The 'Roaring' Twenties Pt 1 Flashcards Preview

EMWH - Paper 1: The USA 1919 - 48 > The 'Roaring' Twenties Pt 1 > Flashcards

Flashcards in The 'Roaring' Twenties Pt 1 Deck (13)
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Starter for 2


How did Charles Lindbergh represent the 'spirit' of the age? [2]


  • He flew across the Atlantic -
  • Battled against financial problems, technical problems & bad weather.
  • 'anything was possible spirit' - just like the 1920s.


Starter for 2


Describe one social change in the 1920s [2]

  • Urbanisation was a key social change - people were moving from the countryside to the towns.
  • Skylines of major cities like New York grew - and the percentage living in towns & cities continued to grow.


Starter for 2

Describe one policy of the Republican Party in the 1920s [2]

  • The policy of Laissez-Faire.
  • The idea that government should not interfere in business - the captains of business know what is best for their companies.


Explain why the 'Roaring Twenties' got their name. [10]


Factor 1: Social changes



(Starter 1) A key reason was that there was a dramatic change in leisure and entertainment opportunities in the USA at the time...

  • Radio and cinema led the way - Radio widespread: Only 1 licensed Radio station in 1921 - 508 a year later. NBC made $150 million a year. Cinema grew up around LA (Hollywood) and became a multi-million $ industry. New stars such as Charlie Chaplin, swashbuckling Douglas Fairbanks, and Mary Pickford - household names. Talkies in 1927.
  • Music also contributed - known as the 'Jazz Age'  music swept across the nation and Jazz especially captured the imagination of the young who danced the Charleston and the Black Bottom! Women especially captured the spirit of change - embodied by the 'Flapper'. Young women who abandoned the restrictions of a previous age and wore their hair short, drank, smoked and danced to jazz.
  • In sport 


Explain why the 'Roaring Twenties' got their name. [10]


Factor 2: Economic prosperity

(Starter 2) Furthermore, the term 'Roaring 20s' suggest a new outlook towards society, and there were some positive and significant economic changes in the USA at the time..

  • Economic growth - American became the first major consumer society with demand for goods rising by 20% over the period.
  • GNP went from $78 to $100+
  • There was a strong sense that the USA was prospering like never before - as sales of cars, radios, and household goods soared. Mass production meant vast quantities of cheap goods in a wide range of materials were readily available in chain-stores and from mail order firms - credit allowed ordinary Americans to share in this.
  • The automobile especially symbolized the era as it altered the way people lived their lives, offering new possibilities such as holidays and the pursuit of other leisure opportunities, such as sport
  • Many other industries such as construction, chemical and electrical prospered.
  • All this gave a strong sense of US society 'roaring'


Explain why some industries prospered in the 1920s [10]


Factor 1: Government Policy & a 'state of mind'

(Starter) Central to the growth in prosperity in the USA in the 1920s was the attitude and policies of the US Government which provided the preconditions for economic growth.

  • This attitude was summed up by Warren Harding - President who promised a return to 'normalcy' after WWI and a comment that 'The business of America was the business'. Harding had many experienced and capable businessmen in his cabinet, including Herbert Hoover (he later became a Republican)
  • The key belief was 'laissez-faire' - the idea that government should interfere as little as possible - business can look after itself - they knew what was best for their companies, not the government. The encouraged the growth of huge 'trusts'. Allied to this was the idea of 'Rugged Individualism' - that US citizens would work hard for what they needed and contribute to the growth through their endeavours.
  • They also tried to protect US business through tariffs - such as the Fordney-McCumber tariff (1922) - this put taxes on imports, thus protecting US companies, allowing them to benefit.
  • The Government also kept taxes as low as possible - people would spend their disposable income on consumer goods, thus creating their own cycle of prosperity.
  • This contributed to creating a 'state of mind' in which US citizens were confident - they changed their thinking from 'saving for a rainy day' to borrowing on credit in order to participate in the consumer boom. This is also reflected in the fact that 20 million had invested in the stock market by 1929.






