Transition to Modern America The Second Industrial Revolution



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Transition to Modern America



The Second Industrial Revolution


  • consumerism – after the sacrifices of the war era, several factors combined to allow Americans to purchase consumer goods at affordable prices, creating a new consumer culture

    • new products were developed and new technologies, including electricity, sparked consumer interest

    • automobiles had the biggest impact on American life in 1920s

      • replaced the railroad industry as the key to economic growth

      • allowed freedom of travel and required more attention to road construction

      • other industries depended on autos (steel, glass, rubber, gasoline, roads)

    • mass production (assembly lines) permitted the faster, cheaper production of a large supply of goods (which also meant lower cost for those goods)

    • mass media advertising tactics (magazine ads, billboards) preyed on the public’s desire for more consumer goods, using persuasion and seduction to entice buyers

      • Bruce Barton’s The Man Nobody Knows (1925)

        • Barton depicts Jesus Christ as “the founder of modern business” and “the world’s greatest business executive”

        • the book presented a strong Jesus, which brought Christianity to many businessmen; but it also epitomized the pseudo-religious nature of business in 1920s America

    • installment plans (credit) allowed Americans to purchase more expensive items (radios, autos) and make payments over time

  • radio

    • the first radio station was KDKA in Pittsburgh

    • by 1930, over 800 stations existed nationwide and radios were in 1/3 of all homes

    • national stations (NBC, CBS) allowed people to listen to same programs nationwide; facilitating development of a national culture and lessening regional differences

  • movies

    • over 80 M movie tickets were sold per week in the 1920s (US pop. was 110 M)

    • "talkies" – the first motion pictures with sound

      • Al Jolson starred (performing in “blackface”) in first “talkie,” The Jazz Singer

  • celebrities – for the first time, America had non-political or non-military heroes of national fame

    • athletes included: Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, Gertrude Ederle, Jim Thorpe

    • entertainers included: actors (Rudolph Valentino, Greta Garbo, Clara Bow, Charlie Chaplin), musicians (Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin)

    • popular heroes included: Charles Lindbergh (Spirit of St. Louis), Amelia Earhart

Women and the Family

  • the 19th Amendment (1920) marked the beginning of a change in women's roles; contrary to some men's fears, women did not vote as a bloc

  • women at home

    • time-saving new appliances eased household burdens on homemaking women

    • this did not necessarily increase the number of women in workforce, however; the modest increases in working women during WWI were lost soon afterward as men returned home in search of hard-to-find jobs

  • "flappers" – young, rebellious, modern women who symbolized the “new woman” of the 1920s

    • flappers defied traditional mores by wearing short skirts, short hair, makeup, and dancing the Charleston

    • flappers engaged in casual dating and sex; drinking. smoking, and driving in public

    • despite their symbolic importance, most American women in the 1920s were not flappers and frowned on this rebellious trend

  • significant trends for women and the family

    • divorces increased

    • birthrate declined due to marriage at later age and increased use of birth control

    • adolescence was becoming a more distinct stage of life, and non-working children were struggling to conform to the traditional expectations of their parents

The Roaring Twenties



Art, Literature, and Music



  • artists

    • Edward Hopper – realist painter of city scenes; his paintings depicted the loneliness of urban life

    • Charles Burchfield –paintings stressed effect of industrialism on small-town America

  • "Lost Generation" of American writers

    • refers to the 1920s authors who were disillusioned by (and thus bitterly condemned) the ideals of the older generation, who had led the world into WWI; they scorned the sacrifice and romanticism of war

    • they also rejected the materialism of the 1920s consumer culture; they repudiated the glorification of industry and business

    • many turned to alcohol or left America for Europe, particularly Paris

    • prominent “Lost Generation” writers included:

      • F. Scott Fitzgerald – This Side of Paradise, The Great Gatsby

      • Ernest Hemingway – The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls

      • Sinclair Lewis – Main Street, Babbitt

      • Ezra Pound (expatriate poet)

      • T.S. Eliot (poet) – The Waste Land, The Hollow Men

The Harlem Renaissance and Jazz

  • during World War I, many African-Americans migrated North to fill jobs; by 1930, almost 20% of blacks lived in the North, many concentrating in the Harlem neighborhood of NYC

  • the Harlem Renaissance refers to a collection of talented actors, artists, musicians, writers, who developed a unique and sophisticated black culture centered in Harlem

  • much of the art and literature of the Harlem Renaissance expressed pride in the uniqueness of black culture

  • the Jazz Age

    • southern blacks brought jazz music north to St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, and eventually New York; jazz and the blues caught on nationwide in the 1920s

    • jazz became a symbol for the carefree, rebellious, and modern attitude of the 1920s

Marcus Garvey and Black Nationalism

  • Marcus Garvey

    • more radical in his views than Washington or even Du Bois, Garvey advocated black pride, separatism, and a pan-African nationalist movement

    • Garvey established United Negro Improvement Assoc. (UNIA) in Harlem in 1914

      • UNIA stressed black nationalism, economic self-help, and separation from white society

      • published a weekly newspaper, the Negro World

    • he founded the Black Star Line, a black-owned steamship corporation, to put his principles of black pride and economic independence into practice

  • Garvey’s ideals of black nationalism and independence helped inspire the “black pride” movement of the late 1960s and 1970s, most notably in groups like the Nation of Islam and the Black Panthers
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