February 11, 2015
The Roaring Twenties: Why? Many people can argue that either pop culture or prohibition or the economy caused the name, the Roaring Twenties, for the 1920s. Then again, many people can also argue that the chicken came before the egg or vice versa. It would be simpler to agree that it was a combination of all three but that’s not fun. Although pop culture and prohibition did play a part for the name, it is the economy of the time that really gave the 1920s its name, since the economy was a huge “roaring” rollercoaster. In the end, this was bad for the United States because it triggered the Great Depression, “the worst economic collapse in the history of the modern industrial world” (“The Great Depression”). After World War I, the United States’ economy went a bit downhill due to its convergence of war to peace. During the war, farmers didn’t have to worry because the government subsidized farm prices to keep them going. However after the war, subsidizing ended but production didn’t, causing farmers bankruptcy and to go into poverty (The Roaring 20’s). This, along with other factors, caused the economy to go down at first. Nonetheless, the economy did flourish and rise. Although World War I caused farmers to lose money, the government in general became very rich because of the war. Since at the time Europe was a disaster financially with all the chaos that had just occurred, they relied on the United States for support. European countries didn’t have much money so they got loans from the U.S. and used those loans to buy resources from the U.S. giving the U.S. great wealth (“U.S. Economy in World War I”). This is a great example of the economy being a “roaring” rollercoaster, with it going down, then back up. It may not seem like much of a rollercoaster at this point, but it gets better. Another factor that greatly helped the economy during the 1920s was the automobile and the introduction of electrical appliances such as the refrigerator and toaster. By 1929, half of all American families owned an automobile. Industries, such as Ford, Chrysler, and Harley Davidson, that are still here today became extremely wealthy and helped the United States’ economy rise even further (The Roaring 20’s). Credit had been introduced which was revolutionary for people because now they could buy things they couldn’t afford at the time. Electrical appliances such as the washing machine, which helped the average family get chores done faster, were now “affordable” and people would have more free time to go spend even more money on things. Not only did it make those industries rich, it really helped boost the economy of the United States in total. On the other hand, at least it seemed so that way since people weren’t really paying for what they were buying (Littel, 427). Now, the “rollercoaster” has progressed further into an upward slope.
It is noticeable that not a lot of people would agree with the economy at the time being the cause for the name, but that's understandable. Some would argue pop culture was the cause, with Jazz popping up and taking the twenties by an uproar, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Everything always leads up to the economy whether it's intentional or not. With Jazz flaring up, many people began holding parties and going to places that played Jazz and bought phonographs and radios so they could listen (“Mass Entertainment”). This led to people spending money and people spending money makes the economy thrive. On the other hand, prohibition also affected the economy but not for the best. Yes, prohibition led crime rates to go up and all the violence that was going on could also be a good reason for the name, the “Roaring Twenties”, but prohibition also caused the economy harm. With prohibition, many people thought