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Chapter 23
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  1. Chapter 23 Coping with Change 1920-1929

  2. Introduction • In many ways modern America began in the “Roaring Twenties” • It was a time of rapid economic growth, technological advances, and changing social and cultural values • With millions of cars coming off Detroit’s assembly lines, Americans took to the roads • They were entertained by movies and radio programs • They bought an array of new consumer products • All of these new developments in society stimulated great artistic creativity, but also contributed to social tensions, fears, and culture wars

  3. Introduction • 1.) Why was the economy so prosperous in the 1920’s and how were different social groups affected by the economic boom? • 2.) What were the dominant political values of the 1920’s, and how did Republican presidents of the period represent them? • 3.) What was the new popular culture of the decade, and which Americans did it barely touch? • 4.) What developments in the period contributed to both the social tensions and the artistic flowering?

  4. A New Economic Order • Booming Business, Ailing Agriculture • Demobilization following WWI disrupted the economy • Caused a sharp recession • By 1922, recovery had set in • For the rest of the decade the economy grew rapidly and prospered • Development of electric appliances • Refrigerators • Washing machines • Vacuum cleaners • Development of the automobile industries

  5. Booming Business, Ailing Agriculture • Mass production of cars: • created hundreds of thousands of jobs • Stimulated a host of related industries • Rubber • Oil • Steel • Highway construction • American business also invested heavily abroad and loaned $$$$ to European nations to help them repay war debts • High protective tariffs in the 1920’s tended to suppress international trade

  6. Booming Business, Ailing Agriculture • Wages rose overall during the decade • But not all workers shared in the pay increases: • Southern workers • African-Americans • Mexican-Americans • Recent immigrants • Female workers

  7. Booming Business, Ailing Agriculture • American farmers did well during WWI • After the armistice European and domestic markets contracted • Prices plunged • Farmers need to repay loans and mortgages • Farmers tried to compensate by growing more • This created a surpluses that drown down produce prices further • Agriculture remained a depressed sector of the economy throughout the 1920’s

  8. New Modes of Producing, Managing, and Selling • Introduction of the assembly line and other technological advances brought more than 40% increase in productivity between 1919 and 1929 • History Channel video--assembly line • This led to bigger profits • A wave of corporate merges • By 1930, 100 corporations controlled almost 1/2 of the business done in the U.S.A. • Competition disappeared • Corporations joined together in trade associations • Fixed prices • Divide markets

  9. New Modes of Producing, Managing, and Selling • A network of chain stores developed • Displaced small, independently owned retail stores • Big business successfully boosted sales and profits • Introduced credit • Relied heavily on advertising • Business influence and values pervaded all areas of American life in the 1920’s: • Big businessmen became the new cultural heroes • Politicians vied to serve business • Organized religion tired to copy its selling techniques

  10. Women in the New Economic Era • The proportion of women working outside the home stayed at about 24% • Working women earned less than men holding similar jobs • The growth of large corporation increased the need for: • Secretaries • Typists • Filing clerks • Few women broke into management positions • Teaching and nursing were typical female professions

  11. Struggling Labor Unions in a Business Age • The 1920’s were an unsuccessful time for organized labor • Union membership fell from 5 million in 1920 to 3.4 million in 1929 • Management discouraged the growth of unions: • Intimidation • Violence • Insistence on the open shop • Use of scab labor during strikes • Introduction by some companies of benefits such as stock purchase plans • Employers often charged that unions and strikes were Communist led

  12. The Harding and Coolidge Administrations • Stand Pat Politics in a Decade of Change • 1920 election • Republicans nominated Warren G. Harding • Democrats nominated James Cox • Harding easily won • Harding admin. was riddled with corruption • He put friends in high positions which they abused

  13. Stand Pat Politics in a Decade of Change • Charles Forbes • Veterans’ Bureau chief • Stole bureau funds • Harry Daugherty • Attorney General of the Justice Department • Sold influence and immunity from prosecution • Albert Fall • Sec. of the Interior • Leased govt. oil reserves at Teapot Dome, WY and other locations to favored businessmen in exchange for bribes

  14. Stand Pat Politics in a Decade of Change • In the fall of 1923, Harding had a heart attack and died • Calvin Coolidge assumed the presidency

  15. Republican Policy Making in a Probusiness Era • In the Coolidge administration corruption lessened • The probusiness attitudes continued • High tariffs protected domestic manufacturers from foreign competition • “trickle down” theory • Supported by Sec. of Treasury Andrew Mellon • Congress lowered federal taxes for the wealthy

  16. Republican Policy Making in a ProbusinessErA • Supreme Court declared the federal child labor law unconstitutional • Under Chief Justice William Howard Taft • Appointed by Harding

  17. Republican Policy Making in a ProbusinessErA • Even though Coolidge promoted govt. assistance to business, he opposed federal aid to all other groups • He refused to extend relief to 1927 flood victims • Twice vetoed the McNary-Haugen bill • Which proposed to have Washington buy up surplus farm commodities at good prices

