Transcript of The USA in the 1920s
by Shantelle Reid The USA in the 1920s Arts and Culture in the 1920s Politics in the 1920s American Politics of the 1920s changed drastically as the US pulled out of all international matters due to their policy of Isolationism choosing instead to focus on issues at home. The 1920s also saw the beginning of prohibition and the huge rise in support of the Ku Klux Klan. Events of the 1920s The 1920s saw huge advancements in sports, women's rights and everything in between the two as the American people and government policies changed drastically. Finances in the 1920s The finances of the 1920s are a deceiving matter because with all of the items that Americans bought, it seemed as though they could afford anything, though the reality was that the 1920s were characterized by installment payments, meaning that most of the nation was in perpetual debt. Famous People of the 1920s Between the increase in the popularity of jazz, the creation of "talkies" and all the new sporting events, there were more famous stars in the US than the country had ever experienced. Technology in the 1920s Automobiles Cars enabled people to go faster and farther. They became more comfortable. Companies began making them in different colours to be more attractive to women. Roads were improved to accommodate cars. Ford's Model-T car allowed families of lower incomes to get a car due to it's affordability. Movies The first "talkie", The Jazz Singer, was shown in 1923. The first 3D movie was released in 1922. Telephones and Televisions A technology existed that allowed pictures to be sent over the phone (similar to a fax) and the next step was to send moving pictures. This new technology was applied in a manner similar to that of a video phone. In 1927 the president of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company from New York was able to see Mr. Hoover 200 miles away in Washington as they talked. This showed the world that electricity was for sound as well as sight. Radios This technology would help lead to the creation of television. In 1929, aerial television was tried for the first time with a broadcast made from an airplane. The radio was seen as the greatest communication innovation of the 1920s. Radios were affordable for everyone. People who lived in isolated areas were now able to stay connected to the rest of the country. The Grand Ole Opry was broadcast for the first time on November 28, 1925. The radio was used for commercials and advertisements for consumer products. The first radio broadcast was on November 2, 1920. Politicians were able to make broadcasts on the radio which allowed them to reach people all of the world without the travel that would have been previously required. People who were illiterate were able to find out news. The first dial phones appeared in the twenties. Everyday Americans were now able to travel, something that had only been available to the rich in the past. Other Technology Airplanes started to be used for passenger transport. Henry Ford's creation of the assembly line allowed cars to be made quickly and efficiently Jacob Schick patented the first electric razor in 1928. A process for frozen food was invented in 1925 by Clarence Birdseye. Richard Goddard launched the first liquid-fueled rocket in 1926. The first car radio was invented by Paul Gavin in 1929. In 1923 Frigidaire released the first self-contained refrigerator but General Electric's "Monitor Top" was the first widely used. The first polygraph machine was created in 1921. Though washing machines had been invented in the 1800s, they were vastly improved in the 1920s and became more affordable meaning that housewives everywhere had an easier time doing laundry. The first pop-up toaster was invented by Charles Strite in 1921. The first air condition for consumer use was made in 1928 Literature Reading was incredibly popular especially in the winter. Magazines had many short stories or serials as entertainment. Sinclair Lewis, the first American to win the Nobel Prize for literature wrote books about the people in the towns and villages of the central states and their empty values in books such as "Main Street" and "Babbitt". Ernest Hemingway, another popular author of the time wrote about everything from love to sports in books such as "The Sun Also Rises". His strong views set him aoart from most Americans. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote about rich Americans who wanted happiness. These characters strayed from traditional beliefs. His novel "The Great Gatsby" is considered one of the greatest in the history of American Writing. William Faulkner wrote about life in the southern states and how the emotional tension of the Civil War still effected society. One of his best know novels is "The Sound and Fury". Like Lewis he won though Nobel Prize for Literature. Other popular works of the '20s include: "The Waste Land" by T.S. Lewis, "The New Negro" by Alaine Locke, "Strange Interlude" by Eugene O'Neill, and "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston. Art Surrealism and Art Deco were the two main art movements of the twenties. Important parts of the Surrealist practice include techniques like: frottage, decalomania, parsemage, automatic painting, and automatic drawing which was developed by Andre Masson. Art Deco got it's name from the 1925 World's fair in Paris and though it didn't gain strength in the US until 1928 it had been popular in Europe throughout the twenties. Art Deco usually involved materials such as stainless steel, sharkskin, lacquer and zebraskin. Art Deco techniques included: zigzags, chevron patterns, stepped forms and curves. Art Deco was also a form of Architecture at the time. Maxfield Parish and C. Coles Phillips were popular artists in the twenties. Surrealism derived from Romanticism and made way for Abstract Expressionists. Music and Dance Jazz became incredibly popular in the twenties. Radios helped to bring jazz to places that bands could have never gotten to. Phonograph record helped to bring music to the masses and over 100 million were sold in 1927. Jazz was seen as the devil's music by many older and more conservative people, and as a means to defy their parents by teens and young adults. Clubs, dancehalls and tea rooms popped up all over the place in the cities. Georgia O'Keeffe was a popular painter. e.e. cummings was another famous author. Dance marathons began in 1923 Popular dances included the Charleston, Black Bottom, and Shimmy. Broadways was incredibly popular in the twenties and people would pay up to $3.50 for a seat. In one season over 50 