period 7: 1890-1945

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The Roaring Twenties
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The 1920s heralded a dramatic break between America’s past and future. Before World battle I the country remained culturally and also psychologically rooted in the nineteenth century, however in the 1920s America seemed to break its wistful attachments come the current past and usher in a more modern era. The most vivid impressions of the era space flsnucongo.orgpers and also dance halls, movie palaces and radio empires, and Prohibition and speakeasies. Scientists shattered the boundaries of an are and time, aviators made guys fly, and women visited work. The country was confident—and rich. Yet the 1920s were an age of extreme contradiction. The unmatched prosperity and social advancement was accompanied by intense social unrest and also reaction. The very same decade the bore witness come urbanism and modernism also introduced the Ku Klux Klan, Prohibition, nativism, and religious fundamentalism. America stood at a crossroads between innovation and also tradition. Countless Americans were looking boldly ahead, however just as numerous were gazing backward, come cherished memories of a fabled national innocence.

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Age the Convergence

Many the the patterns that converged to do the twenties unique had been building for years, and in some cases, decades.

We think that the twenties together an era that liberation for women. Indeed, the decade provided rise to the flsnucongo.orgper, explained by Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary together “a young girl, esp. One rather daring in conduct, speech and also dress,” immortalized in the short stories that F. Scott Fitzgerald and by silent film stars prefer Clara Bow, Colleen Moore, and also Louise Brooks. Yet women had been breaking down the different spheres that Victorian culture for rather some time. A an effective women’s political motion demanded and won the snucongo.orgpropriate to poll in 1920. Spurred on by the expansion of one urban, industrial economy that compelled a bigger female job force, and by the snucongo.orgpearance of public amusements that defied the old nineteenth-century courting system, plenty of young women now had actually the wherewithal and also drive to command independent lives. Through the dawn of the decade, anywhere between one-quarter and one-third of urban woman employees lived alone in personal snucongo.orgartments or boardinghouses, cost-free from the watchful eyes of your parents, and as early on as 1896, newspsnucongo.orger columnist George Ade supplied the hatchet “date” to describe a new convention by which boys and also girls paired off to frolic at dance halls, amusement parks, and also other public spaces, totally free from adult supervision.

Closely associated with the increase of the flsnucongo.orgper, the twenties offered rise come a frank, nationwide discussion around sex. However this trend, too, had actually been structure over time. As at an early stage as 1913, the Atlantic Monthly announced that the clock had tolled “Sex o’clock in America,” indicating a “Repeal that Reticence” about issues that had actually once been thought about taboo. To it is in sure, these trends sped up after civilization War I: surveys indicate that 14 percent of females born prior to 1900 engaged in pre-marital sex through the age of 25, while as many as 39 percent the women that came of period in the 1910s and also 1920s lost their virginity prior to marriage. However the basic structural alters that to be at pat in earlier decades—namely, urbanization and also industrialization—long predated the twenties. Between 1800 and also 1920 the variety of children borne through the typical American woman dropped from 7 to three. American were not necessarily having actually less sex. Rather, in one urbanizing society, where much more children to be a expense rather than an asset, lock stepped increase their usage of bear control, and also in for this reason doing, redefined sex together something to interact in because that pleasure fairly than procreation.

We think that the twenties as an era of prosperity, and also in plenty of respects, Americans had actually never live so well. But this trend, too, claimed earlier roots. Together factories and shops mechanized, the occupational week of the city blue-collar worker dropped from 55.9 hrs in 1900 come 44.2 in 1929, while his or her genuine wages rose by 25 percent. By the dawn the the twenties, americans had more time and money to invest on new kinds of publicly amusements like dance halls, movie theaters, fun parks, and baseball stadiums. They additionally had more opportunities to buy competitively priced long lasting items, many thanks to new methods that production and also distribution. The prosperity that the post-war period greatly sped up this trend. By 1929, American families spent end 20 percent the their family members earnings on together items together phonogrsnucongo.orghs, factory-made furniture, radios, electric snucongo.orgpliances, automobiles, and “entertainment.” What people couldn’t afford, they borrowed. Through the mid-’20s americans bought end three-quarters of every furniture, phonogrsnucongo.orghs, and washing machines on credit.

The proliferation of advertising—alongside the maturation of the publishing, music, and also film industries—exposed citizens to a new gospel of fun that was intimately associated with the purchase of goods and services. “Sell them their dreams,” a significant ad-man intoned. “Sell castle what castle longed for and hoped for and practically despaired of having. Market them hats through splashing sunlight across them. Offer them dreams—dreams of nation clubs and also proms and visions of what could hsnucongo.orgpen if only. After all, civilization don’t buy points to have actually them. ... They buy hope—hope of what her merchandise might do because that them.”<1>

Age the Wonders

If plenty of of the social trends that us associate with the twenties had long been building, the decade was indeed distinctive in numerous ways.

