Roaring Twenties

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Roaring Twenties is a phrase used to describe the 1920s, principally in North America, that emphasizes the period's social, artistic, and cultural dynamism. 'Normalcy' returned to politics in the wake of World War I, jazz music blossomed, the flapper redefined modern womanhood, Art Deco peaked, and finally the Wall Street Crash of 1929 served to punctuate the end of the era, as The Great Depression set in. The era was further distinguished by several inventions and discoveries of far-reaching importance, unprecedented industrial growth and accelerated consumer demand and aspirations, and significant changes in lifestyle.

The social and societal upheaval known as the Roaring Twenties began in North America and spread to Europe in the aftermath of World War I. Europe spent these years rebuilding and coming to terms with the vast human cost of the conflict. The economy of the United States became increasingly intertwined with that of Europe. When Germany could no longer afford war payments Wall Street invested heavily in European debts to keep the European economy afloat as a large consumer market for American mass produced goods. By the middle of the decade, economic development soared in Europe, and the Roaring Twenties broke out in Germany (the Weimar Republic), Britain and France, the second half of the decade becoming known as the "Golden Twenties". In France and francophone Canada, they were also called the "années folles" ("Crazy Years").[1]

The spirit of the Roaring Twenties was marked by a general feeling of discontinuity associated with modernity, a break with traditions. Everything seemed to be feasible through modern technology. New technologies, especially automobiles, movies and radio proliferated 'modernity' to a large part of the population. Formal decorative frills were shed in favor of practicality, in architecture as well as in daily life. At the same time, amusement, fun and lightness were cultivated in jazz and dancing, in defiance of the horrors of World War I, which remained present in people's minds. The period is also often called "The Jazz Age".


[edit] Economy

The Roaring Twenties is traditionally viewed as an era of great economic prosperity driven by the introduction of a wide array of new consumer goods. The North American economy, particularly the economy of the US, transitioned from a wartime economy to a peacetime economy; the economy subsequently boomed. The United States augmented its standing as the richest country in the world, its industry aligned to mass production and its society acculturated into consumerism. In Europe, the economy did not start to flourish until 1924.

In spite of the social, economic and technological advances, African Americans, recent immigrants and farmers—along with a large part of the working class population—were not much affected by this period. In fact, millions of people lived below the poverty line of US $2,000 per year per family.

The Great Depression demarcates the conceptualization of the Roaring Twenties from the 1930s. The hopefulness in the wake of World War I that had initiated the Roaring Twenties gave way to the debilitating economic hardship of the later era.

Chart 1: GDP annual pattern and long-term trend, 1920-40, in billions of constant dollars[2]

[edit] Demobilization

At the end of World War I, soldiers returned to the United States and Canada with money in their pockets and many new products on the market on which to spend it. At first, the recession of wartime production caused a brief but deep recession, known as the Post-WWI recession. Quickly, however, the U.S. and Canadian economies rebounded as returning soldiers re-entered the labor force and factories were retooled to produce consumer goods.

[edit] Economic policies

The 1920s was a decade of increased consumer spending and economic growth fed by supply side economic policy. The post war, post progressive era political environment saw three consecutive Republican administrations in the U.S. All three took the moderate position of forging a close relationship between those in government and big business. When President Warren Harding took office in 1921, the national economy was in the depths of a depression with an unemployment rate of 20% after a runaway inflation. Harding proposed to reduce the national debt, reduce taxes, protect farming interests, and cut back on immigration. Harding never lived to see it, but most of his agenda was passed by the Congress. These policies led to the "boom" of the Coolidge years.[3] One of the main initiatives of both the Harding and Coolidge administrations was the rolling back of income taxes on the wealthy which had been raised during World War I. It was believed that a heavy tax burden on the rich would slow the economy, and actually reduce tax revenues. This tax cut was achieved under President Calvin Coolidge's administration. Furthermore, Coolidge consistently blocked any attempts at government intrusion into private business. Harding and Coolidge's managerial approach sustained economic growth throughout most of the decade, however, the overconfidence of these years contributed to the speculative bubble that sparked the stock market crash and the Great Depression.[4][5] The government's role as an arbiter rather than an active entity continued under President Herbert Hoover. When stocks crashed in 1929, Hoover's top economic adviser, Andrew Mellon, looked upon it as a potentially healthy operation of the market. Hoover worked to get businessmen to respond to the crisis by calling them into conferences and urging them to cooperate. He backed immigration restriction and a cut in the capital-gains tax.[6] Unfortunately, the attempt to get business to voluntarily fix itself did not improve the situation. Hoover did eventually begin to move to do more, but his initial failed voluntary approach to stop the slide were ineffective. The legacy of the roaring 1920s economy is tainted by the inability for leaders to foresee and act to prevent the catastrophe waiting at the end of the decade.

