1920s notes - Stjohns

,Advertising and
Attitudes towards
ss Media
Characteristics of the
 Mass-Produced consumer goods  Farm depression
 Consolidation of Companies
 Northern and Southern disparity
 Electrification
 Labor Unions stagnant
 Automobile
 Women’s economic rights
 Rising Stock Prices
 Capital expansion abroad, yet
high Tariffs stifle foreign trade
 Conservative politics were
 Racism
 Arts develop (Jazz and Harlem
 The 1920s saw the growth of the culture of
consumerism--many Americans began to work fewer
hours, earn higher salaries, invest in the stock
market, and buy everything from washing machines
to Model T Fords.
Mass Production
 Consumer Goods
 Electrification
 Automobile
8 Million (1920) to 23 Million (1930)
GM offered new colors (Ford, black)
 9% all wages earned from manufacturing
 Stock prices rose due to rising sales,
productivity, and mergers
Henry Ford’s assembly line technique
for mass-producing cars.
Effect of WWI on technology.
Scientific management - efficiency experts:
Rapid increase in worker productivity
Psychology of consumption
Relations between the federal government and big
 Annual automobile
production rose from 2
million during the 1920s
to 5.5 million in 1929.
 By the late 1920s, there
was one automobile for
every five Americans.
 Mass Production &
Assembly Lines were
improved and became
very self-evident.
 Capital expansion abroad – hence political
engagements (Roosevelt-Wilson)
 Meatpackers (Argentina)
 United Fruit (Latin America)
 Copper Mines (Chile)
 Private investment abroad increased x5 1914-1930
 High tariffs stifled foreign exports (and imports)
 Fordney-McCumber Tariff (1922)
 Smoot-Hawley (1930)
 Exports fell as a % of GNP – retaliatory tariffs!
Underwood Tariff of 1913
Fordney-McCumber Tariff
 Republicans wanted to keep a prosperous home
market for American business, so the tariff was
raised in 1922.
When European nations retaliated and raised the
tariffs, all trade was hurt.
Smoot-Hawley Tariff (1933) did the same thing.
North and South
Move away from agriculture due to
a depression after the first few years
of the 1920s – falling European
demand for US goods
Average unskilled laborer
North: 47c/hr; South: 28c/hr
Textile Companies moved south,
NE mill towns suffered
Women, Mexican-Americans,
Blacks (“Last hired, first fired”)
Farmers – grain prices fell (US
Army stopped purchases, Europe
agriculture recovered)
Protective tariff depressed exports
1919-1921, farm income fell 60%
Borrowers defaulted…
 an agri. depression in early
1920's contributed to this
urban migration
 U.S. farmers lost agri.
markets in postwar Europe
 at same time agri. efficiency
increased so more food
produced (more food = lower
prices) and fewer labourers
 so farming was no longer as
prosperous, and bankers
called in their loans (farms
 so American farmers enter
the Depression in advance of
the rest of society
 Black Americans in this
period continued to live in
 sharecropping kept them in
de facto slavery
 1915 - boll weevil wiped out
the cotton crop
 white landowners went
bankrupt & forced blacks
off their land
 Blacks moved north to take advantage
of booming wartime industry (=
Great Migration) - Black ghettoes
began to form, i.e. Harlem
 within these ghettoes a distinct Black
culture flourished
 But both blacks and whites wanted
cultural interchange restricted
 Marcus Garvey (Jamaican born
immigrant) established the Universal
Negro Improvement Association
 believed in Black pride
 advocated racial segregation b/c of
Black superiority
 Garvey believed Blacks should return
to Africa
 he purchased a ship to start the Black
Star line
 attracted many investments: gov't
charged him with w/fraud
 he was found guilty and eventually
deported to Jamaica, but his
organization continued to exist
A Society in Conflict
 National Origins Act
 Discrimination
Sacco-Vanzetti Trial
 Italian immigrants
 Unfair trial (judge partial)
 for immigrants – the point of origin
had shifted to S & E Europe and new
religions appeared: Jewish, Orthodox,
 N. European immigrants of early 19c.
feared this shift and felt it would
undermine Protestant values
 this fear was known as NATIVISM
 many wanted Congress to restrict
immigration, leading to a quota system
that favoured n. areas of Europe
 fear of immigrants (from SE Europe)
led to a sentiment known as the Red
Scare (fear of comm. post-Bolshevik
 basic comm. advocates a int'l
revolution by the proletariat/workers fears that this ideology could find its
way into the U.S.
