History: The Roaring 20s

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  • Created by: Chris
  • Created on: 26-05-13 14:19


Why America refused to join the League of Nations and became isolated

  • Ghost of WW1. 100,000 US soldiers died in WW1, so the US public wanted to involve becoming entangled in European affairs.
  • American Public. The public didn't want to be dragged into European affairs.
  • Woodrow Wilson had a stroke. His successor was unable to drum up support for the League of Nations, and the Republican party (who supported isolationism) controlled the Senate.
  • Fear of immigration. USA felt isolationism would prevent immigrants from taking American jobs
  • Industry. WW1 has strengthened USA - European countries had paid them for supplies. USA was strong enough to cope without being involved with other powers.


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Disadvantages of Isolationism

  • Lead to the collapse of the League of Nations. As the country that formed the League of Nations didn't believe in it, and so didn't join it, the League had no power.
  • Worsened relations with European countries. They hated the fact that USA profited from WW1 and now, no longer wanted to help them.
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Economic Isolation - Tariffs

  • USA introduced the Fordney-McCumber tariff (1922) on foreign goods. This helped to 'protect' American industries and farmers by keeping foreign competition out: US goods were cheaper.
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Disadvantages of Tariffs

  • Poorer people suffered. Prices were high.
  • Lack of competition. American firms became inefficient, wages were raised and the prices of US goods increased.
  • The president could change the Tariff level as much as he wanted. It changed 37 times, increasing 32 times.
  • European response. Many European contries retaliated by putting tariffs on US goods.This meant US goods were harder to sell abroad.
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Why Immigration was limited

Why limit Immigration

  • Isolationism. 'Protect' Americans against foreigners.
  • WASPs. White Anglo-Saxon Protestants disliked those who were different.
  • Protect American jobs. Fears that immigrants, who would willingly work for cheaper wages, would take American jobs away from American citizens.
  • Fear of Communism. Afraid that East Europe and Russia may spread Communism to USA.
  • Social Harmony. Having a 'melting pot' of different ethnicities in USA may have lead to conflicts. Immigration laws helped to keep the peace.
  • Overpopulation. Afraid that, after WW1, millions of European immigrants would flood to the US.
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How Immigration was limited

How they limited Immigration

  • Immigration Law (1917). This law stated that a person had to be literate in English before being allowed to enter the US - so it favoured Northern and Western Europeans.
  • Emergency Quota act (1921). This stated that the maximum number of immigrants in one year was 357,000. Quota - discriminated against Asians - the number of immigrants from the 'Eastern Hemisphere' couldnt' be more that 3% of the number already in the US.
  • National Origins Act (1924). Reduced number of immigrants per year to 154,000. Now, quota was 2%.




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Consequences of Immigration controls

  • Racism and Discrimination. Immigrants were denied jobs and paid poorly - especially those who were black and not from Western Europe.
  • Ghettos were created: Deprived city areas which had poor housing and a high crime rate.
  • Red scare. Immigrants brought in fear of communism.
  • Blame. The Wall Street Bomb (1920) was blamed on the Italians.
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Reason for the Boom

  • Isolationism. Tariffs reduced foreign competition, so American goods were sold more
  • Technology. Advances in industries meant more consumerism, so more goods were sold.
  • Mass Production. In the motor industry, assembly lines were introduced so goods were sold on huge scales.
  • Hire Purchase. Being able to buy goods now and pay for them later meant people could afford goods and so there was more demand for goods.
  • Shares. Americans were able to buy shares in a business, which meant a business became more valuable.
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Motor Industry

  • Henry Ford produced the first Model T in 1909, a standardised car.
  • The car was affordable - only $300, and only took 93 minutes to produce
  • 1/12 people had jobs in the motor industry
  • By 1930, 27 million Americans owned cars.
  • This boosted other industries such as petrol and glass.
  • However, assembly lines meant fewer skilled workers were required, so wages were reduced.
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Why did entertainment grow?

  • Leisure time. People had more money as a result of the boom, so had more time to spend on entertainment.
  • Techonology. Development of technology, such as radios increased people's interest in entertainment.
  • Advertisement. Encouraged Americans to buy more goods.




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Developments in Entertainment


  • The Jazz Singer, the first 'talkie', 1927
  • In 1929, 110 million people per week went to the cinema.