Some conservatives take the contrary position that the government did not pursue laissez faire economics policies. Rather, political initiatives from the Congress became oriented more toward special interest programs that generated economic benefits for clearly identified groups and such initiatives involved an expansion of governmental scope and power.[7] When the income tax was established in 1913, the highest marginal tax rate was 7 percent; it was increased to 77 percent in 1916 to help finance the World War I. The top rate was reduced to as low as 25 percent in 1925. The "normalcy" of the 1920s incorporated considerably higher levels of federal spending and taxes than the Progressive era before World War I. From 1929 to 1933, under President Hoover's administration, real per capita federal expenditures increased by 88 percent.[8]

In 1920-1921 there was an acute recession, followed by the prolonged recovery throughout the 1920s. A branch of the federal government called the Federal Reserve expanded credit, by setting below market interest rates and low reserve requirements that favored big banks, and the money supply actual increased by about 60% during the time following the recession. The phrase "buying on margin" entered the American vocabulary at this time as more and more Americans over-extended themselves to take advantage of the soaring stock market and expanding credit.

In 1929, however, Federal Reserve officials realized that they could not sustain the current policy of easy credit. When the Fed started to raise interest rates, the whole house of cards collapsed. The Stock Market crashed and the bank panics began.[9]

[edit] New products and technologies

Mass production made technology affordable to the middle class. Many of the devices that became commonplace had been developed before the war but had been unaffordable to most people. The automobile, movie, radio, and chemical industries skyrocketed during the 1920s. Of chief importance was the automobile industry. Before the war, cars were a luxury. In the 1920s, mass-produced vehicles became common throughout the U.S. and Canada. By 1927, Henry Ford had sold 15 million Model Ts. Only about 300,000 vehicles were registered in 1918 in all of Canada, but by 1929, there were 1.9 million. The automobile industry's effects were widespread, contributing to such disparate economic pursuits as gas stations, motels, and the oil industry.

Radio became the first mass broadcasting medium. Radios were affordable, and their mode of entertainment proved revolutionary. Radio became the grandstand for mass marketing. Its economic importance led to the mass culture that has dominated society since. During the "golden age of radio", radio programming was as varied as TV programming today. The 1927 establishment of the Federal Radio Commission introduced a new era of regulation.

Advertisement reels, shown before early films, augmented the already booming mass market. The "golden age of film", during the 1930s and 1940s, evolved from its humble 1900s origins of short, silent films. Like radio, film was a medium for the masses. Watching a film was cheap compared to other forms of entertainment, and it was accessible to factory and other blue-collar workers.

[edit] New infrastructure

The new technologies led to an unprecedented need for new infrastructure, largely funded by the government. Road construction was crucial to the motor vehicle industry; several roads were upgraded to highways, and expressways were constructed. A class of Americans emerged with surplus money and a desire to spend more, spurring the demand for consumer goods, including the automobile.

Electrification, having slowed during the war, progressed greatly as more of the U.S. and Canada was added to the electric grid. Most industries switched from coal power to electricity. At the same time, new power plants were constructed. In America, electricity production almost quadrupled.

Telephone lines also were being strung across the continent. Indoor plumbing and modern sewer systems were installed for the first time in many regions.

These infrastructure programs were mostly left to the local governments in both Canada and the United States. Most local governments went deeply into debt under the assumption that an investment in such infrastructure would pay off in the future.[citation needed] This caused major problems during the Great Depression. In both Canada and the United States, the federal governments did the reverse, using the decade to pay down war debts and roll back some of the taxes that had been introduced during the war.

[edit] Urbanization

Urbanization reached a climax in the 1920s. For the first time, more Americans and Canadians lived in cities of 2500 or more people than in small towns or rural areas. However the nation was fascinated with its great metropolitan centers that contained about 15% of the population. New York and Chicago vied in building skyscrapers, and New York pulled ahead with the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building. The finance and insurance industries doubled and tripled in size. The basic pattern of the modern white collar job was set during the late 19th century, but it now became the norm for life in large and medium cities. Typewriters, filing cabinets and telephones brought unmarried women into clerical jobs. In Canada, one in five workers were women by the end of the decade. The fastest growing cities were those in the Midwest and the Great Lakes region, including Chicago and Toronto. These cities prospered because of their vast agricultural hinterlands. Cities on the West Coast received increasing benefits from the 1914 opening of the Panama Canal.