  18. Independent Internationalism • The U.S.A. followed an independent internationalism • Protected what it saw as U.S. global interests only • Did not join the League of Nations or the World Court • International naval arms conference • 1921 • In Washington D.C. • Called by Harding’s Sec. of State, Charles E. Hughes • Treaties that imposed a 10-year moratorium on battleship construction • Pledged the major powers to respect each other’s territorial possessions in the Pacific

  19. Independent Internationalism • The 1920’s Republican administrations also insisted that the WWI allies repay a portion of their war debts to the U.S. • Then they made it difficult for them to do so • Curtailed their sales of goods in the U.S. with high protective tariffs

  20. Progressive Stirrings, Democratic Party Divisions • Progressive reform sentiment did not completely disappear in the 1920’s • A coalition of labor and farm groups in 1924 revived the Progressive Party • Nominated Robert LaFollette for president • Democrats nominated John W. Davis • The party was split between urban and rural wings • Republicans nominated Coolidge • Coolidge easily won

  21. Women and Politics in the 1920’s: A Dream Deferred • Ratification of the 19th amendment had less impact on politics in the 1920’s than many women’s rights advocates predicted • The women’s movement splintered: • Some feminists backed an equal rights amendment • Other feared it would undermine laws protecting female workers

  22. Mass Society, Mass Culture • Cities, Cars, Consumer Goods • This was the 1st decade in which the majority of Americans lived in cities • City life-styles and values spread to more and more of the population • The new consumer goods were most readily available to city dwellers • New electric appliances transformed household duties • Supermarkets • Commercial bakeries

  23. Cities, Cars, Consumer Goods • Automobiles had the biggest impact on American culture • Traffic jams • Parking problems • Mounting accidental deaths • Reduced parental supervision of young adults • The spread of suburbs • History Channel video--car

  24. Soaring Energy Consumption and a Threatened Environment • The mass production and sales of cars and electric appliances took a heavy toll on the environment and natural resources • Generating enough electricity to power the new appliances consumed millions of tons of coal • The biggest users of oil and gasoline were the millions of automobiles

  25. Soaring Energy Consumption and a Threatened Environment • The nation wasted and needlessly depleted fossil fuels • Pollution of the atmosphere all came from the cars, power plants, steel mills, and other industries • Cars also made it easier for people to visit wilderness areas • Tourists’ demands for good roads, hotels, and other amenities in pristine areas soon threatened to ruin them • A few groups protested • Americans on the whole were indifferent to the environmental threat

  26. Mass-Produced Entertainment • Americans increasingly turned to mass-produced entertainment • Assembly line production made work less fulfilling and less time consuming • Popular magazines built massive circulations • Reader’s Digest • All over the U.S. people listened to the same radio programs and watched the same movies • Produced a more homogeneous national culture

  27. Mass-Produced Entertainment • The new standardized culture did not permeate all segments • In rural areas, evangelical Christians denounced much of the mass entertainment as godless • Mexican-Americans and African-Americans maintained most of their own vibrant ethnic culture

  28. Celebrity Culture • Mass communication made possible by radio and film created nationwide heroes and media events • Sports celebrities: • Babe Ruth • Ty Cobb • Jack Dempsey • Charles Lindbergh • Solo flight across the Atlantic • History Channel video--flight • History Channel speech--Coolidge on Lindbergh

  29. Cultural Ferment and Creativity • The Jazz Age and the Postwar Crisis of Values • In the so-called Jazz Age, some young people rejected the values of their elders on sexual matters, dress, and decorum • The ideas of Sigmund Freud became popular • psychoanalysis • Women asserted their freedom by discussing sex openly, wearing makeup, smoking, and shortening their skirts, and their hair

  30. The Jazz Age and the Postwar Crisis of Values • This upheaval in manners and morals primarily affected the urban middle class • Most farmers, African-Americans, industrial workers, and recent immigrants were more concerned with economic survival than experimenting with new life-styles

  31. Alienated Writers • The 1920s saw the emergence of many talented writers writers • Sinclair Lewis, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald • They were often critical of: • the narrow-minded, small-town values of prewar America • the materialistic business culture of the twenties • Some felt so uncomfortable with the 1920’s America that they spent much of the decade abroad • They did care deeply about finding and creating an “authentic” American culture through their works • In his American Mercury magazines, Henry L. Mencken championed the works of these new writers • He also kept up a steady barrage of ridicule of American politics and society

  32. Architects, Painters, and Musicians Confront Modern America • Architecture • American cities in the 1920s were filled with skyscrapers • Painters • American artists painted the American scene • Urban and rural • Past and present • Thomas Hart Benton • Edward Hopper • Joseph Stella • Georgia O’Keeffe

  33. Architects, Painters, and Musicians Confront Modern America • Musicians • New classical composers appeared • Aaron Copland • The unique contribution of America to the musical world was jazz • George Gershwin • Jelly Roll Morton • Louis Armstrong • Duke Ellington

