The decade following World War I is often called "the Roaring Twenties," it was
a time of unprecedented prosperity . The nation's total wealth nearly doubled
between 1920 and 1929, manufacturing rose by 60 percent, for the first time
most people lived in urban areas — and in homes lit by electricity. They made
more money than they ever had before and, spurred on by the giant new
advertising industry, spent it faster, too. Americans bought washing machines
and refrigerators and vacuum cleaners, 12 million radios, 30 million automobiles,
and untold millions of tickets to the movies, that ushered them into a new fast-
living world of luxury and glamour their grandparents never could have imagined.
What was the economy like in the 1920s?
What did people spend money on?
Lost Generation: Social Upheaval: Post World War One
The spirit of the Roaring Twenties was marked by a general feeling of elation,
change, rebellion and wild disregard for previous morality. However, there were
dark sides to this nine year party. Youth felt a discontinuity associated with
modernity, a break with traditions. Sometimes called the ―Lost Generation‖: the
youth of post-world war one America enjoyed prosperity, but also a feeling of
alienation and lack of purpose. World War One was the ―war to end all wars‖ it
was the most horrific and massive war yet in history, and many responded to the
war with a feeling of recklessness, horror, and the absurdity of society and its
rules. There was a huge rise in immigration to the United States as many people
fled the wreckage of Europe post-World War One. The rise in immigration also
caused a lot of political and social upheaval in the U.S. One result of the rising
immigrant population was the rise of the Klu Klux Klan. There was also a demand
for worker’s rights, as immigrants and lower economic classes banded together
to form unions. Ideas such as anarchy and communism rose in popularity as
many disenfranchised workers reacted against capitalism. Meanwhile, at the
polls and in the workplace as well as on the dance floor, women had begun to
assert a new independence.Women’s suffrage (the right to vote) became an
important issue. .
Describe the spirit of the 1920s.
How did World War One impact America in the 1920s? (2 ways)
What were some of the changes brought about by the rising immigrant
Prohibition: alcohol is made illegal by the 18th amendment called ―The
Volstead Act‖ "Bathtub gin" got its name from the fact that alcohol, glycerine and
juniper juice was mixed in bottles or jugs too tall to be filled with water from a sink
tap so they were commonly filled under a bathtub tap. The speakeasy (the illegal
bar where illegal alcohol was sold and consumed) got its name because one had
to whisper a code word or name through a slot in a locked door to gain
admittance. Speakeasies became more popular and numerous as the Prohibition
years progressed, and also became more commonly operated by those
connected to organized crime. Although police and federal Bureau of Prohibition
agents would raid such establishments and arrest the owners and patrons, the
business of running speakeasies was so lucrative that such establishments
continued to flourish throughout the nation. In major cities, speakeasies often
were elaborate, offering food, live bands, floor shows, and stripteases. Corruption
was rampant; speakeasy operators commonly bribed police either to leave them
alone or at least to give them advance notice of any planned raids.Other slang
terms for an establishment similar to a speakeasy are blind pig, and gin joint or
gin mill. National Prohibition not only failed to prevent the consumption of
alcohol, but led to the extensive production of dangerous unregulated and
untaxed alcohol, the development of organized crime, increased violence, and
massive political corruption.
Flappers Flappers went to jazz clubs at night where they danced
provocatively, smoked cigarettes through long holders, sniffed cocaine (which
was legal at the time) and dated promiscuously. They rode bicycles and drove
cars. They drank alcohol openly, a defiant act in the American period of
Prohibition. Petting became more common than in the Victorian era. Petting
Parties, where petting was the main attraction, became popular. Flappers also
began taking work outside the home and challenging a 'woman's place' in
society. Voting and women's rights were also practiced. With time came the
development of dance styles then considered shocking, such as the Charleston,
the Shimmy, the Bunny Hug and the Black Bottom. In addition to their irreverent
behavior flappers were known for their style, which largely emerged as a result of
the musical style of jazz and the popularization of dancing that accompanied it.
Called garçonne in French ("boy" with a feminine suffix), flapper style made them
look young and boyish. Short hair, flattened breasts, and straight waists
accentuated the look. Despite all the scandal flappers generated, their look
became fashionable in a toned-down form among even respectable older
women. Most significantly, the flappers removed the corset from female fashion,
raised skirt and gown hemlines and popularized short hair for women.
