The roaring twenties life & culture in america in the 1920s end of wwi & Victory Parade

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End of WWI & Victory Parade

  • WWI ends November, 1918
  • US Celebrates the victory with parades in NYC.
  • 4+ million soldiers return home from being mobilized in the war

Strikes & Labor Unrest

  • Strikes - workers refusal to work unless their demands are met.
  • 1919 - 4 million workers went on strike.
  • Famous strikes:
    • Boston Police Strike, 1919
    • No. Indiana Steelworkers, 1919
    • United Mine Workers Coal Mine Strike, 1919
  • The Roaring Twenties
  • “ A Return to Normalcy”
  • Almost But First…………………
  • 1919- Spanish Flu Pandemic
  • Killed 22 Million people Worldwide
  • ( 2X the number of war deaths)
  • Killed 675,000 Americans
  • ( 7X the number of US war deaths)
  • Americans want to go back to Isolationism

“Red Summer” of 1919

  • Car bombings, Wall Street, NYC
  • Strikers were subject to hysteria, prone to begin riots.
  • Fearful of pro-communist actions against the American capitalist system.
  • Fearful of south & eastern European immigrants.
  • No Private ownership of business.
  • Workers own Everything collectively
  • 1924- Russia changes its name to U.S.S.R.
  • (Union of Soviet Socialist Republic)
  • Capitalism
  • An economic system based on private
  • property and free enterprise.

Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer

  • Responsible for the US’ 1st “Red Scare”.
  • “Palmer raids” - rounded up Soviet immigrants, deported or detained them.
  • ACLU founded by U. Sinclair & Jane Adams.
    • Provided legal assistance to victims of Palmer’s tactics.

“Red Scare”

  • Patriotic Americans saw Communism behind union organizers and every labor protest
  • Anti Immigrant feelings were at an all time high.
  • Bombs Sent to Palmer & Other Gov. Officials
  • -10,000 Suspected Communists & Anarchists Arrested
  • -249 Deported to Soviet Union

Sacco & Vanzetti Trial

  • Sacco & Vanzetti
  • -Italian Immigrants & Anarchists
  • -Convicted of Murder w/out Much Evidence
  • -Reflects both Nativism & Anti-Radicalism
  • -Controversial Execution

Ku Klux Klan Comeback

  • 1924- Membership is 4.5 million
  • 1925 - KKK march in Wash. D.C. 40,000 man march
  • Devoted to “100 Percent Americanism” Anti- immigrant, black, Jews, Catholic, and Communists!!

Race Riots

  • WWI sparked the “Great Migration” of African-Americans to northern cities
  • This led to conflicts with whites over jobs and housing, esp. as white soldiers returned
  • Chicago, 1919

Marcus Garvey

  • Leader of African Americans in 1920s.
  • Back to Africa movement: Marcus Garvey believed that African Americans should build a separate society (Africa) and he hoped to take them back to Africa & return with imports/products to trade with in the US


  • In 1914, Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association
  • Garvey claimed a million members by the mid-1920s
  • He left a powerful legacy of black pride, economic independence and Pan-Africanism


  • During the 1920s, urbanization continued to accelerate
  • New York City was home to over 5 million people in 1920;
  • Chicago had nearly 3 million

This became Warren G. Harding’s campaign slogan when he accidentally messed up the word, “Normality”

  • This became Warren G. Harding’s campaign slogan when he accidentally messed up the word, “Normality”
  • Americans loved it and elected him in 1920
  • “ A Return to Normalcy”
  • Warren G. Harding
  • elected in 1920

Fighting the Recession

  • After WWI, 2 million soldiers were looking for work
  • Factories were closing because they were no longer getting orders for wartime goods from European nations
  • Demobilization
  • Demobilization-the process of reducing a nation's
  • armed forces from combat-ready status.

