C32 - American Life in the Roaring 20s - 1919 - 1929 Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in C32 - American Life in the Roaring 20s - 1919 - 1929 Deck (36):

Andrew Mellon

US Treasury Secretary in 1921 who put in place tax policies that encouraged business investment. This helped to cause 7 years of roaring economic activity from 1921-1929.


Charles Lindbergh

Hero aviator (pilot). In 1927, he flew his single-engine plane the "Spirit of St. Louis" from NY to Paris. 1st time a plane had flown west to east across the Atlantic.

Gave a strong boost to the new aviation industry and made the world "smaller" by making it easier to get to foreign countries.

His infant son was kidnapped for ransom and murdered. The nation was shocked, and congress passed laws making abduction over state lines a death-penalty offense.


Saco and Vanzetti case

Criminal court case in 1921 that was influenced by the anti-red, anti-foreign mood and prejudice.

A prejudiced jury convicted these 2 men of murder using evidence that was a bit shaky. Because the men were foreign and anti-war the jury was prejudiced against them.

They were sentenced to death and became martyrs for the Socialists and Communists of the world.


William Faulkner

Author who wrote Soldier's Pay, The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying, in the 1920s.



More modern religious thought in the 1920s - As opposed to more fundamentalist old-school religious thinkers.



1920s women who changed their appearance from modest to more sexy: shorter skirts, stockings, short hair, makeup, cigarettes, and 1-piece swimsuits. Women were yearning for independence, wild abandon, devil-may-care attitude.


John T. Scopes

1925 - Monkey Trial - Scopes was a high school biology teacher who taught evolution. There was a law against this in TN. William Jennings Bryan, a Fundamentalist, testified against Scopes. Criminal lawyer Clarence Darrow made Bryan look foolish on the stand. Bryan died 5 days later of a stroke.

Scopes was found guilty and fined.


Immigration Quota Act

1924: Congress passed this law that set Quotas which limited immigration and discriminated against people from certain Eastern and Southern European countries.

Japanese immigrants were completely shut out--none allowed in to the US.

Latin American and Canadian immigrants were let in with no restrictions...they were good workers were needed and were sent back home when not needed.


William Jennings Bryan

William Jennings Bryan, a Fundamentalist minister, testified against Scopes in 1925. Criminal lawyer Clarence Darrow made Bryan look foolish on the stand. Bryan died 5 days later of a stroke.


progressive education

Idea of Professor John Dewey which transformed Education in the 1920s. "learning by doing" instead of just studying facts.


F. Scott Fitzgerald

Only 24 when he published This Side of Paradise in 1920. This became very widely read by young people.

Also wrote The Great Gatsby.


Margaret Sanger

1920s Feminist who supported and spoke about contraceptives for women, as part of an overall Women's Rights movement.


Emergency Quota Act

1921: Congress was reacting to outrage over new immigrants coming to the US. They especially did not like immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe (like Italians).

The national mood was isolationist and anti-foreigner, and this law was passed to deny or limit immigration.


buying on margin

A way to buy stocks with only a small down payment (borrowed the rest). Caused financial ruin to people whose stocks dropped, but they still owed the $.

Many people bought stocks this way to try to get rich quick.


Al Capone

"Scarface". Also called "Public Enemy #1". From 1925 to 1931, this Chicago gangster made millions of dollars and killed many rival mobsters. He ruled the streets of Chicago but was never arrested for murder. He did go to prison in 1932 for tax evasion.


John Dewey

Professor who helped to reform Education in the US in the 1920s. He believed in "progressive education" and "learning by doing".


Ku Klux Klan

The KKK was anti Black, anti-Catholic, anti-Jewish, anti-Pacifist, anti-Communist, anti-internationalist, anti-revolutionist, anti-alcohol, anti-gambling, anti-adultery. They were PRO: white/anglo-saxon and pro-Protestant.

In 1925, the KKK had 5 million members.

KKK collapsed by the late 1920s as decent Americans were repulsed by their violent actions.

The rise of the KKK did show the intolerance and prejudice that was widespread as people were anxious about the fast pace of social change in the 1920s.


Volstead Act

1919: Law that helped implement the 18th Amendment - Prohibition.

This was one of the last laws passed, coming out of the Progressive Reform Movement. It was loudly supported by churches and women's groups who thought alcohol and saloons and especially men's drunkenness were ruining society.

This law did not last long as Americans were not used to being told what to do in their private lives. Also, many immigrant groups did not see alcohol as a vice...it was a normal part of life and socializing and meeting at the corner beer garden or saloon.

Enforcement of Prohibition laws was also almost impossible.

Prohibition never really "prohibited". "Speakeasies" sprung up everywhere.

