Option H2.1- USA Boom, Bust and Recovery


Revolution in Pop Culture 1945-55?

  • Hollywood and the Cold War
  • Anti-communist films eg. 'I married a Communist' (1950), 'My Son John' (1952).Films centered around realism and some were religious-based because of the connection between communism and atheism.
  • Films declined in popularity because of TV and suburbia- attendances declined from 90 million in 1946 to 46 million by 1955.
  • Tv and Teenage Culture
  • 60,000 people owned Tvs in 1947 compared to 37 million in 1955.
  • Teenagers (under 24s) made up 41.6% of the population in the 1950s- embraced rock and roll eg. Elvis Presley.
  • TV was dominated by white, middle-class actors eg. 'Leave it to Beaver'.
  • Old people and parents disliked rock and roll but most young Americans grew up to be as conservative as their parents anyway.
  • Women and Ethnic Minorities 
  • Second wave feminism eg. Betty Friedan's 'The Female Mystique' and the magazine 'Redbook' challenged women's position in society.
  • Black American culture continued as jazz developed into rock and roll and groups like NAACP still strong.
  • TV reinforced stereotypical views of women and black people
  • Women were underrepresented- in 1953,only 3 female senators and in 1955, 6% of managment positions were held by women.
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Biggest contributor to the Red Scare 1940s/50s?

  • HUAC
  • Investigation into the Hollywood 10 brought commuism into the limelight.
  • People initially supported the Hollywood 10 and the 5th amendment.
  • Cold War
  • Beginning in 1947, it created tension between capitalists and communists- USSR no longer seen as an ally. Truman Doctrine, Chinese Revolution, USSR nuclear bomb and Korean War portrayed this tension.
  • Ordinary Americans would not have had the same understanding as the government.
  • Case Studies (Rosenberg and Hiss)
  • Alger Hiss (government official) arrested for communism, Rosenbergs executed for selling secrets to USSR- amplified fears that America was infiltrated with communists.
  •  Lack of evidence- would not have happened without existing fear of communism.
  • McCarran Act (Communist organisations had to be registered, communists couldn't have US passport)
  • Voted in with 80% in favour and alowed for detention centres to be set up if needed- shows severity of fear.
  • Truman did not support it and it was introduced because of other previously mentioned factors.
  • Joseph McCarthy (claimed to have a list with 200+ communist's names who were part of the government)
  • His fame and popularity grew and overshadowed many of the previously mentioned things.
  • Tried to investigate the army- President Eisenhower condemned him. Involved in a homosexual scandal and became notorious for his alcoholism- died in 1957 of alcoholism. 
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What caused the 1945-55 boom?

  • World War Two
  • Unemployment at 2% by 1943, Lend-Lease (1941) allowed any nation to buy arms from the US, rearmament increased production (US out-produced combining axis forces).
  • Only about 2/3rds of US steel mills were working flat out.
  • Low Unemployment and Higher Wages
  • Investment in new technologies (eg. aircraft) led to more jobs, real wages went up by 50% and farm incomes quadrupled. Unions accounted for 1% of lost working days.
  • Strikes in 1943- government had to increase wages. 1945-50: unemployment rose to 4%.
  • Government Decisions
  • GI Bill 1944 offered cash benefits to veterans, Taft-Hartley Act 1946 curbed trade union powers-positive employer-employee relationships.
  • Federal spending fropped from $95 billion in 1948 to $36.5 billion in 1948.
  • The Cold War
  • Renewed focus on weapon production- military expenditure rose to 14% by 1953.
  • Marshall Aid negatively received by US population- did not want to give $17billion to Europe.
  • Trading, Consumerism, Suburbia (LevittTowns)
  • USA producing 50% of the world's manufactured goods. 2/3rds of homes had a TV and 3/5ths owned a car.
  • 1/3rd of homes had no running water, 20% of families lived below the poverty line.
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Was American Culture Transformed 1933-45?

