The Ups and Downs of the Twenties

By Mabel Thompson

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."

- Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

The Best of Times

The Avant-Garde: This event changed American culture, we were no longer in the shadows of European culture. American authors, poets, artists, and musicians of the time changed the way Americans knew the arts.

The Harlem Renaissance/ The Great Migration: This was a huge event that started the beginning of the civil rights movement. It was the movement of hundreds of thousands of African Americans north that caused larger pockets of ethnic groups in the north. These groups later formed larger groups that would lead to the eventual race equality and the civil rights movement.
The Scopes Trail: This event caused a lot of discussion. It allowed people to pick and choose their views and beliefs. Now Americans did not have to follow the traditional route, they had the choice to believe in something different.

Mass Entertainment: This new way of entertaining and communicating changed American culture forever. Now there were spectator sports, radio, phonographs etc... These were new ways for Americans to spend their time, these were farther away from the traditional routes of American culture.
Henry Ford and Alfred Sloan: These two entrepreneurs industrilized the automobile industry. They cut costs, reduced time and allowed more money into their workers' pockets. This impacted Americans positively by feeding the consumer market causing the economy to boom.

Advertisement Boom: The nation's first million-dollar advertising campaign demonstrated advertising's power. Before the 1920s, most advertisements were vast expanse of print; there were no brand names, pictures, or catch phrases. During the 1920s, advertising agencies hired psychologists. They were to design campaigns; they built up name brand identification, created memorable slogans, manipulated endorsements by, and appealed to consumers' hunger for prestige and status. This Impacted Americans positively because it allowed businesses to grow.

A New Kind of Woman: Women received the right to vote with the passing of the 19th Amendment. This allowed women a voice in voting for laws, now they could push for child labor laws and gender equality.
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Election of 1928: Al Smith, an Irish Catholic, for almost a decade was governor of the nation's largest state. He turned New York into a model state for efforts like using the government to improve the public's well-being. With his leadership, New York granted women 40-hour work weeks, and instituted the nation's first public housing program. He also established state parks and a system of public hospitals. He had a positive impact on Americans.

Worst of Times

Immigration Restrictions: These feelings of anti-imigration lead to immigration restrictions. This made it extremely difficult to come to America, now people had to pass tests to be let into the land of the free. Only a certain percentage of people of certain ethnic groups were allowed into the united states per year. These restrictions also barred Asians from entering the United States.

Red Scare: This was the fear of enemy infiltration. There was a lot of bombing and threats after the war. This made a lot of people nervous and scared, causing tensions between groups of people. This is obviously a negative impact on Americans as fear makes people do irrational things.
The Ku Klux Klan: This group of experimentsfelt that anyone who was not total 100% American was not worthy of living in America. This group's culture impacted the people around them negatively, It caused people to feel scared and protest for equality. The KKK found targets in Catholics, Jews, African Americans, etc. This was a negative cultural impact of the 1920's.

The Scopes Trial (Part 2): This event was caused because religious groups did not want evolution taught to children, they did not want the Bible to be questioned. This kind of attitude was a negative impact on Americans because it limited what they could learn and this went against one of America's founding rights, freedom of religion.
Prohibition: Prohibition outlawed alcohol during the 1920's, when it was over many legal bars could not reopen their doors due to the lack of funds. The Prohibition during the 1920's effected Americans negatively because they ran their own speakeasy, made their own liquor that was potentially more dangerous than regular alcohol.

Needs v.s. Wants: As more luxuries were produced less necessities were bought. In turn older industries such as rail roads and steel slowed, as new industries like automobiles and appliances boomed. This was a bitter sweet impact because many people lost jobs as the demand was less, but more poeple gained jobs in other areas.
Corruption Runs: There was a lot of political corruption in the 1920's, this effected the American people negatively. It allowed discrimination, this did not help people get rights or feel safe.

Harding's Scandals: After Harding's sudden death from a stroke in 1923, his administration's biggest scandal: the Teapot Dome, was revealed. Harding's Interior Secretary, Mr. Albert B. Fall, was sent to prison for accepting over $360,000 in bribes. These bribes were for transferring U.S. naval oil reserves in Wyoming to other oil operators, he exchanged this oil for above ground petroleum storage. As well as private oil companies draining oil from federal lands.This negativity impacted Americans, because how could they trust someone who lies to be in charge of their country.

Sources (Pictures)

"1920s Prohibition." 1920's Prohibition. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.


"Changing Roles of Women in the 1920s | Publish with Glogster!" Glogster. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.

"The Great Gatsby." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.

"The Harlem Renaissance and The Great Migration !" Abdouls English 2 Blog. N.p., 23 Oct. 2013. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.

"Scopes Trial 1920." Scopes Trial 1920. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.

"Women, The Vote, and 2010 Elections." Mookychick. N.p., 03 Sept. 2014. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.

Sources (Information)

Digital History articles, History Alive textbook (Ch. 26-29)


*Most of the Links provided by Elford were used to complete this assignment.