USA in the 1920's

a brief introduction of the isuues in america in the 1920's

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  • Created by: Rhian
  • Created on: 07-04-13 15:55


  • 1920 election was won by the Republican Party Warren Harding and his slogan was 'normalcy'
  • The USA did not LON and made a separate peace treaty with Germany in 1921
  • They refused to join alliances
  • Millions of refugees from Europe went to America to escape the war
  • In 1917 a literacy test was introduced for immigrants and Asians were not allowed to immigrate
  • The immigrants were blamed for the rising crime, alcoholism and other social problems
  • WASPs and Ku Klux Klan spread the belief that the USA should be a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant country
  • In 1919 there were a load of strikes which they immigrants were blamed for
  • Unemployment increased after the war and immigrants were blamed for taking there jobs
  • Quotas 1921,1923 and 1929 were introduced to cut immigration
  • In 1922 the Fordney-McCumber tariff put tax on foreign goods
  • When the USA introduced tariffs so did the other countries
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The Boom

  • During the 1920's America had the highest standard of living in the world
  • The USA had been involved with the war for 18 months and did not recieve the damage that the European countries had
  • American industry and agriculture expanded enormously and American companies made profit selling to the European countries
  • America was owed money from debts from European countries
  • In the 1920's food prices and housing costs were low
  • People had money to spend on consumer goods
  • Lower taxes meant that people had more money to spend
  • New mass production methods meant that more goods could be produced at lower costs
  • Everyone wanted the newest things
  • New products were being made like cars, radio, refrigerators
  • After 1918 electricity was supplied to most houses
  • Advertising campaigns persuaded people to buy the new products
  • American farmers were producing more than what they could sell and tariffs meant that other countries wern't willing to buy it off of them
  • Black people in the South suffered from poverty and were victims of racial segregation and violence, they could only get low paid, unskilled work
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The Roaring 20's

  • At the same time of the boom there were also major social and cultural change
  • There was a population shift from countryside to the towns and cities
  • In 1920 women were given the right to vote and could become town Mzyors, Members of Congress, Senators
  • Females had more choice of their clothes and it was acceptable for them to smoke,drink and go to parties unsupervised (Flappers)
  • They had more money to spend on entertainment - Cinemas, radio, stadiums, dancing, speakeasies, jazz bands, theatre
  • By 1925 KKK had 5 million members and believed in white supremacy in America. They wanted it to become a White Anglo Saxon Protestants countries
  • The Klan wanted segregation blacks and white and to take away blacks legal rights
  • The KKK was a very secretive organisation and used racial violence, terror, murder and lynching
  • The Anti Saloon League campaigned for prohibition, they believed drunkenness and alcoholism was a major socail evil
  • In 1920 the Volstead Act banned alcohol in the USA
  • Organised crime took over manufacture and distrubition of alcohol, thousands of speakeasies were opened to supply alcohol
  • The authorities could not enforce the law and few people were caught
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The Wall Street Crash

  • At the start of the 1929 they thought the boom years would never ended and Herbert Hoover thought that poverty have been conquered
  • American industry was producing too much consumer goods, which they could not sell
  • Many Americans -farmers, Black Americans and immigrants - were too poor to afford the goods
  • The boom led to over confidence in the stock market and it became a place for short term speculation rather than long term investment
  • People borrowed money to buy shares
  • Brokers charged very high rates of interests on these loans
  • On October 24th (Black Thursday) shares began to fall and panic selling caused prices to fall sharply
  • Financiers failed to restore confidence
  • On October 29th (Black Tuesday) investors rushed to sell and share prices fell $40 billion in a single day and by 1930 they had fallen by 90%
  • Many companies were forced out of business (declare bankruptcy), banks called in loans and people were unable to buy goods
  • Unemployment increased and demand for goods fell sharply forcing factories to close, people could no longer afford credit repayments and companies lost income, hundreds of banks closed because of stockmarket losses and bad debts
  • Between 1929 and 1932 unemployment  increased from 2 million to 12 million
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