  • Impact of Government
  • WPA, formed in 1935 as part of the 2nd ND, led to the publication of 275 books, 700 pamphlets and 340 issuances and also funded many other arts. Office of War information createed in 1942 to boost propaganda eg. Rosie the Riveter
  • Lack of notable figures of culture in the 1930s compared to 1920s?
  • Music
  • Military bands recruited eg. Glenn Miller, Andrew Sisters
  • Music was a big part of American life pre-ww2.
  • Movies and Hollywood
  • Used as propaganda eg. Gary Cooper won the best Oscar in 1941 for his portrayal of a US soldier in WW1. Senate Subcommittee launched an investigation in 1941 to see if Hollywood was supporting Britain in the war. Disney advertised war bonds and dressed characters up as marines and Red Cross volunteers.
  • Movies often represented current events anyway?
  • Radio
  • FDR's Fireside Chats. Almost 90% of Americans had a radio. Propaganda broadcasted through radio eg. 1941 series 'Speaking of Liberty', 1942 series 'You Can't do Business with Hitler' and US treasury sponsored shows where war bonds were sold in commercial breaks.
  • Radio had been used widely since the 1920s.
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What was the impact of the New Deal?

  • Economy
  • Precedents set through FERA,WPA, Social Security Act. 1930-40, welfare bill rose from $9 million to $479 million.
  • 1939: 9 million unemployed, New Deal work schemes were only temporary, economic recovery was sluggish due to contradictory nature of some New Deal programmes.
  • Minorities (12 million African Americans, 330,000 Native Americans, 200,000 Hispanic Americans)
  • Robert Weaver appointed to focus on 'Economic Status of the *****', 350,000 African Americans found work through the WPA and the Second New Deal was available to them.
  • AA's received little from the AAA, CCC had segregated camps, FDR didn't end racial segregation in the south.
  • Indian Reorganisation Act of 1934 was the first time a government had tried to preserve Native American culture, CCC and PWA offered services to Native Americans.
  • Only 75/245 native tribes agreed to 'Indian New Deal'- the Navajos, largest tribe, declined.
  • Hispanic Americans wages slashed to 14 cents an hour and NIRA and Wagner Act excluded migrant workers.
  • Women
  • Frances Perkins appointed as FDR's Secretary of Labour, Eleanor Roosevelt expanded role of First Lady and 300,000 women wrote to her monthly article in teh Women's Home Journal. 
  • 1933 Economy Act forbade members of the same family from working for the federal government and 75% of those who lost their jobs through this were women, NRA codes allowed for unequal wages, by 1940 90% of jobs filled by men.
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Was Opposition to FDR effective?

  • American Liberty League
  • Al Smith supported them, pushed for AAA and NRA to be unconstitutional, financial backing from big businesses.
  • FDR increased tax on the wealthy (Revenue Act), wasn't phased as he had ordinary people's support.
  • Upton Sinclair and EPIC
  • Influenced Townsend and Long and provided democratic alternative, might have influenced New Deal.
  • His programme 'EPIC' was unworkable and not picked up by the Federal Government
  • Father Charles Coughlin
  • Had a huge following of people- 40 million at the shows height. 
  • Became an anti-semite which led to his downfall and FDR did not move further right.
  • Francis Townsend and the Townsend Clubs
  • FDR introduced pensions through the Social Security Act- influenced by him.
  • Pensions that were brought in had no resemblance to Townsend's.
  • Huey Long and 'Share our Wealth' Campaign
  • Poll suggested he would get 4 million votes as an independent candidate, might have influenced 2nd ND.
  • Assassinated before election and Share our Wealth was not incorporated into the New Deal.
  • Supreme Court
  • Ruled against 11 out of 16 of FDR's cases eg. NRA, AAA. FDR proposed Judicary Reform Bill-affected by them.
  • Allowed the more extreme acts of the 2nd ND to be passed, AAA and FERA were re-incorporated through 2nd ND.
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Was the impact of WW2 on different groups signific

  • Ethnic Minorities
  • Tuskegee airmen were celebrated (between May 1943-June 1945 they never lost a single bomber they were escorting), Executive Order 8802 outlawed racial discrimination in defence industries during wartime, Double V Campaign. Navajo code talkers were welcomed in the fight against the Japanese.
  • Army was racially segregated until 1948, only 4000 black Americans were serving in the army and only 12 black Americans were officers in December 1941 and they still faced racial discrimination eg. Race Riots 1943. Only 420 Navajos helped of a population of 50,000.
  • Women
  • 100,000 served in the Women's Army Corps and there were 350,000 in the whole of the armed forces, 6 million entered the workforce for the first time.
  • 1944: average female pay was $32.21 and the average male pay was $54.64, Labour unions were unsympathetic to the plight of women
  • Young People
  • 20 milion+ 16-18 year olds became members of the American Red Cross, Young Civil Defence Volunteers were crucial and by 1944, 3 million 14-18 year olds were employed in war industries and laws were amended to suit this new 'child labour'.
  • Child labour was a regressive thing to encourage.
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Was the 2nd New Deal Successful?

