Intolerance, Anxiety & the Roaring Twenties


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The Radio

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?"


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- David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s


"The radio craze will die out in time." -Thomas Edison, American inventor, 1922
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Ford Model-T

"People can have the Model-T in any color- so long as it's black."

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-Henry Ford on the Ford Model-T



Teapot Dome Scandals

"...the slimiest of trails beaten by privilege."

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-Gerald Nye, North Dakota senator


"to conserve, develop, use and operate the same in his discretion, directly or by contract, lease, or otherwise, and to use, store, exchange, or sell the oil and gas products thereof, and those from all royalty oil from lands in the naval reserves, for the benefit of the United States." 41 Stat. chap. 228 (1920)




Sacco & Vanzetti

"Yes, what I say is that I am innocent." -Vanzetti

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“But what good is the evidence and what good is the argument? They are determined to kill us regardless of evidence, of law, of decency, of everything. If they give us a delay tonight, it will only mean they will kill us next week. Let us finish tonight. I’m weary of waiting seven years to die, when they know all the time they intend to kill us.”
--Sacco, August 22, 1927, fifteen hours before he and Vanzetti were executed.



The Red Scare

"There is what I consider one of the brainiest men in the world."

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-Herbert Warner, who served six months in jail for pointing at a picture of Lenin and saying that


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"Upon these two basic certainties, first that the 'Reds' were criminal aliens and secondly that the American government must prevent crime, it was decided that there could be no nice distinctions drawn between the theoretical ideas of the radicals and their actual violations of our national laws."

-A. Mitchell Palmer