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Title: The%20Twenties

The Twenties
  • 1920-1929

A Booming Economy
  • Decade after war America experienced growth
  • Changed the way Americans lived
  • Rising wages, shorter work weeks
  • More free time more disposable income
  • Created modern consumer economy
  • Technology, leisure activities broke down
    barriers and helped form a common American
  • At the same time cultural issues divided
  • Consumer Revolution- advertising, buying on
    credit, electricity made new products available
    to people
  • Availability of electric power washing
    machines, vacuum cleaners made housekeeping
  • Advertisers- used new methods to sell more
    products (focused on desires and fears of
  • Buying on credit allowed people to buy products
    they would have needed to save years for, many
    Americans went deeply into debt
  • By the end of the decade economy became
    increasingly venerable to disruptions of the
    credit structure

Automobile Drives Prosperity
  • Recession that followed war ended quickly
  • Factories produced more goods, wages rose
  • Most growth sparked by auto industry
  • Henry Ford pioneers changes (wages, production,
    working conditions, daily life)

Automobile Drives Prosperity
  • Scientific management techniques- reduce time,
    effort, cost to produce cars
  • Idea of mass production used for automobiles
  • Model T- only car Ford sold ( 850)
  • People could afford it and they had more leisure
  • Cars put on assembly line- inspired by
    meatpacking industry
  • Located plant in Detroit on Great Lakes (access
    to materials)
  • Doubled wages of workers, weekends off, 8 hour

Automobile Changes America
  • Automobile industry created new jobs, helped
    national prosperity
  • Steel, glass, rubber, asphalt, gasoline,
    insurance, road construction industries all
  • Service stations, motels
  • Oil discoveries in Southwest
  • 1926 highway system first appeared

Automobile Changes America
  • Gave people more freedom
  • Go where they wanted, not tied to tracks or
    train schedule
  • Altered residential patterns
  • Suburbs grew, people could live farther from jobs
  • Communities linked by highways to cities

Stock Market
  • 1920s period of rising stock prices (bull
  • Investors take risks, buy on margin (pay small
    amount up front, pay rest back over time)
  • Stock was collateral for loan
  • Thinking of time- boom and bust economy would
    end, always prosperity

City, Suburbs and Country
  • 1920s people move to cities
  • Immigrants, farmers, African Americans
  • Improved mass transportation, car led to
    development of suburbs
  • Suburbs drain resources from cities, more wealth
    left the cities
  • Wealth poorly distributed
  • Industrial wages, farm incomes did not rise
  • Farmers caught in boom-bust cycle more than
  • Peace brought an end to guaranteed prices by
    government and overseas purchases
  • Wartime boom encouraged them to cultivate new
  • Farmers produced surpluses that led to price
    dampening depression
  • In 1920s 25 of all farms were sold to repay
  • These groups were left out of the economic

The Business of Government
  • 1920 Warren G. Harding- return to normalcy
  • More conservative, policies to promote growth of
  • Sec. of Treasury Andrew Mellon, favored low taxes
    on individuals and corporations
  • US raised tariffs, European countries response
    was to raise tariffs, weakened world economy
  • Herbert Hoover- Commerce Sec. used business and
    labor leaders to change society, not legislation

Ohio Gang and Teapot Dome Scandal
  • Close circle of advisers called Ohio Gang
  • Saw government service as a way to get rich at
    expense of others
  • Teapot Dome Scandal- (1921) Sec. of Interior
    arranged sale of government oil reserves in Wyo.
    to private investors for loans
  • Harding signed deal, senate investigated
  • 1924- Sec. of Interior sentenced to prison
  • Harding died before he could finish his term or
    answer for his role in this and other scandals

Business of American People Is Business
  • Replaced by VP Calvin Coolidge
  • Silent Cal quiet, honest, frugal
  • Pro- business, creation of wealth was good for
    all America
  • Followed same economic policies as Harding
  • American economy grew, general prosperity for all
    Americans over next six years