 Fearing communists, anarchist, and
socialists, America turned against these
common people.
 Raids were executed by the Attorney General
A. Mitchell Palmer who hunted down the
radicals and “reds” in response to fears of a
growing socialist populace in the US.
 On April 15, 1920, two men robbed and murdered
a paymaster and his guard as they transferred
$15,776 from the Slater and Morrill Shoe factory.
 Three weeks later, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo
Vanzetti were accused and arrested for this crime,
despite the little evidence against them.
 They were convicted, but their appeals lasted 6
years afterward.
 Both men were executed for their "crimes."
 at this time, W.
Wilson was gravely
ill following a stroke
 his Attorney
General, A. Mitchell
Palmer, wanted to
take a shot at the
presidency - he used
fears of both
immigrants and
communism to his
 he had J. Edgar
Hoover round up
suspected radicals,
many of which were
deported (Palmer
The Ku Klux Klan
Great increase
In power
Anti-women’s suffrage
 “Old-time religion” –
literary reading of the
Bible as scripture
 Teaching of Darwinism
evolution prohibited in
public schools
 “Monkey Trial” – John
T. Scopes, a biology teacher, was convicted
and fined for $100.00 of teaching evolution to
his students. The fine was later thrown out
because of a technicality.
Scopes “Monkey”
Evolution vs. Creationism
Famous Lawyers
Science vs. Religion
Dayton, Tennessee
John Scopes
High School Biology teacher
 PROHIBITION - on manuf.
and sale of alcohol
 adopted in 1919 - 18th
 an outgrowth of the longtime
temperance movement
 in WWI, temperance became a
patriotic mvmt. - drunkenness
caused low productivity &
inefficiency, and alcohol needed
to treat the wounded
 a difficult law to enforce...
organized crime, speakeasies,
bootleggers were on the rise
 Al Capone virtually controlled
Chicago in this period capitalism at its zenith…
 Prohibition finally ended in
1933 w/ the 21st Amendment
 forced organized crime to
pursue other interests…
18th Amendment
Al Capone
Volstead Act
New Productivity
40% increase due to assembly lines
Con: Discouraged individuality, limited pride in work skills, limited
prospects for advancement
Pro: Fordism (“decent wages”)
Consolidation of companies by 1930
100 companies controlled 50% of US Business
Modernization of business – professional managers
Increased wages led to increase in buying power
Dealerships/ chain stores/ air conditioning
JC as a successful businessman of popular story!
Credit purchases 75% of auto sales by 1929
Harding and Coolidge pro business (“The business of America…”)
President Coolidge
“The business of America is business.”
 Fordney-McCumber Tariff
 Promote business,
independence, foreign
 Smoot-Hawley Tariff (1930)
 Worsened depression, raised
tariff to the point where
foreign gov’ts retaliated
 No help for farmers
 Foreign Policy
 5 million to 3.4 million (1920-1929)
 Wages increased, limited clout of unions
 Craft unions (RR, printing etc) not needed in mass-
production facilities
 Management thugs – union violence still high
 Non-union shop: “Open Shop” – the “America Plan”
 Black membership of unions low, even though AFL
prohibited discrimination
 82,000 members nation-wide
 Most blacks hired as scabs
 Republican base = corporate leaders, northern farmers,
businesspeople, native-born white-collar workers,
professionals, some skilled blue-collar laborers
 Democrat base = white South, immigrant cities
 Appointments:
Good: Henry Wallace (Agriculture); Charles Evans Hughes
(Sec State); Andrew Mellon (Treasury); Hoover (Commerce)
Bad: Daugherty (AG); Fall (Interior); Forbes (Vet. Affairs –
even though he was a draft dodger!)
