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In the post World War I era, the American economy saw enormous growth fueled by consumerism. What made consumerism possible? What new types of products were introduced? What was the appeal of consumerism? Did industry create demand, or meet an already existing demand, or both? Explain your response.

The 1920′ took concept of celebrity to new heights. People were made famous on a national level for their ability to perform and entertain. What new technologies made the growth of celebrity possible? Who were some of the people that benefited from these new ways to become famous “influencers” of their age?

What innovations were made in the areas of mass production in the 1920s? How were consumer goods made more efficiently and inexpensively than had been the case in previous times? Provide some examples.

After a decade of explosive economic growth and prosperity, the Market Crash of 1929 ushered in the Great Depression. How did the Depression impact Americans? What financial practices contributed to the Depression? Why did the Depression last more than a decade? Why couldn’t the floundering economy be easily fixed?

ROARING TWENTIES
TO GREAT DEPRESSION
1920-1932
THE NEW ER A
• Rejection of Progressivism in favor of free
enterprise
• Period named itself (not historians)
• “The business of America is
is business”
• Calvin Coolidge
HARDING’S ADMINISTRATION
• Appointed friends and industrialists to government post
• Unemployment was 20% in 1920
• Harding eliminated regulations, raised tariffs, and
pushed through farm subsidies and price protections
HARDING’S
OHIO GANG
• Harding’s staff
accumulated multiple
criminal indictments
• Albert Fall and Teapot
Dome
• Accepted $400,000 in
oil lease bribes
• Harding’s heart attack on
an Alaskan trip made
Calvin Coolidge president
• Video:
https://www.youtube.com
/watch?v=XjL-uE4lSvI
CALVIN COOLIDGE
“The man who builds a factory builds a
temple, the man who works there
worships there” Calvin Coolidge
• Favored tax cuts and relaxation of
regulations for business
• Courts ruled against “closed shops” and
minimum wage laws
AMERICA AND THE WORLD
• U.S. became chief financier of the world
• Americans invested in war torn Europe
• American culture invaded Europe
• Washington Disarmament Conference sought to limit naval power globally
• Scrapped 2 million tons of warships without the U.S joining the League
of Nations
• 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact renounced war
• Signed by nearly 50 nations
• Dawes plan gave Germany economic relief and reversed the French
occupation of the Ruhr Valley
• Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RDNdcdFbSk
NEW INDUSTRIES
• Automobile industry became center of American
economy
• Creating supporting industries
• Supporting manufacturing
• Filling stations
• Guest cottages
• Fast Food
• Construction
MASS PRODUCTION
• Pioneered by Henry Ford
• Borrowed from meatpacking industry
• Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4KrIMZpwCY
WELFARE
CAPITALISM
• Improved employee benefits
• Sought to provide things so
they employees would be
happy and keep unions out
• Henry Ford was leading
proponent
Video:
https://www.youtube.com/wa
tch?v=hiMXQsq8Jl8
CONSUMERISM
• Economy grew, per capita income increased 1/3, prices
remained stable
• Mass production introduced new products
CONSUMPTION WAS FUELED
BY PRODUCTION
• Employees should be able to afford the products they
produce
• Installment buying gave Americans access beyond their
means of direct purchase
• “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without” no
longer reflected the value system that now believed that
“the first responsibility of an American to his country is
no longer that of a citizen, but a consumer”.
ROARING 20’S
• America took the sexual origins of behavior discussed by
Freud and felt it was a natural compulsion to act on those
urges without the repression of previous generations
• Morals were relaxed to a new generation
1920S CULTURE
1920S CULTURE
MASS CULTURE
• America embraced jazz
• Movie theaters were
drawing audiences of 80
million per year
• Professional sports
captured the imagination of
Americans
• By 1929 606 radio stations
broadcast into 10.6 million
homes
HOLLYWOOD
CELEBRITIES
THE
EIGHTEENTH
AMENDMENT
• Took effect January 1920
• Boost production
• Eliminate crime
• “Bootleggers” helped
Americans break the
law
• Contributed to rise of
crime with 200 Chicago
gang related deaths in 4
years, Al Capone was
reputed to be making
$60 million per year
THE NEW WOMEN
• Drank, smoked, danced, partied, and was educated
• 19th Amendment granted the right to vote in 1920
• Male dominated politics still undermined the political activism
of women
• Women divided between equal and separate protection
• ¼ of American women worked for pay
• Women’s income fueled consumerism
• Women challenged the double standard, resistance to birth
control, and the concept of “separate spheres” of influence.
URBAN
BLACK
AMERICA IN
THE 1920’S
• Post war cheers turned to
hardship and race riots in urban
centers
• NAACP pursued anti-lynching laws
• Marcus Garvey encouraged blacks
to maintain racial purity and
supported the back to Africa
movement
• 1920’sblack population in Harlem
double to 327,000