[edit] Culture

[edit] Suffrage

On August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the last of 36 states needed to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment, granting women the right to vote. Equality at the polls marked a pivotal moment in the women's rights movement.

[edit] Lost Generation

The Lost Generation were young people who came out of World War I disillusioned and cynical about the world. The term usually refers to American literary notables who lived in Paris at the time. Famous members included Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein.

[edit] Social criticism

As the average American in the 1920s became more enamored of wealth and everyday luxuries, some began satirizing the hypocrisy and greed they observed. Of these social critics, Sinclair Lewis was the most popular. His popular 1920 novel Main Street satirized the dull and ignorant lives of the residents of a Midwestern town. He followed with Babbitt, about a middle-aged businessman who rebels against his safe life and family, only to realize that the young generation is as hypocritical as his own. Lewis satirized religion with Elmer Gantry, which followed a con man who teams up with an evangelist to sell religion to a small town.

Climax of the new architectural style: the Chrysler Building in New York City was built after the European wave of Art Deco reached the United States.

Other social critics included Sherwood Anderson, Edith Wharton and H.L. Mencken. Anderson published a collection of short stories titled Winesburg, Ohio, which studied the dynamics of a small town. Wharton mocked the fads of the new era through her novels, such as Twilight Sleep (1927). Mencken criticized narrow American tastes and culture in various essays and articles.

[edit] Art Deco

Art Deco was the style of design and architecture that marked the era. Originating in Belgium, it spread to the rest of western Europe and North America towards the mid-1920s.

In the U.S., one of the most remarkable buildings featuring this style was constructed as the tallest building of the time: the Chrysler Building. The forms of art deco were pure and geometric, even though the artists often drew inspiration from nature. In the beginning, lines were curved, though rectilinear designs would later become more and more popular.

[edit] Expressionism and Surrealism

Painting in North America during the 1920s developed in a different direction than that of Europe. In Europe, the 1920s were the era of expressionism, and later surrealism. As Man Ray stated in 1920 after the publication of a unique issue of New York Dada: "Dada cannot live in New York".

[edit] Cinema

Felix the Cat, a popular cartoon character of the decade, exhibits his famous pace.

At the beginning of the decade, films were silent and colorless. In 1922, the first all-color feature, Toll of the Sea, was released. In 1926, Warner Bros. released Don Juan, the first feature with sound effects and music. In 1927, Warner released The Jazz Singer, the first sound feature to include limited talking sequences.

The public went wild for talkies, and movie studios converted to sound almost overnight. In 1928, Warner released Lights of New York, the first all-talking feature film. In the same year, the first sound cartoon, Dinner Time, was released. Warner ended the decade by unveiling, in 1929, the first all-color, all-talking feature film, On with the Show.

[edit] Harlem Renaissance

African-American literary and artistic culture developed rapidly during the 1920s under the banner of "The Harlem Renaissance". In 1921, the Black Swan Corporation opened. At its height, it issued ten recordings per month. All-African-American musicals also started in 1921. In 1923, the Harlem Renaissance Basketball Club was founded by Bob Douglas. During the later 1920s, and especially in the 1930s, the basketball team became known as the best in the world.

The first issue of Opportunity was published. The African-American playwright, Willis Richardson, debuted his play The Chip Woman's Fortune, at the Frazee Theatre (also known as the Wallacks theatre).[1] Notable African-American authors such as Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston began to achieve a level of national public recognition during the 1920s. African American culture has contributed the largest part to the rise of jazz.

[edit] Jazz Age

The first commercial radio station in the United States, KDKA, began broadcasting in Pittsburgh in 1922. Radio stations subsequently proliferated at a remarkable rate, and with them spread the popularity of jazz. Jazz became associated with all things modern, sophisticated, and also decadent. Men tended to sing in a high pitched voice, typified by Harold Scrappy Lambert, one of the popular recording artists of the decade.