Harlem Renaissance. If you had visited Harlem in those days, you
might have heard bandleader Duke Ellington playing "Take the `A' Train" (the
subway to Harlem) at the Cotton Club or Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong shaking up
the jazz world with his trumpet playing at Connie's Inn. The place was swinging,
but not just with music. Harlem was also the home of African American poets,
novelists, actors, and philosophers. So great was the cultural explosion of
Harlem during the 1920s and early 1930s that the period has since been called
"the Harlem Renaissance." Renaissance is a French word meaning "rebirth." It is
generally applied to any great outburst of artistic and intellectual creativity. Some
of the famous names to come out of the Harlem Renaissance were: ―Duke‖
Ellington (Jazz Band leader), Jazz singers: Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Ella
Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, Poets: Langston Hughes, Paul McCay,
novelists: Zora Neale Hurston. Politics: Web Dubois (The souls of Black Folk)
and Marcus Garvey (back to Africa)
jazz music which had once been the product of itinerant (poor) black
musicians, had become an industry, and dancing consumed a country that
seemed convinced prosperity would never end. Older, more conservative
Americans viewed jazz and the dancing associated with it as immoral and
uncivilized. However, Jazz and the ―jazzy‖ styly of dancing was so popular that
the 1920s were also known as the ―Jazz Age‖ (a phrase coined by Fitzgerald).
People didn't think anything about going 150 to 200 miles to dance back in those
times," one territory band veteran remembered. They'd say, "We came 200 miles
to see y'all." Meanwhile, radio and phonograph records — Americans bought
more than 100 million of them in 1927 — were bringing jazz to locations so
remote that no band could reach them. The ―lindy hop‖ a popular dance, got its
name from Charles Lindbergh. Charles Augustus Lindbergh (February 4,
1902 – August 26, 1974) (nicknamed "Lucky Lindy" and "The Lone Eagle") was
an American aviator, author, inventor and explorer. On May 20–21, 1927,
Lindbergh emerged instantaneously from virtual obscurity to world fame as the
result of his Orteig Prize-winning solo non-stop flight from New York (Roosevelt
Field) to Paris (Le Bourget Field) in the single-seat, single-engine monoplane
Spirit of St. Louis. Lindbergh, an Army reserve officer, was also awarded the
nation's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his historic exploit.
Racism. The immigration policy in the 1920s became increasingly
impacted by racism (discrimination against people because of their
colour/nationality). There was a fear among Americans that Catholics and Jews
would swamp them, if immigration was not checked. In certain parts of the USA
they feared Black Americans. The Ku Klux Klan began in the South after the civil
War. Poor whites resented the freeing of Black slaves and were determined to
keep them in their ―place‖ below whites. Black who were considered "uppity"
were tarred and feathered or even lynched. There was strict segregation
(separation of the races) .On buses and in cinemas blacks had to sit in their own
areas, which were not as comfortable. They were not even allowed to sit in the
same restaurant or go to the same schools as whites. By 1925 there were 5
million members of the Ku Klux Klan and it was spreading to the north-eastern
cities, e.g. Chicago, Cleveland, New York etc. This was because blacks were
moving there to find jobs and a better standard of living than in the South. They
found them, but still encountered widespread discrimination, though obviously
not as bad as 'it had been in the South.
Bootlegging is the illegal manufacture and transportation of alcoholic
beverages. It may involve transporting them into a territory where their sale is
banned, making them where their manufacture is illegal, or attempting to evade
taxes on them. Bootlegging was widespread in the United States during the
period of Prohibition (1920-1933). Although the 18th Amendment to the U.S.