• Proclaimed black genius and the
emergence of a clearly defined
African American culture
• Artists like Langston Hughes,
Zora Neale Hurston, and Aaron
Douglas explored the black
experience in poetry, literature,
and art in what became known
as the Harlem Renaissance
• White Americans ventured into
Harlem at night to hear
authentic black jazz at venues
like the Cotton Club
THE LOST
GENERATION
• Felt alienated by America’s
mass culture
• Sought solace in a Europe
recovering from the trauma
of war
• Sparked a period of creativity
in American Literature
• Ernest Hemmingway – The
Sun Also Rises
• Sinclair Lewis – Main Street
• F. Scott Fitzgerald – This
Side of Paradise
• William Faulkner – The
Sound and the Fury
NATIVISTS R ESIST CHANGE
• Largely an Anglo, rural phenomena
• Abstinence, hard work, and self denial were the backbone of the Republic
• Immigration resumed though Blacks and Mexicans had already filled the war time labor
void
• Johnson-Reid Act imposed a 2% immigration quota
• Excluded all Asians outright
• Nativism peaked with the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti
1920’S KU
KLUX KLAN
• Revived on heels of Birth of a
Nation
• Proclaimed 100%
Americanism
• Nativists appeal to preserve
racial heritage and family
values attracted nearly 4
million members
• Klan crippled by lawlessness
and new racist laws
• Grand Dragon David
Stephenson kidnapped and
raped a women who
committed suicide
SCOPES TRIAL
POLARIZED URBAN
AND RURAL AMERICA
• Pitted William Jennings
Bryan against Clarence
Darrow in a courtroom
drama as to the guilt or
innocence of John
Scopes on the issue of
Evolution in the
schools
1928 ELECTION
• A strong economy directed
attention to social issues
• Prohibition
• Immigration
• Urban/Rural conflict
• Religion
• Catholic Alfred E. Smith
campaigned on The Sidewalks of
New York
• Campaigned against the KKK
and Prohibition
• Herbert Hoover was the
epitome of Morality, Efficiency,
Service, and Prosperity and won
PRESIDENT HOOVER
• Herbert Hoover upon inauguration
declared his ambition of ending poverty
• Former head of Food Administration
• Secretary of Commerce under Harding and
Coolidge
• Sought to progressively address the needs of
business and labor
• Wanted a nation of employed, financially
secured homeowners and farmers
THE DISTORTED ECONOMY
• U.S. prosperous but of little help to post war Europe
• Created cycle of circular debt
• American tariffs hurt foreign sales
• American banks extended foreign credit to stimulate trade
• Farmers in cycle of high debt and low profits
• 2/3’s of Americans lived on less than the $2000 year poverty level
• Top 1% of the population received 15% of the wealth and Hoover
rewarded them with tax breaks
• Credit fueled economy for a while
• By mid decade new construction slowed and sales dropped
THE CRASH
OF 1929
• Buying on margin contributed to crash
• Stocks purchased with a fraction of the
cost down
• As prices go up, on paper people had
enough to cover the margin loans
• Investors began selling off overvalued
stocks on October 24, 1929
• J.P Morgan Jr. infused $100 million in
assets to shore up the market
• Markets continued to sell on Black
Tuesday, October 29, 1929, and
continued in a downward spiral for the
next half year losing 7/10’s of its overall
value
• The economic balloon was already
hissing its way empty, but the market
crash caused it to burst.
• Video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehy
2jEeNuWk
POST CRASH HOOVER
• Supported government intervention
• Attempted a business/labor bargain to keep plugging along
• Decreased demand signaled slowing production
• Agricultural Marketing Act provided $500 million to buy up surpluses
• Urged Passage of the Hawley-Smoot Tariff to protect American
production
• Reconstruction Finance Corporation became the “millionaires dole”
• Authorized Red Cross aid
• “Loaned” money to states
DEPRESSION
• 1929 national income was $88 billion, by 1933 it was $40 billion
• Unemployment climbed from 3.1% to 25%
• 9000 bank closings resulted in 2.5 billion in lost deposits
• The steel industry was operating at 12% of capacity
• Hopeless masses scavenged for food as hobos rode the rails and America starved amid plenty
• Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqx2E5qIV9s
RURAL POVERTY
• Wartime demand of agricultural products
intersected with new production technologies
• Demand from Europe continued after WWI
• Farmers invested in production to meet
demand and accumulated a surplus
• Demand wavered and farmers were unable to
meet their debt
• Farms were lost and farm families became
migrants
• WWI had stimulated economic, technological
and social change
• The era of the Roaring Twenties saw prosperity,
and new labor saving and amusement
technologies
• Time for fun with entertainments, both spectator
and participatory
CONCLUSION
• Black Americans established a unique culture
contributing to an American identity
• Nativism reinforced fear and rejection of the
foreign “other” that failed to recognize the
positive contributions of successive waves of
immigration
• The prosperity was short lived as poorly
thought-out investment strategies intersected
with decreasing demand as industrialization
exceed consumer wants and needs

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