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1920s American History Essays

The Economic Boom In America In The 1920's

The Economic Boom in America in the 1920's

The decade of the 1920s, or as it was called by its contemporaries,
"The New Era," was marked by prosperity and new opportunity in the
aftermath of World War I. The war began in Europe in 1914, and the
United States entered the fray in 1917. A significant reason for
United States involvement in the war was the nation's economic links
to the Allied Powers, and especially to Great Britain. America had
given loans to Great Britain totalling over $2.3 billion. As a result,
they feared a British defeat that would severely cripple them.

Although the allies eventually won the war, there were problems as
well. The transition from a war-time to a peace-time economy caused
economic dislocation for industrial workers, loss of income for
farmers, and renewed racism and nativism against African-Americans and
foreign immigrants. Despite this, America had emerged from World War I
with a strong economy. America itself had not been attacked and as it
had not joined the war until 1917, it did not have to rebuild itself
like the European nations did.

Although distanced from the main fighting, America came out of the war
a completely different country. The twenties was a very unusual time
period in American History. The twenties were a time of fun and
partying. There are many reasons why it was called the Roaring
Twenties. Most of the American people were living a great life and
were able to afford luxury items, even though this didn't apply to
every one many believed that it was an excellent and exciting time of
great hopes.

In the twenties, industry took a very big step. It nearly doubled. Not
only did industry grow so did science, fads, laws, beliefs, arts,
social lives, sports and the various different news from around the
globe. At this time women were needed in society and men began to
accept them. The car and train industry was the largest industry there
was. The assembly line made mass production possible, and the industry
boomed. America was now a very powerful envy of many countries.
America had high production and low unemployment
Henry Ford's assembly line in Detroit was the largest one in the
country.

There were many causes of the economic boom, mass production being
just one of them. Factories around the USA could use electricity and
set up assembly lines and make objects quickly. The cars were made
identical to make them easier to make and so they are cheaper.

America was being paid back loans that it had lent other countries
during the war; on top of this they were making interest. The banks
now had lots of money to lend to people setting up a business or for
people to buy on the margin.

Taxation was kept low and businesses and companies able to keep much
of the profit to invest in new efficient factories that...

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The 1920s Summary & Analysis

The 1920s have long been remembered as the Roaring '20s, an era of unprecedented affluence best remembered through the cultural artifacts generated by its new mass-consumption economy:

  • a Ford Model T in every driveway
  • Amos 'n' Andy on the radio
  • the first "talking" motion pictures at the cinema
  • baseball hero Babe Ruth in the ballpark
  • celebrity pilot Charles Lindbergh on the front page of every newspaper

As a soaring stock market minted millionaires by the thousands, young Americans in the nation's teeming cities rejected traditional social mores by embracing a modern urban culture of freedom—drinking illegally in speakeasies, dancing provocatively to the Charleston, and listening to the sexy rhythms of jazz music.

However, the entrenched image of the 1920s as a sort of nationwide, decade-long party—à la the movable feast enjoyed by Jay Gatsby, an iconic figure of the age—obscures a very different reality for many Americans: the Roaring '20s left nearly half the country behind. 

The 1920 Census revealed that for the first time in United States history, a majority of Americans lived in cities. Still, throughout the decade, well over 40% of the country's population resided on farms and in tiny rural communities. 

And down on the farm? Life was anything but roaring.

For American farmers, the Great Depression began not with the stock market crash in 1929, but with the collapse of agricultural prices in 1920. So, the entire decade of the 1920s was a time of poverty and crushing indebtedness, leading to ever-rising foreclosures of family farms. More than 90% of American farms lacked electricity, and the proportion of farms with access to a telephone actually decreased over the course of the decade.8 

Yikes.

Furthermore, rural Americans—overwhelmingly native-born, white Protestants—found the modern, sexualized, multi-ethnic culture of the cities deeply offensive to their traditional beliefs. 

Their antagonism toward the perceived cultural excesses of the Roaring '20s fueled a political backlash that allowed a resurgent Ku Klux Klan to take over several state governments. It was anti-Black as always, but now also anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic, anti-evolution, anti-drinking, and anti-sex.

The story of the 1920s is embodied no more by Henry Ford or Louis Armstrong than it is by Ed Jackson, Ku Klux Klansman, and the Governor of Indiana. The 1920s roared with a clash of civilizations as Americans struggled to reconcile the prosperous modernity of the city with the impoverished traditionalism of the country.

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