Roaring Twenties

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The Roaring Twenties: USA 1919-29
BY 1919 THE USA:
Had only lost 100,000 men in WW1
Had not fought the war on US soil so people at home were not affected.
Had played a large part in the defeat of Germany and peace talks
Had become the strongest country in the world
Had high rates of immigration it was seen as the land of dreams
Had gained many overseas markets (selling good to other countries) in Europe.
During the 1920s, the USA achieved a degree of prosperity never seen before; it was the age of the
Ford motor car, of jazz, of cinema, of the stock market boom, of consumerism. However prosperity
only reached to about half the population. Poor workers, including most black people and famers had
lifestyles that were greatly in contrast to those of the rich. Society was divided and increasingly
violent through the activities of the Ku Klux Klan and of gangsters during the period of Prohibition. In
October 1929, the so called `Roaring 20s' came to an abrupt end with the Wall Street when stocks
and shares rapidly lost much of their inflated values. Mass unemployment and the Great Depression
America had limited involvement in the war, in fact in august 1914 when the war broke out in Europe;
President Woodrow Wilson issued a declaration of neutrality. But in 1917 America entered the war
after German U-Boat patrolling the Atlantic Ocean fired torpedoes at a British Passenger ship killing
128 Americans. With extra resources and its part in fighting in the Western Front; America helped in
the defeat of Germany.
After the war had ended, Woodrow Wilson (the 28th American President) was committed to the USA
playing a leading role in policing the Treaty of Versailles through active involvement in the League of
Nations. However the mood of America was rapidly changing. Most the American people wanted to
end of the `entanglements' in European affairs that did not concern them.
The Republican Party shared this view and argued against Wilson's vision and had won a vote was
cast in the senate and America's joining of the League was not ratified.
In the 1920 presidential election, Warren Harding, the republican candidate was elected due to 61%
vote. He won with slogans `America first' and bringing back America to `normalcy'. As a result,
America cut all ties with Europe and went back to isolation (Staying out of foreign affairs).
There was an increase in the interest of American goods during the war as such food supplies and
technologies as Europe who had the biggest trade industry was in desperate need of supplies as all
their resources were destroyed during the war so they looked to America to supply them. Countries
that traded with Europe sought to America too. This led to prosperity as American goods were highly
sought after and also in 1922 any foreign goods that were sold in America were given high tariffs

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The Fordney-Mcumber Tariff). This led to the American people buying more American goods as
foreign goods seemed more expensive, thus benefitting the American economy as demand in goods
With the increase in the demand of American goods, Americans had to keep up with the demand;
they this by Mass Production. This was a huge technological advancement within society. This was
created by Henry T Ford owner of the motor industry Ford Cars.…read more

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See book for diagram.
Companies could sell on shared on the Stock Exchange in order to raise money for investment. The
shares were eagerly bought by investors ­ who then hoped to sell them at a higher price and so
make money for themselves. Therefore, in the 1920s, share prices went up, on average 300%.
Many ordinary Americans started to invest in shares as it seemed an easy way to make money.…read more

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It was developed out of ragtime and blues music among black people in the southern parts
of the USA. It rapidly spread throughout the USA in 1920s and provided black musicians with
a way of gaining self-respect and admiration. Successful artists included Louis Armstrong and
Duke Ellington.
Jazz music spread easily thanks to the radio.
Became an obsession amongst young people.
New dances and new styles were created.…read more

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Europe started to import less food from USA and put high tariffs on US products in reaction
to the Fordney-Mcumber Tariff, 1922 due isolationist atmosphere.
Completion from other trading countries who sold food at a cheaper price.
Improved machinery so less men were needed (led to mass unemployment)
Machinery led to overproduction and with the high tariffs on US products imposed in by
trading nations it was harder to sell surplus.…read more

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This proves that Europeans were often treated badly in America.
Black people were subjected to extreme racism from the hands of the KKK. The aim of the KKK was
to gain white supremacy through terrorising and killing black people. They would use parades, public
beatings and violent methods such as lynching to intimidate Black people. Klansmen were unpunished
for these heinous crimes as governors of states supported them, states such as Oregon and
Oklahoma.…read more

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Prohibition was an overall disaster as crime and corruption increased dramatically leaving people
living in fear and many live were lost caught between gang wars and once things went underground
no laws surrounded it. Thus by the early 1930s US Congress passed the 21st amendment which
abolished prohibition.…read more

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See book for further details
The Wall Street Crash, October 1929
When Herbert Hoover, the successful Republican candidate, became President in March 1929 the
economy was still booming. Hoover had promised a continuation of the boom - 'a chicken in every
pot' and boasted that, 'We in America today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever
before. The poor man is vanishing from among us.'
Within six months the situation was totally different.…read more


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