From the point of view of farmers, minorities and labor, were the 1920’s the “Golden Twenties” as often portrayed?
BY: ROBERT TANNER
U.S. History 101.5
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Drowne, Kathleen, and Huber, Patrick. The 1920’s. Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2004.
Irving L. Bernstein. The Lean Years: A History of the American Worker 1920-1933. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1960.
Sage, Henry J. The Roaring Twenties. (October 11, 2006): Internet. http://www.sagehistory.net/twenties/Twenties.htm. November 25, 2009.
Williams, Betty. The 1920’s. London: Batsford, 1989
The 1920’s or the “Roaring Twenties” were a time in U.S. History of great change. This period could be described as the “Golden Twenties”, where many discoveries and inventions of great importance were made, prosperous industrial growth, increase in the standard of living, rise of consumerism, and significant changes in people’s lifestyles. But were the 1920’s “Golden” for everyone? In my essay I will first take a look at the “Golden” aspects of the twenties, highlighted by some of the inventions and discoveries that took place during the era, which helped define and shape the twenties, and follow that up with the farmers’ point of view on the twenties. First off, let’s take a look at some of the stuff that defined the 1920’s. The 1920s, or the “Roaring Twenties” were a decade in which nothing big happened, no major catastrophes of large events, at least until the stock market crash of 1929, yet it is one of the most significant decades in U.S. history because of the great changes that came about in American society. The Twenties were known by various images and names: the Jazz Age, the age of the Lost Generation, flaming youth, flappers, radio and movies, bathtub gin, the speakeasy, organized crime, confession magazines, Hemingway and Fitzgerald, Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, Bobby Jones, the Great Crash, Sacco and Vanzetti, AL Smith, cosmetics, Freud, the "New" woman, the Harlem Renaissance, consumerism, all these images and more are part of the “Golden” Twenties. In fact, the 1920s may have been the decade of the greatest social change in American history. Reacting perhaps to both the disillusionment from the First World War and against the strictures of Victorian culture, Americans abandoned old ideas with a vengeance and adopted new concepts wholesale. It was also a time of deep divisions: wets (for repeal of prohibition) against dries, town against country, natives versus foreigners, Catholics against Protestants; the decade also saw a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan and an American sense of alienation from the rest of the world. The decade began amidst the ashes of the Great War, blossomed into a riotous age of spending and profit making, cheap automobiles and new consumer products. Everybody seemed to be on a roll. Then in 1929 the Crash hit the stock market, and for many complicated reasons the Great Depression followed. It was a decade of huge figures, heroes of the kind we don’t see any more, or not often: Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, Bobby Jones and others. Americans started going to the movies and listening to the radio in enormous numbers, and they found themselves becoming more affluent as the markets rose, seemingly without end. It was a time of new awakening for African-Americans, many of whom had fought in France, and the Harlem Renaissance opened Americans to Black literature, poetry, music and other arts of a quality never seen before. Literary figures like Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe brought white American literature to a new plane as well. The Progressive movement was not dead in the twenties, a Progressive Presidential candidate got almost 5 million votes in 1924, but it was not an activist decade. Everybody knew what Harding meant when...
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