The Roaring 20's

by Alice Zhao, Mason Smith, Rich Zhou, and Andrew Yu

Hero- Charles Lindbergh (1902-1974)

  • Charles Lindbergh was the epitome of the American hero. Soldier, pilot, inventor, explorer, author--Lindbergh was everything every young American boy wanted to be and more.

  • Lindbergh famously made the first solo, nonstop transatlantic flight in a plane he helped design in May of 1927

  • Born in Detroit, Lindbergh grew up on a farm in small town Little Falls, Minnesota, the son of a lawyer by the name of Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Sr., who would go on to a Congressman for Minnesota from 1907-1917.

  • Lindbergh showed great intelligence and wisdom from a young age. He enrolled in the University of Wisconsin at the age of 18 to study engineering; however, Lindbergh quickly became more interested in the fledgling field of aviation than he was in his studies, and left the university after two years to become a barnstormer (a pilot who performs stunts at fairs and airshows).

  • In 1924, Lindbergh enlisted in the United States Army so that he could be trained as an Army Air Service Reserve pilot. In 1925, he graduated from the Army's flight-training school near San Antonio as the best pilot in his class. Shortly thereafter, he was hired by Robertson Aircraft Corporation to fly mail between St. Louis and Chicago.

  • In 1919, a New York City hotel owner named Raymond Orteig offered $25,000 to the first aviator to fly nonstop from New York to Paris. Several pilots were killed or injured while competing for the Orteig prize. By 1927, it had still not been won. Lindbergh believed he could win it if he had the right airplane; he persuaded nine St. Louis businessmen to help him finance the cost of a plane.

  • Lindbergh chose Ryan Aeronautical Company of San Diego to manufacture a special plane, which he helped design. He named the plane the Spirit of St. Louis. On May 10-11, 1927, Lindbergh tested the plane by flying from San Diego to New York City, with an overnight stop in St. Louis. The flight took 20 hours 21 minutes, a transcontinental record.

  • On May 20-21, Lindbergh Made the flight to Paris in 33 ½ hours, an astounding feat of both endurance and engineering for the time. Lindbergh's heroic flight thrilled people throughout the world. He was honored with awards, celebrations, and parades. President Calvin Coolidge gave Lindbergh the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

  • Lindbergh would tour the country and various other major cities following this, and would meet his wife Anne Spencer Morrow. He would go on to develop an artificial heart that would save numerous lives, have his son kidnapped in what would become a national news story that would lead to the Lindbergh law, and would become vilified by the national media for his non-involvement views during World War II prior to Pearl Harbor.


Birth of a Mass Culture

  • Radios- The sales of radios increased by more than 5 times during a period of only 7 years. The KDKA, commissioned initially by the federal government to report the results of the Harding-Cox election of 1920, grew to monopolize the radio industry during the early 1920s by selling allotted times to advertisers; however, as the radio became more accessible to a greater range of people, conflict emerged as people competed for radio frequencies and took desperate measures to gain more popularity than their competitors. During just the first decade of its creation, the radio was able to provide people with a variety of music, news articles, and comedies. The radio allowed people to become more aware of current events throughout the world and served as a catalyst for an unprecedented influx of entertainment, advertisements, and new styles of music. It gave one person the opportunity to reach out to a multitude of people in an instant and spread propaganda, religious fervor, etc. Rather than reading about certain events after they had occurred, people became aware of events while they were happening more directly than before. Instead of reading speeches and articles, people were able to listen to their speakers, and as a result, clearly visualize and form an opinion on the speech or article. Music also developed exponentially during the rise in the use of the radio; as it began to appeal to wider audiences, composers and musicians were forced to meet the demand of new music by the changing tastes of culture. Live music performances also became common due to the fact that the quality of sound produced by the radios far exceeded that of record players at the time. Radios also fostered the pervasiveness of racial stereotypes by talk shows throughout the homes of a majority of the families in the country. By 1928, over 60% of the homes in the nation owned radios; it became extremely common for families to gather around the radio for night-time entertainment on a daily basis.

  • Automobile- After the creation of the assembly line by Henry Ford, the automobile became an affordable luxury for a majority of Americans. This eliminated the idea of the ownership of the automobile being representative of class distinction. Immediately following the mass production of automobiles was an economic boom; there was a new demand for labor in areas such as road construction, highway design, vulcanized rubber, etc. The automobile gave more families the opportunities to travel together, which matched the influx of leisure during the early 20th century. Family vacations by automobile allowed people to travel to places that would have been impossible to reach otherwise. Urban families finally experienced pristine landscapes, and rural families were able to enjoy the amenities offered in highly populated cities and urban centers such as shopping. The automobile allowed younger teenagers to have more freedoms, and as a result, this helped to facilitate more relaxed sexual attitudes. In addition, the automobile made it easier for people to commute to their urban jobs, causing an increase in suburbs surrounding central business districts. As the presence of the automobile grew, people also became more concerned with safety regulations and the prevention of traffic jams.




