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American Stories:
A History of the United States
Second Edition
Transition to
Modern America
American Stories: A History of the United States, Second Edition
Brands • Breen • Williams • Gross
On the assembly line at Ford’s River Rouge plant,
workers performed repetitive tasks on the car
chassis that moved by at a rate of 6 feet per
minute. (Source: From the Collections of Henry
Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, Neg. #
Transition to Modern America
The Second Industrial Revolution
City Life in the Roaring Twenties
The Conservative Counterattack
Republican Politics
Conclusion:The Old and the New
Wheels for the Millions
• 1920s: Factories turn out flood of
automobiles, electrical appliances
• Material abundance
• But many cling to traditional ways
The Second Industrial Revolution
The Second Industrial Revolution
• U.S. developed the highest standard of
living in the world
• The 1920s and the second revolution
 Electricity replaced steam
 Modern assembly introduced
The Automobile Industry
• Auto makers stimulated sales through
model changes, advertising
• Auto industry fostered other businesses
• Autos encouraged suburban sprawl
Patterns of Economic Growth
• New technologies meant new
industries: radio and motion pictures
• Structural change
 Professional managers replace individual
 Corporations became the dominant
business form
• Marketing and national brands spread
Patterns of Economic Growth
• Big business weakened regionalism,
brought uniformity to America
• Traditional industries, agriculture are
hard hit
• Wages only raise 11 percent during
• Rewards go to managers, Upper,
City Life in the Roaring Twenties
City Life in the Roaring Twenties
• Rapid increase in urban population
• Skyscrapers symbolized the new mass
• Communities of home, church, and
school were absent in the cities
Women and the Family
• Ongoing crusade for equal rights
• “Flappers” sought individual freedom
• Most women remained in domestic
• Discovery of adolescence
 Teenaged children no longer needed to
 Indulged their craving for excitement
After passage of the Nineteenth Amendment,
activist Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party
continued to fight for women’s equality. Here, 50
NWP members visit the White House to request
President Harding’s support for equal rights
Popular Culture in the Jazz Age
• Sports, like golf and baseball, became
much more part of national popular
• Decade was notable for obsessive
interest in celebrities like Charles
Lindbergh and Gertrude Ederle
• Sex became an all-consuming topic of
interest in popular entertainment
New dances were introduced on the dance floors of
ballrooms and clubs in the 1920s jazz era. One of
the most popular new dances was the Charleston—
a dance associated with the rebellious image of the
“flapper.” Here, two daring flappers dance the
Charleston on the roof of Chicago’s Hotel Sherman
in 1926
The Conservative Counterattack
The Conservative Counterattack
• Rural Americans identified urban
culture with Communism, crime,
• Progressives attempted to force reform
on the American people
 Upsurge of bigotry
 An era of repression
The Fear of Radicalism
• 1919: “Red Scare”
 Illegal roundups of innocent people
 Forcible deportation of aliens
 Terrorism against “radicals,” immigrants
• 1927: Sacco and Vanzetti executed
The explosion in Wall Street on September 16,
1920, left 33 dead and nearly 200 wounded.
Attorney General Palmer saw the blast as the work
of a communist conspiracy, but relatively few
Americans subscribed to his view.
• 18th Amendment gave federal
government power to pass Volstead Act
of 1920 that prohibits production, sale,
or transport of alcoholic beverages
• Consumption of alcohol reduced
• Prohibition resented in urban areas
• Bootlegging became big business
• 1933: 18th amendment repealed
The Ku Klux Klan
1925: Klan membership hit 5 million
Attack on urban culture, inhabitants
Defense of traditional rural values
Klan sought to win U.S. by persuasion
Violence, internal corruption resulted in
Klan’s virtual disappearance by 1930
A 1925 Ku Klux Klan demonstration in Cincinnati,
Ohio, attended by nearly 30,000 robed members
and marked by the induction of 8,000 young boys
in the Junior Order. The original Klan, formed
during the Reconstruction era to terrorize former
slaves, disbanded in 1869. The Klan that formed in
1915 declined after the mid-1920s but did not
officially disband until 1944.
Immigration Restriction
1924: National Origins Act
150,000 person quota on immigration
Quotas favored northern Europeans
Mexican immigrants exempted from
The Fundamentalist Challenge
• Fundamentalism: Stress on traditional
Protestant orthodoxy, biblical literalism
• 1925: Scopes Trial discredited
fundamentalism among intellectuals
• “Modernists” gained mainline churches
• Fundamentalists strengthened
grassroots appeal in new churches
Republican Politics
Republican Politics
• Republican party apparently dominant
• Urban wing of the Democratic party
emerged as the most powerful force
Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover
• Republican presidents appealed to
traditional American values
• Harding scandals triple after his death;
Teapot Dome Scandal: Sec. of Interior,
Albert Fall, took bribes and loan
• Coolidge represented America in his
austerity and rectitude
• Hoover represented the self-made man
A New Kind of Conservatism
• Return to "normalcy"
 Tariffs raised
 Corporate, income taxes cut
 Spending cut
• Coolidge blocked Congressional aid to
farmers as unwarranted interference
• Government-business cooperation
The Election of 1928
• Democrat Al Smith carried urban vote
 Governor of New York
 Roman Catholic
• Republican Herbert Hoover won race
 Midwesterner
 Protestant
The Election of 1928 (cont’d)
• Religion the campaign’s decisive issue
• Hoover won easily but Smith won
majority for Democrats in largest cities
Map 25.1
Conclusion: The Old and the New
The Old and the New
• Old historical view: The Depression
ended the spirit of the twenties
• New historical view: The twenties laid
the foundations of modern America