1920s Research Paper

Submitted By Ant0698
Words: 3850
Pages: 16

Anthony Millan
Br. Baker
APUSH Period 3
9 March 2015 America During the 1920s The 1920s was a great time period for America. The world was changing at it was time for America to change as well. There were many aspects of America's society that would undergo change. These aspects included rural and urban life, nativism and immigration laws, labor unrest, crime, music, the liberated women, car and airplane revolutions, and the role of the movies. These changes in American society would shape the nation for years to come. The decade began with the landslide presidential election. Republican Warren Harding defeated Democrat James Cox by an electoral vote of 404 to 127. This was the largest point differential until Franklin Roosevelt in 1936. Harding was chosen as the man to lead the country during their change and when he died in 1923 that responsibility was handed over to Calvin Coolidge. He would be the president who really kicked off the time of change in the U.S. During the 1920s, urbanization continued to accelerate. For the first time, more Americans lived in cities than in rural areas. "New York City was home to over 5 million people in 1920. Chicago had nearly 3 millionThroughout the 1920s"1, Americans found themselves caught between urban and rural cultures. "Urban life was considered a world of anonymous crowds, strangers, moneymakers, and pleasure seekers."2 Rural life was considered to be safe, with close personal ties, hard work and morals. One example of the clash between city & farm was the passage of the 18th Amendment in 1920. This Amendment launched the era known as Prohibition. Wages rose as well. Between 1920 and 1929, the average per capita income rose 37 percent. At the same time, the consumer price index, a measure of the cost of basic necessities such as food and housing, remained steady. As a result, urban wage earners saw their standard of living improve. "In the 1920s, a booming economy and high wages lured workers to urban areas such as New York City."3 Cities offered steady jobs and freedom to explore new ways of thinking and living. Cities also offered freedom to explore new ways of thinking and living. City dwellers could meet people from different cultures, go to movies, visit museums, and attend concerts. They could buy and read an endless variety of magazines and newspapers. They could drink, gamble, or go on casual dates without being judged as immoral. Rural Problems: Falling Crop Prices and Failing Farms The personal freedom people experienced in cities stood in strong contrast to small-town life. In rural areas, most people lived in quiet communities, where they watched out for one another. New ideas and ways of behaving were often viewed with suspicion. In addition to losing their younger generation to cities, rural communities faced other problems during the 1920s. Farmers had prospered during the war, producing food crops for the Allies and the home front. Enterprising farmers had taken out loans to buy new machines or extra land in hopes of increasing their output and profits. The most ambitious of these measures, the McNary-Haugen Bill, was first introduced in 1924. This legislation called on the federal government to raise the price of some farm products by selling surplus crops overseas. Congress passed the bill twice, in 1927 and then in 1928, but President Calvin Coolidge vetoed it both times. A strong opponent of the government's interference in markets, the president dismissed the McNary-Haugen Bill as "preposterous."4
Nativism did not diminish with the end of the war. Indeed, the martial psychology of 1917–1918 intensified in the face of postwar domestic dislocations, the apparent menace posed by the Bolsheviks, and, most important, the sudden loss of unity and purpose fostered by war. "War is the health of the state,"5 Randolph Bourne averred cynically, but with peace American democracy suffered anew. The Red Scare of 1919–1920 reflected anxiety at the racial violence,