  • REA: Rural Electrification Administration 1936
  • Offered electricity to those in rural areas without it and took on previous criticism by putting it in the hands of private businesses. 
  • Did not reach all areas and by the early 1940s, only 33% of farms had electricity. 
  • Wagner Act 1935 : Promoted and reinforced trade unions
  • Made trade union membership a positive thing- rose to 9 miliion as a result. Wages maintained high levels.
  • Employers felt that there was a stranglehold on the economy as a result of unionisation. 
  • Revenue Act 1935: Increased tax on the wealthy through corporation, property and personal income tax.
  • Wealth was redistributed and paid for the New Deal debt to some extent. Workers real wages increased.
  • The wealthy claimed FDR was a traitor to his own class. Potentially hindered entreprenurial spirit?
  • Social Security Act 1935: Brought in pensions and other social welfare
  • Pensions and unemployment relief were clearest sign of support for those who needed it. Helped to expand the economy through cycle of prosperity.
  • Increase in government spending and criticised for too much government intervention.
  • WPA: Works Progress Administration 1935
  • Projects for different parts of society eg. public works, artists, musicians. Employed millions of people (mostly unskilled men) and published 275 books, 700 pamphlets and 340 issuances.
  • A lot of government spending.
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How effective was the First New Deal?

  • Reform: Banking
  • Emergency Banking Act and 'Fireside Chats' meant $1 billion was returned to the banks by April 1933.
  • SEC monitored Wall Street, arrest of Richard Whitney restored confidence but only one high-profile arrest?
  • Glass-Steagall Act secured depositors money which restored confidence in the banks. 
  • Recovery: Agriculture
  • AAA led to rises in prices and incomes but it increased unemployment and was declared unconstitutional but brought back through the 2. ND.
  • TVA- electricity encouraged further investment but might have been better controlled by private businesses?
  • Emergency Farm Mortgage Act allowed farmers to keep their farms until the economy recovered.
  • FDR did not help the dust bowl.
  • Recovery: Industry
  • NIRA encouraged people to buy from US businesses and protected workers but Ford didn't join and it was declared unconstitutional in 1935.
  • PWA stimulated the economy but increased government spending to an unprecedented level.
  • Relief: Unemployment
  • FERA-Harold Ickes threatened states to use the $500m split between them but some states were still reluctant.
  • CCC employed 9 million men and $25 out of $30 wage sent home but contracts only lasted 6-9 months.
  • CWA contributed to the relief offered but it was only temporary during the winter of 1934-5.
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Did Herbert Hoover try to combat the depression?

  • Relief
  • Secured $500,000 form Congress in 1932 to help charities, set up President's Emergency Relief Committee.
  • No direct government relief, when drought led to starvation in the south he only put $47 million aside mostly in loans to be re-paid,13 million Americans were out of work, he was blamed eg. Hoovervilles.
  • Unemployment
  • Emergency Relief and Construction Act 1932 showed he was trying.
  • Only bankrupt states qualified to recieve help^, it had a budget $1.2 billion, critics claimed $2billion would be needed to help 10% of America's unemployed, he received blame for treatment of Bonus Marchers in 1932- 100+ veterans injured.
  • Industry
  • Believed problems were international- Smoot Hawley Tariff 1930 might have seemed logical without hindsight.
  • 100 economists signed a letter criticizing Smoot-Hawley, fall in international trade of $1.2 billion by 1931, Moratorium announced in June 1931 was counter-productive with Smoot-Hawley in place.
  • Restoring Confidence in Banks
  • RFC offered to lend up to $2 billion in banks-Ogden Mills, who was in charge, said 90% went to small and medium sized banks and by March 1933 it had helped 160 banks.
  • Critics of the RFC said that 50% of support went to the biggest banks, people did not trust him so did not restore confidence.
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Was the social or economic effect of the depressio