new shows could open for the first time Billboards displayed lit up signs for the Broadway shows in a way that could easily outshine Broadway today Broadway was so successful that there were 268 plays offered in New York City in 1927 Billboard Magazine published its first charts in 1928 Men's pants could be as wide as 24 inches at the bottom Men's clothing became more conservative. Fashion Raccoon coats were popular in winter White linen was popular amongst men in the summers Slouch hats were stylish and convenient because men could put them in their coat pockets, briefcases, or suitcases without issue Though longer skirts made a comeback in 1921, it was only four years before 'short' skirts were popular again Bustles and corsets became increasingly unpopular while bright colours became all the rage shoes and stockings became more important as hemlines of dresses and skirts rose and they were made in various colours so they could be matched to outfits Fashion became a way for women to support their families women copied the hairstyles of Hollywood with the help of magazines telling them how to achieve the looks bras were introduced as corsets lost popularity The Twenties marked the spread of ready-to-wear fashion Powder, lipstick, rouge, eyebrow pencil, eye shadow, and nail polish all became popular A popular style amongst women in the twenties was that of the Flapper. Women would have short bobbed hair mostly hidden under a cloche hat, loose knee-length dresses with a dropped barely there waistline, long necklaces, lots of makeup and silk stockings with garters. The Miss America Pageant began in 1921. Sports A new era of sports began thanks to the publicity they were able to take advantage of. Sports transitioned from amateur events into professional spectacles with the creation of a professional football league, golf tours and a tennis circuit. The sports stars of the 1920s are still well known now and its because of those stars and teams of that era that sports have stayed as popular as they are. 1924 saw the first Winter Olympic Games. They were held in France. Women's athletics and gymnastics appeared in the 1928 Summer Olympics for the first time. Sports stars were able to make a living off their careers for the first time, and the venues they played at were always full. Popular sports stars of the time, most of whom are still well known, include boxer Jack Dempsey, swimmer Johnny Weissmuller, football players Knute Rockne and Red Grange, baseball player Babe Ruth, golfers Bobby Jones and Glenna Collett, and tennis stars Bill Tilden and Helen Wills. Crossword puzzles, Mah Jongg, and Ouija boards were all popular games. Marathons and flagpole sitting gained popularity. The Harlem Renaissance This was a cultural movement in the 1920s and 1930s amongst African-American people and took place for the most part in Harlem, New York City. White Americans provided gateways into publishing and such that would have been otherwise closed. The Harlem Renaissance not only used music to bridge the gap between blacks and whites but also helped to bridge the gap between the rich and poor blacks. The Harlem Renaissance gave the world famous jazz musicians such as Duke Ellington, Willie "The Lion" Smith, Fats Waller, and Jelly Roll Morton. Art was used during this time to fight for equality and show the humanity of the African-American people. Authors from this period that became popular nationwide include: Alaine Locke, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and Jean Toomer. The Harlem Renaissance set the stage for the Civil Rights Movement. The Cotton Club was one of the best speakeasies in Harlem where black performers played for white customers including Bing Crosby and Doris Duke. Leadership The 1920s saw 4 different presidents, including 3 Republicans in a row. This meant that the expansion of business became one of the most important things and made it seem as though the prosperity of the country would never end. In November 1920, Warren G. Harding beat Woodrow Wilson in a landslide victory to become President of the United States and put the Republicans back in power witht he campaign slogan "A return to normalcy". Though Harding had been incredibly popular, he was also incredibly weakminded and relied on people such as his Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes and Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover to make choices and any success that his administration had was because of people like them. Harding died in office on August 2, 1923, and his vice-president Calvin Coolidge won the election in 1924. Before he became vice president Coolidge had stopped a police strike in 1919 in Massachusetts where he was governor. Coolidge was well known for the business approach that he took to running the country as demonstrated by quotes such as "the business of America is business" and "more business in government, less government in business. In 1928, Coolidge decided that he wouldn't run for a second term so the Republicans nominated Herbert Hoover who had experience as the Secretary of congress. Hoover won thanks to the people's gratitude towards the Republicans for the prosperity that had been enjoyed for the previous eight years. Hoover lost all credit and support after the depression began because he didn't handle it well and people went so far as to call the shanty towns "Hoovervilles." Prohibition Prohibition began in the US on January 16, 1920. Prohibition caused alcohol to fall into the hands of organized crime. Prohibition was put into place by the 18th amendment to the US Constitution. Prohibition agents were given the task of enforcing this law. Despite the fact that the consumption of alcohol was now illegal, many people still kept personal bars and illegal drinking establishments called "speakeasies" popped up in cities across the country. Bootleggers took alcohol across the Canada-US border into the US disguised as other things by land or boat. Canadian whiskey became incredibly popular. Though prohibition was considered strict on land, people took advantage of the fact that ships more than 3 miles from land were exempt from the law. The prohibition movement was started mainly by groups such as the Christian Women's Temperance Union. Speakeasies were illegal drinking establishments usually in the backs of warehouses that required secret passwords and knocks to enter. There was also jazz, gambling and prostitution. Suffrage The 19th amendment to the Constitution was embraced on August 26, 1920.Full transcript
In the 1920 election, millions of American women were able to vote for the first time.
