Dominant Events of the 20th Century:
12 Amendments. World War I, Flu Epidemics, Crash of 1929, Depression of 1933. Vestiges of Slavery
Copyright 2013 Franklyn E. Dailey Jr.
My objective is storytelling. Some may see a Civics refresher. Because readers like to get their 'bearings,' I am listing on this page all of the 20th century amendments. For perspective, I have also interspersed some related major events of the century. Use this list as a reference when needed. The text that follows this list will begin my selected discussion. I suggest reading that before going to the links on the left, which are repeated at the bottom. Up to the link labeled "Chapter 10-Epilogue" readers will find draft pages of my little book being promoted on the upper left. Beginning with "A 20th Century Epidemic," readers will find (in type) the original handwritten letters of a mother to her daughter in the 1918 flu epidemic. From there on down, readers have links to stories or events I have written about subsequent to publishing the book. There is enough material for another book, but I will shortly be 90 and prefer now to simply 'tell stories' and hope readers will enjoy them. Humor is involved whenever I can find it.
The 16th Amendment, bringing our nation the income tax, was ratified in 1913.
The 17th providing for direct election of Senators, was ratified in 1913.
Europe plunged into the 'war to end war' in 1914
The U.S. entered that war in April 1917.
The first general Conscription Act, the "draft," was passed in June 1917.
With a signing at Versailles, the war ended November 11, 1918.
The 18th Amendment made the sale of alcoholic beverages illegal, in 1919.
The 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, came in 1920.
The market crashed in 1929.
The 20th Amendment defined presidential and congressional terms, in 1933.
This Amendment also provided for presidential succession.
The 21st Amendment, repealing the 18th (Prohibition), was ratified in 1933.
A Great Depression began in 1933.
The 22nd Amendment, limiting the Presidency to two terms, was ratified in 1951.
The 23rd Amendment gave District of Columbia citizens voting rights in 1961.
The 24th Amendment abolished poll taxes in 1964.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbade discrimination on the basis of sex as well as race.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965. (extended in 1970, 1975, a nd1982)
The 25th Amendment provided for Presidential succession, the Vice Presidency being vacant.
Ratified in 1967.
The 26th Amendment lowered the voting age to 18, in 1971.
The 27th Amendment prohibited mid-term raises for Congress in 1992.
The 20th Century was marked by 12 Amendments, five Wars, epidemic flu, a deep Depression, the Atomic Bomb, and a Cold War. I will be coming to some of the lighter moments of that century. For balance, though, we must note that the 20th century inherited serious leftover problems from both the 18th, and the19th centuries, and I take note of some.
The Founders were prejudiced in favor of their own interests, risking war with England and declaring independence. When they were successful in defeating the English, they set up their own government (our government) but failed to deal with a practice inherited from their colonial masters in which they were engaged, just as reprehensibly. They did promise to review the Slavery matter in just a short interval after forming their new government, but failed in that resolve.
One of the great civil wars of history, over 600,000 dead, was fought, almost as punishment for commencing the new government with the deep sins of colonial days. Did that searing war and its three Amendments remove the contamination? Certainly not, if one accepts the relevance of the subsequent actions that took place in the 20th Century.
The 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution were outgrowths of the Civil War. The 13th abolished slavery and involuntary servitude. The14th defined citizenship, carrying with it both rights and responsibilities. The 15th Amendment prohibits each government in the United States from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen's "race, color, or previous condition of servitude"..."
Suffrage is the civil right to vote, and the exercise of that right. It is also called political franchise, or simply, 'the franchise.' Suffrage applies to elections, but also extends to initiatives and referendums. Was the suffrage denial to former slaves solved by the Civil War?
Not at all! For example, the 24th Amendment in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 renewed the 100-year effort to chip away at the evil of slavery. The 15th Amendment incorporated all citizens' right to vote, that could not be denied by "race, color, or previous condition of servitude." So, some states simply introduced 'poll taxes.' Those who could not pay could not vote.