Rebellious Twenties vs. Conformist Fifties

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The Rebellious Twenties versus the Conformist Fifties:
What a difference thirty years can make

There is a great amount of contrast between 1920s America and 1950s America. While the 1920s was a time for rebellious youth and flappers, the 1950s was a time for conservative family values and conformity. This is interesting considering that both decades come on the heels of a world war that rocked the nation each time, yet inspired such different reactions. Some might argue that Americans were more mature following WWII because of their experience handling the fallout of WWI, but there does seem to be some similarity in foreign policy, perhaps as a result of each war. However, things were quite different politically, economically and socially in each decade. The political climate of the 1920s was vastly different from that of the 1950s. The election of President Harding in 1920 was more of a reaction against Wilson and his “moral overstrain” of progressivism than one of total support for Harding. The New York World reported that “the American people wanted a change and they have voted for a change. They did not know what kind of a change they wanted, and they did not know what kind of change they have voted for.” Harding was in favor of big business and wanted less government in big business and more business in government, and his presidency is now known for its numerous scandals, such as the Veterans Bureau and Teapot Dome scandals.

Following Harding’s passing, Coolidge – a man who had been through every level of government – assumed the presidency. During the Boston police force strikes, Coolidge said there was no right to strike against the public safety and it marked him as an upholder of law and order. Coolidge’s presidency is associated with the “golden glow of Coolidge prosperity” and the lawless decade, age of the flappers, flaming youth and jazz. However, there was a severe misdistribution of wealth, overproduction, speculation,...
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