Unit 6
“Coping with Change”
Many features of contemporary
American Life may be traced back to the
1920s. Indeed, this decade marks the
dawn of the modern era. This chapter
explores how different groups of Americans
responded to technological, social, and
cultural changes that could be both exciting
and threatening.
Mass Society, Mass Culture
• Q: What social developments underlay
the 1920s’ mass culture, and how did
they affect American life and leisure?
• Q: What were the criticisms of this new
“mass culture”?
Hobble Skirt
Before Cars
After Cars
Unit 6
“Coping with Change”
Why did your author start
the chapter with a
story about
Rudolph Valentino?
After the war = clash in values!
New Morality
all about personal freedom
Old school traditionalists
New Morality
•Young & Modern.
•Worked and spent money on music, fashion,
and other entertainment
•Urban (cities- it’s where the action is)
•Very Religious: they believed that the Bible
was 100% correct and that god created man.
•Sometimes older generation
•Lived in rural areas (farms/Midwest)
Bessie Coleman
Why are women
dressing like this?
"Tight-laced corsets, high collars, innumerable
layers of petticoats, and what not else, may have
(problematically) made the female form a thing of
attractive mystery, but they made the average
female herself very inapt for the action, which she
was beginning to claim the right to, of leaping on
moving omnibuses. In those dark ages before the
war womens fashions changed from year to year,
but generally speaking at the dress-makers word of
command...The first short skirt sounded the knell
of his dictatorship, and since then womanhood
has never looked back...I say again that [today's
fashion] is a phenomenon which the social
historian appears to be passing over. We do not
realize that a tradition of centuries has within a
decade been stood its head..."
Clara Bow
Suzanne Lenglen
Tennis player
The ad first appeared in 1920’s,
with the claim that blamed a
woman’s single hood on bad breath!
The sales of Listerine jumped from
$100,000 in 1921 to
0ver $4,000,000 in 1927!!!
A whole
“cultural changes that could be both
exciting and threatening.”
1920s Censorship
Will Hays
Joe Breen
Wrote the Code
Enforced the Code
The Hays Code
Why it was needed:
Cannot say:
The rules:
“No picture shall be produced that will lower the moral
standards of those who see it”
- Only correct standards of life shall be presented
- No ridicule of the law or law enforcement agencies (criminals
cannot be shown in a sympathetic light)
- NO: nudity, “suggestive” dancing,
ORridicule of religion, no drug
use, methods of crime, homosexuality,
#@&*^%#interracial marriage, STDs,
or depiction of child birth, scenes of passion, excessive and lustful
Why do you bob your hair girls?
Blind Alfred Reed
Why do you bob your hair, girls?
You're doing mighty wrong;
God gave it for a glory
And you should wear it long.
You spoil your lovely hair, girls,
You keep yourself in style;
Before you bob your hair, girls,
Just stop and think a while.
Why do you bob your hair, girls?
It is an awful shame
To rob the head God gave you
And bear the flapper's name.
You're taking off your covering,
It is an awful sin;
Don't never bob your hair, girls,
Short hair belongs to men.
“Noble Experiment”
- couldn’t connect the
#s to prove it was
- 873,000 lives saved?
- Death Rate decreased
- Production per capita
- Arrests due to public
drunkenness dropped
“Misguided effort to
shape morals”
-Increased gang
-Prohibition Agents
were corrupt
-Farmers profits
Standpat Politics in a Decade of
With Republicans in control of Congress
and the White House, politics reflected the
decade’s business orientation. Unsettled by
rapid social change, voters turned to
conservative candidates who seemed to
represent stability and traditional values. In
this climate, would-be reformers and exploited
groups had few political options.
What was the focus of the
government during the 1920s?
Supported high tariffs
Supported Immigration Control
Anti-Union (welfare capitalism? American
• If you want money – work harder
– Hoover = “rugged individualism”
Do what I
not as I do!
Eugene Debs
Socialist Party
Won 3.4%
Problem with Harding?
Harry M. Daugherty:
Attorney General
Albert Fall:
Edwin Denby:
Secretary of Interior
Secretary of the Navy
TEAPOT DOME Scandal (1922-1923)
• Where? = Teapot Dome, Wyoming = NAVY OIL
• Who? = mostly Albert Fall
• What? = Fall leased U.S. Navy oil fields to 2 private
companies. Lease was legal…problem was…?
• Why? = Fall received approx. 5 million (today) in bribes
(1st Cabinet Member to go to Prison!)
"greatest and most sensational scandal in
the history of American politics" pre-Watergate
I have no trouble with my
enemies. I can take care of
my enemies in a fight. But
my friends, my goddamned
friends, they're the ones
who keep me walking the
floor at nights!
Warren G. Harding
The political genius of President Coolidge, Walter
Lippmann pointed out in 1926, was his talent for
effectively doing nothing:
"This active inactivity suits the mood and certain of the
needs of the country admirably. It suits all the business
interests which want to be let alone.... And it suits all
those who have become convinced that government in
this country has become dangerously complicated and
1928 Herbert Hoover
Bike Tire Used As Swimming Aid (Germany, 1925)
Transportable Folding Bridge (Netherlands, 1926)
100 MPH One Wheel Motorcycle (1931)
Radio in Straw Hat (USA, 1931)
Bulletproof Glass (New York, 1931)