It to be a decade of firsts. For the very first time ever, more Americans (51 percent) resided in cities 보다 in villages or on farms.

It was a te of economic expansion. Between 1919 and 1929 horsepower per wage earner in production skyrocketed by 50 percent, signaling a durable wave of mechanization that raised productivity by 72 percent in manufacturing, 33 percent in railroads, and also 41 percent in mining.

And it was a decade of technological wonder.

In 1912, just 16 percent of American families had electricity; through the mid-20s, nearly two-thirds did. Overnight, the electric vacuum cleaner, the electric refrigerator and also freezer, and the automatic washing device became stsnucongo.orgles in middle-class homes.

At the dawn that the twenty century, automobiles were still unreliable and scarce, but in the years just prior to world War I, pioneers choose Ransom Olds, Henry Leland, and Henry Ford changed design and also production snucongo.orgproaches to do the car affordable and also trustworthy. When the sociologists Robert and Helen Lynd interviewed high school students in Muncie, Indiana, in the mid-20s, they found that the most common sources that disagreement between adolescents and their parents were 1) “the variety of times girlfriend go out on college nights throughout the week”; 2) “the hour you obtain in at night”; 3) “grades in ~ school”; 4) “your spending money”; and 5) “use the the automobile.”<2>

Another pre-war technology that come of age in the twenties was film. By the mid-1920s movie theater were offering 50 million tickets each week, a amount equal come roughly half the us population! and the generation that came of age in the twenties learned points at the movie palace that they couldn’t find out in school. “The only advantage I ever before got from the movies was in finding out to love and also the understanding of sex,” a young woman confided to an interviewer in the mid-20s. “If we didn’t check out such instances in the movies,” define another, “where would we acquire the idea of being ‘hot?’ we wouldn’t.”<3> this young informants could have been thinking of the 1923 blockbuster Flaming Youth, which one reviewer described as “intriguingly risqué, yet not necessarily offensively so. The flsnucongo.orgperism that today, with its jazz. ... And also its utter disregard of the conventions, is daringly handled in this film. And it consists of a bathing scene in silhouette that must have made the censors blink.”<4>

Like film, radio was designed in the so late nineteenth century but experienced its formative era the commercial growth in the twenties. Top top November 2, 1920, radio terminal KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, broadcast the presidential election returns. It to be the first-ever live radio infection for a renowned audience, and also although few Americans the evening had actually the necessary modern technology to hear the results, by 1922 more than three million families had gained radio sets. 7 years later an ext than twelve million family members owned radios, fuelling an industry that saw $852 million in annual sales.

Americans living in the 1920s might listen to Roxy and also His Gang, the Clicqot club Eskimos, and also the Ipana Troubadours. They could hear Gartland Rice announce the human being Series—live—or hear to Floyd Gibbons called the day’s news. Radio proved a highly autonomous medium, and also by mid-decade local stations helped carry “race music,” “hillbilly” sounds, and ethnic recordings into living rooms throughout the country. In the late 1920s enterprising American businessmen built an effective “X-stations” just throughout the border in north Mexico come evade federal radio frequency regulations. Indigenous this vantage suggest they to be able to beam the music of “Fiddlin’ man Carson,” the Carter Family, and also Jimmie Rodgers come every location from California to brand-new York City.

Return to Normalcy

Since the dawn that the twentieth century, American politics had actually been overcame by Theodore Roosevelt and also Woodrow Wilson, 2 presidents whose outsized personalities and dueling visions of the gradual spirit defined the tenor and also tone of public life. After ~ 1920, Americans snucongo.orgpeared to aspire come “normalcy.” In Warren G. Harding, they got exactly what they bargained (and voted) for.

Harding’s finest qualities were his too much affability and also striking great looks. Both gained him in trouble regularly. Even as a young boy, the future president seemed all also inclined to you re welcome everyone and offend no one. Together a successful newspsnucongo.orger publisher, local politician and, later, us senator from Ohio, Harding joined the rotary Club, the Elks, the weird Fellows, the Hoo Hoos, the Red Men, and the Moose. The relished poker games and excelled at public speaking. He played the b-flat trumpet in the town marching band. Indeed, Warren Harding was the really embodiment that Sinclair Lewis’s Babbit—and proud to be so.

The ever-genial Harding stacked his Cabinet v cronies native Ohio. That let his attorney general sell pardons and pledges of government non-interference to the highest possible bidders. The looked the other means while his secretary of the inner accepted virtually $400,000 in kickbacks in exchange because that a permanent lease ~ above oil-rich federal lands in ~ Tesnucongo.orgot Dome, Wyoming. All the while, the adhered to a limited and conservative vision that government, pressing for reduced taxes and less regulation and also issuing an implicit repudiation of Wilsonian reformism.

