I finished Bill Bryson’s book One Summer: America,1927 last night. It’s a highly entertaining tour of the ridiculous number of momentous events that happened over the summer of 1927.
So it is perhaps worth pausing for a moment to remember just some of the things that happened that summer: Babe Ruth hit sixty home runs. The Federal Reserve made the mistake that precipitated the stock market crash. Al Capone enjoyed his last summer of eminence. The Jazz Singer was filmed. Television was created. Radio came of age. Sacco and Vanzetti were executed. President Coolidge chose not to run. Work began on Mount Rushmore. The Mississippi flooded as it never had before. A madman in Michigan blew up a school and killed forty-four people in the worst slaughter of children in American history. Henry Ford stopped making the Model T and promised to stop insulting Jews. And a kid from Minnesota flew across an ocean and captivated the planet in a way it had never been captivated before. Whatever else it was, it was one hell of a summer.
Sounds good, right? But consider the details.
Waverley Root and Richard de Rochemont in their authoritative book Eating in America report that 11,700 people died in 1927 alone from imbibing drink poisoned by the government.
The Federal government poisoned alcohol and released it into the market with the hopes it would kill people that drink.
This Mississippi River flooded in one of the worst disasters to ever hit the country. The Federal Govt. did nothing about it. Ultimately charity and churches managed to raise about $20 a person to help. And by “people” we of course mean white people. The official death toll was 1000 because nobody bothered to count non-whites. Although a side effect of that was that many displaced blacks moved north to start over, hastening the integration of the big industrial cities like Detroit and Chicago.
The KKK grew dramatically through the mid 1920s, and Eugenics took the country by storm. The IQ test was invented not to sort out the smart people, but to identify the people that should be sterilized.
Altogether at least sixty thousand people were sterilized because of Laughlin’s efforts. At the peak of the movement in the 1930s, some thirty states had sterilization laws, though only Virginia and California made wide use of them. It is perhaps worth noting that sterilization laws remain on the books in twenty states today.
One of America’s most admired industrialists, Henry Ford, was a Nazi of little intelligence.
He was defiantly narrow-minded, barely educated, and at least close to functionally illiterate. His beliefs were powerful but consistently dubious, and made him seem, in the words of The New Yorker, “mildly unbalanced.” He did not like bankers, doctors, liquor, tobacco, idleness of any sort, pasteurized milk, Wall Street, overweight people, war, books or reading, J. P. Morgan and Co., capital punishment, tall buildings, college graduates, Roman Catholics, or Jews. Especially he didn’t like Jews.
Sound like anybody in a position of power in 2019?
Henry Ford had the additional distinction of being the only American mentioned favorably in Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler’s memoir of 1925.
Oh, and about that doubling the average wage so that everybody could afford to buy a car? Pure marketing bullshit.
In 1914, Ford not only introduced the eight-hour day and the forty-hour week but also doubled average salaries to $5 a day in what is often presented as an act of revolutionary magnanimity. In fact, the wage increase was necessitated by the costly waste of high employee turnover—a breathtaking 370 percent in 1913
Ford employees could be ordered to clean their houses, tidy their yards, sleep in American-style beds, increase their savings, modify their sexual behavior, and otherwise abandon any practice that a Ford inspector deemed “derogatory to good physical manhood or moral character.”
1927 also saw Lindbergh make his historic flight, followed by a barnstorming tour of America; and the explosion of the “talkie” movie. Both would have dramatic impacts on America, and the world.
Whether Lindbergh knew it or not, his tour of America did far more to transform the future of aviation than his daring dash to Paris ever could.
His flying to visit every state normalized human air flight. Boeing was barely hanging on when Lindbergh landed in Paris. They were booming by the time his tour of America was over. Americans saw somebody routinely flying from point A to point B as a normal mode of transportation that summer. It changed everything about how we looked at human flight.
Also, movies went from 100% silent to 90% talkie in two years. A side effect is that talkies exported American speech and American ideas throughout the world almost overnight. If you look at the rapid rise of America as a world power in the 2nd quarter of the 1900s talkies probably have as much to so with it as winning a couple of World Wars.
One more thing, Lindbergh was also a Nazi that favored Eugenics.