Culture Civil War

The Cultural Civil War was a time of increasing social tension that occurred directly after the Great War. It involved the battling between races, genders, and age classes.

  • The Jazz Age was a period of time that glorified the city life, as many young African Americans sharecroppers began migrating away from the farms of the south to the cities of New York and Chicago. After the horrors of the Great War, people simply wanted to enjoy their lives away from the gloomy massacres in trench warfare. This led to a “free” lifestyle, involving sexual promiscuity and partying, especially among the younger generations. Young people wanted to spend all their time in dancing at the Charleston, cakewalk, or the flea hop. Jazz bands were extremely popular in dance halls. Jazz was increasingly influenced by the “free” lifestyle at the time, emphasizing improvisation, syncopation, and swing. It brought exposure to the African Americans and black life into the eyes of the white people. This new and off-beat music was often seen as distasteful by the white population and the older generations. Older generations found their younger counterparts to be suffering from the Jazz Age’s vulgarity, depravity, and demoralization. The Harlem Renaissance also originated from African American roots. It was a rekindling of black cultural identity through literature, art, and intellect. As the publishing industry grew, it also developed in interest in portraying realistic black life. Rudolph Fisher had one famous work: The Conjure-Man Dies. This book was the first work to contain exclusively black characters. Though he mainly wrote, Fisher also participated in the Jazz movement. Langston Hughes became widely known for his colorful portrayal of the African American life through his novels, short stories, plays, and poems. He incorporated various components of jazz throughout his works such as Not Without Laughter, The Ways of White Folks, etc. He clearly differentiated the lives of blacks from the lives of whites and promoted the spread of pride in African African culture.

  • The 19th amendment granted women the right to vote, and a direct result of this legislation was the origination of the flappers. After they were granted with more political rights, women felt more empowered to express themselves and promote change, causing a completely new stereotype of young women. Flappers were a new breed of women who appeared during the Roaring Twenties. They were a stereotype of young women in the twenties, known for wearing short skirts, having bobbed hair, and listening to jazz, and ignoring what was considered acceptable behavior. These women were always covered in makeup, drinking, smoking, and having bedtime adventures. The word “flapper” refers to a young bird learning to fly and reach “freedom.” They exemplified the “free” lifestyle of the Roaring Twenties. This also further increased the division between the young and the old. Flappers were probably the epitome of the demoralization of the younger generation. The idea of the flapper clearly communicated that people’s perceptions of the ideal woman were evolving.

Economic Status- The Booming and Decline of the U.S. Economy in the 1920s

  • BOOMING

  • Factories made mass production more efficient and more cost-effective.

  • The Ford Model T became cheap enough so that every family could own an automobile. This new vector of transportation led to an expansion of housing outside of urban areas, roads, and highways.

  • Because of the mass production of the automobile, the demand for glass, steel, and petroleum increased exponentially.

  • Urban riots and labor unions rallied for higher wages, causing the pay wage to increase 20%. Meanwhile, technology such as the radio, electric fridge, and washing machine got cheaper. With more money for cheaper products, the consumer purchased a lot more items.

  • Radio, commercial airlines, and telephone lines connected the nation’s people to one another and ultimately the world.

  • DECLINE

  • With the boom of the city, rural America fell into decline.

  • Farm staples such as wheat and cotton dipped as much as three quarters the original price.

  • People were encouraged by media and one another to invest their money into stocks. From 1925 - 1929, the New York Stock Exchange saw an increase of 60 billion dollars. However, a lot of the time, the money invested into stocks was borrowed from the bank. With no borrowing cap, people borrowed up to 75% of the actual purchase price. While people kept investing in stocks, causing for the market to keep increasing, on October 24th, 1929, it all came to a stop when popular media predicted a fall in stocks to occur. Thus, many people pulled out of the market, selling their stocks. Ultimately this caused the market to crash.

  • With no bank insurance, many people lost their savings when banks crashed.

Final Response

The revolution in communications and transportation technologies created a new sense of nationalism among Americans; both stimulated and destroyed the American economy, further divided the immigrants and the Americans, widened the cultural gap between white and colored people, and allowed people to become more aware of the constantly changing political and social values of the time. As people became more aware of the world around them, a new influx of popular culture became ubiquitous throughout America. Events such as the creation of the radio, the passing of the 19th Amendment, the Harlem Renaissance, and the widespread use of the automobile completely reshaped the American Identity and dispersed various ideas of feminism, prohibition, individualism, and freedom. This new collective identity, although fluid, completely reshaped the idea of the American.

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