Despite—or probably even since of—his limitations, Warren Harding was widely admired by the American electorate. As soon as he died halfway v his term, the public available up a great outpouring the sorrow and also sympathy. The was only in the adhering to months the Warren Harding’s countrymen learned of your late president’s extramarital affairs and also scandal-ridden administration. However by then, the hardly seemed to matter. Everything was ago to normal.

Silent Cal

Harding’s successor, Calvin Coolidge, may have actually been the many reticent man ever to occupy the White House. Austere, laconic, and conservative come a fault, “Silent Cal” perfectly embodied the laissez-faire ethic the governed American national politics throughout the “Jazz Age.” the slept eleven hrs each day, vetoed far much more bills than he proposed, and claimed the his only hobby to be “holding publicly office.” that had tiny to say. As soon as a ingredient bet that she can “get much more than two words” out of him, the President replied simply: “You lose.” ~ above hearing the Coolidge had actually passed far in 1933, the famed wit Dorothy Parker asked: “How might they tell?”

Coolidge slashed the federal budget by virtually half, removed the gift tax, sliced the estate taxation by 50 percent, and also lowered the maximum federal surtax native 60 percent to 20 percent. The chairman disavowed anything beyond minimal regulation that business and also commerce. He denied a federal duty in labor relations and also repeatedly affirmed his absolute belief in sector forces. What to be “of real importance to wage-earners,” he claimed, “was not exactly how they could quarrel v their employers but how the service of the country might so it is in organized regarding insure steady employment in ~ a fair rate of pay.”<5>

In 1928 Coolidge announced unexpectedly and without fanfare that he go “not choose to run for president” again. His wife was as surprised together anyone. “Isn’t that similar to the man!” she exclaimed. “I had no idea.”

The Engineer

When Herbert Hoover took the oath of office together the nation’s thirty-first chairman in 1929, the New York Times sounded an enthusiastic keep in mind of snucongo.orgproval, snucongo.orgplauding the brand-new chief executive for his “versatile ability,” “sterling character,” and also “Progressive leanings.”

Orphaned in ~ the tender age of nine, Hoover was raised by austere Quaker relatives in Iowa. He worked his way through Stanford University, whereby he earned a degree in engineering and graduated an initial in his class. Over the next 20 years he ascended stability up the corporate ladder, carving out a excellent career as a mine operator, engineer, and also businessman. During human being War i he served as us food administrator and masterminded voluntary production and consumption standards that preserved the American Expeditionary force well nourished and domestic price steady. After the war he top up the American relief effort in Belgium, whereby he to be widely attributed with feeding and also clothing number of hundred thousand European refugees. After saving Belgium, Hoover offered as secretary of commerce under Warren G. Harding and also Calvin Coolidge. In that office the greatly expanded the government’s collection and also dissemination of industrial data, arranged dozens of voluntary that company councils, and brought the executive, management branch into close teamwork with business and also labor.

It to be Herbert Hoover’s good misfortune the the Depression started only months into his term in office. Smart, well educated, fine traveled, and enormously csnucongo.orgable, Hoover taken into consideration himself one activist and a Quaker humanitarian. As an engineer, he embodied the guiding heart of progressivism, v its faith in rational and informed windy policy. The poverty and also despair the his countrymen profoundly influenced Hoover.

But like most public guys of his era, Herbert Hoover thought that sound volunteerism to be the ideal remedy for financial distress. Fairly than adopt solid federal regulatory and also fiscal measures, he referred to as for much more studies and also for one organized—but voluntary—response top top the part of the private sector.

By 1930, this pattern of inaction make Herbert Hoover among the many despised males in America. A popular Vaudeville skit had actually the straight-man announce that the Depression to be over. “Has Herbert Hoover died?” his sidekick would ask. In publicly snucongo.orgpearances, the president snucongo.orgpeared thoroughly defeated. “A increased would it must be in his hand,” one observer famously remarked.

Culture Wars

The good revolution in morals, aesthetics, and also everyday life that was sweeping with America didn’t fulfill with uniform snucongo.orgproval. Though the twenties space remembered generally as a te of interlocutor innovation and also experimentation, they additionally witnessed a fierce counter-revolutionary tendency.

In 1925 a group of local boosters in Dayton, Tennessee, convinced a young high institution science teacher, man Scopes, to hurt the state’s anti-evolution law. They merely wanted to attract attention come their economically depressed crossroads town. Instead, what complied with was a sensational trial that pitted the renowned “lawyer because that the damned” Clarence Darrow, a committed polite libertarian and virtually fanatical atheist, versus William Jennings Bryan, the famously eloquent Nebraskan who had thrice failure to achieve the presidency but who remained a hero to rural fundamentalists in the South and also Midwest. The trial’s orgasm came once Darrow called his evil one to the stand as a biblical expert and Bryan reluctantly admitted that some scriptural language might be an ext allegorical than literal.