America and International Affairs
  • 1920s U.S. role in world affairs grew
  • 1921, 1922- Washington Naval Conference- limit
    construction of navies, reduce arms race
  • 1928- Kellogg- Briand Pact- treaty to outlaw war
    as an instrument of national policy world
    leaders knew this was useless
  • 1920s U.S. thought best policy was to keep rest
    of world at arms length and return to isolationism

America and International Affairs
  • Collecting War Debts
  • US wanted Britain, France to pay back money
    borrowed for war
  • They needed Germany to pay reparations
  • Financial issue threatened world economy
  • 1924 Dawes Plan arranged US loans to Germany to
    pay Britain and France
  • Damaged US reputation- saw US as heartless
    demanding payment after human costs of war

Social and Cultural Tensions
  • Growing division between urban and rural
  • Standard of living, science, religion,
  • Traditional vs. Modern

Traditionalism and Modernism Clash
  • 1920 Census first time more American lived in
    urban areas than rural areas
  • Urban
  • enjoyed new consumer products
  • Open to social change, science, secular values
  • Formal education more important
  • Rural
  • more traditional view of science, religion,
  • Most new consumer products unavailable
  • Many people, in rural areas, felt threatened by
    the changing values of society
  • Religious fundamentalism grew during the 1920s
  • One reaction to changing world
  • World changing in ways people don't understand
    and can't control
  • Children move to cities, reject the values that
    the parents have lived with all their life

Religious Fundamentalism
  • One way this fundamentalism manifested itself
    came in the laws of a few southern states which
    mandated creationism, not evolution, be taught in
  • Many Americans upset over growing secularism
  • Fundamentalism grew
  • Took Bible as literal truth
  • Bible could answer important questions
  • Movement strong in rural America
  • 1925 Scopes Trial illustrated split between
    urban/ rural areas. (Theory of Evolution vs.

Restricting Immigration
  • Clash over immigration
  • Many felt that immigrants threatened religious,
    political, cultural traditions
  • Immigration Act of 1924- end of open immigration
  • Government created a quota system to restrict
  • Geared to keep out southern and eastern
    Europeans, Japanese immigrants

The New KU Klux Klan
  • Membership in KKK began to expand
  • Manifestation of intolerance and prejudice from
    anxiety of changing times
  • Uprising against forces of modernism and forces
    of diversity shaping American culture
  • Resembled nativist movement of 1850s
  • Anti- anything except Anglo, native American
  • Movement concentrated in Midwest and South
  • At its peak had about 5 million members
  • Collapsed in late 20s after political corruption
    was exposed

Prohibition and Crime
  • Prohibition divisive issue
  • War increased support for temperance movement
  • 1919 -18th Amendment passed, Volstead Act
    endorsed amendment
  • Prohibited sale, manufacture, distribution of

Prohibition and Crime
  • People still wanted alcohol- supplied by
    bootleggers, organized crime
  • Government tried to stop flow of liquor
  • Organized crime developed around sale of liquor
    and reached into other areas- prostitution,
    drugs, gambling
  • Too much money to be made
  • Criminals involved in sale of liquor, police took
  • Mid 1920s many politicians in cities wanted
    repeal of 18th Amendment
  • Rural Americans saw liquor, crime tied together
  • 1933- 21st Amendment repealed prohibition

Science, Social Thought and Modernism
  • Rational, mechanical ideas of how world worked
  • Einsteins Theory of Relativity, Heisenberg's
    Theory of Uncertainty showed absolute values of
    how things worked were not true
  • Freud explored subconscious
  • Subconscious regions seen as more potent than
  • Art, Literature expressed how reality is created,
    and expressed

  • Urban or Rural?

