The Year Was 1921

The year was 1921 and in Ireland, there was a truce between the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the British government, ending the Anglo-Irish War. Per the truce, Ireland was partitioned with six of Ulster’s nine counties forming Northern Ireland, and the remainder of Ireland becoming the Irish Free State, which held dominion status.
The Irish Free State was given some autonomy, but the dominion status was a bitter pill to swallow for those who had fought for independence in the Anglo-Irish War. The dissention between those who opposed the Treaty and those against escalated into the Irish Civil War in 1922.

Race relations turned violent in the U.S. with a series of riots in the years following World War I. Tulsa, Oklahoma, had grown from 10,000 residents in 1910 to more than 100,000 in 1920 due to an oil boom. Tensions had been running high in the city between whites and blacks. When a black shoe shiner was accused of attacking a white elevator operator and as rumors of a lynching circulated by a local newspaper, violence erupted. In a scuffle between a white man and a black WWI veteran, a gun went off and one of the worst race riots in U.S. history began. When it was over, more than 1,200 homes in the black neighborhood of Greenwood were destroyed. Estimates as to the death toll range from two to three hundred. (Don’t Know Much About History, by Kenneth C. Davis)

Anti-immigrant sentiments also ran high and that mood was reflected in the passage of the Emergency Quota Act, which Congress passed on 21 May 1921. Fueled by the fears of uneducated foreigners flooding the work force, the law established quotas for the first time, and the formula for those quotas was particularly harsh for Japanese and southern and eastern Europeans. According to They Came in Ships, by John Philip Colletta, “This was what many European and Japanese families had feared; families were split by an ocean, with no idea of when, if ever, they would be reunited….Many desperate Europeans were ready to take drastic steps. Southern and eastern Europeans flocked to northern European ports to book passage on northern European vessels…You may discover that a southern or eastern European ancestor who came to the United States between 1921 and 1924 left Europe from Liverpool, Le Havre, or Bremen.”

In many countries, women still did not have the right to vote. In 1921, suffrage was granted to women in Sweden (with some restrictions), Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Lithuania. 

The first birth control clinic in London, England, was opened by Marie Stopes in 1921. A feminist, Marie became interested in the subject of birth control after meeting Margaret Sanger, who had opened the first birth control clinic in the United States in 1916. (Sanger’s clinic was promptly shut down by police, and she was imprisoned for a time.) 

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5 thoughts on “The Year Was 1921

  1. It is stated in this article that the 1921 Emergency Quota Act was the first to put quotas on immigrants. In actuality, the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act was the first to place restrictions on persons of a specific ethnicity. The reasons were the same, of course; racism.

  2. I lived in Tulsa, OK until two years ago. The Greenwood Neighborhood where the riots were so deadly in 1921 has been well preserved. It is a beautiful old area. There has been, in the past few years, lawsuits related to those riots which have been resolved now.

  3. I found the article on the events leading up to the Tulsa riots very imformative, because like all things that happen they usually begin much earlier with prior incidents and impressions. Hate is insiduous.

  4. Interesting information for who claim that their ancestors came to the U.S. the right way.

  5. Exclusion Act, Quota Act, and now boarder fences / walls in the name of “national security”. Apparantly we’re not very good students of history…or we’re very slow learners…or maybe both.

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