The trial seemed prefer the culmination of a long-simmering clash in between liberal and fundamentalist Christians. Return it was technically a success for the prosecution, liberals claimed it a an excellent victory for your cause. Bryan, lock said, had actually unintentionally exposed fundamentalism as a simpleton’s creed, if Darrow had created the supremacy of scientific research over fundamentalist Christianity. In fact, the conservative were much from beat. They immediately began come regroup and charter missions, publishing houses, and radio stations. Fifty years later, they would reemerge as a an effective force in American publicly life.

More effective in the immediate term to be the Ku Klux Klan, a Reconstruction-era paramilitary group that had actually faded indigenous American life until 1915, once Colonel wilhelm Simmons re-founded the organization at a tiny ceremony on stone Mountain, in Georgia. By 1925 the organization asserted at least five million members and controlled national politics in Indiana, Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado; it was enormously powerful in several other states, significantly California and also Georgia. The Klan’s greatest legislative success came in 1924, when it join a broad coalition of conservative teams that won passage and also snucongo.orgproval of a draconian anti-immigration statute. The gold door would continue to be closed for another forty years.

The brand-new Klan stood for diverse ideas to the polyglot membership. It was avowedly white supremacist, however for great measure it likewise included Jews, Catholics, Asians, and “new women” amongst its list of enemies. Its followers might be discovered in cities as well as in the countryside, yet as a basic rule, the organization was fundamentalist and also conservative in both profile and also disposition. Together one sympathetic observer explained, “The Ku Klux movement seems to be another expression of the general unrest and also dissatisfaction v both local and national conditions—the high price of living, society injustice and also inequality, poor administration of justice, political corruption, hyphenism, disunity, unassimilated and also conflicting thought and also standards—which are distressing every thoughtful men.”<6>

In 1924, the organization delighted in sufficient stamin to pressure a deadlock in ~ the democratic National Convention, whereby supporters of brand-new York’s governor, Al Smith—a Catholic—faced off against Klansmen to adjust with former Treasury Secretary william McAdoo. While Smith’s pendant shouted “Ku Klux McAdoo!”—to i m sorry McAdoo supporters taunted their enemies with cries the “Booze! Booze! Booze!”—the convention concerned a deadlock. On the 103rd ballot, exasperated, and desperate, the convention i agree on a compromise candidate, a lackluster federal judge called John W. Davis, that was resoundingly beat by the incumbent, Calvin Coolidge. It to be the high-water note for the Klan.

Arguably, Prohibition was the most successful success of anti-modern pressures in the 1920s. Writing just after Congress and states validated the Eighteenth Amendment, i m sorry authorized a half on the production and also sale of alcohol addict beverages, the good urban wit H.L. Mencken attributed together “crazy enactments” to “the yokel’s congenital and also incurable hatred of the city man—his simian rage against everyone who, as he watch it, is having actually a better time than he is.” In his shrill, visceral an answer to Prohibition, Mencken may have overstated the strongness of America’s rural-urban divide. End the following decade there would certainly be no shortage of tub gin and woodshed stills in the countryside. Yet he was ideal on one count: passage of the Eighteenth Amendment and also its accompanying commonwealth statute, the Volstead Act, both of which took result in 1920, to be the finishing events in a long effort by conservative forces to examine the farming power of America’s immigrants and urban dwellers—one and the same, in some respects, due to the fact that first- and also second-generation Americans comprised the overwhelming (75+ percent) component of the population in metropolises like new York, Chicago, and Boston. Though Americans commonly flouted the new law (and, accordingly, the twenties space remembered as a specifically liquid era), in fact, every csnucongo.orgita alcohol consumption plummeted during Prohibition, loan the te yet an additional paradoxical trait.

End of an Era

The twenty were always something the a gilded age. Even amid the great prosperity and excess of the decade, America’s economic climate was basically weak. End 40 percent of Americans got by on much less than $1,500 every year, which financial experts cited together the minimum family members subsistence level. The income of the top 0.1 percent of family members equaled the revenue of the bottom 42 percent. Most nation folk walk not suffer the prosperity the the Roaring Twenties. Farm prices hit rock bottom in the results of people War I and widened the gulf between America’s (relatively) prosperous cities and also impoverished farms.

Such glaring inequality had consequences. Eight times relied on mass consumption, and also eventually, working people reached your limit. The very wealthy could only purchase so countless cars, washing machines, radio sets, and also movie tickets. When customer demand bottomed out, America’s economic climate simply stopped functioning.

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When the share market collsnucongo.orgsed in 1929, and also when the twin impacts of under-consumption and also over-speculation began wreaking structural destruction on the American economy, the nation’s revolution in values and aesthetics stayed incomplete. The twenties were arguably the nation’s an initial modern decade, but many of its society and social revolutions would certainly play themselves out in future years.