The music that people consider today as "jazz" tended to be played by minorities. In the 1920s, the majority of people listened to what we would call today "sweet music", with hardcore jazz categorized as "hot music" or "race music." Louis Armstrong marked the time with improvisations and endless variations on a single melody, popularizing scat singing, an improvisational vocal technique in which nonsensical syllables are sung or otherwise vocalized, often as part of a call-and-response interaction with other musicians on-stage. Apart from the clarinet, Sidney Bechet popularized the saxophone. Dance venues increased the demand for professional musicians and jazz adopted the 4/4 beat of dance music. Tap dancers entertained people in Vaudeville theaters, out on the streets or accompanying bands. At the end of the Roaring Twenties, Duke Ellington initiated the big band era.

[edit] Dance

Starting in the 1920s, ballrooms across the U.S. sponsored dance contests, where dancers invented, tried, and competed with new moves. Professionals began to hone their skills in tap dance and other dances of the era throughout the Vaudeville circuit across the United States. Electric lighting made evening social entertainment more comfortable, giving rise to an era of dance halls and live music. The most popular dances were the Foxtrot, waltz and tango, the Charleston, and Lindy Hop.

Harlem played a key role in the development of dance styles. With several entertainment venues, people from all walks of life, all races, and all classes came together. The Cotton Club featured black performers and catered to a white clientele, while the Savoy Ballroom catered to a mostly black clientele.

From the early 1920s, a variety of eccentric dances were developed. The first of these were the Breakaway and Charleston. Both were based on African-American musical styles and beats, including the widely popular blues. The Charleston's popularity exploded after its feature in two 1922 Broadway shows. A brief Black Bottom craze, originating from the Apollo Theater, swept dance halls from 1926 to 1927, replacing the Charleston in popularity. By 1927, the Lindy Hop, a dance based on Breakaway and Charleston and integrating elements of tap, became the dominant social dance. Developed in the Savoy Ballroom, it was set to stride piano ragtime jazz. The Lindy Hop remained popular for over a decade, before evolving into Swing dance. These dances, nonetheless, were never mainstreamed, and the overwhelming majority of people continued to dance the fox-trot, waltz and tango throughout the decade.

[edit] Fashion

Immortalized in movies and magazine covers, young women’s fashion of the 1920s was both a trend and a social statement, a breaking-off from the rigid Victorian way of life. These young, rebellious, middle-class women, labeled ‘flappers’ by older generations, did away with the corset and donned slinky knee-length dresses, which exposed their legs and arms. The hairstyle of the decade was a chin-length bob, of which there were several popular variations. Make-up, which until the 1920s was not typically accepted in American society because of its association with prostitutes, became for the first time extremely popular.[10]

[edit] The changing role of women

With the passing of the 19th Amendment in 1920, women finally attained the political equality that they had so long been fighting for. A generational gap began to form between the “new” women of the 20s and the previous generation. Prior to the 19th Amendment, feminists commonly thought that one could have either a career or one could have a husband and a family, for one would inherently inhibit the development of the other. This mentality began to change in the 20s as more women began to desire not only successful careers of their own but also families.[11] The “new” woman was less invested in social service than the Progressive generations, and in tune with the capitalistic spirit of the era, she was eager to compete and to find personal fulfillment.[12]

The 1920s saw significant change in the lives of working women. World War I had temporarily allowed women to enter into industries such as chemical, automobile, and iron and steel manufacturing, which were once deemed inappropriate work for women.[13] Black women, who had been historically closed out of factory jobs, began to find a place in industry during World War I by accepting lower wages and replacing the lost immigrant labor and in heavy work. Yet like other of women during World War I, their success was only temporary and most black women, too, were pushed out of their factory jobs after the war. In 1920, seventy-five percent of the black female labor force consisted of agricultural laborers, domestic servants, and laundry workers.[14] Legislation passed at the beginning of the 20th century forced many factories to shorten their workdays and pay a minimum wage. This shifted the focus in the 1920s to job performance in order to meet demand. Factories encouraged workers to produce more quickly and efficiently with speedups and bonus systems, increasing the pressure on factory workers.[14] Despite the strain on women in the factories, the booming economy of the 1920s meant more opportunities even for the lower classes. Many young girls from working-class backgrounds did not need to help support their families as prior generations did and were often encouraged to seek work or receive vocational training which would result in social mobility.[15]

Achieving suffrage meant having to refocus feminism. Groups such as the National Women’s Party (NWP) continued the political fight, proposing the Equal Rights Amendment in 1923 and working to remove laws that used sex to discriminate against women.[16] But many women shifted their focus from politics to challenge traditional definitions of womanhood.

