The Tensions of the Old and New During the 1920s

Topics: Ku Klux Klan, Scopes Trial, Clarence Darrow Pages: 3 (1089 words) Published: October 30, 2008
After witnessing the devastating, yet human-induced tragedies of World War I, the psyche of America was never the same. They abandoned their fundamental beliefs that the Western Civilization was not a model, but flawed society and turned their attention towards internal affairs, signaling the beginning of American isolationism. As William Allen White put it, Americans were “tired of issues, sick at heart of ideals, and weary of being noble.” The Roaring Twenties reflected this rejection of tradition ideals as consumerism and sexual revolution swept the nation. In the 1920s, the boom in technology, coupled with cultural and social developments led to tensions between the old and new. The manifestation of these conflicting ideals was a focal point of the Election of 1920 and Scopes Monkey Trial. The reform movements and Woodrow Wilson’s staunch moral legislation preceding the 1920s were a source of exhaustion for the American public. The American public was disillusioned with the failed League of Nations, and quickly embraced the Election of 1920 as what the victorious Warren G. Harding put it, “the return to normalcy.” “The return to normalcy” was essentially calling for the return to the older and simpler times in America, which also condoned American isolationism. Warren G. Harding and his successor, Calvin Coolidge’s presidencies embodied the return to a laissez faire economy with their pro-business stance. The Fordney-McCumber Tariff of 1922 and Smoot-Hawley Tariff protected American companies to foreign companies. Treasury Secretary, Andrew Mellon was also successful in lowering income taxes for the wealthy. Their disdain for liberalism was apparent with their lackluster reform legislations passed in office, but they left office with high approval ratings as a result of that staunch conservatism. The reemergence of the Ku Klux Klan nativism was another key topic of these administrations with the passing of the American Immigration Act of 1924 and the Chinese...
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