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Conservative Presidents of the Twenties

Page history last edited by Mr. Hengsterman 7 years, 8 months ago

Conservative Republican Presidents 1920–1932


Historical Context: Businesses had a good run in the 20s and consumers bought products wildly, often on credit or with an installment plan.  Three Republican presidents were pro-business. The economy and consumers got to running too fast, and coupled with over-buying in the stock market, initiated the Stock Crash and Great Depression.



 POLITICS of the 1920’s
A turning away from the governmental activism of the Progressive Era


Three Republican presidents—Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover— steered the nation on the roller-coaster ride of the 1920s, a thrilling ascent from the depths of post– World War I recession to breathtaking heights of prosperity, followed by a terrifying crash into the Great Depression. In a retreat from progressive reform, Republicans sought to serve the public good less by direct government action and more through cooperation with big business. Some corrupt officials served themselves as well, exploiting public resources for personal profit. Meanwhile, the United States retreated from its brief internationalist fling during World War I and resumed with a vengeance its traditional foreign policy of military unpreparedness and political isolationism




Political philosophies 

 Radical  Conservative   Reactionary           Liberal  
 (Socialist/ Communist in this era) --refers to advocating drastic revolutionary         changes in society and in the gov’t. refers to preserving the existing order; conserving rather than changing (often means pro-business)   desire to move society backwards into a past society, usually idealized. 
(Mugwumps; some Progressives wanting to return to WASP ideals)
 advocating changes in society’s institutions to reflect changing conditions.      Progressive movement 

These terms refer to means as well as ends; one can pursue radical goals by  conservative means, e.g., socialists running for political office in a democratic 
political system (Eugene Debs)

 POLITICS of the 1920’s Why a turning away from the governmental activism of the Progressive Era?


• People looked for “return to normalcy” after sacrifices and hardships of World War I.

• Economy grew rapidly from 1920–1929.

• Republicans won three elections with conservative views.

• Supported interests of big business through tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy and through high tariffs; believed government should not intervene in the economy

• Believed in limited role in foreign affairs and international efforts to prevent war

• Believed government should NOT act to protect or assist individuals

• Stock market crash of 1929 and Great Depression that followed eventually forced


Harding (1921-1923) 
Election Map 1920                                                           

Coolidge (1923-1929) 
Election Map 1924

Hoover (1929-1933) 
Election Map 1928

• Appointed friends to

government posts; some

were corrupt

• Repealed wartime taxes

on corporate profits and

reduced taxes for wealthy

• Approved high tariffs to

protect U.S. businesses

• Approved immigration

quotas to limit European


• Agreed to arms limits for

United States and Europe

• Continued Open Door

policy toward China to

insure access to trade
• Died in office 1923


 Took over after Harding’s

death and then elected in 1924

• First cleaned up corruption


• Continued Roosevelt’s Big

Stick policy in Latin America

• Resisted government help to

farmers; reduced taxes for


• Supported high tariffs; allowed

business mergers

• Corporate profits grew for

many, but some industries

and farmers suffered

• Supported treaty to prevent

international war
• Did not run for reelection                                                                   


 Wanted business to follow

government lead on economy


• 1929 stock market crash

wiped out economic gains;

first believed it a short term

crisis that could be solved

by private business

• Tried to help farmers and

manufacturers by raising

tariffs, but the move hurt the


• Later, approved programs to

back loans for businesses,

banks, and individuals

• Resisted calls to help people
directly with payments• Easily defeated in 1932



A Review of Presidential Scandals 

Election of 1924                               

Results – Coolidge with 382 to Davis with 136 to La Follette’s 13  

Republicans also gained control in the House and the Senate



Election of 1928 Outside Reading - The Election of 1928
Coolidge decided not to run – he retired in 1929 and died in 1933



Herbert Hoover  advocated the continuation of prosperity, prohibition, a protective Tariff

Al Smith – Catholic
Advocated relief for farmers, collective bargaining, abolition of

Injunctions in strikes and strict regulation of utilities

Campaign – Republicans – ran on our prosperity “a chicken in every pot, a car in every  garage”  Hoover – was a Quaker – a prohibitionist with rural roots

Smith – a Catholic Urbanite who favored the repeal of the 18th                  Amendment


Hoover will win – 444 to 87 Republicans won in the House


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