Young women especially, began staking claim to their own bodies and took part in a sexual liberation of their generation. Many of the ideas that fueled this change in sexual thought were already floating around New York intellectual circles prior to World War I, with the writings of Sigmund Freud, Havelock Ellis, and Ellen Key. There, thinkers outed that sex was not only central to the human experience but that women were sexual beings with human impulses and desires just like men and restraining these impulses was self-destructive. By the 1920s, these ideas had permeated the mainstream.[17]

The 1920s saw the emergence of the co-ed, as women began attending large state colleges and universities. Women entered into the mainstream middle-class experience, but took on a gendered role within society. Women typically took classes such as, home economics, “Husband and Wife”, “Motherhood” and “The Family as an Economic Unit”. In an increasingly conservative post-war era, it was common for a young woman to attend college with the intention of finding a suitable husband.[18] Fueled by ideas of sexual liberation, dating underwent major changes on college campuses. With the advent of the automobile, courtship occurred in a much more private setting. “Petting”, sexual relations without intercourse became the social norm for college students.[19]

Despite women’s increased knowledge of pleasure and sex, the decade of unfettered capitalism that was the 20s gave birth to the ‘feminine mystique’. With this formulation, all women wanted to marry, all good women stayed at home with their children, cooking and cleaning, and the best women did the aforementioned and in addition, exercised their purchasing power freely and as frequently as possible in order to better their families and their homes.[20] This left many housewives feeling frustrated and unsatisfied.

[edit] Minorities and homosexuals

Sheet music poking fun at the masculine traits many women adopted during the 1920s.

In urban areas, minorities were treated with more equality than they had been accustomed to previously. This was reflected in some of the films of the decade. Redskin (1929) and Son of the Gods (1929), for instance, deal sympathetically with Native Americans and Asian Americans, openly reviling social bias. On the stage and in movies, black and white players appeared together for the first time. It became possible to go to nightclubs and see whites and minorities dancing and eating together. Even popular songs poked fun at the new social acceptance of homosexuality. One of these songs had the title "Masculine Women, Feminine Men."[21] It was released in 1926 and recorded by numerous artists of the day and included the following lyrics:[22]

Masculine women, Feminine men

Which is the rooster, which is the hen?

It's hard to tell 'em apart today! And, say!

Sister is busy learning to shave,

Brother just loves his permanent wave,

It's hard to tell 'em apart today! Hey, hey!

Girls were girls and boys were boys when I was a tot,

Now we don't know who is who, or even what's what!

Knickers and trousers, baggy and wide,

Nobody knows who's walking inside,

Those masculine women and feminine men![23]

Homosexuals also received a level of acceptance that was not seen again until the 1960s.[citation needed] Until the early 1930s, gay clubs were openly operated, commonly known as "pansy clubs."[citation needed] The relative liberalism of the decade is demonstrated by the fact that the actor William Haines, regularly named in newspapers and magazines as the #1 male box-office draw, openly lived in a gay relationship with his lover, Jimmie Shields.[24] Other popular gay actors/actresses of the decade included Alla Nazimova and Ramon Novarro.[25] In 1927, Mae West wrote a play about homosexuality called, The Drag, and alluded to the work of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs. It was a box-office success. West regarded talking about sex as a basic human rights issue, and was also an early advocate of gay rights. With the return of conservatism in the 1930s, the public grew intolerant of homosexuality, and gay actors were forced to choose between retiring or agreeing to hide their sexuality.[citation needed]

[edit] Society

[edit] Immigration laws

The United States, and to a lesser degree Canada, became more xenophobic or, at least, anti-immigrant. The American Immigration Act of 1924 limited immigration from countries where 2% of the total U.S. population, per the 1890 census (not counting African Americans), were immigrants from that country. Thus, the massive influx of Europeans that had come to America during the first two decades of the century slowed to a trickle. Asians and citizens of India were prohibited from immigrating altogether. Alien Land Laws, such as California's Webb-Haney Act in 1913, prevented aliens ineligible for citizenship, (except Filipinos, who were subjects of U.S.) of the right to own land in California. It also limited the leasing of land by said aliens to three years. Many Japanese immigrants, or Issei, circumvented this law by transferring the title of their land to their American-born children, or Nisei, who were citizens. Similar laws were passed in 11 other states.

In Canada, the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923 prevented almost all immigration from Asia. Other laws curbed immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe. A Gentlemen's Act gave America the right to prevent any Japanese immigrants from entering the country.

