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The Roaring Twenties: 1920-1929. Popular Images: Late-night jazz sessions Sequined flappers doing the Charleston Dapper young men drinking bathtub gin in smoky speakeasies Nicknames of the era: Roaring Twenties Jazz Age Era of Excess. Era of Excess. Rushing into an era of Modernity.

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The Roaring Twenties: 1920-1929

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the roaring twenties 1920 1929
The Roaring Twenties: 1920-1929
  • Popular Images:
    • Late-night jazz sessions
    • Sequined flappers doing the Charleston
    • Dapper young men drinking bathtub gin in smoky speakeasies
  • Nicknames of the era:
    • Roaring Twenties
    • Jazz Age
    • Era of Excess
era of excess
Era of Excess

Rushing into an era of Modernity

Opposition to an era of Modernity

Reassert older, more conservative Protestant values

American isolationism

Stricter immigration laws

18th Amendment – Prohibition

Membership to KKK & fundamentalist Christian organizations increased

  • Automobiles
  • Airplanes
  • Radio
  • Movies
  • Mass consumerism
  • Advances for women
  • New concepts of morality
  • Scientific theories challenged established religious beliefs
political conservatism prosperity
Political Conservatism & Prosperity
  • Americans craved stable leadership & economic prosperity in the 1920s
    • Weary voters elected 3 probusiness conservative Republican presidents:
      • Warren G. Harding
      • Calving Coolidge
      • Herbert Hoover
    • Result continuity - rather than change – characterized the political climate of the decade.
political conservatism prosperity1
Political Conservatism & Prosperity
  • Warren G. Harding promised voters a return to “normalcy”
    • Disillusioned by WWI most Americans found his cautious & conservative politics compelling
    • During 3 years in office, Harding supported big business, relaxed government control over industry, & promoted high tariffs on imports.
  • Scandal
    • Harding gave many top cabinet positions & civil service jobs to old chums from Ohio. The “Ohio Gang” sullied his name by accepting bribes, defrauding the government and bootlegging.
    • Teapot Dome scandal most shocking – secretary of the interior, Albert B. Fall, illegally authorized private companies to drill for oil on public lands.
      • Harding escaped implication in the scandal only when he died from a heart attack in 1923
political conservatism prosperity2
Political Conservatism & Prosperity

Calvin Coolidge

Herbert Hoover

Won on platform of big business & against big government

Having grown accustomed to prosperity, Americans rejected the Democratic candidate

  • Entered White House at death of Harding
  • Reserved demeanor, moral uprightness, & distance from Harding scandals allowed to be elected 1924
  • “Silent Cal” continued to support big business, propose higher tariffs, & push for deregulation of business & the economy
    • Election marked the demise of Progressivism

Hoover’s inflexible conservatism ultimately prevented him from facing the impending economic crisis. The European demand for American exports had dropped, farmers were more and more in debt, and Americans were continuing to live extravagant lifestyles, primarily on credit.

