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The 1920s in Rhode Island


Picture of Rhode Island
Picture of Rhode Island

After World War I (1914-1918), low wages and lower energy and transportation costs in the South prompted many textile plants to relocate there, and Rhode Island’s cotton industry began to decline. In 1922 wages were drastically reduced, causing a long and bitter strike in some of Rhode Island’s largest mills and creating stronger textile unions. However, the decline in textile manufacturing was relatively slow in the 1920s, which were largely a prosperous decade.

Economic conditions worsened in the 1930s, as the nation entered the period of hard times known as the Great Depression. Rhode Islanders supported the Democratic presidential candidate, Franklin D. Roosevelt, in 1932, as they had narrowly supported the unsuccessful Democratic candidate, Alfred E. Smith, in 1928.

They also elected a Democratic governor, Theodore Francis Green, and in 1935 they gave Democrats control of both houses of the state legislature for the first time since 1854. When the Democratic-controlled General Assembly convened in 1935, it repealed the Brayton Law, ousted the existing Supreme Court justices, and reorganized and streamlined the executive branch of the state government in a coup called the Bloodless Revolution. The state’s economy recovered slowly during the 1930s. By 1939, employment in nontextile industries returned to the level of 1929, but employment in the textile industry was still about 15 percent below its 1929 level. World War II (1939-1945) gave a temporary lift to the state’s economy. During the war, nontextile employment surpassed textile employment, partly because of a substantial increase in shipbuilding in the state. But the state’s economy still depended mainly on the declining textile industry, and Rhode Island’s unemployment rate remained consistently higher than the national average after the war. "Rhode Island" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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