the roaring 20's- how and why did the usa achieve prosperity

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  • Created by: shona
  • Created on: 26-12-12 11:10


  • the USA achieved a degree of prosperity never seen before
  • it was the age of the ford motor, jazz, cinemas, the stock market boom and consumerism
  • however prosperity only reached half the population
  • poor workers like blacks and farmers had lifestyles that were greatly in contrast to the rich
  • society was divided and increasingly violent through activites of groups like ' the KKK' and gangsters during prohibition

key words:

  • prohibition: the period from 1920-1933 in the USA during which the manufacture, transportation and sale of alcohol for consumption were banned
  • great depression: the largest worldwide economic downturn that started with the wall street crash in the USA in 1929
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isolationism and its effects

  • when WW1 started the USA stayed neutral
  • the war was regarded as a distent event and nothing to do with USA
  • in the late 19th centry and early 20th USA became a melting pot for a mixture of immigrants mostly vor europe
  • loyalties would certainly be divided
  • the USA democrat president woodrow wilson hated the idea of war
  • in early 1917 germay in desperation started its policy of unrestricted subs warfare in the atlantic
  • meaning USA was forced to join the war in its own defence of its shipping
  • it took a long time to train the US troops and organise essential equipment
  • so it was only summer and autum of 1918 that they played an important part on the western front
  • over 100,000 american soldiers, sailors and airmen were killed
  • when the surviving troops started to return they were greeted as heroes but they painted a very different picture of fighting conditions from the romanticised version popularly believed by civilians


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American refusal to joining the League of Nations

  • Wilson was committed to USA playing a leading role in policing the treaty of versailles through active involvement in the league of nations
  • however the mood of USA was rapidly changing
  • most americans wanted to end the entanglements in european affairs not commitments towards keeping the peace in a divided continent
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the consequences for the USA

  • in the 1920 presidential election Warren Harding the republican candidate was elected with 61% of the vote (the largest marjority in american history)
  • his campaign included arguments in favour to return to normalcy a term he coined
  • however it also defined the mood of many people who wanted life to return to what it had before the war
  • in his opening speech he said 'we seek no part in directing the destinies of the world'
  • the USA never joined the League of Nations a decision that had major consequences for europe
  • America resumed its policy of isolationism(remaining aloof from european political commitments)
  • not until august 1912 did USA offically declare the war which with Germay would be over
  • during the 20's relations with most european countries were not good
  • many of the victorious ones resented the fact that USA had taken so long to come to their aid
  • during the war even when offically neutral until 1917 US business had sold armaments and food to britain and france
  • the USA was able to export to areas of the world controlled by european colonial countries whilst those countries were totally focused on war
  • by the end of the war USA had overtaked germany in the supply of chemical products
  • US businesses also took the opportunity to develop new materials using plastics
  • the old euopean intustrial countries took time in the 20's to refocus on international trade and then found thast USA had captured some of their markets
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Tariff policy: the Fordney-McCumber Tariff 1922

  • Wilsons policy of encouraging free trade with USA was ended in 1922 when the Fordney-McCumber tariff put high traiffs (taxes) on all foreign-made goods sold in the USA
  • this meant that american goods were cheaper and this helped american industries
  • it also restored the high rates imposed before WW1 but also included farm products
  • this helped to end the traditional opposition from farmers to the policy of protection
  • the acts gave the president the power to raise and lower the rate as they thought necessary
  • of the 37 time the rate was varied Harding and is successor Calvin Coolide raised it 32 times
  • Harding wasnt the only american president to show faulty understanding of economics he stated og one occasion 'we should adopt a protective tariff of such a character ads will help the struggling  industries of europe to get on their feet'
  • european countries soon retaliated by putting tariffs on american made goods
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