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Post-WWI in America

&
The 1920s

SSUSH16: The student will identify


key developments in the aftermath
of WWI

After WWI
WWI left much of the American public
exhausted
Debate over the League of Nations had deeply
divided America
Progressive Era had caused numerous changes
Economy was in a difficult state of adjustment
Returning soldiers faced unemployment or took their
old jobs away from women & minorities
Cost of living had doubled
Farmers & factory workers suffered b/c wartime
production had drastically decreased

Many Americans responded to the stressful


conditions by becoming fearful of outsiders
Wave of nativism (prejudice against foreignborn people) swept the nation
So, too, did a belief in isolationism (policy of
pulling away from involvement in world affairs)

Karl Marx & Communism


Karl Marx (German philosopher)in mid1800s developed a new theory
Communism an economic & political
system based on a single-party govt ruled
by a dictatorship
Govt owns everything no private
property!
Communism is an extreme form of socialism

1919 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia


Vladimir Lenin (leader of the Bolsheviks)
overthrew the czar in Russiaestablishing
the Soviet Union
Lenin called for a worldwide revolution to
destroy capitalism
Americans began to fear communists

Red Scare
Red Scare fear of international
communist takeover
Red color of the communist flag
Fear led to the govt pursuing suspected
communists & socialists

When several dozen bombs were mailed to


the U.S. govt & business leaders,
Americans grew fearful that the
Communists were taking over
U.S. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer
took action to combat the Red Scare
Palmer Raids hunted down communists,
socialists, & anarchists; invaded private homes
& offices & jailed suspects without allowing
them legal counsel; hundreds of foreign-born
radicals were deported without trials
Raids failed to turn up any evidence of a takeover

Immigration Restriction
Factors that led to restriction:
1. Red Scare (fear of Communist take over)
2. Nativism (favoritism to native-born Americans)
3. Traditional American culture (keep America for
Americans)

Nativism feelings brought a revival of the Ku Klux


Klan (not just in the South, but throughout the U.S.)
By 1924, this conservative reaction against
immigrants resulted in the passage of the
Emergency Quota Act of 1921 that established
the quota systemset limits on the number of
European immigrants who could come from each
country
. Did not apply to immigrants from the Western
Hemisphere (Canada & Mexico)

Impact of the Automobile


Automobile became the backbone of
the American economy in the 1920s
Henry Fordfounder of Ford Motor
Co. & developer of the 1st mass
produced automobile (Model T)
Ford used an improved assembly line to
quickly build automobiles
What Ford did to speed up production &
drive down costs:
Standardized parts
Specialization of labor
Careful management

1st Model T cost $950 (but w/in 10


yrs the same model cost $280)

Automobile led to huge social changes:


Expanded suburbs
Allowed workers to live miles from their jobs
(urban sprawlspreading of cities)

Need for improved road-ways


Route 66 (19262,448 miles from Chicago to LA)
Commercial & residential travel (connected rural
areas to cities)

Made travel more independent


Gave families more opportunities to travel

Americas Standard of
Living
Soars
1920-1929 most prosperous yrs of the
U.S.
Americans owned around 40% of the
worlds wealth, and that wealth changed
the way most Americans lived
Avg. annual income rose more than 35%
during this periodfrom $522 to $705
People found it easy to spend all that extra
income
By the end of the 1920s, more homes had
electric irons, while wealthier families used
electric refrigerators, cooking ranges, & toasters
1928:
Washing machine--$150
Vacuum cleaner--$50
Sewing machine (electric)--$60

Superficial Prosperity
During the 1920s, most Americans believed prosperity
would go on foreverthe avg. factory worker was
producing 50% more at the end of the 1920s
As production increased, businesses expanded
Numerous mergers of companies that manufactured
automobiles, steel, & electrical equipment, as well as
public utilities
Chain stores developedselling groceries, drugs,
shoes, & clothes

Buying Goods on Credit


Installment plan enabled people to
buy goods over an extended period of
time w/o having to put down much money
at the time of purchase
Banks provided the money at low interest
rates
You furnish the girl, well furnish the home
Enjoy while you pay

With this plan, people could purchase


automobiles, household appliances,
homes, furniture, & other items
Example: if someone wanted to buy a car that
cost $200, they would receive the car first.
Every month they would have to pay $20 or
so until the car was completely paid off.

Installment Plan:
Personal
Story
"Have you an automobile yet?"
"No, I talked with John and he felt that we could
not afford one."
"Mr. Budge who lives in your town has one and
they are not as well off as you are."
"Yes, I know. Their second installment came due,
and they had no money to pay it."
"What did they do? Lose the car?"
"No, they got the money and paid the installment."
"How did they get the money?"
"They sold the cook stove."
"How could they get along without a cook stove?"
"They didn't. They bought another on the
installment plan."
-a business owner quoted inIn The Time of Silent Cal

Prohibition
Jan. 1920 18th Amendment was passed
This amendment launched Prohibition
Manufacture, sale, & transportation of alcoholic
beverages were legally prohibited

Reformers had long considered liquor a


prime cause of corruption
They thought that too much drinking led to
crime, wife & child abuse, accidents on the job, &
other serious social problems
Support for Prohibition came largely from the
rural South & West (areas w/ large populations of
native-born Protestants)
Church-affiliated Anti-Saloon League & the
Womans Christian Temperance Union helped to
pass this amendment

At first, saloons closed their doors, and arrests


for drunkenness declined
However, in the aftermath of WWI, many
Americans were tired of making sacrifices &
wanted to enjoy life
Most immigrant groups did not consider
drinking a sin but a natural part of socializing,
and they resented the govts restriction
Problems:
Govt failed to budget enough money to enforce this
amendment the job of enforcement involved
patrolling 18,700 miles of coastline as well as inland
borders, tracking down illegal stills (equipment of
distilling liquor), & monitoring highways for
truckloads of illegal alcoholimpossible!!