[edit] Prohibition

In 1920, the manufacture, sale, import and export of alcohol was prohibited by the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in an attempt to alleviate various social problems; this came to be known as "Prohibition". It was enacted through the Volstead Act, supported greatly by churches and leagues such as 'The Anti Saloon League'. America's continued desire for alcohol under prohibition led to the rise of organized crime as typified by Chicago's Al Capone, smuggling and gangster associations all over the U.S. In Canada, prohibition was only imposed nationally for a short period of time, but the American liquor laws nonetheless had an important impact.

[edit] Rise of the speakeasy

Speakeasies became popular and numerous as the Prohibition years progressed and led to the rise of gangsters such as Al Capone. They commonly operated with connections to organized crime and liquor smuggling. While police and U.S. Federal Government agents raided such establishments and arrested many of the small figures and smugglers, they rarely managed to get the big bosses; the business of running speakeasies was so lucrative that such establishments continued to flourish throughout the nation. In major cities, speakeasies could often be elaborate, offering food, live bands, and floor shows. Police were notoriously bribed by speakeasy operators to either leave them alone or at least give them advance notice of any planned raid.

[edit] Literature

The Roaring Twenties was a period of literary creativity, and works of several notable authors appeared during the period. D. H. Lawrence's novel Lady Chatterley's Lover was a scandal at the time because of its explicit descriptions of sex.

Books that take the 1920s as their subject include:

[edit] Solo flight across the Atlantic

Charles Lindbergh gained sudden great international fame as the first pilot to fly solo and non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean, flying from Roosevelt Airfield (Nassau County, Long Island), New York to Paris on May 20-May 21, 1927. He had a single-engine airplane, "The Spirit of St. Louis", which had been designed by Donald Hall and custom built by Ryan Airlines of San Diego, California. His flight took 33.5 hours. The President of France bestowed on him the French Legion of Honor and, on his arrival back in the United States, a fleet of warships and aircraft escorted him to Washington, D.C., where President Calvin Coolidge awarded him the Distinguished Flying Cross.

[edit] Sports

The Roaring Twenties is seen as the breakout decade for sports in America. Citizens from all parts of the country flocked to see the top athletes of the day compete in arenas and stadiums. Their exploits were loudly and highly praised in the new "gee whiz" style of sports journalism that was emerging; champions of this style of writing included the legendary writers Grantland Rice and Damon Runyon.

The most popular American athlete of the twenties was baseball player Babe Ruth. His characteristic home run hitting heralded a new epoch in the history of the sport (the "Live-ball era"), and his high style of living fascinated the nation and made him one of the highest-profile figures of the decade. Fans were enthralled in 1927 when Ruth hit 60 home runs, setting a new single-season home run record that was not broken until 1961. Together with another up-and-coming star named Lou Gehrig, Ruth laid the foundation of future New York Yankees dynasties.

A former bar room brawler named Jack Dempsey won the world heavyweight boxing title and became the most celebrated pugilist of his time. College football captivated fans, with notables such as Red Grange, running back of the University of Illinois, and Knute Rockne who coached Notre Dame's football program to great success on the field and nation-wide notoriety. Grange also played a role in the development of professional football in the mid-1920s by signing on with the NFL's Chicago Bears. Bill Tilden thoroughly dominated his competition in tennis, cementing his reputation as one of the greatest tennis players of all time. And Bobby Jones popularized golf with his spectacular successes on the links; the game did not see another major star of his stature come along until Jack Nicklaus. Ruth, Dempsey, Grange, Tilden, and Jones are collectively referred to as the "Big Five" sporting icons of the Roaring Twenties.

[edit] American politics

[edit] Warren G. Harding

Warren G. Harding ran on a promise to "Return to Normalcy", a term he coined, which reflected three trends of his time: a renewed isolationism in reaction to World War I, a resurgence of nativism, and a turning away from the government activism of the reform era. Throughout his administration, Harding adopted laissez-faire policies. Harding's "Front Porch Campaign" during the late summer and fall of 1920 captured the imagination of the country. It was the first campaign to be heavily covered by the press and to receive widespread newsreel coverage, and it was also the first modern campaign to use the power of Hollywood and Broadway stars who traveled to Marion for photo opportunities with Harding and his wife. Al Jolson, Lillian Russell, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, were among the luminaries to make the pilgrimage to central Ohio. Business icons Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone also lent their cachet to the Front Porch Campaign. From the onset of the campaign until the November election, over 600,000 people traveled to Marion to participate. One of the most significant accomplishments of the Harding Administration was the Washington Naval Conference that set limits to military build-up around the world. His administration was plagued with scandals with which he was likely not involved (see Teapot Dome). On the scandals, he commented, "My God, this is a hell of a job!" and, "I have no trouble with my enemies, but my damn friends, they're the ones that keep me walking the floors at night." Harding's presideny was cut short by a sudden heart attack which some historians believe was casused by the stress of his scandals.

