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Table of Contents

Celebrities------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1 Scopes Trial----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2 Credit and Installment Buying----------------------------------------------------- 3 Henry Ford and the Assembly Line----------------------------------------------- 4 Immigration Tensions---------------------------------------------------------------- 5 Sports------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 6 Racial Tensions------------------------------------------------------------------------- 7 Women get the Vote----------------------------------------------------------------- 8 Music------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 9 Consumerism------------------------------------------------------------------------- 10 Life Before Talkies------------------------------------------------------------------- 11 The 18th Amendment------------------------------------------------------------- 12 Dating---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 13 Economic Boom--------------------------------------------------------------------- 14 Transportation----------------------------------------------------------------------- 15 Post War Disarmament------------------------------------------------------------ 16

The Influence of Celebrities The 1920’s were the era when the traditional celebrity was born. This was due to the popularization of mass media like radio and movies. People all over the nation could watch and listen to the same things, and this created a national culture never seen before in America. This culture was shaped by the celebrities. These celebrities ranged from movie stars to sports players, and were idolized by much of America. This era was monumental for women, because they were gaining more equality to men, and independence of their own. With this new independence, flappers were born. These were young women who wore short skirts, had short hair, and didn’t follow the traditional role of a woman. Celebrities gave these women role models to look to, because they were independent and stylish. Many people from older generations looked down on these people for their disregard of tradition, but the flappers didn’t care. There were many different kinds of celebrities in America in the 1920’s. They were famous for their music, acting, and so much more. People in America were able to bond through the work of these people. Today, celebrities are still a large part of our pop culture, much as they were back in the 1920’s.

The Monkey Trial In the summer of 1925, a monumental trial made the small town of Dayton, Tennessee, very famous. It was State vs. John Scopes, or more commonly known as “The Monkey Trial”. It was famous because it challenged the state’s law on teaching the theory of evolution. At the time, it was illegal to teach evolution in 15 states, including Tennessee. These laws were very controversial, because while some people believed that they should teach creationism from the bible rather than evolution, others thought this went against the first amendment. The trial began with George Rappalyea, a 31 year old man from New York, deciding to take up an offer from the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU said that they would assist anyone willing to challenge the anti-evolution laws by providing financial support, creating publicity, and recruiting people for the defense team. Rappalyea convinced town leaders that the trial would be good for Dayton, by attracting more people to the deteriorating city. They agreed, but they needed to find someone to be tried for breaking the law. John Scopes was a biology teacher at a high school in Dayton, and agreed to say that he was teaching evolution and to be prosecuted for breaking the law. Many people came to the town to watch the trial, and it was broadcast over radio. The ACLU helped recruit many people for the defense team, like Clarence Darrow, an almost seventy year old atheist lawyer. Some were wary that he would turn the trial into an attack on Christianity rather than on the Tennessee law. The head of the prosecution was William Jennings Bryan, who had helped pass all of the anti-evolution laws. Towards the end of the trial, Darrow was asked if he had any more evidence to add. He decided to call Bryan to the stand as an expert on the Bible. What followed was a questioning that was considered the best and most monumental of the time. Bryan’s testimony allegedly ruined his reputation, because it was considered a victory for Darrow. Darrow asked questions that Bryan wasn’t prepared for or had an answer to. Despite this victory, Darrow asked that Scopes be found guilty, so that the case could be appealed to the Tennessee Supreme Court. Scopes was fined $100, and the case was appealed, but when it went to the Supreme Court, there was an error in the trial that meant the appeal couldn’t go through. Fourty-three years later, the laws were declared unconstitutional in Epperson vs. Arkansas.

Credit and Installment Buying Many people thought of the 1920’s as an era of prosperity and wealth, but the economic boom of the country came at a cost. Often, people were going into debt through their spending, and this helped lead into the Great Depression. One major way that all of this consumerism was promoted was through credit and installment buying. Both were easy options that helped people buy expensive items, but sometimes the helping was just an illusion. Buying things with credit was common in department stores and grocery stores, and in larger forms at banks. In stores, people would get the things that they wanted, and not pay for it until a certain time when they would pay off all of the things that they’d bought at once. This was helpful so that people wouldn’t have to carry around money all the time. Banks would loan out money to people so that they could buy expensive things, then pay back the banks over a period of time. In both cases, there would often be a fee added to the loan, so that the stores could make more money. Installment buying was similar to the loans that banks gave out. Someone would buy something expensive, like a car or new appliance, and pay the company small amounts over a period of time. This made it easier for middle-class families to afford big things. Also like credit, there would often be a fee added on to help the company make more money. Most companies would target women in their advertisements for credit and installment buying, because the women of the household would determine how money was spent. They decided what groceries to buy, or if an appliance was broken. Sometimes, no matter how good the deal or how small the payments, credit and installment buying would put families into debt. Then, by missing payments, they’d go farther into debt. This was a large part of the causes of the Great Depression.

