The 1920s

  • Sacco-Venzetti case: Two people executed due to a violence that had little evidence linked to them. Symbolizes an alien threat to many native born people

  • Calvin Goolidge became president after Warren Harding’s death from heart attack in 1923

  • Annual automobile production tripled during 1920s

  • By 1929, half of all Americans owned a car

  • Dollar replaced British pounds to be the most important currency

  • American companies produced 80% of the world’s cars and 40% of manufactured goods

  • Cocacola became a symbol of American life, benefited by prohibition

  • 1929 movie attendance was doubled compared to 1922

  • Radio and phonographs helped the spread of celebrity culture

  • Charles Lindbergh, who made the first solo transatlantic non-stop flight in 1927, became the decade’s first celebrity

  • Work became path to individual fulfillment of entertainment

  • 1% of the banks controlled half of the US’s financial resources in 1929

  • General Motors, Ford and Chrysler controlled 4/5 of the industry

  • 40% of the nation remained in poverty

  • Manufacturing workers declined by 5%

  • Farm production raised when the demand dropped and government subsidies ended, causing a decline in farm incomes

  • 3 million people migrated out of rural areas

  • LA population rose from 575,000 to 2.2m

  • By 1928, 1.5m people owned stock

  • Welfare capitalism: the employers provided employees private pensions, medical insurances, job security, and better workplace safety

  • Equal Rights Amendment (ERA): motherhood, individual autonomy, and the right to work

  • Every female organization apart from National Woman’s Party opposed ERA because it means to eliminate mothers’ pensions and laws limiting women’s hours of labor

  • Only 6 states ratified ERA

  • Sexual freedom meant individual autonomy

  • Flapper: public smoking and drinking, birth control, short skirt

  • Edward Bernays persuaded women to smoke and called it “torches of freedom” because a girl was arrested in 1904 for smoking in public in NYC

  • Marriage still confines a woman to home

  • Vote turnout dropped
    • Shift from public to private concerns

    • One party politics in the South

    • Republican dominance

    • Enfranchisement of women

  • Conservative Supreme Court under William Taft

  • Muller v. Oregon

  • Adkins v. Children’s Hospital: overturned a minimum wage law for women in D.C.

  • Harding’s administration became one of the most corrupt government in the US history

  • Attorney General Harry Daugherty accepted bribes

  • Albert Fall leased the government’s oil reserve at Teapot Dome and became the first cabinet member to be convicted of a felony

  • Calvin Coolidge defeated John W. Davis, who was nominated on the 103rd ballot in the national Democratic convention, in 1924

  • Fordney McCumber Tariff of 1922 raised tax on imported goods to the highest in the history

  • American soldiers withdrew from the Caribbean in 1925, returned soon to suppress a revolt, and finally left in 1933

  • Artistic works with sexual themes subjected to censorship

  • Customs banned 16th century French paintings

  • Hays code: prohibited movies from depicting long kisses, nudity, and adultery

  • American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): helped to bring the “rights revolution”

  • Schenck v. United States: The Supreme Court upheld the conviction of Eugene V. Debs

  • Supreme Court voided a Kansas law to authorize censorship of the press


  • Families would gather around the radio

  • Go to movie theaters -> escapism

  • Advertisements
    • Respond to demands before the 20s

    • Create demands after 20s

  • Democratization of automobile
    • People (white and wealthy) move to suburbs

    • Car culture
      • Drive in restaurants and movie theaters

    • Motels

    • Teenagers had more freedom

  • Credit culture

  • Women could vote, have education and jobs

  • The great migration

  • The Harlem Renaissance
    • A strong element was protest

  • Scopes Trial

  • Garveyism

  • The National Origins Act (Immigration Act of 1924)
    • Limited the immigration of a country to 2% as of 1890

    • 200,000 Italian immigrated each year before the year -> 40,000 after