Chapter 13

The Western Democracies Stumble
Chapter 13 Section 2
“In 1919, the three Western Democracies—Briatin,
France, and the US—Appeared powerful. They had
ruled the Paris Peace Conference and boosted
hopes for democracy among the new nations of
Eastern Europe. Beneath the surface, however,
postwar Europe faced grave problems. To make
matters worse, many members of the younger
generation who might have become the next great
leaders had been killed in the war.”
Politics in the Postwar World
• Party Struggles in Britain
– Labour Party surpassed Liberal Party in strength,
Conservatives dominated politics
• Irish Independence at Last
– 1922 – The IRA helps Ireland become a selfgoverning Irish Free state
• France’s Troubled Peace
– Several parties competed for power, so a series of
quickly changing coalition governments ruled
“The Red Scare” and Isolationism in the US
• Unlike the rest of the world, the US emerged
from WW1 in the best financial shape
• Despite minimal loss during the war, the US
experienced some domestic unrest
– Fear of radicals and the Bolshevik Revolution
– 1919-1920: police rounded up suspected foreign
born radicals and expelled them from the US
– Led to a limit on immigration from Europe
Postwar Foreign Policy
• Arguing Allies
– France wanted to keep Germany out
• “Maginot Line”, allying with the Soviet Union, enforcing the Treaty of
– Britain wanted to relax the treaty to prevent Germany from
becoming weak while France and the Soviet Union got strong
• The Search for Peace
– Germany and the Soviet Union joining the League of Nations in
– “Kellogg-Briand Pact” designed to end wars between countries;
helped the great powers pursue “disarmament”
– Political cartoon pg. 429
• The League’s Weakness
– Was unable to enforce its policies and ideals
– 1931: condemned Japan for invading Manchuria, but did not
take military action to stop it
Postwar Economics
• Britain and France recover
– Britain: deeply in debt, factories out of date,
severe unemployment, low wages, worker unrest
and frequent strikes; “general strike” in 1926
– France: economy recovered quickly with financial
reparations and territories from Germany, but still
had economic swings
– Overall, a rise in the standard of living
• The US Booms
– Emerged from the war as the world’s leading
economic power
The Great Depression
• Falling Demand and Overproduction
– Farmers who had been vital and prospered during the war were
less in demand and stopped buying
– New technology led to “overproduction” which led to lay offs
• Crash and Collapse
– Crisis in “finance”, NYSE at an all time high, so the “Federal
Reserve” raised interest rates in 1928 and 1929—it didn’t work
– Fall 1929: many people sold their stock at once, the market
crashed, people lost their jobs; aggravated the economic decline
– Cycle of overproduction and falling demand led to “The Great
• The Depression Spreads
– American banks stopped loaning money abroad, demanded
repayment of foreign loans, Germany, France, & Britain couldn’t
may their payments
– Everyone increased tariffs, and the depression touched every
corner of the world
The Democracies React to the Depression
• Britain and France Search for Solutions
– Britain: set up a coalition government, but 1 in 4
were still unemployed
– France: leftist parties united behind Leon Blum,
who passed some social legislature, but did not
satisfy radicals; led to strikes and no more Blum
• In an attempt to end the Great Depression,
Western countries put programs into place
that lessened suffering, but did not solve the
Roosevelt Offers the US a New
– President Hoover did not want to intervene in private
business matters
• 1932: President Roosevelt elected and introduced
the “New Deal” as a package for Depression relief
– Federal government becomes more involved in
people’s every day lives
– New laws regulate stock exchange, protect bank
– Government programs created jobs, gave aid to
– New Social Security system
– 1934: The Dust Bowl destroyed farmlands, people
moved to the West Coast to start over

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