prohibition and the rise of organized crime
Prohibition and the Rise of Organized Crime
  • 18th Amendment took effect Jan. 1920, banning the manufacture, sale, and transport of all intoxicating liquors.
    • Referred to as “the noble experiment;” succeeded in lowering consumption of alcohol, at least in rural areas
    • Amendment created black market for alcohol sales; bootlegged liquor became widely available
  • Prohibition provided criminals with financially rewarding new business.
    • “Scarface” Al Capone emerged as the best-known gangster of the era.
  • Prohibition was difficult to enforce.
    • Congress eventually Twenty-First Amendment in 1933 to repeal Prohibition
culture of modernism
Culture of Modernism
  • Expansion of radio broadcasting, boom of motion pictures, and spread of consumerism united the nation culturally
    • Contributed to the breakdown of America’s tradition vision of itself
    • New national identify began to form
  • Radio – programming expanded to include news, music, talk shows, sports broadcasts, political speeches, and advertising
  • Motion pictures – moved to CA in 1915, a true entertainment revolution began.
    • By 1929, nearly every citizen attended the movies weekly
culture of modernism1
Culture of Modernism
  • Mass production allowed Henry Ford to sell cars at prices that the working class could afford
    • Cars made on assembly line could be produced 10x’s faster; purchased cheaper
    • Car ownership changed the way people experienced American life
  • May 21, 1927 Charles Lindbergh completed the first successful solo flight across the Atlantic
    • Flight foreshadowed the emergence of the commercial airline industry
culture of modernism2
Culture of Modernism
  • Modernist Literature – intrigued by the fast-paced, fractured, unmoored modern world around them, writers, struggled to develop a way of expressing reality; new techniques = free verse & stream of consciousness
  • Known as Lost Generation, writers Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, & Harold Stearns penned bitter commentaries on postwar America; cynical about potential for progress and misappropriated values
resistance to modernity
Resistance to Modernity
  • Americans feared communist & socialist ideas in the wake of Russian Revolution of 1917.
    • Communist fears picked up steam; in Jan 1920, police across nation seized more than 6,000 suspects to find and expel communists.
    • Worst of the Red Scare passed by 1921
  • Compelled by imagined threats of foreign influence on American values, Congress passed acts to restrict immigration
  • Sacco & Vanzetti Trial – trial of 2 Italian anarchists illustrated Americans’ intolerance for foreign ideas and individuals
resistance to modernity1
Resistance to Modernity
  • KKK reemerged in 1920s as an effort to protect American values; targeted blacks, immigrants, Jews, Catholics, and other minority groups that threatened the KKK’s homogenous values & identity
  • Scopes Trial, in 1925 TN court tried high school biology teacher for teaching theory of evolution; Scopes “Monkey” Trial captured nation’s interest. Although court found Scopes guilty, the trial illustrated the growing tension between tradition & progress.
impact of black culture
Impact of Black Culture
  • Americans became interested in new musical sounds coming from New Orleans, New York, St. Louis, and Chicago; jazz music became the rage of the decade. African-Americans also captured their culture in literature and art.
  • Marcus Garvey led the “Negro Nationalism” movement; as the leader of United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) Garvey advocated for the establishment of a Negro republic in Africa for exiled Americans. Argued that racial prejudice ran too deep to ever be fixed.
impact of black culture1
Impact of Black Culture
  • The Harlem Renaissance was a major African-American cultural and artistic movement. Black authors depicted experiences of rural and urban lives
    • Poems and narratives captured the diversity of African American experience and highlighted the rich culture of black America.
  • The growth of jazz in 1920s coupled the cultural expression of black Americans with mainstream culture by tapping into the spirit of youth, freedom, and openness; also dissolved many traditional racial barriers in music.
emergence of the new woman
Emergence of the “New Woman”
  • Women’s roles changed at an unprecedented rate. Oppressive taboos such as smoking, drinking, and sexually provocative behavior slackened during the decade as women sought more freedom and self-expression.
    • Most women in the 1920s still adhered to traditional gender roles and customs despite the new freedoms and morality.
  • 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote in 1920 – though some women often chose not to vote because they didn’t want to challenge the traditional authority of their husbands.
    • Division within the women’s movement led to the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), would have granted men and women equal legal rights.
emergence of the new woman1
Emergence of the “New Woman”
  • Flapper women became the icon of the 1920s with their short bobbed hair, makeup, dangling jewelry, short skirts, and zest for modernity.
    • Unlike the women of previous generations, flappers drank, smoked, danced, flirted and caroused with men freely and easily.
    • Few women actually became flappers but the image appealed to filmmakers, novelists, and advertisers who made them famous.
stock market crash of 1929
Stock Market Crash of 1929
  • Prosperity of 1920s ended when the “bull market” suddenly showed strain of overvaluation in fall 1929.
    • The value of the stock market had more than quadrupled because Americans had purchased stock “on margin” by using future earnings from their investments to buy more stock.
    • Most people assumed the market would continue to climb.
  • When the market bucked and stock prices began to slip, brokers made “margin calls” requesting investors to pay off the debts owed.
    • Most people didn’t have the cash to pay back the brokers; instead they tried to see all their investments to quickly come up with the money.
  • The surge in stock dumping eventually caused the most catastrophic market crash on Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929
    • In spite of attempts by major investors to bolster the rapidly declining market, Black Tuesday marked the beginning of the rapid economic collapse known as the Great Depression