Scandals – influence peddling, stealing funds, Teapot Dome
Harding Pro-Business
 High tariff, low taxes (and inheritance tax) – “trickle-
down” theory
 Overturning anti-business reforms (Keating-Owens
Act overturned by Supreme Court)
 NO aid for Flood victims in 1927, but a Flood Control
Act of 1928
 McNary-Haugen benefited farmers, but vetoed twice
by Coolidge (pushed farmers to the Democrats)
 Warren G. Harding was elected to the Presidency
in 1920 in which he urged a "return to normalcy."
(Policies of the “Gilded Age”)
 Generally conservative, especially regarding
taxes, tariffs, immigration restriction, labor rights,
and business regulation. (laissez-faire)
 Harding's administration was marked by
corruption and scandal. (Teapot Dome Scandal)
 Died of a stroke in office in August 1923.
 After Harding’s death, Calvin Coolidge soon took the
place of Harding, but did little as vice president.
 When he assumed the presidency after Harding's death,
he acted quickly to repair the damage of the Harding
administrations scandals and to secure the 1924
presidential nomination.
 He was easily elected over Democrat John W. Davis and
Progressive Robert M. La Follette.
 Near the end of his second term, Coolidge decided not to
run for president again and retired from politics.
 His policies included federal tax cuts and high tariffs, but
he lost favor during the Great Depression.
International Affairs
 No League, no International Court of Justice for USA
 “Independent Internationalism” allowed US
economic interests to be promoted
 Naval Arms Conference
 Kellogg-Briand Pact
Why was the USA
isolationist ?
 Tradition…….
 Dislike of the ‘old world’
 Dangerous ideas……
 US soldiers in the First
World War………
 Isolationism had
always been part of
America’s policy
towards the rest of the
world. The USA had
only joined the war
when forced to.
Dislike of the old world
 Most
had moved
from Europe
to start new
lives. They
wanted to
leave Europe
Dangerous ideas
Europe was full of
ideas that
Americans feared
such as anarchy,
They wanted to
be cut off from
such ideas.
US Soldiers
USA lost 112,432 men in WW1
They wanted to avoid any future wars !
 Cigarettes = “torches of freedom”
 Make-up = “Hope in a Jar”
 Home: delegate “to electricity all that electricity can do”
 Wage discrimination:
Ex Meatpacking trimmer (male: 52c/hr; female: 37c/hr)
Corp. Offices (file clerks, secretaries, typists)
 High School graduation rates increase 12% by 1930;
College degrees x3 to 50,000 between 1920 and 1930
 Nursing, Libraries, and TEACHING predominant jobs
Successes and limits of 19th Amendment
 “Feminine Charm” (material consumer culture cut through
“civic idealism” of previous generation)
 Child Labor Laws; Protection of women workers; Federal
support for education
 Sheppard-Towner Act – rural prenatal and baby-care
Keating-Owens struck down (1922)
Women’s protective laws (1923)
Child Labor amendment not ratified (1924)
Sheppard-Towner Act expired (“threat to monopoly of
health business by physicians”)
 1920's also brought about
great changes for women...
 1920 - 19th Amendment gave
them the federal vote
 after 1920, social
circumstances changed too as
more women worked outside
the home
 and more women went to
college and clamoured to join
the professions
 women didn't want to
sacrifice wartime gains amounted to a social revolt
 characterized by the
FLAPPER/ "new woman"
(bobbed hair, short dresses,
smoked in public...)
More people in cities than farms; African-American migration
(40% of 12 million blacks in Northern cities; 1st black
congressman – de Priest – from Chicago)
Leisure culture emerged since people had more time on their
Automobile (vacations, traffic, accidents – horses!)
Tractors available for credit, but led to increased production –
bad for prices!
Increased family cohesiveness or decreased it?