  • Jazz musicians such as Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong became popular
  • In 1929, 10 million Americans owned a radio


Sports such as baseball became more popular, now that more people could afford to watch it and listen to it on a radio.

'Flappers' did dances, such as the Charleston.

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Who didn't benefit from the Roaring 20s?

Black people

  • Still suffered racism and were forced to work long hours for low wages
  • This led to poverty, so many lived in ghettos with poor housing
  • Suffered lynching as a result of the KKK
  • Despite making up 10% of the population, had a life expectancy of 10 years less that whites.
  • Governments refused to give blacks the vote or ban lynchings. Southern States passed Jim Crow laws which promoted segregation.


  • Almost 1/2 of all Americans were employed in agriculture
  • They grew as much food as possible during WW1, and continued to do so during the 1920s. This led to overproduction, which meant a drop in food prices - dropped 50% in 1921.


  • Traditional industries such as coal suffered, as they were overtaken by new products such as oil and electricity.
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Reasons for Prohibition

  • Campaigns. There were strong temperance movements in rural USA, which used propaganda to persuade people of the evils of drinking
  • WW1. Many beers were from Germany, so drinking was seen as unpatriotic, and helping the enemy
  • Role of the Church. Alcohol consumption was seen as immoral, as it often led to sinful behaviour, such as violence. It could damage social and family life.
  • This resulted in the 18th Amendment, in 1920, which made Prohibition law.
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Successes of Prohibition

  • By 1918, 75% of US states were dry.
  • The South supported prohibition, as they were more religious than the North.
  • Alchohol consumption dropped by 30% during the 20s.
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Failures of Prohibition

  • People made Moonshine is stills, which was often damaging to their health
  • Policemen still drank, and were often corrupt, taking bribes.
  • Prohibition led to a rise in organised crime. Bootlegging (smuggling illegal alcohol) took place in speak easies. Al Capone made $60 million a year from this
  • There weren't enough agents in big cities to enforce prohibition. People weren't prepared to follow the law, which led to Izzy Einstein and Moe Smith making nearly 5,000 arrests.
  • It took Einstein and Smith only 35 seconds to find alcohol in New Orleans - it had taken 20 minutes in Chicago.
  • This result in the 21st Amendment in 1933, which abolished prohibition
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Causes of the Wall Street Crash

  • Overproduction. Once Americans had bought their goods, the demand for these goods reduced. This meant the prices of these goods fell and companies cut back on work forces, meaning unemployment.
  • Unequal Distribution of wealth. 60% of Americans lived beneath the poverty line, so although a lot of money was generated, the poor didn't get a lot of it.
  • Tariffs. As a result of American tariff policies, European countries put tariffs on US goods, so it was difficult to sell products abroad.
  • Speculation. Speculators were people who borrowed money for shares in a company and then sold them as soon as the price rose. They often bought on the margin (without paying the full amount in one go). As the US economy was doing so well, people became more confident and more people bought shares. However, as the economy became weaker, share prices fell. This led to panic, as people tried to sell their shares.
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Events of the Wall Street Crash (1929)

  • Share prices fell, leading to people panicking and selling their shares.
  • On Black Thursday, 13 millions shares were sold
  • On Black Tuesday, share prices tumbled as people sold their shares for whatever price they could
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Results of the Wall Street Crash

  • Big Investors lost millions of dollars, with one family losing $40 million. Smaller investors who had their houses as security had their houses repossessed and starting living in Hoovervilles
  • Unemployment rose to 12 million by 1932, and 23,000 people committed suicide in one year.
  • Over 100,000 companies went bankrupt, and the average wage fell by 60%.
  • Banks collapsed, meaning people who had their money there lost everything.
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Exam: Roaring 20s, Section A, 35 minutes

4 Mark Question

  • Source Question
  • Describe 3 things in the source that tells you something about the topic of the question and use your own knowledge to explain what this is.

6 mark Question

  • Explain the events/ consequences of...
  • At least 3 events/consequences, using specialist terms

10 Mark Question

  • How useful is Source A when studying...
  • Content. What the source tells us about the topic
  • Useful. Two reasons why the source is useful. Can use the provenance.
  • Purpose. What is the source for. Does this make it less or more useful.
  • Limitations. Two reasons why the source is limited. Can use the provenance.
  • Overall. Judge whether the source is useful or not and why.







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