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					The Paradox of the 1920s
 What made the Twenties “roar?”
 Contradictions and Paradoxes
• A seemingly contradictory statement that
  may nonetheless be true: the paradox that
  standing is more tiring than walking.
• One exhibiting inexplicable or
  contradictory aspects: “The silence of
  midnight, to speak truly, though apparently
  a paradox, rung in my ears.”
 Paradox of the 1920s - Prohibition
• Americans supported the enactment of
  Prohibition, yet a significant subculture
  emerged around distributing and drinking
  illegal alcohol
• Era’s boldest moral reform
      America Experiments with
             Prohibition
• Prohibition received popular support
• Americans continued to drink – ALL
  classes
• Widespread illegal drinking offered huge
  profits – organized crime permeated
  society                 Al Capone

• The law was not repealed until 1933
 Paradox of the 1920s - Prohibition
• Passed under Democratic administration
   (Wilson)
• Found its greatest support within the
   Republican Party
Why is this so very ironic?
             Republican Platform:
  Involved greater government intervention,
    while promising to reduce government.
        Effects of Prohibition
• Organized crime
• New popular culture emerges
  – Glorified drinking, gangsters, and having a
    good time
• Restricted private enterprise
• Women divide over prohibition
     Paradox – Culture Clash
Decade of rapid social and cultural changes
 (ethnic enclaves flourished around urban
 neighborhoods, social clubs)…
MODERN AGE v. TRADITIONALISTS
   Changes Spark a Backlash
• While many Americans welcomed social
  and cultural change, others looked to
  traditional values
• Fundamentalist efforts to outlaw the
  teaching of evolution in public schools
  reached a climax with the Scopes trial
• The Ku Klux Klan re-formed to terrorize
  blacks, Jews, and Roman Catholics
     Presidents in the 1920s
          Warren G. Harding Administration
 (1921-1923) was marred by scandal yet
 achieved major domestic and foreign
 policy initiatives
Reconversion of the nation’s economy
  – The Jones Merchant Marine Act 1920
  – The Esch-Cummins Act 1920
  – Cut taxes for wealthy
    Presidents in the 1920s
        Warren G. Harding (1921-1923)
Harding never really wanted to be
president
Role of chief executive was very stressful
and his mind and body could not endure
He died suddenly in 1923
Death prevented humiliation of a corrupt
cabinet (Albert Fall – Interior Secretary)
       Presidents in the 1920s
           “Silent Cal” Calvin Coolidge
  (1923-1929) espoused the values of free
  enterprise yet extended federal regulatory
  powers over business
• “The best thing a president could do for a
  nation was to do very little” – economy
• Won re-election in 1924 and did not run for
  a second term in 1928
        Presidents in the 1920s
            Herbert Hoover (1929-1933) called
  himself Progressive but left office in the midst of
  an economic depression
• Hoover personified the American success story
• Hoover had little time to enjoy his victory – within
  one year after his election, the American
  economy began a frightening spiral downward.
  (October 29, 1929)
• “do nothing” president
           A decade of
       MASS CONSUMERISM
• The 1920s were a decade of prosperity
• Americans enjoyed a higher standard of
  living and a better quality of life than ever
  before
• MASS CULTURE spread thanks to
  advancements in technology
• American consumers went on a buying
  binge – extension of consumer credit
  allowed American families to buy
           A decade of
       MASS CONSUMERISM
• Automobile became a symbol of the
  decade (Henry Ford Company)
• Effects:
  – New freedom, decline of railroad,
    advancement of assembly line, road
    development, day trips
           A decade of
       MASS CONSUMERISM
• Although prosperity characterized the
  decade, not all groups participated equally
   Agriculture did not prosper, nor did
              cotton textiles,
               railroads, and
                coal mining
Media Recreates Mass Culture
• America starts going to the movies…
 Media Recreates Mass Culture
• America starts listening to the radio…
                         Effects: evangelizes the
                                  nation, music
 Media Recreates Mass Culture
• America starts listening to music…
  – Because of radio and the phonograph
    Americans could enjoy the same recording
    stars
  – Ethnic music
  – Jazz
  – The Harlem Renaissance: center of black
    American cultural and intellectual life (artists,
    poets, authors, musicians, and painters)
 Media Recreates Mass Culture
• America starts listening to music…
Media Recreates Mass Culture
• The Harlem Renaissance
       Personalities Emerge
• Mass media created heroes and
  personalities
  – Movie stars, radio personalities, sports heroes
  – The greatest hero – Charles Lindbergh
           THE RED SCARE
• First RED scare was the result of the Bolshevik
  Revolution in Russia in 1917
• Americans, supported by government believed
  that communism was on the rise
• Bombing = Paranoia swept the nation
• Nativist sentiment consumed the nation
  – Reemergence of KKK
  – Immigration restrictions (Emergency Quota Act 1924,
    Immigration Act 1924)
  – The Sacco and Vanzetti Trial
   Key Concepts of the 1920s
• The 1920s were dominated by
  conservative Republican presidents.
• Americans experienced an unprecedented
  burst of consumer activity as new mass-
  produced commodities were made
  available.
• Tensions prevailed between rural and
  urban America.
   Key Concepts of the 1920s
• The decade witnessed a rise in nativism
  and racism.
• The period was culturally vibrant as new
  forms of music and art became popular.
• The US government persecuted radicals in
  the red scare.

				
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