Republicans Rule the 1920s

  • All the presidents of the 1920s were Republican
  • Warren G. Harding 1921-1923 (died in office)
  • Calvin Coolidge 1923-1929
  • Herbert Hoover 1929-1933
  • Washington Naval Conference 1921-1922
  • Disarming the world’s navies!
  • Helping the world get along! PEACE
  • 1928-Kellogg-Briand Pact-
  • Germany, France and U.S. promise
  • not to use war to resolve disputes
  • Ahhh Peace is Here!!! Finally!
  • “Hopeful that, encouraged by their example, all the other nations of the world will join in this humane endeavor and by adhering to the present Treaty as soon as it comes into force bring their peoples within the scope of its beneficent provisions, thus uniting the civilized nations of the world in a common renunciation of war as an instrument of their national policy”
  • -Section of the Kellogg-Briand Pact

Harding’s Ohio Gang

  • President Harding’s Cabinet “ Ohio Gang”
  • was subjected to mismanagement & corruption.
  • $125k & Hundreds of cattle were give in the form of a bribe.
  • Conviction, 1 year in jail sentence.
  • Teapot Dome, Wyoming
  • He secretly leased them to private oil companies
  • Teapot Dome Scandal
  • 1921 - Albert B. Fall gained control of government oil fields in…

Vice President Coolidge swearing in.

  • Warren G. Harding died August 2nd, 1923.
    • Harding was ill from eating tainted crabs while on a trip to Alaska & California.
    • He was also suffering from bronchial pneumonia or he was poisoned.
  • Calvin Coolidge, Harding’s VP was sworn into office on a farm in Vermont, by his father, a notary public at 2:30 am, August 3, 1923.
    • He was re-sworn the next day in Washington D.C. by a Supreme Court Justice.
    • He was on vacation with family during the summer of 1923.
  • Calvin Coolidge- 1923

The President Coolidge way

  • President Coolidge was a devout family man.
    • Enjoyed spending time with family vs. time with political leaders from around the country & the world.
  • Averaged a 4-hour work day.
  • He was one not to indulge in the extravagance of the 1920’s lifestyle.
  • He was Pro business, as the US economy improved, Coolidge advocated more & more that government should be guided by business principles & practices.

Calvin Coolidge as President

  • “Silent Cal” spoke and spent little (Harding loved to throw parties and give long speeches)
  • He forced corrupt officials to resign
  • He was re-elected in 1924 with the slogan “Keep Cool With Coolidge”
  • Pro-Business!!

From War Goods to Consumer Goods

  • 1. Coolidge cut regulations on businesses
  • 2. Americans’ incomes rose
  • 3. People began to buy refrigerators, radios, vacuums, and other appliances
  • 4. Businesses began to advertise their products

Buying on Credit

  • Installment Plans= Buying on Credit (Buy now, pay later, worry later)
  • Demands for goods jumped, but so did Americans’ debt
  • “If we want anything, all we have to do is go and buy it on credit. So that leaves us without any economic problems whatsoever, except that perhaps some day to have to pay for them.”
  • –Comedian Will Rogers

Soaring Stock Market

  • By the late 1920s, more people were investing in the stock market
  • People became rich overnight
  • Bull Market: Period of rapidly increasing stock prices
  • Prices of stocks rose more quickly than the value of the companies themselves


  • Reformers had long believed alcohol led to crime, child & wife abuse, and accidents
  • Supporters were largely from the rural south and west
  • The church affiliated Women’s Christian Temperance Union helped push the 18th Amendment through
  • Poster supporting prohibition


  • 1917 - Congress passed the 18th Amendment
    • Ratified( Passed) in 1919
  • “Bootlegging” Liquor
  • “Speak-Easies”
  • 1933 - Congress passed 21st Amendment
    • Ending Prohibition.


  • Many Americans did not believe drinking was a sin
  • Most immigrant groups were not willing to give up drinking
  • To obtain liquor illegally, drinkers went underground to hidden saloons known as speakeasies
  • People also bought liquor from bootleggers who smuggled it in from Canada, Cuba and the West Indies


  • Prohibition contributed to the growth of organized crime in every major city
  • Chicago became notorious as the home of Al Capone – a famous bootlegger
  • Capone took control of the Chicago liquor business by killing off his competition
  • Al Capone was finally convicted on tax evasion charges in 1931


  • Eventually, Prohibition ended, because the Govt. failed to budget enough money to enforce the law
  • The task of enforcing Prohibition fell to 1,500 poorly paid federal agents --- clearly an impossible task
  • Federal agents pour wine down a sewer


  • Many felt Prohibition caused more problems than it solved
  • The 21st Amendment finally repealed Prohibition in 1933
  • By the mid-1920s, only 19% of Americans supported Prohibition


  • There was a clash between fundamentalist religious groups and secular thinkers over the truths of science.
  • Fundamentalists found all truth in the bible – including science & evolution
  • Fundamentalism-The Protestant Christian movement grounded in the literal interpretation of the Bible.