Native Americans gained the right to vote in 1924 under the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 Human Rights J. Edgar Hoover took over the BOI (FBI) in 1924 and stayed in charge for 48 years. The Society for Human Rights in Chicago was created in 1924 and was the first gay rights organization in the US. Native Americans gained the right to citizenship and to vote under the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924. The American Civil Liberties Union was created in 1920 to protect the individual rights promised to all Americans by the constitution Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. Ku Klux Klan The Ku Klux Klan was a secret society who had strong roots in the southern states of the US. Though the Ku Klux Klan had been around since the 1860s, it hit the height of it's power and popularity in the 1920s with peak numbers of over 5 million people in 1925. The Ku Klux Klan targeted Asians, blacks, Catholics, communists, Hispanics, and Jews. The leader of the Ku Klux Klan was known as the Grand Wizard. Klan members always wore masks and cloaks, and rarely knew other members. They preached "One Hundred Percent Americanism". The mentality of the Ku Klux Klan is similar to that of the Death Eaters from Harry Potter. The Klan were so popular in the twenties that they had members in quite a few influential positions. They supported prohibition which helped them to gain popularity. Their symbol was a burning Latin cross and it was used as a means of intimidation. A women's auxiliary was created in the 1920s and chapters popped up around the country. The Klan was the most powerful in Indiana. Though they were popular all over America in the twenties, the Klan were the most popular, and most volatile, in the southern states. Economy The American economy boomed for most of the 1920s. Many people had the money to spend, and for those who didn't, affordable versions of seemingl upperclass items such as Ford's Model-T car. Buying items on credit without credit cards became a huge issue, and was the reason that most people could afford to buy so much. While people in the cities enjoyed all of the prosperity that the roaring twenties had to offer, those in rural areas told a different story. They didn't receive half the opportunities of those in cities, and life was made even more difficult by the widespread droughts. Many people left the rural areas in favour of the cities. People bought cars, fridges, vacuums, pianos and many other things through installment payments. Buying on margin, the stock market version of installment payments, allowed everyday Americans to participate in the stock markets by only paying 10% down. Problems the led to the Depression Though many people believe that the Depression was caused by the Stock Market crash of October 1929, it had been caused by far more problems, the stock market crash was just the culmination of it all. One contributing factor was all of the credit buying (installment payments) that people did during this time. It put a lot of people in so much debt that they couldn't make their payments. Buying on margin was another huge issue because it had a similar effect to credit buying. People bought stocks at incredibly low prices in the hopes that they could make some money off of it, but when the stock market crashed, they were lucky if they didn't have to pay money when they sold their stocks. Overproduction also was a contributing factor to the depression. Thanks to the creation of the assembly line and the fact that companies had expected the roaring twenties to go on forever, there were far more goods than were needed, and a vicious cycle began. People were fired when no more goods were needed, then those people could no longer afford to buy goods and even more people were fired. The US imposed high tariffs on goods coming from other countries and then those countries imposed similar tariffs on the US so that they couldn't sell their goods, which meant that their were even more goods in the US with nowhere to go. 1920 August 26, 1920: American women gain the right to vote under the 18th amendment to the constitution. November 2, 1920: Warren G. Harding won the election and became president of the US. January 16, 1920: Prohibition is put into effect. The 1920 census shows that there are over 100 million people in the US and that more people live in cities than rural areas. November 2, 1920: KDKA station in Pittsburgh is the radio station to start regular broadcasts. 1921 May 19, 1921: The Emergency Quota Act is passed by congress putting a limit on the number of legal immigrants into the country. September 7-8, 1921: The first Miss America Pageant was held in Atlantic City, New Jersey. November 10, 1921: The American Birth Control League is created by Margaret Sanger. This would eventually become Planned Parenthood. 1922 April 17, 1922: The Teapot Dome Scandal begins. May 30, 1922: The Lincoln Memorial is dedicated in Washington D.C. The 19th amendment is declared constitutional by the Supreme Court. 