  • Social
  • Embarassment of poverty- only 25% of those entitled to benefits claimed and people pretended to be in work.
  • In Arkansas, schools closed for 10 months because the state couldn't afford to keep them open.
  • Number of marriages fell from 1.23m in 1929 to 982,000 in 1932.
  • Birth rate dropped from 21.2 per thousand in 1929 to 19.5 per thousand in 1932.
  • Suicide rates increased from 14% in 1929 to 17.4% in 1932.
  • Farmers grouped together to stop expesive sales by re-buying property- community coming together.
  • Economic 
  • Ohio had 50% of its workforce unemployed.
  • Growth rate declined from 6.7% in 1929 to -14.7% in1932.
  • Fall in GNP from $203.6 billion in 1929 to $144.2 billion in 1932.
  • General goods fell in price by 25%, for farmers this was 50%
  • Coal workforce fell by 300,000 and wages could be as low as $2.50 a day
  • Iron and Steel production fell by 59%
  • Number of homes being built fell by 82% by 1932.
  • Banks continued to close.
  • Did not afffect all areas badly- New York only had 1 million people unemployed (not even 10% of population)
  • Some industries were depression proof eg. cigarettes and lightbulbs.
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Did popular culture change 1920s?

  • Jazz
  • Amplified by radio, African American jazz singers became popular eg. Bessie Smith and Duke Ellington
  • Some rurual areas preferred country, some southern areas prefered the blues. KKK denounced jazz as satanic.
  • Harlem Renaissance
  • Mass movement of American culture- Noble Sissle produced an all-black broadway show, 'Shuffle Along', magazine 'The Crisis' by the NAACP amplified African American culture.
  • Not everyone appreciated it (because of racism) and not all black people took part in it.
  • Baseball
  • By 1929, most major cities had a baseball stadium, Babe Ruth of the NY Yankees became a national hero.
  • It remained segregated and although the ***** Baseball League was established it was poorly funded.
  • Radio
  • Brought entertainment home for millions, amplified other areas of cultural change, KDKA was first ever commercial radio station in 1920, based in Pittsburgh.
  • Cinema
  • 1929: every town had a picture house, 'The Jazz Singer'- first talking film (1927), Oscars created (1929)
  • Religious moralists condemned it for undermining the Christian ethos.
  • Literature
  • First ever 'boom' in American literature eg. Fitzgerald -'Gatsby' (1925), Hemingway-'The Sun Also Rises' (1926)
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Did the role of women change 1920s?

  • Social
  • Increase in birth control was championed by American Birth Control League, 1921 Sheppard-Towner Act gave states federal aid to develop healthcare for pregnant women, flappers.
  • Sheppard-Towner Act reinforced stereotypes of women being homemakers and it's funds were withdrawn in 1929, flappers only in cities- did not affect rural women, 89% of girls interviewed for the Muncie Survey said they would prefer to quit their jobs when married.
  • Political
  • 19th Amendment (ratified August 1920) gave them the right to vote, women held 45 seats on various state legislatures by 1928, by the early 1920s, women could serve on juries in 20 states.
  • Slightly less likely to vote than men, only 2 out of 435 delegates in the House of Representatives were female, no female senators, attempts to pass an Equal Rights Amendment first introduced in 1923 repeatedly failed.
  • Economic
  • Cosmetic industry grew from being worth $17 million per annum to $200 million by the end of the decade, 25% increase in women working by the end of the decade.
  • Numbers outside of office work were low, hard for women to move up to managerial positions, by 1930 only 150 female dentists and 100 female accountants, largely in low-paid employment eg. shop workers, domestic service, unequal pay.
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Was prohibition a failure?

