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What made the "Roaring Twenties" roar?

Thompson. Economic, political, and social events/people/concepts/movements of 1920s America.
by Veda V on 10 March 2011

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Transcript of What made the "Roaring Twenties" roar?

What made the "Roaring Twenties" roar? A look at America in an age of innocence "Cross" by Langston Hughes My old man’s a white old man
And my old mother’s black.
If ever I cursed my white old man
I take my curses back.
If I ever I cursed my black old mother
And wished she were in hell,
I’m sorry for that evil wish
And now I wish her well
My old man died in a fine big house.
My ma died in a shack.
I wonder where I’m going to die,
Being neither white nor black? 1913 Model T. Henry Ford invents the moving assembly line to manufacture his mass production Model T vehicles for cheap. Workers stand still and are given just one job of many to form the entire car. The moving assembly line impacts the rest of manufacturing by increasing efficiency and lowering costs for consumers. More Americans have access to conveniences like cars and home appliances and modern American consumerism begins. J. Edgar Hoover is chosen by A. Mitchell Palmer, Attorney General, to head the General Intelligence Division of the Bureau of Investion (later, the FBI). This begins the Palmer Raids, where thousands suspected of being anarchists, socialists, and communists are arrested. Denial of civil liberties continues, with high bails, denial of representation, and inhumane incarceration. Hundreds of Radicals, including the "nation's most dangerous female" anarchist Emma Goldman, are deported. 1913-1921 In Woodrow Wilson's waning administration, the closing of World War I comes, along with raised tariffs on imported goods (later to contribute to the Great Depression, when U.S. aide to post-war Europe is inhibited by these tariffs, causing a world-wide depression), and the end of free immigration in the face of xenophobia. 1921-1923 Warren G. Harding's presidency is marked with scandals, notoriously the Teapot dome bribery Scandal, in which oil reserves in California were transferred from the Department of the Navy to the Department of the Interior and leased to an oil company. Harding promoted "a return to normalcy", or a return to nativism, isolationism, and laissez-faire. Ford's manufacturing methods provided for a consumer economy where, at least on the middle-class level, everyone could strive to be equal in wealth. Canned food, ready-made clothing, and electrical appliances (toaster ovens, vacuums, lamps, washing machines). Most goods were marketed to women, with advertisements heralding the libertian of women with the coming of electricity and promise to ease life. Millions of dollars poured into advertising, eventually making consumer goods something people "could not live without". The radio, film, and even automobiles facilitated advertising. The ability to buy items seemed to equate freedom while providing entertainment. With the prosperity and high consumer confidence in the 1920s, overspending and overproduction would become problems in the coming Depression. Speakeasies were formed to get around Prohibition and were clubs that needed a password to get in and often either changed locations frequently or payed off law enforcement. Owners of speakeasies could generate lots of profit, and speakeasies (and the entire flamboyant attitude of the 20s) made it clear that Prohibition was not going to stop people from finding a way to enjoy themselves. 1919 The 18th Amendment is enacted, prohibiting the sale and productino of alcohol. It stemmed from the idea that the high alcoholic population contributed to crime and family issues. Instead, the 18th Amendment's Prohibition leads to more crime, most notoriously in the form of organized crime, and production of illegal liquor, such as moonshine. The Harlem Renaissance rose out of upper Manhattan, New York and was also call the New Negro Movement. It was the "spiritual coming of age" for the black community where creative expression (mostly literary) blossomed into a new cultural identity. It would become both part of American culture and proved (but did not succeed for everyone) as a wake-up call that African Americans were capable of culture, class, and celebration of beauty. The Sacco and Vanzetti trials of 1921 was part of the Red Scare xenophobia and civil rights violation period. Bartolomeo Sacco and Nicola Vanzetti, two Italiam immigrants, anarchists, and atheists, were arrested for robbery. On known ties to violent anarchist Luigi Galleani and with general racial stereotyping and prejudice, the two men who put to death. The executions set off riots in England, Germany, and France, and series of mail bombs were sent to those involved in the case. 1920 Frank Lloyd Wright explores the use of concrete and abstract sculpture in housing. He uses precast concrete blocks, steel rods, and more concrete to make the "textile-block" housing, such as in the Aline Barnsdall House and the John Storer house (latter in Hollywood, 1923). Wright is considered America's most creative and innovative architect, and his work later inspires the Minimalist, Bauhaus (form follows function), and De Stijl (block-design) architecture movements. The Lost Generation, named by a participant, Gertrude Stein, consisted of mostly ex-patriated writers who moved to France after World War I. The name came from the moral lost-ness or general aimlessness of the men who had gone to war and either died or returned, wounded in either soul or body. Ernest Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ezra Pound were all part of this Generation. Their books reflected this concept (The Great Gatsby, Farewell to Arms, The Hollow Men, The Wasteland...)
