The Roaring '20s

  1. A New Society

    1. The Second Industrial Revolution

      1. Henry Ford introduces the assembly line, and productivity and production soar

      2. Much more manufacturing devoted to labor saving consumer goods

      3. New technologies, particularly electrical devices, a key part of industrial expansion

      4. The most obvious example is the rapid expansion of the automobile industry

    2. Consumerism

      1. A new affluence, particularly within the middle and upper class, means more American have disposable income

      2. This enables them to buy more consumer goods, which causes industry and national wealth to grow, which creates more affluence...

      3. Electricity and labor saving devices creates huge market for radios, vacuums, dishwashers, refrigerators, etc.

      4. Advertisers and marketing focuses on getting consumers to junk last year's model for the next new thing

      5. However, the salaries of working class Americans grew much slower, and many were left out of the new consumer culture

    3. A New Urban Culture

      1. A quick-paced, frenzied urban culture develops

      2. Mass entertainment booms, as people throng to the movies, baseball games, and boxing matches

      3. Charles Lindbergh, first man to fly across the Atlantic solo (1927), becomes the first modern mega celebrity

      4. An obsession with bizarre crazes develops - flagpole sitting, dance marathons, goldfish swallowing, etc.

      5. Victorian prudishness begins to fade in the face of a mini-sexual revolution, symbolized by the flapper

        1. Families get smaller as birth control becomes more common

        2. More married women enter the workforce

        3. Divorce rates, still small, double

    4. An Artistic Explosion

      1. In the first era of radio and records, jazz gains popularity across America and the world

      2. A new generation of writers, like Hemmingway and Fitzgerald, demonstrate growing maturity of American literature

      3. Harlem Renaissance writers, like McKay and Hughes, promoted Black culture and criticized America's racist society

      4. The writers all shared a common criticism of modern society - too materialistic, too impersonal

  2. Critiques of the new society

    1. Many found post-war America to be dangerous and frightening, sough to stop it, slow it down, reform it

    2. Marcus Garvey

      1. While most critics of the new society were rural white conservatives, Garvey represented an African-American critique

      2. Garvey, born in Jamaica, was a Black nationalist who believed Blacks must take hold of their own economic destiny

      3. Founded United Negro Improvement Association in 1916

      4. Founded Black Star Line, 1919, a steamship line, to increase bonds with Africa, demonstrate Black economic power and competency

      5. Many people enthusiastically joined the UNIA and invested in the BSL, though his separatist notions disturbed many Black leaders

      6. The failure of BSL led to Garvey's arrest and imprisonment on fraud charges and ultimate deportation

    3. The Red Menace

      1. A reaction in 1919 against immigrants, Communists, and the Russian Revolution

      2. A number of strikes and bombings in 1919 led to the deportation of numerous suspected Communists

      3. But government actions became so extreme that most people came to reject them, and the panic faded

    4.  Prohibition (the "noble experiment") and the Law of Unintended Consequences

      1. Prohibition had been pushed by both progressives and religious conservatives who wanted to battle sin and social problems

      2. Authorized by the 18th Amendment (1918), put into effect by the Volstead Act (1920)

      3. But while drinking did decline, Prohibition created more problems than it solved

        1. Widespread flouting of the law, especially by urban middle class and elites

        2. Rise of organized crime, with extensive violence

        3. Corruption of police and judges

        4. A general rise in contempt for government and law enforcement

      4. Finally overturned in 1933

    5. The Anti-Immigrant backlash

      1. Fearful of a flood of European refugees after World War I, Congress began to enact anti-immigrant laws

      2. Also fueled by fear of Jews, Communists, Catholics - as well as because of distaste for southern and eastern Europeans

      3. National Origins Quota Act, 1924

        1. Established specific quotas of allowed immigrants for each country

        2. Mostly favored Northern Europe

        3. Banned Asian immigration

        4. But left open the door for Mexican immigration, which began to increase

        5. Not overturned until 1960s

    6. The Rebirth of the Klu Klux Klan

      1. The Klan, which had faded away after Reconstruction, was re-founded in 1915

      2. Now not just a racist group - also anti-Jew, anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant

      3. Against anyone not white, Protestant, native born, and preferably Northern European

      4. Grew to five million in mid-1920s, controlled the state legislatures of Texas, Oregon, Indiana, and Oklahoma

      5. A group for all those who felt frightened by the changing society and the growing importance of new ethnic groups

      6. Helped along by popularity of D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation (1915)

        1. First feature length Hollywood film

        2. Depicted a very racist interpretation of Reconstruction

        3. Klan presented as the heroes saving white civilization from the onslaught of freed slaves

      7. Collapsed quickly after a series of sex and financial scandals in 1925

    7. The Growth of Fundamentalism

      1. As urban change and the growth of the Jewish and Catholic population challenged traditional American Protestantism, fundamentalism grew

      2. The fastest growth was in the most conservative groups - Church of Christ, Jehovah's Witnesses, Pentecostals

      3. Modern technology made possible the growth of the megachurch and the radio preacher

      4. The Scopes Trial - 1925

        1. Fundamentalists saw evolution as one of the worst symptoms and causes of changing values and social structures

        2. John Scopes deliberately broke Tennessee law against teaching evolution to create a test case

        3. The trial pitted two of the greatest lawyers of the day - William Jennings Bryan (for TN) and Clarence Darrow (for Scopes)

        4. Darrow made Bryan look foolish, and Sopes was let off with a token fine

        5. While some saw it as a defeat for fundamentalists, they saw as a sign of their need to fight social change even harder

    8. The Collapse of the Bull Market

      1. Bull Market - The 1920s saw a steady surge in the value of stocks, with total values almost tripling across the decade

      2. Fundamental Problems in the Market and the Economy

        1. An oversaturation in the market in durable goods (cars, washing machines, etc.) led to a decrease in consumer spending

        2. Much of the growth of the Stock Market was based on speculation, not real values

          1. Increasingly, those with money to invest put it into the market

          2. This led to a steady rise in stock prices, which encourage ever more investing

          3. Because people believed the steady rise would continue, they were willing to borrow to buy stock

          4. Many banks and corporations loaned out large amounts of money to purchase stocks

          5. By 1929, consumer debt had reached new highs, and spending dropped dramatically

      3. The Crash

        1. By late October, 1929, a number of important investors had begun to pull out of the market, seeing it as increasingly shaky

        2. October 24, 1929 - Panic selling ensued after several days of decline. Investors lost $10 billion in one day.

        3. Within a month, the market ha fallen by 50%

        4. The decline continued more slowly after that, and did not bottom out until 1933