Class division widened due to suburban living and shorter
commuting times over longer distances
Women empowered (appliances, electricity; energy consumption
increased; store-bought food, clothes, food prep easier)
Increased need for oil, gas, rubber
Consumer Economy
Magazine circulation increased (Readers’ Digest, Saturday
Evening Post)
Book-of-the-Month began (1926)
Radio (1920 election results, 1921 World Series)
NBC (1926), CBS (1927), “Amos ‘n’ Andy” (1928)
Chaplin, Rudolph Valentino, Mary Pickford, Cecil B. De Mille
(Ten Commandments – 1923); Al Jolson (The Jazz Singer – 1927);
Mickey Mouse (Steamboat Willie – 1928)
Hollywood “cabal” (Warner Brothers, Columbia Pictures, MetroGoldwyn-Mayer) – evoked rural life, but lived in cities/studios
 The 1920s saw the growth of the culture of
consumerism--many Americans began to work fewer
hours, earn higher salaries, invest in the stock
market, and buy everything from washing machines
to Model T Fords.
 Annual automobile
production rose from 2
million during the 1920s
to 5.5 million in 1929.
 By the late 1920s, there
was one automobile for
every five Americans.
 Mass Production &
Assembly Lines were
improved and became
very self-evident.
 Cost-- The price of automobiles
declined steadily until the mid-1920s
so that many well-paid working
families could now afford to
purchase a car.
 Credit-- In 1925, Americans made
75% of all automobile purchases on
the installment plan.
“Possess today and pay tomorrow.”
Motion Pictures
 Motion picture production became one of the
ten largest industries in the United States
during the 1920s.
 In 1922, theaters sold 40 million tickets a week.
 By 1929, that number had grown to 100 million
 The first commercial
radio station went on
the air in the 1920s
in Pittsburgh.
 By 1922, 3 million
households had
Celebrity Culture
 Charles Lindbergh – mechanized/standardized time,
still room for individual heroism
 Baseball – Ty Cobb (4,191 hits), Babe Ruth (1927 – 60
 Boxing – Jack Dempsey
Babe Ruth &Ty Cobb
Charles Lindbergh
The Spirit of St. Louis
Jack Dempsey
The 20’s is The Jazz Age
The Flappers
make up
short skirts
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Ernest Hemingway
Louis Armstrong
Duke Ellington
Artists of the 1920s
 Moodily lampooned/mourned/ridiculed materialism of the
 Fitzgerald Great Gatsby
 Sinclair Lewis Main Street, Babbitt
 H.L. Mencken The American Mercury – ridicule and satire
 Hemingway
 Painters
Hooper, Thomas Hart Benton – Urban and small town
 Gershwin and Copland
Harlem Artists
 “New Negro Movement” or “Flowering of Negro Literature”
 Painters, writers, musicians all congregated in Harlem cabarets
(nightclub restaurant)
 Challenged traditional values, and usually were from middle
class backgrounds
Catalogued racial inequities in American life, especially the
turbulence of urban culture
 Whites came to escape the taboos of white urban culture, but
the places that were “spontaneous” and “primitive” and
“spiritual” featured black artists without allowing blacks in the
audience (Cotton Club)
 Symbol of racial achievement, most of all, which inspired
future artists (James Baldwin, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison etc
Langston Hughes
I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world
and older than the flow of human
blood in human veins.
when Abe Lincoln went down to
New Orleans, and I’ve seen its
muddy bosom turn all golden in the
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
I’ve known rivers:
I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns
were young.
Ancient, dusky rivers.