Speakeasies &
Bootleggers
To obtain liquor illegally, drinkers went
underground to hidden saloons &
nightclubs (speakeasies)called this
b/c when inside people spoke quietly
(easily) to avoid detection
Speakeasies could be found
everywherein penthouses, cellars,
office buildings, tenements, hardware
stores, tearooms
To be admitted to a speakeasy, one
had to present a card or use a
password
Inside, one would find a mix of middleclass & upper-class men & women

Before long, people grew bolder in getting


around the law
They learned to distill alcohol & built their
own stills (moonshine)
Since alcohol was allowed of medicinal &
religious purposes, prescriptions for alcohol
& sales of sacramental wine skyrocketed!
People also bought liquor from bootleggers
(named for a smugglers practice of carrying
liquor in the legs of boots)who smuggled it
in from Canada, Cuba, & the Caribbean
Prohibition not only generated disrespect for
the law, it also contributed to organized
crime in nearly every major city
Chicagonotorious home of Al Capone
(gangster whose bootlegging empire netted over
$60 million a year!)

By the mid-1920s, only 19% of


Americans supported Prohibition
The rest (who wanted the
amendment changed or repealed)
believed Prohibition caused worse
effects than the initial problem
Rural Protestant Americans,
however, defended the amendment
they felt strengthened moral values
18th Amendment remained in force
until 1933when it was repealed by
the 21st Amendment (allowing the
manufacturing & selling of alcohol
again)

The Flapper
During the 1920s, a new ideal emerged for some women the
flapper
An emancipated young woman who embraced the new fashions &
urban attitudes of the day
Dresses 1-inch above the knee
Short bob haircut & dyed jet black

Many young women became more assertive


Smoked cigarettes & drank in public

Many middle-class men & women began to view marriage as


more of an equal partnership, although both agreed that
housework & child-raising remained a womens job

Impact of Radio
Radio was the most powerful communications
medium to emerge in the 1920s
Americans listened to the radio daily
1st radio broadcasts were used to relate the
election results of the 1920 election
By 1925, 600 radio stations had been
established
By 1923, nearly 3 million Americans had
radios
Soon music, stories, sporting events & news
were being broadcast nationwide
Radio helped to create a common cultural
experience for Americans
Advertisers quickly realized the marketing
potential of radio (began using radio to mass
market consumer goods)

Impact of Movies
1st movies were silent films, but
by the late 1920s the first
movies with sound were
available to audiences
During this era, the movies
became big business as movie
studios made an avg. of 800
feature films per year!
1st silent Great Train Robbery
(1903)
1st talkie Jazz Singer (1927)

Result of The Great


Migration
During the 1920s African Americans set new goals

for themselves as they moved to northern cities


Their migration was an expression of their changing
attitudes towards their lives
By the end of the 1920s, 5.2 million of the nations
12 million African Americans (over 40%) lived in
cities
However, Northern cities in general had not
welcomed the massive influx of African Americans
tensions escalated in the years prior to the
1920sresulting in 25 urban race riots in 1919
NAACP stepped in several times to protect African
Americans civil rights

Harlem
Renaissance
Literary &
artistic movement celebrating the

African American culture


Led by well-educated, middle-class African
Americans who expressed a new pride in their
culture
Centered in Harlem, NY (a borough in NYC)
Movement produced notable works of literature,
music, dance, & visual art
Writers:
Zora Neal Hurston
W.E.B. DuBois
Langston Hughespoetry used rhythms of African
American musicblues & jazzallowed Hughes to
experiment with a very rhythmic free verse

The Cotton Clubin Harlemwas an important


location where white audiences were exposed
to jazz & literature of the Harlem Renaissance

Popular Music
As the late 1800s saw a tremendous
growth in the middle class, music &
piano lessons became a part of the
expected education
Demand for new music to be played
& sung around a piano
Tin Pan Alley famous music
center in NYC (5th 6th avenue and
28th street)
Irving Berlin one of the famous
composers of the era
Wrote many songssome of which are
still popular todayWhite Christmas &
God Bless America

Jazz Age
Although Jazz was NOT born out of the Harlem
Renaissance, Jazz was the 1st true American
music
So influential that the era of the 1920s was
known as the Jazz Age
Born in the deep South, Jazz was thought to
have originated from the musical traditions
brought by slaves from West Africa combined
with western music instruments & techniques
By the 1920s, there were several different types
of Jazzincluding Dixieland that originated in
New Orleans
Louis Armstrongvery talented trumpet player
eventually becomes the most important & influential
jazz musicians

Late 1920s, Duke Ellingtonjazz pianist &


composerled his 10-piece orchestra at the
Cotton Club in Harlembecomes one of
Americas greatest composers

Conclusion
The Harlem Renaissance represented a
portion of the great social & cultural
changes that swept America in the
1920s
The time period was characterized by
economic prosperity, new ideas, changing
values, & personal freedomas well as
important developments in art, literature,
& music
Most of the social changes were lasting
the economic boom, however, was short
lived