The Roaring 20's

By: James, Erica, Amber, & Trevor

Fads & Heroes

Babe Ruth was born on February 6th, 1895. He is remembered as one of the greatest baseball players of all time. Because there was an increase of excess leisure time during the 1920s, an age of sustained economic prosperity with distinctive cultural additions, people began to focus more on entertainment activities, such as baseball. Babe Ruth set many records, such as scoring 714 home runs in 22 seasons and having the most scoreless innings in the World Series, gaining him much attention from the public, allowing people to idealize him as a hero. Not only was he an exceptional baseball player for the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, he also had a reputation for having a good personality; he did not become pretentious because of his fame. Babe Ruth was known for his warm heart and his love for children. He regularly visited and helped out at orphanages. Because of his exceptional baseball records and kind heart, Babe Ruth became a role model for sport fanatics and the general public.

Babe Ruth

Height: 6' 2"

Born: Feb 06, 1895

Education: Cardinal Gibbons School

Occupation: Professional baseball player for the New York Yankees.

Birth of a Mass Culture

Movies of the 20’s characterised the rise of synchronized sound in film. Before, silents films often had a live piano or organ player accompanying the movie. However, with the arrival of 1923 came the synchronised soundtrack. This allowed films to be commercially distributed, and spread far and wide to be played in Nickolodeons. The stars of these films were treated as such in life, being paid huge salaries and touring around the world. Charlie Chaplin, Theda Bara, and Mary Pickford enjoyed international fame, all the while spreading their films worldwide. The growing popularity of film allowed for Nickolodeons to evade the blue laws of the day, which stipulated that all sabbath-breaking activities were to close on Sundays. With ubiquitous films, there was a constantly-growing demand for more, allowing an American film culture to be born.
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With the advent of Henry Ford’s assembly line, automobiles such as Ford’s Model-T became increasingly widespread because of the lowered cost. There was a boom in car production, creating new models and brands, many of which can only be found in vintage car shows today. The 20’s saw the creation of closed automobiles with heating for comfort, four-wheel drive, and even early versions of hybrid fuel cars. Advertisements for these vehicles changed to appeal more to the emotional aspect of a potential buyer rather than advertising the practical aspects such as horsepower or features. The steadily-growing spread of automobiles created a national demand; automobiles were seen as increasingly commonplace, in contrast to a few years prior. This national demand contributed to the mass culture by making cars a normal thing to have in America, adding to the somewhat luxurious lifestyle following World War I.

Culture Civil War

During the Roaring 20’s, both the Red Scare and the Scopes Trial greatly impacted America, and shaped the future of the nation. The Red Scare symbolizes the spread of communism, and the fear of it spreading. Many Americans were afraid of the rapid rise in communist nations, particularly the reach of the Soviet Union, which led to Americans vowing to put an end to communism, and doing all in their power to prevent it from further spreading.
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Secondly, the Scopes Trial was a trial against a substitute teacher in Tennessee. The substitute teacher incriminated himself in order to cause ruckus over the Tennessee Butler Act, prohibiting the teaching of evolution in public schools. The court case caught national attention, leading to a huge debate between fundamentalist and modernist. Both the Scopes Trial and the Red Scare majorly impacted the United States during the roaring 20’s, and influenced the nation.

Economic Status

  • Passenger cars became commonplace, the railroad heavily decreased in use

  • Growth of suburbs outside of large cities was much more common due to cars being available to many more people

  • More all purpose roads were created

  • Electric utility networks experienced growth, and the radio and telephones increased communication, reducing rural areas

  • Henry Ford created affordable cars and the assembly line which was extremely beneficial to the nation’s economic as well providing jobs for thousands of people

  • Stock prices rose far above realistic values in late 1929 which started the Great Depression

Mass culture greatly boosted the economy because it provided jobs for many people as well as better working conditions and higher wages. Henry Ford’s mass production of automobiles was a perfect example of this, as he created the assembly line and was able to mass produce inexpensive parts, which enabled him to provide many jobs for workers, as well as increase their wages. Also, mass production was becoming much more common in manufacturing and thus the nation’s economy as a whole was stimulated.

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However, certain areas of American culture, such as the “get rich fast” mentality, led to a severe economic downturn during the late 1920s. Americans believed that they could get rich without hard work, and this was fueled by popular culture at the time which portrayed stories of fame and riches, and also highlighted the great successes of the mass production of goods. Banks started giving out large loans of money, and the citizens could not pay them back which led to a huge economic downturn. To worsen matters, stock prices were increasing very fast, and banks were taking out loans to purchase these stocks, but then the stock market crashed in 1929 and billions of dollars were lost on the market. It was this sense of naivety in American culture that led many Americans to believe they could get lucky with stock purchases and become rich, but in reality these stock purchases led to their economic doom.

Final Response

The revolution in communications and transportation technology helped to create a new mass culture and spread “modern” values and ideas by creating more leisure time for entertainment purposes, a fear of foreign powers, a questioning of modernist and fundamentalist beliefs, and new inventions of passenger cars and electrical machines. Many individuals achieved the status of becoming a hero in the 1920’s. Babe Ruth became a hero to the public because of his exceptional baseball record and kind heart. As people became more connected and leisure time increased, people became more aware of the entertainment aspect of life, focusing on fads and people like Babe Ruth. The advent of film and automobile cultures created a sense of connectedness amongst the people; driving became a normality because of lowered costs courtesy of Henry Ford, and Nickolodeons became staples of 20’s entertainment. Along with the rise of communism foreign nations, America became to fear them, suppressing them from spreading or converting any other nations to communism. Americans also began to question modernist and fundamentalist beliefs, changing the nation. During the early 1920s, the American economy was booming due to the increased manufacturing and the higher number of jobs available as a result of World War 1. The mass production of inexpensive consumer goods allowed for more jobs for laborers as well as higher wages, which in turn boosted the economy. However, the “get rich fast” American mentality led to the downfall of the economy towards the end of the decade because of over-investment and unprecedented bank loans.

Bibliography


  • Pierce, J. J. Kingston. "Scopes Trial." History Net Where History Comes Alive World US History Online. Historynet, 12 June 2006. Web. 09 Feb. 2016.

  • History. "Red Scare." History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 09 Feb. 2016.