Explain why the US experienced economic growth in the 1920s [10]


Factor 2: Economic advantage, resources, and new industries

(Starter) The US also prospered in the 1920s because it has vast natural resources, it benefitted from WWI, new industries and a consumer society which combined to create growth in the US economy.

  • USA had been selling weapons and equipment to the Allies at the start of WWI, and the German chemical industry had been destroyed so the US chemical industry benefitted. This advantage was helped further by US natural resources - oil, coal and plenty of arable land to feed its population.
  • New industries played a very important role - especially the automobile industry (central to creating a cycle of prosperity) The production line and standardization = increase in production (By 1929, 5 million Fords on the roads). 
  • Consumer society: Telephones, washing machines, vacuum cleaners coming off the production lines - high volume low costs = more people could afford them. Allied to new marketing techniques and the availability of 'credit'


'The 1920s saw a revolution in the lives of American women.' How far do you agree with this view? [18]

Part 1

(0 - 9 marks)

Supporting information


Social & economic

Supporting the argument:

(Starter) There is some validity in the view that there was a 'revolution' in the lives of US women in 1920s as there was much social, economic & political change that affected them. 


  • ALL women had been granted the vote (19th amendment) in 1920. (Thanks to the work of the NAWSA and women's role in the war)
  • Getting the vote gave women some political influence. For example, during the campaigns to introduce Prohibition and later to end it, politicians paid attention to the views of women because they needed their support in elections.

  • NWP (National Women's Party) had put forward 600 pieces of legislation in 1920s promoting women's equality, health and working conditions. (300 were made law) including:

  • The Sheppard-Towner Act (1921) was a significant piece of legislation -  (Provided $2.6 million to tackle state maternity and child health care) Child mortality rates dropped as result.

  • By 1928, 145 women had seats in 35 State governments and 2 were State Governors, but these were the exceptions. 

Social & Economic: 

  • By the end of the 1920s there were significant changes to the role of women 
  • The number of working women increased by 25 percent. Helped by the consumer industry
  • 'Flappers' challenged old expectations of how women should conduct themselves - they smoked in public, danced the new dances, and were sexually liberated. Women wore clothing more convenient for activity and stopped wearing long skirts and corsets.
  • Divorce was made easier and the number of divorces doubled - women were not content just to stay at home and put up with bad husbands. (Social emancipation)
  • Increased use of contraception changed sexual habits.


'The 1920s saw a revolution in the lives of American women.' How far do you agree with this view? [18]

Part 2

(10 - 14 marks) if you have done part 1!

Challenging the statement


Social & economic

(Starter) Whilst there were improvements and changes to the lives of women, some things remained the same.


  • There was a breakthrough, but politics remained the domain of men.
  • Women were more 'pressure' groups than having any direct bearing on legislation. They failed to get the EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT through which would recognize men and women as equals in the eyes of the law.
  • Black women, especially in the South had other obstacles which prevented them from voting
  • Political parties did not think women were electable - it would lose them the votes of men!

Social & Economic

  • Working class and rural women could not afford the new fashions and they didn't have the time to go out and enjoy social events.
  • Black women could not benefit from the changing lifestyle due to discrimination and poverty.
  • Many women in the Bible Belt did not take part because they disapproved of the immorality. (Skirts going up, morals coming down)


'The 1920s saw a revolution in the lives of American women.' How far do you agree with this view? [18]

Part 3


(14 - 18 Marks) 

YOU MUST HAVE a clear sense of 'HOW FAR'

Pick-up on the word 'revolution'


  • Note: The key to your conclusion is in understanding the term 'revolution' and addressing this.
  • The second order concept is 'continuity and change' if you can talk about this you will be doing well.


  • On balance, there was certainly a great deal of political, social and economic change to the lives of women in the 1920s, but to say this represented a revolution is probably an overstatement.
  • This is because so many things remained the same and not all women participated in the changes. 
  • It was mainly young, rich women who enjoyed a carefree, independent lifestyle. Life for many did not change. Poor people, especially in working-class areas and in rural areas such as the Midwest, could not afford the changes.
  • Moreover, not all women even approved of these changes which makes it hard to believe it was a genuine 'revolution'.




