1920s American History Essay

The 1920’s was a decade of reform in almost every aspect of society. Things were becoming modernized, and despite many objections to progression, this roaring decade served as a bridge from old to new in more ways than one (Doc. B.). America soon became divided between modernists and traditionalists and tension was built amongst the two due to what was considered unsatisfactory behavior of women, contemporary beliefs, and revolutionary entertainment. Women’s rights and comportment, the new consumer’s society, the Harlem Renaissance and the new principles of this decade paved the road for Henry Ford’s new Model T, and a whole new America.

Women were changing their role in society and causing the jaws of many to drop. Clothes became more revealing, things such as the flapper dress, were shorter and left less to the imagination. A woman could also be commonly found with a cigarette in her hand, it may have been frowned upon, but the animosity served merely as encouragement (Doc. G.). They wanted to be treated equally as men, and soon became very independent. Divorces became more frequent as time progressed and as the necessity for a husband slowly decreased (Doc. H.). Women began proving themselves equal and sought after a more fulfilling and amusing life. They certainly put the “roaring” in the roaring twenties.

The economy was booming and it was a true consumer’s society. Things such as installment buying sent industry soaring. Advertising was everywhere and controlled the minds of many consumers, giving power to industry (Doc. .A.). People were easily persuaded and easily entertained. The public enjoyed a new type of music, literature and art known as the Harlem Renaissance. This revolution of the arts was the ultimate expression of Negro life. The new negro movement was truly in vogue and was just as part of the 1920’s as anything else. Even white people would flock to the negro cabarets just for the sheer amusement of watching negroes dance, and play the newly created form of music known as jazz (Doc. E.).

Despite the overall development of society, there were many who fought to retain their traditional ways. Notably, the Klu Klux Klan; they fought for Americanism and claimed to represent the plain and uneducated people (Doc. D.). They were opposed to blacks, Jews, Catholics and many other minority groups, while most were white native protestants. The Klan fought with violence and destruction and were considered somewhat of a vigilante. Citizens also began to test the law.

Perhaps inspired by prohibition many sought to do what they thought necessary disregarding the law. The Scopes trial took place in Tennessee and was the first trial every to played live on radio broadcast. It occurred when a local school teacher taught the theories of evolution against order, and it was truly a case between traditionalists and modernists, literal readers of the bible and evolutionists (Doc. C.). The school teacher was convicted guilty, but paid hardly any sentence. These new beliefs caused controversy and brought America to a new level of freedom, and a different take of the first amendment.

This decade was truly the bridge of old to new, tradition to modernism. The American people sought for more in life, and wanted to truly embark on their rightful pursuit of happiness. Negroes and women worked for equality and others fought for a halt to progression. Regardless, the 1920’s introduced the American people to look at life in a whole new way and is very influential to the way society is today.