  34. The Harlem Renaissance • Led by the growing African-American population in the northern cities • Harlem in New York City • New York City had a concentration of: • Recording companies • Book and magazine publishers • Theater productions • African-American civil-rights organizations • NAACP headquarters • These drew African-American artists, writers, composers, musicians, and intellectuals • Most of the U.S.A. and the West Indies

  35. The Harlem Renaissance • Whites flocked to Harlem’s jazz clubs to hear these musicians • All-black stage shows played on Broadway • White-owned publishing houses printed the novels and short stories • Langston Hughes • Claude McKay • Explored the African-American experience in their works

  36. The Harlem Renaissance • Some sympathetic whites also produced works portraying African-American life • George Gershwin’s musical Porgy and Bess • Many whites though held romanticized and stereotyped views of Harlem and African-Americans

  37. A Society in Conflict • Immigration Restriction • In 1924 and 1929, the U.S. govt. passed restrictive laws that drastically cut the total # of immigrants permitted to enter the U.S.A. • They also established quotas for each nationality • Laws excluded Chinese and Japanese entirely and eastern and southern Europeans received small quotas • Reflected the fears and intolerance of the time • Total immigration fell to 280,000 in 1929 • It averaged 1 million a year between 1900-1914 • This discriminatory, national-origins quota system remained in U.S. law until 1965

  38. Needed Workers/Unwelcome Aliens: Hispanic Newcomers • The 1920’s, National Origins Act did not curtail immigration from Western Hemisphere countries • By 1930, about 2 million Mexicans had arrived in the U.S.A. • Most lived in the Southwest • Most worked in agriculture • Agribusiness wanted the cheap labor • Mexicans experienced bitter resentment from nativist Americans

  39. Nativism, Anti-Radicalism, and the Sacco-Vanzetti Case • The Sacco-Vanzetti case further illustrated the intolerance and divisions in society in the 1920’s • Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were Italian immigrants • They were convicted of robbery and murder Vanzetti (on left) Sacco (on right)

  40. Nativism, Anti-Radicalism, and the Sacco-Vanzetti Case • The evidence against them was circumstantial • The prosecution probably prejudiced the jury by stressing their ethnic origin and political radicalism • They were found guilty of the crimes and were executed in 1927

  41. Fundamentalism and the Scopes Trial • Several states passed laws prohibiting the teaching of any scientific theory that contradicted the account of human origin given in the Bible • John T. Scopes • High school teacher in Dayton, TN • Challenged the state’s law by teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution

  42. Fundamentalism and the Scopes Trial • The American Civil Liberties Union hired a team of distinguished lawyers headed by Clarence Darrow to defend Scopes • William Jennings Bryan assisted the prosecution • Scopes was convicted

  43. Fundamentalism and the Scopes Trial • The fundamental religious position was ridiculed in the courtroom and in the national press • But states still passed anti-evolution laws • Textbook publishers deleted mention of Darwin’s theories to appease local school boards • History Channel video--Scopes trial

  44. The Ku Klux Klan • Another indication of social conflict and intolerance was the rise of the KKK • Preached hatred toward blacks, Jews, Catholics, immigrants, and the new urban values • Membership grew to an estimated 5 million • For a short time it exerted real political power in a few states • OR, OK, IN • It threatened, intimidated, beat, and murdered those it considered to be dangerous to a “purified” America

  45. The Garvey Movement • Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) • Led by Marcus Garvey • Mostly poor urban African-Americans • Preached black pride • Black “economic solidarity” • A return to Africa • At its peak the UNIA had 80,000 members • The first mass movement among African-Americans

  46. Prohibition: Cultures in Conflict • Prohibition split Americans • Supporters: • Native-born • Fundamentalist Protestants • Rural areas • Opponents: • Liberals • Intellectuals • Rebellious youths • Big-city immigrants

  47. Prohibition: Cultures in Conflict • Enforcement of prohibition broke down almost immediately • Many Americans did not believe in it • Organized crime was busy supplying the demand for illegal liquor • Prohibition became a big issue in the 1928 election • History Channel video--prohibition raid

  48. Hoover at the Helm • The Election of 1928 • Democrats nominated Alfred Smith • Republicans nominated Herbert Hoover • Hoover easily won • Many fundamentalist Protestants would not vote for Smith because he was a Catholic, did not support Prohibition, and came from NYC • The biggest reason for Hoover’s victory was economic prosperity and Republican promises that things would get even better

  49. Herbert Hoover’s Social Thought • Hoover encouraged voluntary cooperation among corporate leaders: • Raise wages • Plan production and marketing • Standardize products

  50. Herbert Hoover’s Social Thought • He believed in self-regulation by business would ensure economic growth and a better life for all • He did not believe in govt. intervention • After the Great Depression set in, he clung to voluntarism and was reluctant to use govt. power • This greatly handicapped his ability to deal with a sick economy