Henry Ford and The Assembly Line Henry Ford was a genius. He created the assembly line which allowed for mass production and made the car affordable for almost everyone. Since he made high profits from the high selling rates of his cars, he raised the wages of his workers to $5, which was very good. Everyone wanted to work for him because his wages were good and he was good to his workers. His interchangeable parts allowed him to lower the prices of his cars even more. Other companies had their parts slowly handmade and each car was different, causing the prices to be way out of reach for most people. Mass production of the Model T inspired other companies to try this new way of making their products. From Henry’s legacy, the nation’s car making business was completely changed.

Immigration Tensions The KKK was also against immigrants because they weren’t “pure American”. Immigration got to be such a problem that an act was passed in 1921 that limited immigration, though it excluded Asian immigrants. Some people believed that reducing immigration would help lower urban overpopulation. People also thought that it would help solve ethnic relations. The acts passed against immigration limited the number of immigrants allowed into our country each year. The first act, which was passed in 1921, limited the number to 375,000 people. The second act, which was passed in 1924, limited the number to 164,000 people. After a few more years, people convinced Congress to lower the limit to 150,000 people.

Impact of Sports on America Due to the fact that many industries in the United States had started to accept the rule of the eight-hour workday and five-day work week, many Americans were starting to have more free time to fill. A popular way to do this in the 1920s was by either participating in or watching sports. Many spectator sports started drawing in many loyal fans, making it become a very large business. These sports also drew in attention by publishing events in newspapers, magazines, on the radio, and by other forms of mass media. During the 1920s, many athletes became very popular. Babe Ruth was a baseball player who commonly hit home runs, making the game more exciting. During his career, he had 72 games where he hit two or more homeruns. Gertrude Ederle was the first woman to swim the English Channel, beating the men’s record by almost two hours. Helen Wills was America’s top tennis player for eight years. There were also many more athletes who made their sport more exciting, causing sports to become a huge national pastime in America.

Racial Tensions There were a lot of racial tensions in the 1920s and a lot of groups tried to rid America of the different races. The KKK was a big thing back then, though it wasn’t the original KKK that was in power, it was a different one that had been formed in 1915. This group wasn’t just against African-Americans; it was against any whites that tried to help the KKK’s target groups in any way. The KKK was also against those of different religions. The KKK burned houses, lynched people, and beat people sometimes to death. Not all racial tensions had to do with the KKK or in the south. There were also a lot of problems in the north. Whites saw African-Americans as job stealers. Many whites joined the KKK and other groups to try and rid the country of the African-Americans who were working towards better jobs and treatment.

Women Get the Vote After several years of protesting, marching, and changing congress and President Wilson’s minds, women finally got the vote. On August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment went through the final stage of ratification. The battle for getting the vote was harder than anticipated. The beginning of women’s suffrage happened in the mid-19th century. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and other women started what is now known as the National Women’s Suffrage Association. Getting the vote for women wasn’t easy. To encourage congress, women marched in parades, had silent vigils, and would even starve themselves to show their support for the cause. Most people at the time were not in favor of women getting the vote. The right place for a woman was in the home and the idea of women voting was unheard of. Most women supported the suffrage movements because they wanted equal rights as men. However, women weren’t treated with respect during their fight for the vote. Women were heckled, jailed, and abused while trying to fight for the vote. Fortunately, the price these women had to pay was worth it.

Swing That Music! Go to New York in the 1920’s and you’ll find a little town called Harlem. When you get there, listen to the swinging rhythm of the trumpets playing jazz and the happy people dancing at the speakeasies. Right here in the 1920’s was the Harlem Renaissance and the heart of the Jazz Age. In the early 1920’s, classical was the main musical genre that people listened to. When jazz came into the picture, it took the sophisticated style of classical music by storm. This music was mostly played at clubs and speakeasies. Young people loved the swing and exciting style of jazz, while the older generation thought that this new form of music made them lose their morals. After the Great Migration happened and African-Americans came to the North, Harlem quickly became the spotlight for African-American artists, particularly musicians. The Harlem Renaissance was a hit for African-American musicians. Several big name musicians like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Bessie Smith got their big break from this era. African- Americans’ finally were able to express themselves freely through their music and this also became a step for them to gain more rights.

Consumerism After World War 1, American’s in the 1920’s now had something they didn’t have during the war. Free time. This meant that instead of working or doing chores, they had time to go spend their money on fun things. Consumerism greatly impacted the economy and what American’s did in their free time. A few items that American’s greatly spent on were radios, automobiles, and movie tickets. Radios became a common household item in the American home. They broadcasted news, songs, and daily shows. All across America, people could hear the same songs and the same news. Before the 1920’s, only the wealthy could afford to drive cars. Henry Ford made it possible for the working class to afford the luxury of driving a car.

