The Roaring Twenties

Roaring Twenties


Changes in working conditions

Mass conmmerism


The New Economy

Decline of European econ = US wealth

-American businesses = corporation and consolidation OR trade association

-Welfare Capitalism

-avoids trade union and dissent

-company creates unions, workers’ councils, committees

-only worked as long as the company was successful (ergo, not successful)

2/3 of Americans lived @ “minimum comfort level”

½ of them lived below “subsistence and poverty”

Pink Collar Jobs: low-paying service jobs dominated by women. Not part of AFL

In the West, labor is also very unorganized

The “American Plan” –crusade for the open shop (Union busting)

Supreme court decisions:

1921—Picketing is illegal

1922—Justice Dept. may intervene

1924—protection for United Mineworkers refused


Becoming more mechanized, and it begins to decline. Farmers demand “parity”


The New Culture


-Cars = freedom

-Advertising becomes adept at selling a way of life rather than a product (The Man Nobody Knows)

Growth of Hollywood, the MPAA

-New religions

-followers of Harry Emerson Fosdick = Christianity is a full personality

-middle class was abandoning religion for consumerism

-decline of the self-made man

-Disenchanted youth and increasing materialism

-The Harlem Renaissance


-still highly limited

-behaviorists encourage mothers to leave children in the care of others à companionate marriages, birth control

-Flappers = young independent women who acted uncharacteristically “masculine”

-Feminism (NWP, LWV, ERA, Alice Paul, Margaret Sanger)

  • “Lost Generation”: criticized materialism of 1920s – F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, H. L., Mencken, Sinclair Lewis, William Faulkner, Gertrude Stein
  • Icons: Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth
  • The “Jazz Age”: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington
  • Conservative politics under Harding, Coolidge andHoover: 1920-1932
    • Harding’s conservative agenda (continued by Coolidge)
      • Belief that purpose of gov’t is to make business more profitable
      • Conservative “Old Guard” idea of laissez faire
      • Tax cuts for wealthy, “trickle down” theory (Andrew Mellon)
      • Anti-trust laws not enforced
      • Prominent businessmen occupy top cabinet positions
      • Federal gov’t not responsible for helping ordinary citizens (state and local gov’t responsibility)
      • Rejected programs to help farmers
      • Rejected public control of electricity (Muscle Shoals)
      • Exception: Hoover was a progressive; head of Dept. of Commerce
  • Harding scandals: Teapot Dome, etc.


Culture Clash

Prohibition: “noble experiment”

Progressives = wets ; Protestants = drys

1921—Congress passes a law restricting immigration

1924—National Origins Act of 1924

The new KKK focuses on immigrants. Inspired by DW Griffiths’ Birth of a Nation

Scopes Monkey Trial: isolates fundamentalists from the mainstream


Traditionalists Modernists
Econ conservatives Liberals
Republicans Democrats
Drys Wets
KKK (Nativists) Immigrants/women’s rights
Religious fundamentalists Mainstream protestants
“rugged individualists” collectivism
Paternalistic Maternalistic
Old New/young

But, unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. In accordance with the boom-and-bust cycle, the Roaring Twenties came to an abrupt end known as the Great Depression.


2 responses to “The Roaring Twenties

  1. Pingback: Map of the US History Guide | Surviving High School: A Hypocrat in a Perpetual State of Procrastination·

  2. Pingback: WWI | Surviving High School: A Hypocrat in a Perpetual State of Procrastination·

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