic way to kick off the new decade.

The bombing’s perpetrators have never been discovered to this day, though there’s a long list of suspects and theories. The most likely truth is that it was yet another act of political protest wrapped up in violence, not uncommon to the political environment of late 1920. The country was in rough shape economically and socially, and the appalling act of evil that hit Wall Street that day was a sign of the times. Unfortunately, this incident would be surpassed by the Black Wall Street riots in Tulsa, Oklahoma, just a year later. …


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On The Final Presidential Election In 1920s America

“I do not chose to run for president in 1928.” So was the shocking decision by President Calvin Coolidge on Aug. 2, 1927. The public was stunned as many thought it would be an obvious decision by him to run for another elected term. After all, the economy was booming, the budget was in surplus and the president was insanely popular. Everyone was sensing yet another GOP presidential landslide was coming.

But it was a decision that many close family, friends and colleagues expected as he had told them as early as during the 1924 presidential election that he wasn’t planning on running in the next presidential race. His wife did claim to have not known of his decision, and some prominent Republicans who thought he would carry on as the face of the party for a bit longer were taken aback. …


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The Birth Of “The Ponzi Scheme” From 1920s America

In 1918, an Italian immigrant arrived in Boston. He came penniless, just out of back-to-back stints in prison, each in two separate countries. He soon met and married his wife, Rose, herself an Italian immigrant. After some odd jobs, he took up work with an importing and exporting company to pay the bills. Then, he was a nobody to many, just another face in the crowd struggling to make means from day-to-day work in the big city. Within two years however, Charles Ponzi would be one of the richest men in the city and be so popular within his community that someone would proclaim he had “invented money.” …


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On The Tulsa Race Riots From 1920s America

In the northern part of Tulsa, Oklahoma, sits a small predominantly black community known as Greenwood. Some may not know this, but unlike other new expanding territories and newfound states stretching across the western plains, Oklahoma was at the time more solidly aligned with the Deep South’s mentality; it had adopted some Jim Crow laws and segregation was a way of life. In the aforementioned Tulsa, that meant that the community of Greenwood was the part of the city where blacks almost exclusively stayed at, and the rest of the city to the South was for the whites only. …


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On The Rise Of Walt Disney In 1920s America

In Kansas City, animator Ub Iwerks, working for the Pesmen-Rubin Commercial Art Studio, befriended a newly hired intern in 1919. He was a young man — just 18 — returning from overseas deployment in World War I , having forged his birth date to be accepted for service while underage. Now he and Iwerks were working alongside one another drawing up advertisements and catalogs. But just as they began their friendship, both men were laid off due to budget cuts in early 1920.

Their solution? Start their own animation company. It failed spectacularly and didn’t last a year.

They both then began work for the Kansas City Film Ad Company. In less than a year, Iwerks’ friend had antagonized their boss over a wild idea to use cel-shaded animation instead of the then standard cutout animation. He had even gone through the trouble of experimenting with this using his own camera at home. Frustrated, Iwerks watched his friend take another risk and leave to start his own business once again — this time with another co-worker. …


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On The Lake Okeechobee Hurricane Of 1920s America

On Sept. 6, 1928, ships sailing off the west coast of Africa began to report the formation of a tropical depression. Within a day, the reports changed, upgrading it to a tropical storm.

With few consistent observations of tropical cyclones available at the time, the storm churned across the Atlantic Ocean without any eyes on it. Without any reports coming in of its location and track, it intensified the closer and closer it got to the United States.

By Sept. 10, the S.S. Commack, a ship sailing due 9,000 miles east off the island of Guadeloupe, was the first recorded encounter with the storm in days. …


The president’s unpopularity may harm the GOP this November

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We are less than five months away from Election Day 2018.

These midterms—like nearly all the ones before it—revolve around the status of the party and president in power. Our current moment has the Republican Party in control of Congress and the White House. This is a precarious position, as historically midterms are the electoral cycles that are harshest for parties in that position. The Republicans are most certainly in a defensive posture, looking to retain congressional power at all costs.

For their part, however, Republicans have plenty of positives to campaign on as the status quo party.

The economy is booming—the unemployment rate is very low, job creation continues apace, incomes are rising, and Trump’s growth projections look closer to reality than what his detractors prognosticated. …


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On The Leopold And Loeb Trial From 1920s America

In May 1924, Flora Franks, the wife of highly respected and wealthy Chicago watch manufacturer Jacob Franks, received a call from a stranger at 10:30 in the evening. He had a terrifying message for her. He knew where Mrs. Franks’ missing 14-year-old son Bobby was. The boy had vanished that evening and by then she had started to really worry.

“This is Mr. Johnson,” the stranger on the other line had said. “Of course you know by this time that your boy has been kidnapped. We have him and you need not worry; he is safe. But don’t try to trace this call or to find me. We must have money. We will let you know tomorrow what we want. We are kidnappers and we mean business. If you refuse us what we want, or try to report us to the police, we will kill the boy. …


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On President Calvin Coolidge In 1920s America

Plymouth Notch, Vermont. It’s 2:30 in the morning on Aug. 2, 1923. Fifty-one-year-old Vice President Calvin Coolidge is awoken from his sleep. His father, John, has some news: President Warren G. Harding has died from a sudden heart attack. Coolidge would now have to take the oath to become the new president. John Coolidge, a notary public and justice of the peace, administered the oath to his son by candlelight and with their humble family Bible in tow. It was the only time in history that a U.S president was sworn in by their own father.

Coolidge was being given a country in the middle of waning faith in its government, with scandals such as Teapot Dome plaguing Washington D.C. The economy was bouncing back from depression, but not at the speed the public wanted. His political party was on the verge of losing control of everything after a rough midterm nearly a year before. No doubt many top presidential prospects and party bosses, who were basically forced to begrudgingly pick him as Harding’s running mate in 1920, would be looking for a replacement with the 1924 presidential election on the horizon. …


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On The Teapot Dome Scandal From 1920s America

In April 1922, U.S Sen. John B. Kendrick from Wyoming received an angry letter from a Wyoming oil operator. The letter included a claim from the operator that the Teapot Dome oil field from his state, in the hands of the Department of the Interior, had been handed over to oil tycoon Harry F. Sinclair in a secret deal to make Secretary of Interior Albert B. Fall a rich man. In other words, the cabinet member had raided the treasury for personal gain. Kendrick would introduce a resolution to have an investigation into the matter.

This was the start of a drama that would become known as the greatest scandal in American political history, save for perhaps Watergate 50 years later. It would turn what could have been the story of a uniquely successful presidency into a legacy of one of the worst administrations in the oval office’s history. It arguably led to stress killing an American president and thus would lead to a president who would take on the aftermath of the scandal and lead the country to a new era of prosperity. This is the story of the Teapot Dome Scandal and all that surrounded it. …

Luis A. Mendez

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