Life Before Talkies In the Roaring Twenties, silent films were all the rage. The actors were idolized and adored, coveted by the common people. They lasted for short amounts of time, though—In fact, they were typically expected to last a mere 5 years in the business. This was because the people would tire of seeing the same faces, no matter how beloved they were. This caused the actors to create more eccentric images, and that may be why the Roaring Twenties was so wild. Sometimes the actors were so showy that it was detrimental to their career. An example of this character is Mae Murray in the show French Doll. In this film, Ms. Murray flaunts her money and beauty, as well as her femininity, in a show that is seen as offensive to some more conservative folks. It made her seem less decent, even though she was wellloved for her dancing and beauty. Child and animal actors began to become famous in the 1920’s. Rin-Tin-Tin, the heroic dog star, and Rex the horse were personified animals made to charm the audience. Similarly, Jackie Coogan, a five year old actor, starred in the movie The Kid. He kept up a good career until his teen years, where he lost popularity. Baby Peggy was the “prototype of Shirley Temple,” a popular child film character later in the business. An example of an adult actor would be Gary Cooper. He started as an extra in silent film cowboy Westerns, then progressed into a talkie actor, co-starring with Marlene Dietrich in Morocco. He ended with a very successful career, unlike most former silent film stars. In this way, he is unique. In the Roaring Twenties, when silent films attracted millions to the theaters, people kept their experiences with them for life.

The 18th Amendment On August 1st 1917 congress passed a law not banning the consumption of alcohol, but prohibiting the sale and distribution of it, making it very difficult to obtain alcohol legally. This lead to increased crime rates, and gang violence. One of the most famous mob bosses was Al Capone, a mob boss who lead the Chicago outfit, a prohibition crime gang. The ban increased the demand of alcohol, creating the gangs. Prisons were filled up, and crime rates were higher than ever and the prohibition organized gangs kept going. This lead to the 21st amendment which then made it legal to distribute and sell alcohol again.

Dating in the 1920s

In the 1920s, dating was a lot less formal. There were no chaperones, and they required a lot less formal commitment between the couple. Dates consisted of things like movies, dancing, and going out driving. If two people were “dating” It would be called a “steady” or ‘going steady” A name for a woman who would go out into the city in search of a rich husband was called a gold digger, and there were a lot of them back then. The “flapper” was also created. A flapper is a young woman, who usually drank or smoke, that was independent, brash, and “naughty.” They would leave their family on the farm, and move to the big city, where they would hope to find a husband. Flappers changed the attitudes of what was socially acceptable.

Economic Boom During the economic boom, new businesses and companies were created. Wages and pay was slowly rising. Farmers banded together and incorporated their farms, allowing bulk purchases. Shoppers were able to buy large items such as pianos, fridges, washing machines and even cars. Installment buying was common. Installment buying is when you agree to take the item first, and then pay over a set amount of time. This then lead to lots of debt, that people couldn’t afford to pay off.

Forms of Transportation

During the 1920s, many inventions revolutionized the way people got around. One of these inventions was the assembly line. This invention made it easier to make more items faster and for less. By 1921, there were over ten million cars in America. This caused the government to spend $75 million on road maintenance and construction in America. In 1927, Henry Ford supplied his fifteen millionth “Tin Lizzie” car. Cars weren’t the only way people got around. In the 1920s, trains, planes, airships, and ocean liners were also popular. Trains and ocean liners were the dominant mass transportation methods at that time. In 1927, Charles “Lucky Lindy” Lindebergh was the first man to complete a solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. In 1921, the number of passengers carried by railroads reached an all-time high. Transportation means often proved the wealth of some people. The higher-end cars in the 1920s were considered to be Chryslers, de Dions, Franklin Sports Coupés, and Dusenbergs. There were also some forms of transportation that provided entertainment. Car racing became popular in the 1920s. The racing cars at that time were Mercedes, Bugattis, and Maseratis. In 1927, Major H.O.D. Seagrave was the first man to go over 200 miles per hour in a car.

Post-war Disarmament

In 1921, eight nations were represented in Washington D.C. for the Washington Naval Conference. On February 6th, 1922, the Five Power Treaty was signed. The countries that agreed to it were the United States, Great Britain, Japan, Italy, and France. In it, they agreed to a set ratio of warship tonnage. To achieve this, the countries stopped producing capital ships and started scrapping older ships. At that time, the three major naval powers of the world were the United States, Great Britain, and Japan. Despite this, all of these countries recognized the financial cost if they were to get into a naval arms race. However, even though they agreed to reduce the number of large warships they had, they started making even more smaller ships and submarines. Due to this, the United States’, Great Britain’s, and Japan’s navies continued to grow.

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American studies  

By: Benjamin, Brandon, Sam, Annie, Audrey and Lily