[edit] Calvin Coolidge

Calvin Coolidge was inaugurated as president after the death of President Harding. He was easily elected in 1924 when he ran on a basis of order and prosperity. Coolidge made use of the new medium of radio and made radio history several times while president: his inauguration was the first presidential inauguration broadcast on radio; on 12 February 1924, he became the first President of the United States to deliver a political speech on radio, and only ten days thereafter, on 22 February, he also became the first to deliver such a speech from the White House. He is famous for his quotation "The chief business of the American people is business". Coolidge continued Harding's laissez-faire politics. In foreign policy, he prefered isolationism but did sign the Kellog-Briand Pact as a way to prevent future wars.

[edit] Herbert Hoover

Herbert Hoover was the final president of the 1920s, taking office in 1929. He stated in 1928, "We in America today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of any land." Hoover signed the controversial Smoot-Hawley Tariff into law and was forced to deal with the consequences of the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

[edit] Decline of labor unions

Unions grew very rapidly during the war but after a series of failed major strikes in steel, meatpacking and other industries, a long decade of decline weakened most unions and membership fell even as employment grew rapidly. Radical unionism virtually collapsed , in large part because of Federal repression during World War I by means of the Espionage Act and the Sedition Act of 1918. The major unions supported the third party candidacy of Robert LaFollette in 1924.

[edit] Canadian politics

Canadian politics were dominated federally by the Liberal Party of Canada under William Lyon Mackenzie King. The federal government spent most of the decade disengaged from the economy and focused on paying off the large debts amassed during the war and during the era of railway over expansion. After the booming wheat economy of the early part of the century, the prairie provinces were troubled by low wheat prices. This played an important role in the development of Canada's first highly successful third party, the Progressive Party of Canada that won the second most seats in the 1921 national election. As well with the creation of the Balfour Declaration of 1926 Canada achieved with other British former colonies autonomy; creating the British Commonwealth.

[edit] End of the Roaring Twenties

[edit] Black Tuesday

The Dow Jones Industrial Stock Index had continued its upward move for weeks, and coupled with heightened speculative activities, it gave an illusion that the bull market of 1928 to 1929 would last forever. On October 29, 1929, also known as Black Tuesday, stock prices on Wall Street collapsed. The events in the United States were the final shock to its economic system which some people may regard as unsound,[citation needed] leading to a worldwide depression known as the Great Depression that put millions of people out of work across the capitalist world throughout the 1930s.

