The Roaring Twenties was an epoch in and around the 1920s that was punctuated by sustained prosperity in various spheres of Western society. For this assignment, a list of significant events that took place during this age will be listed and categorized as Economic, Social or Political. Furthermore, each incident will be connected to what was happening in American History at the time while paying attention to the specific details.
- Prosperity (Economic)
During the 1920s, the United States experienced extraordinary economic success. The end of the Great War (1914-18) brought with it factors necessary for sound economic growth. Financial capital was available and was combined with new technologies to transform American industries. Cheap labor was provided by refugees fleeing persecution in Europe, although this also led to the “Red Scare” during which the American public was living in fear of infiltration by Russian operatives keen on spreading communism.
- Organized Crime (Social)
Systematic and unlawful activities carried out for the sole purpose of making a profit soon became a noticeable hallmark of the Roaring Twenties. By now, it had surpassed the regional scale and was keen on becoming a national plague. Labor racketeering, the rise of the Mafia and crime syndicates soon became the norm in a majority of American cities as a response to the Prohibition Era (1919-33). Bartolomeo Vanzetti, Ferdinando Nicola Sacco and Al-Capone were notable figures during this period and were viewed by the Federal government as hazards to civility.
- Consumer Goods (Economic)
The unprecedented prosperity that was evident in the United States during the Roaring Twenties led to an increase in middle-class Americans with nascent patterns of consumption. Consumer goods such as clothing, beauty products and cars now became commonplace. Access to credit also made it possible for the average American to purchase these goods that were now quite affordable(Moore 67). In particular Henry Ford’s T- Model car brought ripple effects through the growth of the restaurants, oil, rubber and hotel industry. It was also during this period that radio waves were used for communication while the commercialization of air transport improved transportation.
- Freedom (Political)
The United States was founded on a foundation of freedom and liberty for all its citizenry. Under this premise, political changes were effected in the 1920s to realize this dream. The 19th Amendment was introduced which guaranteed women of the right to vote. In addition to this, there was an increase in initiatives to educate women on political matters since the Equal Rights Amendments had been introduced in 1923. It was also during this period that women started donning the flapper and used it as a symbol of their womanhood and independence.
- New Music and Dance (Social)
A shift in the American psyche meant that they could now focus more on the arts. Original music and dance became popular during this era with artists incorporating integration in their works. Phenomenon such as the Harlem Renaissances occurred during the Roaring Twenties were African American dancers, poets, authors and musicians demonstrated a level of solidarity and support for one another. Jazz was viewed as a tool that would be used to break down racial barriers and was expertly exploited by Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith and Duke Ellington.
- Prohibition (Social)
The ban on the manufacture, conveyance and sale of alcoholic liquors came into effect through the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution and marked the beginning of the Prohibition Era. Historical pundits trace its origin to the temperance movement, disappointed by the ineffectiveness of the Volstead Act. Both federal and local governments made concerted efforts to enforce it while using agencies such as the Internal Revenue Authority (IRS) as allies. Bootlegging and the rise in illegal bars (“speakeasies”) soon dealt a blow to these efforts and led to an increase in organized crime.
- Republicanism (Political)
Conservatism was also quite common during the Roaring Twenties. At its center were small governments that based their success on the sainthood of a chosen leader and the economic policies that they passed. Three Republican presidents were elected to office during the 1920s and, even though controversial, won with a majority landslide. Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover all had conservative backgrounds and promised to bring economic recovery after the ravages of the First World War (1914-18).
- Political Scandals (Political)
Public concern also grew during the Roaring Twenties and was as a result of the Scandals that rocked President Warren G. Harding’s administration. Cronyism had crept into the highest echelons of power where senior associates of the president were accused of underhand dealings and corruption. The infamous “Teapot Dome” event marked the climax of these scandals with many of the indicted tied to illegal schemes to fleece the government. Nevertheless, the election of President Calvin Coolidge was meant to change this state of affairs and restore the federal government’s respect and credibility.
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