1923 January 23, 1923: President Harding declares the 12th century Aztec indian ruins a National Monument. March 2, 1923: The first issue of Time Magazine was published. April 1923: A "Phonofilm" (sound on the film of a movie) is shown in New York City by Lee de Forest. August 2, 1923: President Harding dies in office and his Vice President Calvin Coolidge takes over. The FBI begins investigating the murders and mysterious deaths during the "Osage Reign of Terror. 1924 January 25, 1924: The US competes in the first Winter Olympic Games in France and wins four medals. June 15, 1924: The Indian Citizenship Act makes Native Americans citizens and gives them the right to vote. May 10, 1924: J. Edgar Hoover is appointed head of the FBI. November 1924: Calvin Coolidge wins the election. A new immigration act is passed by Congress stopping Japanese immigration and further lowering the rest of immigration totals. 1925 January 5, 1925: Nellie Tayloe Ross becomes the first female governor of the US in Wyoming. November 28, 1925: The Grand Ole Opry does its first radio broadcast. The Scopes Trial takes place, and John T. Scopes loses and is forced to pay a $100 fine. 1926 May 9, 1926: Floyd Bennett, with the help of navigator Richard Evelyn Byrd, conducts the first flight to the North Pole March 16, 1926: Robert H. Goddard demonstrated his liquid-fueled rocket. November 15, 1926: The NBC Radio Network is formed. The Air Commerce Act is passed to provide aid and assistance to the airline industry. 1927 April 22-May 5, 1927: Great Mississippi Flood affects over 700 000 people May 20, 1927: Charles Lindbergh leaves from New York on the world's first Trans-Atlantic flight. He arrives in Paris thirty-three and a half hours later. August 10, 1927: Work on Mount Rushmore begins. October 6, 1927: The Jazz Singer (the first "talkie") is shown in New York City. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the Great Gatsby. October 20, 1927: Ford begins making the Model A car and releases it on December 2 1928 May 15, 1928: Mickey and Minnie Mouse appear for the first time in "Plane Crazy". June 17, 1928: Amelia Earhart flies across the Atlantic. November 6, 1928: Herbert Hoover wins the election. March 12, 1928: The St. Francis Dam in California gives way killing over 500 people. 1929 February 14, 1929: Gangsters that worked for Al Capone attacked member of a rival gang, killing seven people in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre October 1929: The Stock Market crashes, ending the prosperity of the twenties and sending America into the depression. November 1, 1929: The Teapot Dome Scandal ends. Albert B. Fall is sentenced to a year in jail and a $100 000 fine Movie Stars Charlie Chaplin: was a silent film star with many successful films. When he won his Oscar, he received the longest ever standing ovation at about five minutes. He was also knighted by Queen Elizabeth II Al Jolson: The first openly Jewish actor. He was also a successful singer and starred in the first "talkie" Clark Gable: was known as one of the greatest male actors of all time. He played Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind. Clara Gordon Bow: was the "It" girl of the 1920s and starred in tons of movies. Janet Gaynor: won the first Oscar for Best Actress in 1928. Sports Stars Babe Ruth: the most popular athlete of the twenties, and arguably the best baseball player ever. He finished first in home runs in eight seasons and won six World Series with the Yankees. Red Grange: played for the University of Illinois scored five touchdowns in one game and made the pass for another to crush Michigan. He is credited with saving the NFL the year later when he joined the Chicago Bulls. Jack Dempsey: known as the "Manassa Mauler" he held the title of World Heavyweight Champion in boxing for seven years. Bill Tilden: "Big Bill" Tilden won seven US Opens and two Wimbledons in the twenties, dominating in a way no other tennis player has. He also was forced to deal with the pressure of hiding his homosexuality at a time when it would not have been accepted. Other Famous People Zelda Sayre (Fitgerald): was an American novelist who was also a major icon in the twenties. Her husband called her the "first famous flapper". Coco Chanel: made a boyish style popular for women as she was the first to make pants for women. She led French fashion after WWI. Al Capone: was the leader of the Chicago mob. Duke Ellington: after moving to Harlem in 1923 and playing at the Cotton Club, he became one of the most influential jazz figures in the US. Bessie Smith: known as the "Empress of the Blues", she was the most popular female blues singer. Henry Ford: was the founder of Ford and creator of the assembly line. Langston Hughes: was an African American poet who wrote about the hope and defiance of his people and was a leader of the Harlem Renaissance. Walt Disney: was a film maker and cartoonist. His small animation studio opened in 1923 and he eventually created a worldwide empire with his amusement parks and well known characters. The twenties were a time of great prosperity in terms of technology and many great innovations came from this time. The 1920s saw a huge turn in Arts and Culture as art styles changed and new things such as jazz and the "flapper" style became popular.