People drank illegal "bootlegged" liquor (illegal, "black market") from "rum-runners" from Caribbean Islands or from Canada. Some people made their own gin (sometimes it was deadly). The illegal alcohol trade spawned shocking crimes and Gangsters because there was so much money involved. Wars between rival gangsters and mobsters were so bad that about 500 mobsters were killed in Chicago in the 1920s. Police were bribed into silence and almost no mobsters were brought to justice.



The opposite opinion of the progressive education backers. Fundamentalists believed that teaching Darwinian evolution and certain scientific ways of thinking were destroying faith in the Bible and causing moral breakdown of youth.


A. Mitchell Palmer

US Attorney General in 1919, who rounded up suspected Communists during the "red scare" mood that had hit the US around 1919. His nickname was "Fighting Quaker". A bomb shattered his house in Washington DC.


Frederick W. Taylor

Inventor and engineer who came up with techniques that made manufacturing more efficient. Led to the ability of manufacturers to make ever better products more cheaply. Cars especially.


Bruce Barton

Founder of the new profession of "advertising". A way to make Americans want and buy "more, more more" by making them feel discontented with the things they had.

This was a way to sell all of the products that were coming out of US factories.

Wrote the bestseller: "The Man Nobody Knows", where he claimed that Jesus was the greatest advertiser of all time.


red scare

1919-1920: National mood in US for several years that started with the 1917 Bolshevik (Communist) revolution in Russia. Communists and left-wing, liberal believers were treated badly, some arrested, some deported to Russia.

5 members of the Socialist party were elected to office in NY, but were denied the ability to take their seats and serve.

Some states passed laws against speech that sounded too Socialist, left-leaning or Communist in nature. This was a violation of the US Constitution, which guarantees free speech.

This was a time of anti-foreignism and "anti-redism".

Also a time where business leaders denounced labor unions as "socialist". They called for "open shops" or non-union factories.

This feeling of "red-ism" even affected the outcome of a criminal court case, where the jury was prejudiced against the accused because they were immigrants and anti-war.


Clarence Darrow

Lawyer in the Scopes case (Monkey Trials).


H. L. Mencken

Author in 1920s who wrote American Mercury. He criticized many American Institutions like: marriage, patriotism, democracy, Prohibition, Puritans.


Henry Ford

Industrial wizard who put American on "rubber tires". Created the Model T. He had a 1-track mind: the will to create techniques to standardize a factory (make standardized parts) - this developed into assembly-line production - called "Fordism". His methods made it so economical to make a car, that most people could afford one. In mid 1920s the Ford roadster was $260. By 1920, 1 in 4 Americans owned a car.


Florida land boom

1925. One sign of economic trouble, among the generally prosperous boom years of the 1920s. Many people had bought overpriced land in Florida. Much of it devastated by a hurricane.


Sigmund Freud

Dr. from Vienna who argued that sexual repression was responsible for many nervous and emotional ills.

This became justification for some for the new sexual frankness of the 1920s.


Sinclair Lewis

Hot-headed, heavy drinking journalist. Wrote Main Street and Babbitt - stories about repression involved in the American Capitalist system.



National mood that was anti-foreigner.

The KKK even flourished at this time. The KKK was anti Black, anti-Catholic, anti-Jewish, anti-Pacifist, anti-Communist, anti-internationalist, anti-revolutionist, anti-alcohol, anti-gambling, anti-adultery. They were PRO: white/anglo-saxon and pro-Protestant.

Nativists tended to think that blue-eyed, blonde-haired Northern European immigrants were of better blood than anyone else. They even discriminated against immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe (like Italians).


Ernest Hemingway

Author who, of all of his peers, was most affected by WWI (he fought in Italy). Had some criticisms of the war. Wrote The Sun Also Rises (1926), A Farewell to Arms (1929). He was troubled - died of suicide in 1961.


Langston Hughes

Author in the 1920s, who along with other black authors and black musicians (jazz) in Harlem, NY helped to create a black cultural renaissance, where blacks had new pride and argued for the "New Negro" who was equal to whites.


Marcus Garvey

Jamaican born political leader - founded United Negro Improvement Assn. Harlem NY was home base - he inspired large groups of black Americans.


Buying on Credit

New idea in 1920s. "Buy now - pay later" idea where people borrowed $ to get goods now: like refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, cars and radios.

People got further into debt, which made the booming economy vulnerable.


Radio Revolution

wireless telegraphy was invented in the 1890s, used during WW1. Next came voice-carrying radio.

During the 1920s, families would gather around the radio.

This made for big social, cultural and even political change as more Americans could hear the same information at the same time. Companies began to advertise on the radio, which caused economic change too.


Film Revolution/Hollywood

Thomas Edison was one inventor who first invented the film in 1890. In 1903 the 1st story sequence movie: The Great Train Robbery was featured in 5-cent theaters called "nickelodeons".

Hollywood became the movie capital of the world, with advantages such as maximum sunshine.

1927 began a new era - "talkies" where sound was included - movies were no longer silent. "The Jazz Singer" was the first movie with sound.

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