Constitution prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages, demand
for these products continued, and it remained a lucrative business Bootleggers
also brought in illegal products from foreign suppliers. The law was so widely
violated by the general public that officials were unable, and in some cases
unwilling, to enforce it. The profits of the traffic attracted criminals.This would
become the seed of organized crime and bootlegging across the newly
expanding country. People were willing to drink, and the few willing to provide
reaped the profits. All the illegal booze had given millions of dollars to gangs and
crime families. This strengthened mobsters like Al Capone. Bootleggers and
mobsters were making over 30 million dollars a year. Prohibition led to
widespread disrespect for law. New York City alone had about thirty thousand
speakeasies. Some desperate and unfortunate people during Prohibition falsely
believed that the undrinkable alcohol in antifreeze could be made safe and
drinkable by filtering it through a loaf of bread. It couldn't and many were
seriously injured or killed as a result. National Prohibition not only failed to
prevent the consumption of alcohol, but led to the extensive production of
dangerous unregulated and untaxed alcohol, the development of organized
crime, increased violence, and massive political corruption.
Scopes Monkey Trial: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
offered to defend anyone accused of teaching the theory of evolution in defiance
of the Butler Act. The Butler Act prohibited the teaching of the theory of evolution.
However, many states required teachers to use a textbook which explicitly
described and endorsed the theory of evolution, and that teachers were therefore
effectively required to break the law.
Scopes was a biology teacher and high school football coach who agreed to the
defendant in a case challenging the Butler Act. became an increasingly willing
participant, even incriminating himself and urging students to testify against
him. He was indicted on May 24, after three students testified against him at
the grand jury, at Scopes' behest. Scopes was charged with having taught
from the chapter on evolution to an April 7, 1925, high school class in violation of
the Butler Act (and nominally arrested, though never detained). His bail of $500
was paid by Paul Patterson, owner of the Baltimore Sun. The trial was followed
closely in the national news, and became a hot topic of debate among
Americans. The divide between conservative, religious Americans and more
modern, science minded Americans was widened.
Sacco and Vanzetti were accused of the murders of Frederick
Parmenter, a paymaster, and Alessandro Berardelli, a security guard, during a
payroll robbery of US$15,776.51 Both men were then tried for the Braintree
robbery-murders and convicted. After several unsuccessful appeals Sacco and
Vanzetti were executed in the electric chair on August 23, 1927 along with a third
man, Celestine Madeiros, who had confessed to the murder.
Many aspects of both trials were challenged at the time (and since) for being
highly prejudicial against the two men. In particular, the presiding judge in both
cases (and several appeals) was seen by some as forcing the trial towards
conviction and execution.
The case was also highly politically charged -- Sacco and Vanzetti were
members of the Galleanists, a militant Italian-American anarchist group
suspected of a string of bomb attacks in the United States including the
September 1920 Wall Street bombing that claimed over 30 lives, and which may
have been a reprisal against Sacco and Vanzetti's arrest and indictment. Both
men claimed to be victims of social and political prejudice and both claimed to be
unjustly convicted of the crime for which they were accused. However, they did
not attempt to distance themselves from their fellow anarchists nor their belief in
violence as a legitimate weapon against the government.
1920s Slang and Information Skit
Assignment: You will write a skit that your group will perform for the class. Your
group’s skit must take place in the 1920s. The conversation should include
1920s slang. The conversation must be about your assigned 1920s topic.
Step One: Read your assigned topic. As a group, decide what the most
important information is and write that down. (a list of at least 6-10 facts/ideas )
Step Two: Brainstorm together on how to convey the information in your scene.
What is the scenario? Who are the characters? What are they talking about?
Why are they talking about it?
Step Three: Write the script together. The performance should cover the most
important information from your assigned reading and use some 1920s slang. Yo
are welcome to research for additional information on your topic (cite your
sources!) Be sure to balance the slang with the actual information. Your audience
should be able to understand what you are saying.
Step Four: Type and title your script. Type the dialogue in play format:
Name: (stage directions) The words the character says.
Include a glossary of the slang terms you used.
Step Five: Practice!
Script format: Typed, titled, play format, glossary (on a separate page).
Covers and clearly conveys important information from reading,
uses 1920s slang in a well integrated way (blended in smoothly)
creativity, collaboration, effort
Demonstrates use of in class practice time well.
Stays in character using action, body language and facial expressions
that convey who their character is in an appropriate way.
Includes some actions appropriate to the scene
Appropriate volume and tone inflection (feeling conveyed by voice)
Creativity, collaboration, effort
ADDITIONAL POINTS given for: costume, props, music, memorizing