New Mass Culture
  • Cultural issues divided Americans
  • Technology, leisure activities broke down
  • Formed a common American culture

Americans Enjoy More Leisure Time
  • Rising wages, shorter work weeks
  • More free time more disposable income
  • Movies- local theaters became cultural classroom
    for Americans
  • Americas democratic art
  • First movie stars
  • 1927 first talkie Jazz Singer
  • Movies represent fantasies, desires, of Americans

Americans Enjoy More Leisure Time
  • Radio and Phonograph- result of technological
    advances, business enterprise
  • Americans listened to same music, learned same
    dances- contributed to mass popular culture
  • Radio- 1920 first commercial radio station (KDKA
    Pittsburg, PA)- within three years over 600
  • Brought events into millions of homes- sporting
    events, news
  • Phonograph- people could listen to music whenever
    they wanted
  • Regional musical styles made national (jazz,
    blues, country)

Golden Age of Sports Heroes
  • Sports created nationally famous athletes
  • Increased newspaper readers, radio audience
    boosted popularity
  • Sportswriters captured excitement of events
  • Sports feats showed people capable of great
    feats, idealized self
  • Many people rooted for sports stars that shred
    their ethnicity, national origin

Women Assume New Roles
  • New Woman of 1920s more liberated, Victorian
    morality rejected
  • Dresses shorter, wore makeup, danced, drank
  • Flapper symbolized new , modern woman
  • Wanted same political, social, economic rights as
  • National Womens party began a campaign for an
    Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution
  • Lived longer, had fewer children, freed time to
    pursue other interests
  • Many entered professional workforce, although
    they went into low paying jobs (womens work)
  • Elected as governors (TX, WY)
  • Differences in material culture made life for
    urban and rural women distinct

Modernism in Art and Literature
  • Literature, arts were changed by WWI
  • War killed millions, left many homeless
  • Seen as action of irrational people
  • Artists and writers began to question ideas of
    progress, left people pessimistic
  • Writers and artists expressed lack of faith in a
    traditional worldview

Modernism in Art and Literature
  • Painters moved away from traditional
  • Experimented with abstract styles, represented
    inner mood
  • Saw artistic honesty in abstract paintings
  • Architecture- Art Deco new style

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Postwar Literature
  • Called Lost Generation
  • Most were American expatriates living in Paris
    and London
  • Searched for new truths, new ways to express
  • Wrestled with meaning of war and life
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway, T.S.
    Elliot, Sinclair Lewis, Gertrude Stein
  • Greatest generation for American writers

Post-War Writers
  • Earnest Hemmingway- novels feature search for
    real life
  • Hard living, athletic, masculine lifestyle
  • About doomed life after the war
  • Wrote in a concrete, stripped down style
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald- first novel This Side of
    Paradise, age 24
  • Wrote about excess of Jazz Age, bible for youth
    of the 20s
  • Great Gatsby about American dream and tragedy
  • William Faulkner- stories set in Mississippi,
    reflected southern world
  • Literature- dying way of life vs. modern way of
  • Leader of Southern Renaissance of writers

Harlem Renaissance
  • African American migration continued through
  • Many found a better life, jobs, political voice
  • Did not escape oppression, had worst jobs,
  • Harlem Renaissance was the development of a new
    black consciouness
  • Center of it was Harlem, NY, blend of cultures,
  • Period of cultural expression in music and

Marcus Garvey and Racial Pride
  • Jamaican immigrant
  • Promoted idea of black nationalism, Back to
    Africa Movement
  • Called for black separatism- businesses,
  • Founded Universal Negro Improvement Assn.
    promoted black pride
  • Put in prison 1925 for mail fraud, deported
  • Inspired Nation of Islam, Black Panther Movement
    later in century

African American Literature
  • Explored pains and joys of being African American
  • Jean Toomer- Cane looked at rural life in the
    south and sophisticated urban life in Washington,
  • Claude McKay- militant writer, wrote about
    struggle for dignity
  • Langston Hughes- literary voice of HR, captured
    diversity of AA life
  • Zora Neale Hurston- collected folktales of rural
    Florida, called for womens independence

  • Emerged in South (New Orleans) where different
    traditions and cultures came together
  • Based on improvisation, blues and European
  • Spread north with Great Migration
  • Radio, phonograph spread influence
  • Bridged races, inspired white songwriters and