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Presentation on theme: "LIFE & CULTURE IN AMERICA IN THE 1920S"— Presentation transcript:

The Roaring Twenties LIFE & CULTURE IN AMERICA IN THE 1920S

2 America at the Start of the Decade
Victorious in World War I Treaty of Versailles defeated Period of isolationism Republican ascendancy By the dawn of the 1920s, the United States had emerged from World War I as one of the world’s superpowers; however, it remained unwilling to accept the role of world leader. President Woodrow Wilson fell short of his goal of “making the world safe for democracy” with the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations when the Senate rejected the treaty. Without a U.S. presence in the League of Nations, the international organization lacked the credibility needed to maintain world peace. Unwilling to consider the possibility of sending U.S. soldiers into another foreign war, most Americans favored an isolationist policy in dealing with international affairs. The election of Warren Harding in 1920 began a period of Republican Party dominance that lasted throughout the decade: from 1921 until 1933, Republicans controlled both the White House and Congress.

3 Americans on the Move 1920s: Urbanization still accelerating
New York 5 million Chicago 3 million

4 Demographical Changes
Migration North African Americans moving north at rapid pace. Struggles: Faced hatred from whites Forced low wages

5 URBAN VS. RURAL Farms started to struggle post-WWI.
6 million moved to urban areas Urban life was considered a world of anonymous crowds, strangers, moneymakers, and pleasure seekers. Rural life was considered safe, with close personal ties, hard work and morals.

6 THE TWENTIES WOMAN After the tumult of World War I, Americans were looking for a little fun in the 1920s. Women were independent and achieving greater freedoms.

7 THE FLAPPER Challenged the traditional ways.
Revolution of manners and morals. A Flapper was an emancipated young woman who embraced the new fashions and urban attitudes.

8 NEW ROLES FOR WOMEN Early 20th Century teachers Many women entered the workplace as nurses, teachers, librarians, & secretaries. Earned less than men and were prevented from obtaining certain jobs.

9 PROHIBITION One example of the clash between city & farm was the passage of the 18th Amendment in 1920. Launched era known as Prohibition Made it illegal to make, distribute, sell, transport or consume liquor. Prohibition lasted from 1920 to 1933 when it was repealed by the 21st Amendment

Sinful activity? Reaction by immigrants Speakeasies Bootleggers All of these activities became closely affiliated with … smuggled liquor from Canada, Cuba and the West Indies Reaction by immigrant groups were not willing to give up drinking Speakeasies

11 Al Capone was finally convicted on tax evasion charges in 1931
ORGANIZED CRIME Prohibition contributed to the growth of organized crime in major cities Al Capone Chicago, Illinois famous bootlegger 60 million yr (bootlegging alone) Al Capone was finally convicted on tax evasion charges in 1931

12 Why was Prohibition difficult to enforce?
People were not prepared to stop drinking alcohol. People enjoyed it. Why so difficult? There were hardy any prohibition agents to enforce the law. There were more Speakeasies in Chicago than agents in the USA. BOOTLEGGERS could easily smuggle alcohol into the country. The border with Canada was far too large to patrol. Gangsters like Al Capone paid policemen and judges etc (CORRUPTION) to make sure they weren't arrested

By the mid-1920s, only 19% of Americans supported Prohibition Many felt Prohibition caused more problems than it solved The 21st Amendment repealed Prohibition in 1933

14 The Rise of Nativism Controlling Immigration Sacco and Vanzetti Case
Emergency Quota Act 1921 National Origins Act of 1924 Sacco and Vanzetti Case Rise of the KKK

15 Ku Klux Klan Colonel William J Simmons Attacks against:
Revived organization in 1915 1922: enrollment 4 million Attacks against: African Americans Catholics Jews immigrants

Fundamentalists vs. Secular thinkers A Protestant movement - literal interpretation of the bible is known as fundamentalism Fundamentalists found all truth in the bible – including science & evolution

17 SCOPES TRIAL In March 1925, Tennessee passed the nation’s first law that made it a crime to teach evolution The ACLU promised to defend any teacher willing to challenge the law – John Scopes did Scopes was a biology teacher who dared to teach his students that man derived from lower species

18 SCOPES TRIAL The ACLU hired Clarence Darrow, the most famous trial lawyer of the era, to defend Scopes The prosecution countered with William Jennings Bryan, the three-time Democratic presidential nominee.