[edit] Repeal of Prohibition

The 21st Amendment, which repealed the 18th Amendment, was proposed on February 20, 1933. The choice to legalize alcohol was left up to the states, and many states quickly took this opportunity to allow alcohol.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Hakim, Joy (1995). War, Peace, and All That Jazz. New York, New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 41–46. ISBN 0-19-509514-6. 
  2. ^ based on data in Susan Carter, ed. Historical Statistics of the US: Millennial Edition (2006) series Ca9
  3. ^ "The Harding/Coolidge Prosperity of the 1920's". Retrieved on 2009-03-30. 
  4. ^ Edward Teach - CFO Magazine (2007-05-01). "The Bright Side of Bubbles - CFO Magazine - May 2007 Issue". Retrieved on 2009-03-30. 
  5. ^ "Coolidge's Legacy". 1926-03-05. Retrieved on 2009-03-30. 
  6. ^ "McCain's Dangerous Do-Nothing Economics | The American Prospect". Retrieved on 2009-03-30. 
  7. ^ Murray, R.K. (1973) The Politics of Normalcy: Governmental Theory and Practice in the Harding-Coolidge Era. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. at page 41.
  8. ^ Id.
  9. ^ Ross Nordeen (2007-12-28). "America's Great Depression: An Overview". Retrieved on 2009-03-30. 
  10. ^ Kitch, Carolyn. The Girl on the Magazine Cover. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001. pp. 122-23.
  11. ^ Brown, Dorothy M. Setting a Course: American Women in the 1920s. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1987. p. 33.
  12. ^ Woloch, Nancy. Women and the American Experience: A Concise History. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002. p. 256.
  13. ^ Kessler-Harris, Alice. Out to Work: A History of Wage-Earning Women in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. p. 219.
  14. ^ a b Kessler-Harris, Alice. Out to Work: A History of Wage-Earning Women in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. p. 237.
  15. ^ Kessler-Harris, Alice. Out to Work: A History of Wage-Earning Women in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. p. 288.
  16. ^ Woloch, Nancy. Women and the American Experience: A Concise History. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002. p. 246.
  17. ^ Woloch, Nancy. Women and the American Experience: A Concise History. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002. p. 274.
  18. ^ Woloch, Nancy. Women and the American Experience: A Concise History. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002. pp. 282-3.
  19. ^ Woloch, Nancy. Women and the American Experience: A Concise History. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002. p. 281.
  20. ^ Schwartz Cowan, Ruth. Two Washes in the Morning and a Bridge Party at Night: The American Housewife between the Wars. Great Britain: Gordon and Breach Science Publishers Ltd., 1976. p. 184.
  21. ^ The song was written by Edgar Leslie (words) and James V. Monaco (music) and featured in Hugh J. Ward's Musical Comedy "Lady Be Good."
  22. ^ Artists who recorded this song include: 1. Frank Harris (Irving Kaufman), (Columbia 569D,1/29/26) 2. Bill Meyerl & Gwen Farrar (UK, 1926) 3. Joy Boys (UK, 1926) 4. Harry Reser's Six Jumping Jacks (UK, 2/13/26) 5. Hotel Savoy Opheans (HMV 5027, UK, 1927, aka Savoy Havana Band) 6. Merrit Brunies & His Friar's Inn Orchestra on Okeh 40593, 3/2/26
  23. ^ A full reproduction of the original sheet music with the complete lyrics (including the amusing cover sheet) can be found at:
  24. ^ Mann, William J., Wisecracker : the life and times of William Haines, Hollywood's first openly gay star. New York, N.Y., U.S.A. : Viking, 1998: 2-6.
  25. ^ Mann, William J., Wisecracker : the life and times of William Haines, Hollywood's first openly gay star. New York, N.Y., U.S.A. : Viking, 1998: 12-13, 80-83.

[edit] Bibliography

  • Allen, Frederick Lewis. Only Yesterday:An Informal History of the Nineteen-Twenties. (1931), the first and still the most widely read survey of the era, complete text online free.
  • Best, Gary Dean. The Dollar Decade: Mammon and the Machine in 1920s America. (2003).
  • Cohen, Lizabeth. Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939 (1990)
  • Cohen, Lizabeth. "Encountering Mass Culture at the Grassroots: The Experience of Chicago Workers in the 1920s," American Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 1 (Mar., 1989), pp. 6–33. in JSTOR
  • Conor, Liz. The Spectacular Modern Woman: Feminine Visibility in the 1920s. (2004). 329pp.).
  • Cowley, Malcolm. Exile's Return: A Literary Odyssey of the 1920s. (1934) online 1999 edition
  • Dumenil, Lynn. The Modern Temper: American Culture and Society in the 1920s. 1995
  • Fass, Paula. The Damned and the Beautiful: American Youth in the 1920s. 1977.
  • Hicks, John D. Republican Ascendancy, 1921-1933. (1960) political and economic survey
  • Huggins, Nathan Irvin. Harlem Renaissance. (1971).
  • Kallen, Stuart A. The Roaring Twenties (2001) ISBN 0-7377-0885-9
  • Kyvig, David E.; Daily Life in the United States, 1920-1939: Decades of Promise and Pain , 2002 online edition
  • Leuchtenburg, William E. The Perils of Prosperity, 1914-1932 (1958), influential survey by scholar
  • Lynd, Robert S., and Helen Merrell Lynd. Middletown: A Study in Contemporary American Culture. (1929); highly influential sociological study of Muncie, Indiana
  • Marsden, George M. Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of Twentieth-Century Evangelicalism, 1870-1925 (1980)
  • Noggle, Burl. Into the Twenties: The United States from Armistice to Normalcy. (1974).
  • Lois Scharf and Joan M. Jensen, eds. The American Housewife between the Wars. Decades of Discontent: The Women's Movement, 1920-1940. (1983).
  • Frank Stricker, "Afluence for Whom? Another Look at Prosperity and the Working Classes in the 1920s," Labor History 24#1 (1983): 5-33
  • Starr, Kevin. Material Dreams: Southern California through the 1920s. (1996) online edition
  • Tindall, George Brown. The Emergence of the New South, 1913-1945 (1967) comprehensive regional history

[edit] External links

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