  • In March 1925, Tennessee passed the nation’s first law that made it a crime to teach evolution
  • The ACLU promised to defend any teacher willing to challenge the law – so John Scopes did
  • Scopes was a biology teacher who taught his students that man derived from lower species


  • The ACLU hired Clarence Darrow, the most famous trial lawyer of the era, to defend Scopes
  • The prosecution countered with William Jennings Bryan, the three-time Democratic presidential nominee
  • Darrow
  • Bryan


  • Trial opened on July 10,1925 and became a national sensation
  • In an unusual move, Darrow called Bryan to the stand as an expert on the bible – key question: Should the bible be interpreted literally?
  • Under intense questioning, Darrow got Bryan to admit that the bible can be interpreted in different ways
  • Nonetheless, Scopes was found guilty and fined $100
  • Bryan
  • Darrow
  • Trial should be remembered for getting Christians
  • to consider if they believed the Bible was literal or
  • not, and should public schools control what students
  • can or cannot learn.
  • Despite the guilty verdict, Darrow got the upperhand during his questioning of Bryan

Role of Women

  • Women won the right to vote:
    • 19th Amendment, 1920
  • Change in fashion
    • “Flappers”
    • Short Skirts, short hairdos
    • Lipstick

Women Gain the Right to Vote

  • Carrie Chapman Catt set up the League of Women Voters
  • It tried to educate new women voters.


  • The fast-changing world of the 1920s produced new roles for women
  • Many women entered the workplace as nurses, teachers, librarians, & secretaries
  • However, women earned less than men and were kept out of many traditional male jobs (management) and faced discrimination
  • Early 20th Century teachers


  • Women were becoming more independent and achieving greater freedoms (right to vote, more employment,driving cars)
  • Chicago 1926


  • During the 1920s, a new ideal emerged for some women: the Flapper
  • A Flapper was a free spirited young woman who embraced the new fashions and urban attitudes

The Dance Craze

  • The Charleston
  • Has a quick beat
  • Dancers kick out their feet
  • Popular dance for Flappers

More Fads

  • Flagpole sitting: Where young people would sit for hours and even days on top of a flagpole. (The record: 21 days!)
  • Marathon Dancing-Don’t stop until you are the last one dancing.


  • American birthrates declined for several decades before the 1920s
  • During the 1920s that trend increased as birth control information became widely available
  • Birth control clinics opened and the American Birth Control League was founded in 1921
  • Margaret Sanger and other founders of the American Birth Control League - 1921

Changing Lifestyles Due to the Automobile

  • Many Americans began to move to the suburbs to escape crowded conditions in cities


  • During the 1920s, developments in education had a powerful impact on the nation
  • Enrollment in high schools quadrupled between 1914 and 1926
  • Public schools met the challenge of educating millions of immigrants