I built my hut near the Congo and it
lulled me to sleep.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers
I looked upon the Nile and raised
pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi
Harlem (1951)
What happens to a dream
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore –
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over –
Like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
Like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Other authors and
personalities of the Harlem
 Zora Neale Hurston
 Joyce Sims Carrington
 George Schuyler
 A. Philip Randolph
 Rudolph Fisher
 Walter White
 Jean Toomer
 Sidney Bechet
 Duke Ellington
 Bessie Smith
 Louis Armstrong
 Mamie Smith (*)
 Bix Beiderbecke
 Ma Rainey
 Nick LaRocca – “The
 Ella Fitzgerald
 Billie Holiday
 Marian Anderson (*)
 King Oliver
Original Dixieland Jazz
 Let’s listen to Bechet,
Oliver, Armstrong, and
some Ellington…
Changes in society
Rockets, x-rays
Restriction of immigrants
National Origins Act (1924)
Ozawa v U.S.
Braceros and immigration
Sacco and Vanzetti
Scopes Trial
KKK (Birth of a Nation by D.W. Griffith)
Garvey Movement – Universal Negro Improvement Association
Prohibition (Volstead Act – 18th Amendment)
Mr. C’s favorite…
Effects of Commercialization
 “It would be idle to assert that life on the farm occupies as
good a position of dignity, desirability, and business results
as farmers might easily give it if they chose. One of the
chief difficulties is the failure of country life, as it exists at
the present, to satisfy the higher social and intellectual
aspirations of country people.” -Teddy Roosevelt (1909)
Radio Advertisement
Amos and Andy
Amos and Andy, with Rinso Commercial
• Note the use of music – the Rinso whistle!
• What other cultural characteristics do you notice (in
reference to the 1920s?)
• How does the show treat African Americans? (Note
the names: “Kingfish”, and “Henry Van Porter”, the
words the characters use, and the expressions they
• Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll – who are
Gosden and
trel Shows
common at the
Practice Question (1 of 2)
Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon’s policies did which
of the following?
a. Reduced income tax-rates for the wealthy to release
money for private investment
b. Provided aid to the Allies during the First World War
c. Provided federal guarantees for bank deposits.
d. Restricted loans to Mexico after the Tampico and
Veracruz incidents
e. Combated the Depression by giving lower-income
groups more purchasing power.
Practice Question (2 of 2)
The assembly-line production of Henry Ford’s Model T automobile
resulted in which of the following by the end of the 1920s?
a. A sharp degrease in railroad passenger traffic
b. The federal government’s abandonment of research on air
c. The development of a large international market for
American automobiles
d. Widespread purchase of automobiles by average American
e. Construction of the federal interstate highway system
Practice Question
Which of the following emerged during the Progressive
Era as the most influential advocate of full political,
economic, and social equality for Black Americans?
a. W.E.B. Du Bois
b. Frederick Douglas
c. Booker T. Washington
d. Ida B. Wells
e. Langston Hughes
Practice Question
Which of the following best describes the Harlem
a. The rehabilitation of a decaying urban area
b. An outpouring of Black artistic and literary
c. The beginning of the NAACP
d. The most famous art show of the early twentieth
e. The establishment of motion picture palaces
Election of 1928
 Hoover (R) v Smith (D) – first Catholic! V Thomas
 Smith garnered large urban votes, rural midwest (hard-
pressed farmers who didn’t like Coolidge OR Hoover’s
S of C role)
 Hoover: American Individualism (1922)
 Self-made, but praised big business
 Limited government involvement, cooperative
social/economic order should be led by capitalists, not
 Having served as secretary of commerce under
both Harding and Coolidge, Hoover was elected
to the presidency in 1928, helped by the
prevailing prosperity in the country.
 Hoover had been in office just a few months when
the Great Depression began.
 In 1932, he lost the presidential election to
Franklin D. Roosevelt.
 When the “Bull” market began to rise, many people
started to buy stock on margin.
 Black Thursday, October 24th, 1929, 13,000,000
shares were sold.
 There was not enough collateral to back up stock
 The next day, October 25th, J.P. Morgan and many
bankers bought huge blocks of shares to stabilize the
The Beginning of
What was Thought to be
the End
 On October 29, 1929, 16,400,000 shares
a downturn for the worse.
 The stock market began to collapse
 Over the next two months, 40 billion dollars
worth of stock disappeared into thin air.
 The Great Depression soon followed
as thousands of banks closed their doors.