|American Life in the Roaring Twenties
1. Red Scare: Define the issues and people below that illustrate reactionism to
the perceived threat of invasion by the Communists
Seattle General Strike – labor strike, but mayor over-reacts and calls for
Federal troops to head off the “anarchy of Russia”
Billy Sunday – preadched of the evils of the Bosheviks
A. Mitchell Palmer – Att. Gen. that was the force behind the Red Scare of
1919-1920, rounded up nearly 6000 suspects
Buford - Ship filled with nearly 250 alleged alien radicals to be sent back to
Russia - deportation
criminal syndicalism laws – anti-red statutes – unlawful the “mere advocacy
of violence to secure social change”
Sacco and Vanzetti Case (1921) – two Italian anarchists that were convicted
of killing a Boston pay master. Evidence would probably not have convinced
a jury today to give the death sentence. Illustration of xenophobia
2. Why did the KKK see such a resurgence during the 1920’s?
- they were the principle voice against the onrush of immigrants. They were
nativists. They were seen by some as a force against “many of the forces of
diversity and modernity that were transforming American culture”
3. Immigration: What was the U.S. immigration policy before 1921? Define the
limits imposed by the Emergency Quota Act of 1921. How and why did the
Immigration Act of 1924 change it?
- Prior to ’21 – open immigration with the exception of the Chinese (1882 Act)
and the Japanese who had self-limited through the Gentleman’s Agreement
and the resulting Root-Takahira Agreement of 1909.
- Emergency Quota Act – 3% of the 1910 level
- Act of 1924 – 2% of the 1890 level
- Change? – Fewer immigrants in 1890, thus lower total immigration overall
and the year switch favored the western and northern European immigrant for
there were more in that year.
4. Prohibition: What were the arguments for the prohibition of alcohol (18th
- associated with public drunkenness, prostitution, corruption, crime
What areas of the country supported it and why? - West - lawlessness
Which areas of the country opposed it and why? – East – ethnic centers
Quantify the societal impact of Prohibition?
- made ordinary citizens outlaws. (legislated a thirst)
- increased corruption in police departments for they were paid off
- increased gangsterism (Al Capone) – St. Valentine’s Day massacre
- bank savings did in fact increase and absenteeism fell.
5. Scopes Monkey Trial: What was the issue in the case?
What was the significance of the case when seen as a reflection of society?
- issue – John Scopes taught evolution in class / violated the Tenn. law that
mandated the teaching of creationism –
- reflection of society – some bought into it and some did not. He was fined
Fundamentalism took a hit in the media for Clarence Darrow made their
principles appear foolish in the courtroom. Shows schism in society – Should
schools teach both – What of today?
- How did producers increase buying desires of consumers?
- “buying on credit”; advertisements
- Bruce Barton: Who was he? – Symbol of advertising salesman – “Jesus Christ
was the best adman of all time.
- “Buying on credit” – what was this concept? How was it diametrically opposed
to previous traditional norms on the subject?
- buy goods in installments. Little down and pay off the remainder later.
before people still held to the belief that if you couldn’t afford it you don’t buy it
and that way you don’t get into debt.
7. Who was Frederick W. Taylor and why was he important?
- Father of Scientific Management, made assembly lines and factory work more
efficient. Eliminated wasted motion
8. Automobile – List the many of the social and economic effects that the creation
of the car had on the United States.
Social: Americans were no longer isolated culturally. Exposure to new ideas.
Furthered the development of suburbs “vehicle” for the youth to explore.
and be adventurous/. Women were less dependant on men. Less attractive
states lost population./ Consolidation of schools with autobuses./ Hundreds of
deaths/ crime wave of the 1920’s assisted by the get-away car. Actually helped
with pollution for horse manure no longer the breeding ground in all public
Economic: ushered in mass-production assembly line style; affordable even for
the average worker – thus made America mobile; “Spin-off industries – from
gas stations to tire factories to repair shops to road-building companies. RxR
industry was decreasing.
9. Airplane: Identify the following people
Wright Brothers – Kitty Hawk - 1903
Spirit of St. Louis (Charles Lindbergh) – 1927 – first transatlantic flight
NY to Paris
Explain the impact of the airplane on the world.
- aerial bombings during war
- shrunk the world. peoples and countries could no longer be isolated
10. Radio: Who was the inventor and what impact did the radio have on society and
- long-range comm. during the war
- advertising went paperless and allowed more free enterprise
- family and neighbors gathered to listen to favorite shows / standardized idioms
- Sports stimulated
- Politicians had to adjust their message to radio
11. Entertainment – Who and/or what were the following?
Nickelodeons – first 5 c black and white silent movies
The Great Train Robbery – 1st movie (1903)
Birth of a Nation – 1st full length feature movie – KKK and Reconstruction
Talkies – movies with sound
The Jazz Singer – (1927) – first full length talkie
What was the effect of the movie industry on society?
- parochialism of neighborhoods and ethnic communities broke down
- ethnic tastes and preferences were discarded for standardized American
12. Social and Cultural Movements – Identify these people or movements
of the 1920’s that defined the age as the “Roaring Twenties”
Margaret Sanger – birth control
Alice Paul – ERA amendment – never passed
Modernist Churches- Christ was a friend / jettison fundamentalist doctrine
“Flappers” - liberated women that wore dresses to their knees
Dr. Sigmund Freud – nervous and emotional ills caused by sexual repression
Jazz - (list early greats and songs) – Jelly Roll Morton and King Oliver
Paul Whiteman Band – St. Louis Blues
Harlem Renaissance (p. 741 + 743) – What was it and who were its champions?
- Built Af/Am. racial pride by uplifting the Black in America.
United Negro Improvement Association – Marcus Garvey – “African
homeland” – Negroes purchase from black owned stores only. Built racial self-
pride and confidence
13. Literary masterpieces and writers - What did the writers of the 1920’s have in
common? State who wrote each piece and its theme.
- They were disillusioned with conformity, authority and traditional ways
American Mercury (monthly)– H.L Mencken – assailed all things traditional
This Side of Paradise – F.Scott Fitzgerald – “Bible for the Young” – encouraged
A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemingway – about WWI - disillusionment
Babbitt – Sinclair Lewis – portrayal of middle-class conformism
“The Waste Land” – T.S. Eliot – melancholy portrayal of life – influential
poem of the 20th century
14. Bull Market of the 1920’s – Create a picture of the era by defining the business
practices and effect during this decade –
(“buying on margin”, Mellon’s tax reductions, Florida land Boom and Bust)
- period of unbridled investment, people bought stock with credit (margin) and
were fine if the price kept ascending. The Florida Land deal that went sour
should have been a protent of the overspeculation and flimflamery of the era.
Mellon cut the wealthy’s taxes under the belief that they then would have more
money to invest and it would trickle down and help the poor by creating more
jobs. (Shifted the burden to the Middle Class)