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Roaring 20s

Roaring 20s

The Roaring 20s refers to the "golden" decade of growth between 1920 - 1930 in post-war America. America in the 1920s was full of prosperity, growth, and was considered a crossroad of the traditional and modern. Such as the Fundamentalists of "old school" religion clashing with the Modernists of new religion. Standard of living rose greatly, and for the first time, more of the population lived in urban areas, rather than in the rural farms. The decade of 1920 brought forth many positive changes in America that altered it to meet the changes of society. The so-called "roaring 20s" of the 1920s America can be seen as an accurate portrayal of America, for America was becoming a contemporary society; America began progressing at a rapid pace. The decade of the 1920s included many changes, inventions, and developments which transformed a traditional American society into a modern American society- a society in which the conflict of traditional v. modern had lasting effects on American society. Such cultural changes which conflicted with past tradition would include the invention of the automobile, the changing role of women, the role of science and religion, as well as new technology that were introduced and furthered in the decade of the "roaring 20s". [12]

Around this period, America was bouncing back from the recession of war. In this post-war America, America slowly began to make progression after the First World War. Henry Ford perfected the assembly-line production to where this famous Rouge River Plant was producing a finished automobile every ten seconds. Sports were buoyed by people like home-run hero Babe Ruth and boxers Jack Dempsey and Georges Carpentier. In 1929, when the bull market collapsed, 26 million motor vehicles were registered in the United States, or 1 car per 4.9 Americans. New industries came about as a result from the automobile- industries such as tires, cloth/fabric, roads (construction), and glass. These were all from the result of the "roaring 20s"- a period of rapid growth and modernization in America. [10]

Moreover, the "Roaring 20s" can be described as an "era of excess." During the decade of the 20s, the automobile spurred 6 million people to new jobs and took over the railroad as king of transportation. New roads were constructed, the gasoline industry boomed, and America’s standard of living rose greatly. Americans now enjoyed greater personal freedom, and Americans began traveling more. Before the invention of the automobile, the vast majority of the population lived their lives within 50 miles of where they were born. In addition, the invention of the radio furthered the technological changes and improvements brought about from the decade of the 20s. With the invention of the motion picture, movies came into play, and quickly became popular. In addition, Fundamentalists of religion conflicted with the modernists of Christianity. Modernists emphasized a literal interpretation of the Bible, and attacked Darwin's theory. This modern way of thought was brought about from the progression of the 1920s. Culturally, the 20s decade gave way to feminists who actively campaigned for birth control, as well as new dancers called "flappers" who danced to jazz, and dress more revealingly. The Rockefeller Foundation promoted better public health- Better nutrition and healthcare increased life expectancy from 50 to 59 years by 1920. Culturally, the 20s brought forth many changes- progression which contributed to the "golden age" of the 1920s. [15]

Furthermore, social, and economic changes were also ongoing during the "roaring 20s". Socially, The 1920s was a decade of profound social changes. The most obvious signs of change were the rise of a consumer-oriented economy and of mass entertainment, which helped to bring about a "revolution in morals and manners." Sexual mores, gender roles, hair styles, and dress all changed profoundly during the 1920s. Many Americans regarded these changes as liberation from the country's Victorian past. But for others, morals seemed to be decaying, and America seemed to be changing in undesirable ways. The result was a thinly veiled "cultural civil war." Economically, tariffs on exported goods increased greatly. Businessmen did not want Europe flooding American markets with cheap goods after the war, so Congress passed the Fordney-McCumber Tariff Law, which raised the tariff from 27% to 35%. Therefore, countries from Europe could not pay back debts from war. This led to greater economic independence of America, as well as economic growth. From 1926 to 1929, America experienced tremendous growth of the economy. Stock prices continuously rose, as more and more Americans began to invest. [14]

However, some historians believe that the "Roaring 20s" was not a time of prosperity and growth, possibly due to several factors. One might have been the failure of prohibition- but in actuality, absenteeism in industry decreased; and Americans began to drink less. In addition, Immigration restrictions might have seen as a negative aspect of the 1920s. However, Americans were simply responding to the red scare, and their own protection, and their goal- to protect and preserve the American way of life. Additionally, there was a return to isolationism in America. There was a desire to avoid diplomatic involvement with foreign countries, as well as economic isolation- which led to the increase in the tariff. However, Americans did not want to get involved with foreign affairs after a war they were recently involved with. Isolated as a foreign power, they were still able to grow and prosper immensely. [10]

In retrospect, in the "Roaring 1920s", the US was a land of endless opportunity. The US had emerged from the First World War as an economic power. Many Americans experienced a prosperity that had been rarely existed in the world. A booming market, expanding production, rising national income, and a higher standard of living brought forth a golden age of American culture. Countless changes including the role of women, science and religion, technology and the introduction of the automobile changed American society, and its values; it led to conflict (conflict between traditional American values and modern American thinking) and had lasting effects on America as a whole.


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