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President Harding ushered in a new Republican era in 1920, and was followed by Presidents Coolidge and Hoover.
Describe the new directions taken by Harding and Coolidge away from the Progressive policies of their predecessors
Warren Harding's victory in the 1920 presidential election saw a departure from the progressive movement that defined American politics since Theodore Roosevelt's presidency and remained until the election of Franklin Roosevelt in 1932.
Although Harding was praised for his economic policies and the lowering of unemployment, his presidency was punctuated with scandals and corruption charges.
Calvin Coolidge, who became president following Harding's death in 1923, took strong stances on immigration and tax policy and oversaw rapid economic growth.
Coolidge's stance on taxation, including the passage of the Revenue Acts of 1924 and 1926, decreased income tax rates in conjunction with reductions in federal expenditure.
The Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 was a short-lived agreement between the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan to "renounce war as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another".
An economic environment in which transactions between private parties are free from tariffs, government subsidies, and enforced monopolies, with only enough government regulations sufficient to protect property rights against theft and aggression.
The Immigration Act of 1924 was a U.S. federal law that limited the annual number of immigrants who could be admitted from any country to 2% of the number of people from that country who were already living in the United States in 1890, down from the 3% cap set by the Immigration Restriction Act of 1921, according to the Census of 1890.
The United States Revenue Act of 1924, also known as the Mellon tax bill cut federal tax rates and established the U.S. Board of Tax Appeals. The Revenue Act of 1926 reduced inheritance and personal income taxes, cancelled many excise imposts, and ended public access to federal income tax returns.
The McNary–Haugen Farm Relief Act, which never became law, was a highly controversial plan in the 1920s to subsidize American agriculture by raising the domestic prices of farm products. The plan was for the government to buy the wheat, and either store it or export it at a loss.
A Republican from Ohio, President Harding was an influential self-made newspaper publisher. His conservatism, affable manner, and "make no enemies" campaign strategy made Harding the compromise choice at the 1920 Republican National Convention. During his presidential campaign, in the aftermath of World War I, he promised a return of the nation to "normalcy. " This "America First" campaign encouraged industrialization and a strong economy independent of foreign influence.
Harding departed from the progressive movement that had dominated Congress since President Theodore Roosevelt. In the 1920 election, he and his running mate, Calvin Coolidge , defeated Democrat James M. Cox in the largest presidential popular vote landslide in American history (60.36% to 34.19%).
Harding is known for his financial policies, fiscal responsibility, and his endorsement of African American civil rights. Harding's creation of the Budget Bureau was a major economic accomplishment that reformed and streamlined wasteful federal spending. The nation's unemployment rate dropped by half during Harding's administration. However, Harding is also remembered for rewarding friends and political contributors, referred to as the Ohio Gang, with financially powerful positions. Scandals and corruption, including the notorious Teapot Dome Scandal, pervaded his administration; one of his own cabinet and several of his appointees were eventually tried, convicted, and sent to prison for bribery or defrauding the federal government.
In August 1923, President Harding died in office and was succeeded by Vice President Calvin Coolidge. Coolidge restored public confidence in the White House after the scandals of his predecessor's administration and left office with considerable popularity. Praising the achievement of widespread prosperity in 1928, he said: "The requirements of existence have passed beyond the standard of necessity into the region of luxury. " Coolidge echoed many of Harding's Republican themes, including immigration restriction and the need for the government to arbitrate the coal strikes then ongoing in Pennsylvania; later that year Coolidge signed the Immigration Act of 1924.
Coolidge's taxation policy was that of his Secretary of the Treasury, Andrew Mellon. Taxes should be lower, and fewer people should have to pay them. Congress agreed, and the taxes were reduced in Coolidge's term. In addition to these tax cuts, Coolidge proposed reductions in federal expenditures and retiring some of the federal debt. In 1924, Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1924, which reduced income tax rates and eliminated all income taxation for some two million people. They reduced taxes again by passing the Revenue Acts of 1926 and 1928, all the while continuing to keep spending down so as to reduce the overall federal debt.
Coolidge left the administration's industrial policy in the hands of his activist Secretary of Commerce, Herbert Hoover, who energetically used government auspices to promote business efficiency and develop airlines and radio. With the exception of favoring increased tariffs, Coolidge disdained regulation, and carried on this belief by appointing commissioners to the Federal Trade Commission and the Interstate Commerce Commission who did little to restrict the activities of businesses under their jurisdiction. Some have criticized Coolidge as an adherent of the laissez-faire ideology, which they claim led to the Great Depression. Coolidge's reputation underwent a renaissance during the Ronald Reagan Administration, but the ultimate assessment of his presidency is still divided between those who approve of his reduction of the size of government programs and those who believe the federal government should be more involved in regulating and controlling the economy.
Perhaps the most contentious issue of Coolidge's presidency was concerning relief for farmers. Coolidge initially supported a measure that would have created a federal board to lend money to farm co-operatives in times of surplus but the bill did not pass. In February 1927, Congress took up the McNary-Haugen Bill again, this time narrowly passing it. Coolidge vetoed it. In his veto message, he expressed the belief that the bill would do nothing to help farmers, benefiting only exporters and expanding the federal bureaucracy.
Coolidge's best-known initiative was the Kellogg–Briand Pact of 1928,which committed signatories including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan to "renounce war, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another. " The treaty did not achieve its intended result, but did provide the founding principle for international law after World War II. Coolidge continued the previous administration's policy not to recognize the Soviet Union.
The Republicans retained the White House in 1928 in the person of Coolidge's Secretary of Commerce, Herbert Hoover. Coolidge had been reluctant to choose Hoover as his successor; on one occasion he remarked that "for six years that man has given me unsolicited advice—all of it bad." Even so, Coolidge had no desire to split the party by publicly opposing the popular commerce secretary's nomination.
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The Unfinished Nation: A Concise History Of The American People
Boundless, 26 May. 2016.
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