19 SCOPES TRIAL Trial opened on July 10,1925
Darrow called Bryan to the stand as an expert on the bible. Bryan admitted that the bible can be interpreted in different ways Scopes was found guilty and fined $100

20 Mass Media Increases in Mass media Methods of communication. Radio
Magazines Newspaper Movies Newspapers: 27 million to 39 million Increase of 42% Motion Pictures: 40 million to 80 million Increase of 100% Radios: 60,000 to 10.2 million Increase of 16,983%

Literacy increased in the 1920s… as a result Newspaper and magazine circulation rose. By the end of the 1920s… 10 American magazines -boasted circulations of over 2 million a year. Tabloids created

22 RADIO COMES OF AGE Radio becomes the most powerful communications medium to emerge in the 1920s. News was delivered faster and to a larger audience. Americans could hear the voice of the president or listen to the World Series live.

23 Popular Culture of the 1920’s
Sports Baseball (Babe Ruth) Boxing (Jack Dempsey) The rise of Hollywood Silent movies (Charlie Chaplin) By the end of the decade movies had sound Radio Played Jazz music News Amos n’ Andy

Movies offered escapism through romance and comedy First sound movies: Jazz Singer (1927) First animated with sound: Steamboat Willie (1928) By 1930 millions went to the movies each week. Walt Disney's animated Steamboat Willie marked the debut of Mickey Mouse. It was a seven minute long black and white cartoon.

25 ART OF THE 1920s Georgia O’ Keeffe Edward Hopper
Radiator Building, Night, New York , 1927 Georgia O'Keeffe Georgia O’ Keeffe captured the grandeur of New York using intensely colored canvases

26 Modern American Art Edward Hopper Displayed realism in his paintings
Paintings conveyed a modern sense of disenchantment and isolation

27 WRITERS OF THE 1920s “Lost Generation” Ernest Hemingway
F. Scott Fitzgerald Paradise Lost The Great Gatsby Ernest Hemingway The Sun Also Rises A Farewell to Arms “Lost Generation” F. Scott Fitzgerald coined the phrase “Jazz Age” to describe the 1920s Fitzgerald wrote Paradise Lost and The Great Gatsby The Great Gatsby reflected the emptiness of New York elite society Ernest Hemingway, became one of the best-known authors of the era In his novels, The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms, he criticized the glorification of war Moves to Europe to escape the life in the United States. “Lost Generation” (Gertrude Stein) Group of people disconnected from their country and its values. His simple, straightforward style of writing set the literary standard

28 F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) This Side of Paradise
Published at age 24 he became an overnight celebrity read by aspiring flappers and their lovers, who displayed a bewildered abandon toward life. The Great Gatsby (1925) depicted the glamour and cruelty of an achievement-oriented society.

29 Ernest Hemingway ( )             Fought in WWI on the Italian front in 1917. Among the writers most affected by the war. Responded to propaganda and overblown appeal of patriotism Novels The Sun Also Rises (1926) -- wrote of disillusioned, spiritually numb American expatriates in Europe. Farewell to Arms (1929) -- One of the finest novels in any language about the war experience.

30 The "Lost Generation" After WWI, a new generation of writers Their works often conveyed resentment of ideals betrayed by society. Writers F. Scott Fitzgerald Ernest Hemingway Sinclair Lewis T.S. Eliot

31 Sinclair Lewis ( ) Chronicled Midwestern life from his home in Minnesota. Works Mainstreet (1920) -- Story of one woman’s unsuccessful war against provincialism. Babbitt (1922) -- Affectionately pilloried George F. Babbitt, a prosperous vulgar, middle-class real estate broker who slavishly conformed to the respectable materialism of his group.

32 Poetry T.S. Eliot Carl Sandburg "The Waste Land" (1922)
One of the most influential poems of the century. “The Hollow Men” (1926) described a world filled with empty dreams He foresaw a world that would end “not with a bang but a whimper Carl Sandburg Used common speech in his poems Poems glorified the Midwest and the expansive nature of American life.

33 MUSIC OF THE 1920s Jazz Blues George Gershwin Duke Ellington
Cotton Club Blues George Gershwin merged traditional elements with American Jazz. Someone to Watch Over Me Embraceable You I Got Rhythm

34 1920s DANCING Charleston Swing Dancing Dance Marathons

35 HEROES OF THE 20s In 1929, Americans spent $4.5 billion on entertainment. (includes sports) People crowded into baseball games to see their heroes Babe Ruth was a larger than life American hero He hit 60 homers in 1927.

36 LINDBERGH’S FLIGHT May 27, 1927: first nonstop solo trans-Atlantic flight. Spirit of St. Louis NYC - Paris 33 ½ hours later – (no auto pilot) $25,000 prize

37 How has the 1920s impacted the America that we live in today?


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