The 1920s – How They Roared The 20s were full of wacky fads

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The 1920s – How They Roared

The 20s were full of wacky fads, fashions, and fears. Trends ranged from fun-loving antics like flagpole sitting to the paranoia expressed in the "First Red

Scare" and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. The mood of the 20s was heavily affected by the trauma of what was then known as the Great War. The horrors of World

War I made a deep impression on the minds of America. One young journalist said:

"The war tore away our beliefs and challenged our faith. We are struggling to rebuild our identities."

When the war was over and the soldiers returned, the nation wanted to

"blow off steam." Higher wages for average Americans meant people could spend more. At the same time, machines were being used more and more in factories.

Mass production made more products available and cheaper. In 1908, a person could expect to pay over $800 for a car. By 1925, the average car could be had for under $300.

Credit was another big factor in the 20s. In the past, if a family wanted expensive items like cars and household appliances, they had to save up. However, with the invention of the installment plan, people signed a contract to pay later and took their purchases home immediately. They were then stuck making weekly or monthly payments which included interest charged on the debt. In the end, the total cost of the item would be far more than if it had been purchased with cash. By the end of the Roaring Twenties, all of this borrowing and irresponsible spending helped lead to the collapse of the U.S. economy.

In the political arena, the horrible realities of World War I led to greater isolationism. The war had cost the

U.S. greatly in both money and lives. Americans wanted to avoid any more involvement in the business of other nations. The country refused to join the League of Nations and passed the Neutrality Acts to keep itself out of these problems. There was also a strong effort to catch spies that might be in the government. These spies were usually thought to be Communists, also known as "Reds." This fear of Communists taking over the United States became known as the “First Red Scare.” The fear of Communists was carried to extremes in some areas of the country, with the KKK and other forms of racism becoming more powerful.

One sign of the times was the changing status of women. During the war, women left their homes to work in factories and other businesses. In 1919, the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote. Ideas about how a woman should act and dress began to change. The new woman of the 20s was represented by the flapper; with her short skirts and party attitude. Flappers’ fun-loving behavior and use of makeup were considered scandalous by older Americans.

Another major event of the 20s was Prohibition. For many years, the Temperance Movement had been pointing out the evils of alcohol consumption. As the group gained strength, they argued for the complete ban of the sale of liquor in the U.S. With the passage of the 18th Amendment in 1918, America began the "Noble Experiment;" hoping to create a nation free from the destructive effects of alcohol.

1.

What effect did World War I have on the feel of America during the 1920s?

2.

Describe the process of buying something on credit.

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3.

______ How did the view of women change

4.

______ Isolationism is the desire to stay: during the 1920s?

a.

Women were seen as unable to take care of themselves.

b.

Women were seen as more independent and capable.

c.

Women were not allowed to work in factories.

d.

Women were not respected for their abilities after

WWI.

a.

b.

c.

d.

in charge. as the strongest World Power. out of other countries’ problems. friendly with other countries.

5.

The Roaring Twenties are seen as a 10 year celebration of the ending of World War I. Describe how you would feel if you lived during the 1920s.

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