August 1920 The 19th Amendment is ratified, giving suffrage to women (in national elections. Voting on a state level was already granted in some states). The efforts of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony in the 1800s contributed to this Amendment. African American women greatly supported women's suffrage because they believed it would help them out of financial and sexual exploitation. The role of women in World War I also broke down gender roles such as women in the house and men in the factory that helped make way for the Amendment. Flapper culture was set in the 1920s, part of the jazz scene and part of the "new American woman". Hemlines rose, androgonous styles were in, and hair was cut short and bobbed. Unlike their mother's Gibson Girl emulation, the flapper was flirtatious and the antithesis of Victorian prudery. The flapper grew along with the 19th Amendment, and women smoke, drank, and talked about sex openly and fully. America became a culturehouse, and people flocked to entertainment that included sports games, radio shows, film, and jazz. Since work was no longer a full-time, day-to-night occupation, people filled their lives with leisure. The radio was equivalent in entertainment and information-providing as the television was and the internet today. Film now migrated to the "talkies"--film with sound--and film stars became America's royalty. Now with vehicles for nearly everyone, roads were built and people could travel further and meet even more people. Cities moved faster, and money moved faster with it. Radio played an extremely significant role in the Western world, right up to the age of the television. Radio provided news, entertainment, and most importantly, advertisments. Regional radio stations did not remain just in the region and therefore Americans were able to taste the attitudes and culture of their fellows. With this came racial and cultural stereotypes of immigrants and African Americans, perhaps incited hatred, perhaps pity. Jazz, blues, and folk music were the primary musical tastes of Americans during this period, and another name for the 1920s was the Jazz Age. The likes of Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and George Gershwin all enveloped the sound of the decade. Today, jazz is seen as a universal music genre. The film industry boomed during this period, with movie production and attendance higher than it is today. The first "talkie" was the film, The Jazz Singer in May 1927. Hollywood dominated the film markets in both Britain and France. The flapper and sex symbol debuted, Greta Garbo and Rudolph Valentino the epitome of glamour. Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton took over slapstick film, their origins in silent movies. Spectator sports attracted mass audiences to boxing matches, and baseball games were extremely popular and fans reactions could send waves throughout the country. Sports teams were formed in schools and Olympic records make sports history. 1923-1929 Calvin Coolidge had served as Harding's Vice President and assumed the Presidency after Hardings death in office. He would mend the effects of the scandals and his high tariffs and federal tax cuts aimed to ease the American people and promote American business were popular, but the effect (as with Wilson's tariffs) would become present in the Depression. 1925 The Scopes' "Monkey" Trial debated creationism and evolutionary theory. John Scopes was recruited by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in an effort to attract media attention to the small town of Dayton, Tennessee and to attest that the Tennesse law to teach evolutionary theory was a First Amendment violation. Scopes was arrested for teaching the theory in his classroom, against Tennessee law. With celebrity lawyer Clarence Darrow and prosecutor and popular Christian Fundamentalist William Jennings Bryan, the case turned into a national affair, broadcasted over the radio. In the end, Scopes was guilty of violating Tennessee law (and was fined merely $100), but the core of the case was the debate between the two lawyers, in which Bryan became twisted in Darrow's questions after being invited to speak as a witness, giving Darrow the win of the debate. The Ku Klux Klan reached its peak in the mid-20s, where many of it's members were part of state legislatures and of Congress (significantly in Indiana, Oklahoma, Texas, and Oregon). Their strength was in these relationships and Klan activity extended to Catholics, immigrants, and Jews. They also opposed evolutionary theory, birth control devices and information, and repealing prohibition. The film Birth of a Nation by D.W. Griffith incited Klan popularity by giving the organization a favorable protrayal. In the spring of 1927, Charles Lindbergh of Detroit flew the first transatlantic flight, along with the fastest transcontinental flight. He landed in France, and his record stood to be a mark of how far aviation technology had come. With World War II approaching and the heavy use of air force, aviation technology would further expand to today where a flight "across the pond" is nothing (though perhaps tiring) compared to Lindbergh's struggle. 1929-1933 Herbert C. Hoover served as Secretary of Commerce under both Harding and Coolidge during the brightest part of the 20s. But with October 29ths Black Friday, Hoover became the president burdened with the first years of the Great Depression. Although he did attempt to enact relief efforts, they seemed inadequate, especially compared to FDR's later "Alphabet Soup". February 14, 1929 was the year of Al Capone's St. Valentine's Day Massacre, where the gangster had sent men to disguise themselves as police officers to gun down Capone's rivals in bootleg liquor. The competition between Johnny Torrio turned Chicago into a warzone, with multiple assassinations and numerous deaths. The Massacre was nearly an ambush with the disguises, and the men had been machine-gunned while facing the wall, and was a signal for the end of Capone's empire as well as the rise of forensic evidence in crime (in this case, ballistics). Capone could no longer be tolerated by authorities and ended up being sent to prison on tax evasion. 1919 The Red Scare was a period full of fear of communists, anarchiets, socialists, and radicals, with immigrants as scapegoats. Labor strikes and anarchist bombings incited fear that a revolution such as Russia's Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 was in the making in America. The Epsionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 contributed to the violation of many civil liberties during the Scare. Ridiculing the government and and signs of unpatriotism would make your neighbors highly suspicious during this time.
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