Women's progress during the Great War

President Wilson learned how determined women were to get the vote when police arrested 20 suffragettes who were trying to storm the White House. During the war, he came out in favor of women's suffrage (voting) as "a vitally necessary war measure." Most Western states had given women the vote before 1914 (see Chapter 14). New York, Michigan, Oklahoma, and South Dakota jumped on board during the war. After only 130 years of waiting, Abigail Adams' pre-Revolution wish finally came true: With the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment (1920), all American women got the right to vote.

With men gone to fight, some women took temporary so-called men's jobs in railroads and factories, but they quickly gave up their positions when the war was over. Still, by the end of the war, one out of four women had a job outside the home.

Wartime food production and Prohibition

Food was no problem for America during the war; farm production increased by 20 percent. An effective humanitarian engineer named Herbert Hoover had already led a food drive to help Europe; now he headed the national food effort.

People grew victory gardens and patriotically observed meatless Tuesdays and wheatless Wednesdays. Liberty Loan drives got ordinary citizens to buy government bonds and raised billions of dollars to finance the war.


Question: What was the Liberty Loan program?

Answer: Liberty Loan was a government bond program in which ordinary citizens helped raise money to finance the war.

Congress restricted the manufacture of alcohol, and that set the already half-dry country up for its national experiment with Prohibition. Lots of brewers were a little suspect anyway, what with all the German names like Budweiser, Schlitz, and Pabst. Progressives were under fire from prohibitionists to try a perfect alcohol-free society.

In 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment prohibited the legal sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States, thus opening the door for lots of profitable illegal sales. (In 1933, the Twenty First Amendment repealed Prohibition; see Chapter 16.)


Question: What led to the passage of Prohibition in 1919?

Answer: Years of Prohibition campaigning, war shortages, the belief that human beings could be perfected, plus the spreading passage of state anti-liquor laws.

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