  • I am not authorized to fire substitute teachers.
  • I will not spank others.
  • I will not aim for the head.
  • I will not barf unless I'm sick.
  • I will not expose the ignorance of the faculty.
  • I saw nothing unusual in the teacher's lounge.
  • I will not conduct my own fire drills.
  • Funny noises are not funny.
  • I will not snap bras.
  • I will not fake seizures.
  • This punishment is not boring and pointless.
  • My name is not Dr. Death.
  • I will not defame New Orleans.
  • I will not prescribe medication.
  • I will not bury the new kid.
  • I will not teach others to fly.
  • I will not bring sheep to class.
  • A burp is not an answer.
  • Teacher is not a leper.
  • Coffee is not for kids.
  • I will not eat things for money.
  • I will not yell "She's Dead" at roll call.
  • The principal's toupee is not a Frisbee.
  • I will not call the principal "spud head."
  • Goldfish don't bounce.
  • Mud is not one of the 4 food groups.
  • No one is interested in my underpants.
  • I will not sell miracle cures.
  • I will return the seeing-eye dog.
  • I do not have diplomatic immunity.
  • Organ transplants are best left to professionals.
  • The Pledge of Allegiance does not end with "Hail Satan."
  • I will not celebrate meaningless milestones.
  • There are plenty of businesses like show business.
  • Five days is not too long to wait for a gun.
  • I will not waste chalk.
  • I will not skateboard in the halls.
  • I will not instigate revolution.
  • I will not draw naked ladies in class.
  • I did not see Elvis.
  • I will not call my teacher "Hot Cakes."
  • Garlic gum is not funny.
  • They are laughing at me, not with me.
  • I will not yell "Fire" in a crowded classroom.
  • I will not fake my way through life.
  • Tar is not a plaything.
  • I will not Xerox my butt.
  • It's potato, not potatoe.
  • I will not trade pants with others.
  • I am not a 32 year old woman.
  • I will not do that thing with my tongue.
  • I will not drive the principal's car.
  • I will not pledge allegiance to Bart.
  • I will not sell school property.
  • I will not burp in class.
  • I will not cut corners.
  • I will not get very far with this attitude.
  • I will not belch the National Anthem.
  • I will not sell land in Florida.
  • I will not grease the monkey bars.
  • I will not hide behind the Fifth Amendment.
  • I will not do anything bad ever again.
  • I will not show off.
  • I will not sleep through my education.
  • I am not a dentist.
  • Spitwads are not free speech.
  • Nobody likes sunburn slappers.
  • High explosives and school don't mix.
  • I will not bribe Principal Skinner.
  • I will not squeak chalk.
  • I will finish what I started.
  • I will not use abbrev.
  • "Bart Bucks" are not legal tender.
  • Underwear should be worn on the inside.
  • The Christmas Pageant does not stink.
  • I will not torment the emotionally frail.
  • I will not whittle hall passes out of soap.
  • Wedgies are unhealthy for children and other living things.
  • I do not have power of attorney over first graders.
  • I am not the reincarnation of Sammy Davis Jr.
  • I am not certified to remove asbestos.
  • "Bagman" is not a legitimate career choice.
  • I will not retransmit without the express permission of Major League Baseball.
  • I will remember to take my medication.
  • The boys room is not a water park.
  • Beans are neither fruit nor musical.
  • Nerve gas is not a toy.
  • "Bewitched" does not promote Satanism.
  • The First Amendment does not cover burping.
  • Ralph won't "morph" if you squeeze him hard enough.
  • Cursive writing does not mean what I think it does.
  • No one wants to hear my armpits.


  • As literacy increased, newspaper circulation rose and mass-circulation magazines flourished
  • By the end of the 1920s, ten American magazines -- including Reader’s Digest and Time – boasted circulations of over 2 million


  • Although print media was popular, radio was the most powerful communications medium to emerge in the 1920s
  • News was delivered faster and to a larger audience
  • Americans could hear the voice of the president or listen to the World Series live


  • Becomes a big Business/Entertainment
  • “Heros”
    • Baseball: Babe Ruth & Ty Cobb
    • Boxing: Jack Dempsey


  • In 1929, Americans spent $4.5 billion on entertainment (includes sports)
  • People crowded into baseball games to see their heroes
  • Babe Ruth was a larger than life American hero who played for the NY Yankees. Home Run Slugger!!


  • Charles Lindbergh made the first nonstop solo trans-atlantic flight
  • He took off from NYC in the Spirit of St. Louis and arrived in Paris 33 hours later to a hero’s welcome

“The Jazz Singer”

  • 1927 musical film. 1st full length feature motion picture, using synchronized dialogue.
  • “Talkies” film.


  • Even before sound, movies offered a means of escape through romance and comedy
  • First sound movie: The Jazz Singer (1927)
  • First animated with sound: Steamboat Willie (1928)
  • By 1930 millions of Americans went to the movies each week
  • Walt Disney's animated Steamboat Willie marked the debut of Mickey Mouse. It was a seven minute long black and white cartoon.

