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Boundless opportunities seemed to be available and there was a popular
culture in music, films and sport. However, there was a darker side with acts of
racism and violence.
In 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment gave women the right to vote in federal
elections. Opposition came particularly from the alcohol and textiles industries
who feared women would support prohibition and would gain more influence
over working conditions and pay.
The war itself triggered a rabid nationalism and a real struggle to what national
identity really was.
Tensions in the 1920s were often, but not always, focused between those who
lived in rural and small-town America and those who lived in the wild city.…read more

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Warren Harding was overwhelmingly a compromise candidate.
To avoid upsetting possible supporters, Harding himself had few policies,
except the proposal to `return to normalcy'.
Harding may have been a rather more effecting president in some
respects that his reputation suggests. He appointed Andrew Mellon and
Herbert Hoover for example.
For all his good intensions, he was simply not up for the job in the face
of huge changes taking place in American society.
Neither Harding nor Coolidge understood the tensions that were
developing with American society.…read more

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Prohibition clearly shows the contradictions of American society in the period.
Alcohol had long been a moral issue in the United States, hard liquor had been
associated with sin and hell by the protestant churches and chapels of the
South and West.
Many citizens saw saloons with their 80% proof spirits as badges of shame.
The 18th amendment banned the sale, transportation and manufacture of
intoxicating liquor in the USA.
The separate Volstead Act defined `intoxicating liquor' as any drink containing
more than 0.5% of alcohol.
Prohibition was supported by:-
Women's groups Saw it as leading to men
oppressing women
Big business Saw it as leading to inefficiency in
the workplace
Religious groups Saw it as the work of the devil…read more

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Supporters tended to be protestant and living in small towns in South and West
whilst opponents tended to be urban and roman catholic.
The campaign for prohibition had been going on for a while:-
The prohibition party 1869
Anti-saloon League 1893
The First World War gave several boosts to prohibition:
Grain used to produce alcohol was needed for food, 1917 Lever Act banned the
use of grain in manufacture of alcoholic drinks.
Many of the largest brewers (Ruppert and Pabst) were of German origin and so
an anti-German feeling led many to not want to buy it.
Also, during the war in 1918 congress passed a temporary prohibition for the
duration of the war so afterwards enforcement was easier.
Before 1920, there was prohibition in 27 states.
The forces against prohibition were not tell organised and so prohibition was
relatively easily introduced.
1933 ­ 21st amendment annulled the 18th amendment and ended prohibition.…read more

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There is no doubt that prohibition led to a huge growth in crime and
John Torrio for example ran most of the illegal alcohol business in Chicago and
retired in 1925 with savings of $30 million.
Al Capone, the most notorious of gangsters, became Torrio's successor, became
something of a media star. When he was finally arrested in 1932 for tax evasion,
it was estimated his gang had done $70 million worth of business.
Capone built an army of 700 gangsters who committed over 300 murders.
14th February 1929, 5 of his men dressed as police officers `arrested' 7 of the
Moran's gang and shot over 100 bullets into them. Whilst this specifically hit the
headlines, there were hundreds of gang murders before this in Chicago.
Chicago alone experienced 227 gangland murders.
Out of 7,000 arrested in New York only 17 were ever convicted.
Alcohol deaths were cut by 80% and deaths from liver cirrohios per 1,000 males
fell from 29.5% in 1911, to 10.7% in 1929…read more

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