  • Crime Rates
  • Led to the development of organised crime, between 1927-30 there were 227 gangland murders in Chiago,
  • 32,000 speakeasies in New York,
  • Prohibition agents largely corrupt,
  • Ordinary people began to break the law,
  • Valentines Day Massacre 1929 saw Al Capone's gang murder 7 members of the Moran gang.
  • 'Izzy and Moe' made 4932 arrests of which 95% gained convictions,
  • Arrests for drunkness fell,
  • Fewer drunk drivers- safer roads.
  • Health
  • Corn was fermented to produce moonshine which was often a fire hazard and led to poisonous alcohol and there was no quality control over it,
  • Deaths from alcohol were up 600% by 1927.
  • Rural areas supported prohibition and so deaths from alcohol lowered in some of these areas.
  • Alcohol Consumption
  • Doctors could still sell alchol for medicinal purposes which provided a loophole,
  • Only 5% of smuggled alcohol was intercepted.
  • Consumption fell from 2.6 gallons in 1917 to 1 gallon in 1930 (per person per year).
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Did the KKK possess sizeable support and influence

  • Geography
  • Established in southern states since the civil year, David Curtis Stephenson, Grand Dragon of the Indiana Klans, virtually held control of the whole state by 1924, Kathleen Blee's work has shown there were dramatic increases in membeship in areas like Ohio and Illinois (mid-western states)
  • Largely a movement of small towns, 25% of members in 1925 from the South.
  • Political Influence
  • Helped elect governors in Maine, Ohio, Colorado and Lousiana, at one point both Georgia senators were klansmen, helped destroy Al Smith's campaign (1924), March on Washington 1926 (government allowed this)
  • Less control and influence in northen states and big cities.
  • Membership
  • 100,000 followers by 1921, recruits paid a membership fee of $10 (members were dedicated?), Hiram Wesley Evans, leader of the KKK, claimed there were 5 million members in 1923. 
  • By 1929, membership had fallen to 200,000, mamn members joined out of concerns about a 'new' America and left after new immigration laws were passed, many Americans were repelled by their violence.
  • Scandals
  • David Curtis Stephenson r*ped a 28yr old girl who died as a result, he was convicted of murder and admitted to going against moral elements of the klan in 1927- led to a decline in support, revelation of financial mismanagment in Pennsylvania caused membership decline.
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Did black Americans achieve equality 1945-55?

  • Economically
  • 1947: Truman commissioned 'To Secure These Rights'- allowed the NAACP to put forward thoughts and proposed the creation of a Commission on Civil Rights, anti-lynching laws and led to Executive Order 9980 (Fair Employment Board to ensure equal treatment in hiring for federal jobs). Executive Order 9981 (July 1948) ended segregation in the armed forces.
  • Seen by some as an effort from Truman to get black American votes (2/3 black Americans did vote for him), 9981 didn't apply to National Guard or reserve forces, black Americans still struggled to get jobs and were paid less.
  • Legally
  • Brown V Board ended segregation in schools (17th May 1954). Thurgood Marshall, who helped secure the case for the NAACP, became the first black American justice (1960s).
  • Schools allowed to be 'seperate but equal', many white southern states refused to abide, 'The Southern Mainfesto', signed by 100 congressmen in 1955, declared the case as an abuse of judical power.
  • Socially
  • Popular sportsmen from the 1930s/40s gained more prominence eg. Joe Louis (boxer), Jesse Owens (athlete). Jackie Robinson signed for Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947- first black professional to play at top level. Outrage at the arrest of Rosa Parks (December 1955) shows changing attitudes.
  • Black sportsmen faced racism, segregation still existed (public tiolets, public transport, drinking fountains), whites still viewed blacks as inferior, ghettos still existed eg. Harlem, KKK still intimidated black Americans.
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Were there social tensions 1920s?

  • Immigration
  • USA aimed to allow 'white European' immigrants eg. Johnson-Reed Immigration Act 1924 banned immigration from  Japan. Sacco and Vanzetti executed in 1927 without concrete evidence- support in rural America.
  • Uproar about Sacco and Vanzetti (widespread protests) shows progressive attitudes.
  • KKK
  • 100,000 members by 1921 and significant political influence eg. destroyed Al Smith's campaign.
  • Was not widespread (mostly in rural areas) and scandals (eg. Stephenson) destroyed their support. 200,000 members by end of the decade.
  • Red Scare
  • Bolkshekiv Revolution in Russia (1917) threatened US- strike in 1919 led by left-wingers, 'Palmer Raids' agsinst newspapers/activists led to 6000 arrests- reflected tensions and added to immigration fears?
  • Seemed to die away from 1920 
  • Prohibition
  • Led to growth in organised crime (eg. Valentines Day Massacre 1929, John Torrio, Al Capone)
  • Widespread belief that alchol caused social problems- reduced alchol consumption solved these?
  • Women
  • Opposition to women's enfranchisement came from alcoholics and textile industries.
  • 19th Amendment had lots of support and it didn't change much for women anyway.
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What caused the Great Depression?

