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Student 1

31 March 2016
1920s DBQ
Throughout the 1920s, America underwent a period of social unrest. Following the
devastation of World War I, President Hardings promise of a return to normalcy appealed to
Americans across the nation. The 1920s brought forth an era that began with a boom of business,
economic growth, and widespread prosperity, giving this period the name The Roaring 20s.
Therefore, various ideals and cultures were prevalent across America which would cause social
unrest and tensions to arise. Culture wars of the 1920s were fought because of the antiimmigration sentiments and discrimination towards minorities, as well as the prohibition law that
created a gap between modernists and fundamentalists.
During the 1920s, Americas economy was prospering and appealed to immigrants in
hopes of finding a job. Americans were resentful and in fear of losing jobs to immigrants, and
blamed them for issues prevalent in America causing tensions to arise between Americans and
immigrants (Doc. 3 and Doc. 5). The purpose of this argument was to expose the negatives of
immigration. In The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tom Buchanan consistently bashes on
immigration during a dinner party and discriminates towards foreigners. He elaborates on a book
he read and stated that the weak race will override the whites if immigration continues. This
scene is accurate to the time period because whites believed that their race was superior to other
ethnicities just as they were in fear of losing their job to immigrants, causing tensions to arise in
this cultural war. Along with anti-immigration sentiments came the formation of radical racist
groups (Doc. 1). The KKK was a radical racist group that developed after the Civil War and
again reached its peak in the 1920s where they harassed minorities causing tensions to arise
amongst citizens. With immigration at a high, the new 1920s KKK not only harassed African

Student 2
Americans, but Jews, Catholics, and other religious groups that came along with immigration or
challenge the white traditional culture. The audience of this writing was directed towards
whites in order to infuriate Americans of the poor morals and weaknesses that foreigners brought
to America. During the Great Migration, African Americans migrated north in order to find a job
and escape racism. Many of these African Americans would settle in Harlem where they would
share common beliefs of art, culture, and literature therefore creating the Harlem Renaissance.
However, radical racist groups were against this focus of the African American culture because it
conflicted with their beliefs of white superiority. The KKKs harassment towards minorities
would cause tensions to arise contributing to the cultural war being fought. Along with intense
discrimination towards ethnicities, America was torn over modernists and fundamentalist ideals
over prohibition.

Student 3
31 March 2016
1920s Culture Clashes
Throughout the 1920s in America, several cultural groups emerged into society causing
inevitable clashes between opposing morals. Numerous factors contributed to this tension,
including immigration, prohibition, scientific theory, and differing religious ideologies. Now
that WWI had ended, citizens could focus on their own society and cultural beliefs, opening a
gateway to culture wars. Two of the most prominent cultural wars of the 1920s were the clashes
of nativists and immigrants and the differing morals of old and new religions.
During WWI, immigration to the U.S. came to a halt, but after the war, immigration rates
skyrocketed. This explosion of foreigners caused nativists to become increasingly anxious over
maintaining white culture, eliminating crime, and adhering to prohibition. The Ku Klux Klan,
white supremacists group, especially worried for the cultural future of the U.S. and called for a
return of power into the hands of the Nordic American (Doc 1). The intended audience of the
Klan was fellow white Americans in order to gain their support in the fight to promote
Americanism. The KKK believed that by rooting out un-American ethnicities from power, the
Nordic white American could once again become superior. Attitudes like these were expressed
in the literature of the decade like F. Scott Fitzgeralds The Great Gatsby through characters like
Tom Buchanan. In the novel, Tom speaks of his favor toward the Nordic race and expresses his
disdain towards other ethnicities. Although not a KKK member, Tom was another representation
of the clashes between nativists and foreigners. Another issue that nativists linked to
immigration was the increase of drinking that led to an increase in crime. An officer of the New
England Club of Seattle, Washington and others wrote letters blaming immigrants for the rise of
crime and alcohol drinking (Docs 3 and 5). The purpose of these letters is to convince

Student 4
Americans that the root of social ills such as crime and alcoholism is due to the increase of
immigration to the U.S. A case where this doctrine was applied was the conviction of Sacco and
Vanzetti, two Italian immigrants accused of robbery and murder. Due to the lack of substantial
evidence, some liberal Americans believed that the accusation of the immigrants was based
solely on the fact that they were Italian. In the end, Sacco and Vanzetti were still executed. The
results of this case, as well as others linked to crime and alcohol clearly showcases the tensions
of nativists and immigrants. Another cultural war being fought in the 1920s was that of the
disparity between fundamentalists and modernists over religion.