Essay on Dbq 17: a National Clash of Cultures in the 1920’s

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DBQ 17: A National Clash of Cultures in the 1920’s

With the arrival of the 1920’s, new battles fought between traditionalist rural society and modernist urban civilization arose in the postwar United States. These urban-rural culture wars of this time period represent the everlasting conflict between conservatives and liberals. The 1920 census demonstrated to traditionalists that their views were under attack by the modernists who gradually came to outnumber them. Traditionalists were disturbed that they were losing a battle against immigrants who didn’t understand or appreciate “old American values” and against their own children, a new generation of rebellious youth who brought about sexual revolution, materialism, and skepticism.
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Members of the Lost Youth heightened it with their suggestive dancing and odd behavior. Some young women came to be known as flappers, who cut their hair short and dressed in a way that traditional values wouldn’t accept. Edward J. Tobin, a school superintendent, believed that with the assistance of liquor and automobiles they were responsible “for the destruction of human society” (document 4). With the introduction of automobiles, the world of technology could only magnify on the use of electricity. But with the presentation of these new products, came a sense of materialism and greed that the new generation capitalized on. The Lost Youth bought state-of-the-art electronics and went to the picture shows more than ever before. Cartoons published by conservative newspapers demonstrated the traditional beliefs of frugality and gratefulness (document 6). These technological advances were condemned by the traditionalist rural people, as they had less access to such things. This wasn’t just a desire for material wealth but it also for true knowledge. The ‘20’s was an era of skepticism that allowed for ideas like evolution to develop. Evolutionary theories were fiercely fought by the rural traditionalists, as is evidenced by the Tennessee v. Scopes trial. Scopes, a simple biology teacher, was convicted of teaching against Fundamentalism. Frederick Lewis Allen described the case as “a battle between Fundamentalism” and “twentieth century