  • Decline in Industries and Agriculture
  • 66% of farms operated at a loss, worldwide tarfifs- overproduction,demand for construction fell from 1926.
  • Emergency Tariff Act 1921 and Fordney McCumber 1922 protected farmers and industry to an extent.
  • Unequal Distribution of Wealth
  • 60% of families lived under poverty line, 85% of African Americans lived in the south- worst area for this.
  • Women had greater opportunities eg. clerical work, African Americans only made up 10% of the population.
  • International Aspects
  • Too focussed on forcing Europeans to repay loans, tariffs lowered exports.
  • Repayments were 'payable' with a deadline of 1947 and interest rates lowered to 3%.
  • Government Policies
  • Laissez-faire: no help to farmers, tax reductions only benefited the wealthy, unregulated banks, no state support.
  • Early policies allowed for wealth to be created.
  • Banking System
  • Credit destablised the economy, Federal Reserve Board ran by ex-bankers, depositers money unprotected.
  • Ordinary people would not have accessed easy credit or put money on stocks anyway.
  • Wall Street Crash
  • Inexperienced people became involved in stocks and shares in the 1920s, $30 billion dollars lost from economy.
  • Bankers eg. JP Morgan put $40 million each on the market and bought stocks for above the market price.
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Did the 1920s boom affect everyone?

  • Farmers
  • Fordney McCumber 1922- less exports,boil weevil disease, prohibiton- grain demand fell, attempts to pass McNary Haughen Bill failed in 1924,26,27,28, average income was $273 a year compared to average of $750.
  • African Americans
  • Equal pay at Ford, mass migration to the north brought some benefits.
  • Majority still lived in South-Eastern USA- legal and social discriminitation, many were sharecroppers- unable to escape poverty, generally given the most low paid jobs all over the US.
  • Big Businesses 
  • Government reduced federal taxes in 1924, 25 and 28, Mellon handed out $3.5 billion in tax reductions to large scale industrialists and corporations, laissez-faire policies meant they could fix prices through cartels.
  • Industrial Workers
  • Development of assembly line meant unskilled workers could get well-paid employment eg. Ford paid his workers $5 per day, they could therefore take part in the consumer boom eg. 75% of cars bought through hire purchase.
  • Jobs were montonous and unpleasent.
  • Women
  • Cosmetics industry grew from $17 million to $200 million by the end of 1920s, advertising aimed at women who made most of the spending decisions, flappers.
  • Unequal pay, most of the women who benefitted were white, middle-class and lived in cities.
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What caused the 1920s boom?

  • Impact of WW1
  • USA became creditor nation, industrial production increase 39% agriculture food exports increased by 300%+.
  • War debt was at $27 billion- taxes remained high, 1919: lots of strikes when economy slowed down.
  • Advertisements and Hire Purchase
  • Advertisements in radio and cinema, by 1929 $7 billion worth of goods sold through hire purchase.
  • Banks and businesses struggled when people couldn't pay back their loans leading to recession.
  • Rober Barons, Corporations and New Jobs
  • Corporations dominated industries due to cartels and led to a need for business managers-big employers.
  • Kept wages low and made it difficult for small businesses.
  • Laissez-Faire Government Policy
  • Tariffs good for US business, lax Federal Trade Commission meant businesses could create mass of wealth.
  • Other countries raising their tariffs affected farmers, and tax reductions meant little for ordinary workers.
  • Motor Manufacturing and Stimulating Other Industries
  • Biggest industry:23 million cars on the road, largest market for steel and rubber, Federal Highway Act 1921.
  • 1927 closed Ford factory led to 60,000 workers becoming redundant.
  • Assembly Line and White Wash Goods
  • Assembly line (1914)  led to Model T costing $950 (1913) to $250 (1925), 1929: 160m labour-saving devices sold.
  • Did not affect much of rural America.
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