Movies & Film

  • Douglas Fairbanks
  • Clara Bow
  • Lillian Gish
  • Mary Pickford
  • Comedy Stars
  • Charlie Chaplin
  • Buster Keaton
  • Harold Lloyd
  • Fatty Arbuckle
  • Laurel and Hardy


  • Famed composer George Gershwin merged traditional elements with American Jazz
  • Painters like Edward Hopper depicted the loneliness of American life
  • Georgia O’ Keeffe captured the grandeur of New York using intensely colored canvases
  • Gershwin
  • Hopper’s famous “Nighthawks”
  • Radiator Building, Night, New York , 1927 Georgia O'Keeffe


  • The 1920s was one of the greatest literary eras in American history
  • Sinclair Lewis, the first American to win the Nobel Prize in literature, wrote the novel, Babbitt
  • In Babbitt the main character ridicules American conformity and materialism

20’s Writers

  • Writer F. Scott Fitzgerald coined the phrase “Jazz Age” to describe the 1920s
  • Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby
  • The Great Gatsby reflected the emptiness of New York elite society

The Lost Generation

  • Ernest Hemingway, wounded in World War I, became one of the best-known authors of the era
  • His simple, straightforward style of writing set the literary standard
  • The Old Man and the Sea, The Sun also Rises, For Whom The Bell Tolls,
  • Hemingway - 1929


  • Some writers such as Hemingway were so soured by American culture that they chose to settle in Europe
  • In Paris they formed a group that one writer called, “The Lost Generation”
  • John Dos Passos self – portrait. He was a good amateur painter.


  • Edith Warton’s Age of Innocence dramatized the clash between traditional and modern values
  • Willa Cather celebrated the simple, dignified lives of immigrant farmers in Nebraska in My Antonia


  • Between 1910 and 1920, the Great Migration saw hundreds of thousands of African Americans move north to big cities
  • By 1920 over 5 million of the nation’s 12 million blacks (over 40%) lived in cities
  • Migration of the Negro by Jacob Lawrence


  • Founded in 1909, the NAACP urged African Americans to protest racial violence
  • W.E.B Dubois, a founding member, led a march of 10,000 black men in NY to protest violence


  • Harlem, NY became the largest black urban community in the US
  • In the 1920s, it was home to a literary, musical and artistic revival known as the Harlem Renaissance
  • Harlem suffered from overcrowding, unemployment and poverty later in the 20th Century which tarnished its reputation.

Harlem Renaissance Poets

    • Claude McKay: From Jamaica, wrote the poem, “If We Must Die” that condemned lynchings.
    • Countee Cullen: Taught high school in Harlem, wrote of the experiences of African Americans

Langston Hughes

  • Most well-known of the Harlem Renaissance poets
  • -Also wrote plays, short stories, and essays
  • -Encouraged African Americans to be proud of their heritage
  • -Protested racism and acts of violence against blacks
  • “The night is beautiful,
  • So the faces of my people.
  • The stars are beautiful,
  • So the eyes of my people.
  • Beautiful also, is the sun.
  • Beautiful also, are the souls of my people.”
  • -Langston Hughes, “In My People”


  • Zola Neale Hurston wrote novels, short stories and poems
  • She often wrote about the lives of poor, unschooled Southern blacks


  • During the 1920s, black actors won large followings
  • Paul Robeson, son of a slave, became a major actor.


  • Jazz was born in the early 20th century
  • In 1922, a young trumpet player named Louis Armstrong joined the Creole Jazz Band
  • Later he joined Fletcher Henderson’s band in NYC
  • Armstrong is considered the most important and influential musician in the history of jazz


  • In the late 1920s, Duke Ellington, a jazz pianist and composer, led his ten-piece orchestra at the famous Cotton Club
  • Ellington won renown as one of America’s greatest composers


  • Bessie Smith, blues singer, was perhaps the most outstanding vocalist of the decade
  • She achieved enormous popularity and by 1927 she became the highest- paid black artist in the world

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