Why was it introduced?


  • Two key organisations: Anti-Saloon League & Women's Christian Temperance Movement
  • These movements campaigned actively and put forward strong social arguments, mostly that drinking damaged family life and caused mental health problems. 
  • Strong and effective campaigns - They claimed 3,000 infants a year were smothered by drunken parents. Salons portrayed as dens  of vice that destroyed family life.
  • During WWI the campaign was intensified - Most big breweries were run by Germans - so drinking was seen to be unpatriotic.  Drink was also linked to Bolshevism - communism thrived on drink and alcohol would lead to lawlessness, especially within eh immigrant communities.





Explain why prohibition was repealed in 1933 [10]

TWO developed explanations are enough.





 Arguably the primary reason why prohibition was repealed was that it was had failed to set out what it what meant to achieve: the “noble experiment”—was undertaken to reduce crime and corruption and solve social problems - all it did was make them worse - in fact, the US had seemed to become a lawless country.

  • Serious crime had been reduced during the 19th century - prohibition reversed that trend and crime became organised
  • Gang leaders such as Al Capone and Bugs Moran battled for control of Chicago's illegal drinking dens known as speakeasies. Between 1927 and 1930 more than 500 gangland murders took place.
  • There weren't enough Prohibition agents to enforce the law - only 1,500 in 1920. (And 1 in 12 was fired for corruption!)
  • The size of America's boundaries made it hard for these agents to control smuggling by bootleggers. The coastguard said it would be necessary to have vessels stationed every 500 yards along the coasts. About 2/3rds of liquor came from Canada.
  • The court and prison systems were stretched to the breaking point, and corruption of public officials was rampant. Prisons became overcrowded!
  • Prostitution and gambling also increased - not what the Christian temperance movements had hoped for!
  • Philadelphia: A jury found a city magistrate guilty of taking $87,993 in liquor bribes during his ten months in office. That’s about $1,250,000 in today's money.

  • In Chicago, Capone famously had the major, William Hale Thompson under his influence

Secondly, the US people simply rejected it - called a 'noble experiment', in 1929 the  Wickersham Commission reported that Prohibition was not working -

  • Many Americans never gave their support to Prohibition and were willing to drink in speakeasies - bars that claimed to sell soft drinks but served alcohol behind the scenes. This was especially true of urban areas.
  • People made their own - moonshine. Agents seized neraly 300,000 stills.
  • Even members of Congress ignored it - George Cassidy a bootlegger, provide 25 deliveries of alcohol every week to members of Congress.
  • The law had an inbuilt contradiction - it only banned the production, not the consumption of alcohol!
  • As Capone said, 'All I do is supply public demand'.
  • It led some drinkers to switch to opium, marijuana, patent medicines, cocaine, and other dangerous substances, including industrial alcohol! 

Finally, and a significant reason was economic

  • It has been estimated that during Prohibition, $2 billions worth of business was transferred from the brewing industry and bars to bootleggers and gangsters. This meant the government was receiving nothing n tax revenue.
  • Also, the cost of policing prohibition was huge - the resources being used to enforce it could be used elsewhere and legalising alcohol would create jobs and raise tax revenue.

Thus, it is not surprising prohibition was repealed (December 1933) by Roosevelt at a time when the depression was beginning to bite.


For most Americans, the 1920s were a time of great improvement.' How far do you agree with this statement? [18]


Part 1 - Provide information that might 'validate' the statement.

Think political, social & economic

(Starter) There were certainly many Americans that saw an improvement in their lives during the course of the 1920s.

  • Women - politically - won the right to vote in 1920 and became more influential in politics. In society - they gained greater social freedom and independence - e.g Flappers - much more liberated. Economically there were greater opportunities in the workplace - female employment rose by 25% .Some argued their lives got easier because of the introduction of household consumer goods...
  • Many men who lived in towns also saw economic improvement - in the towns and cities, there were great job opportunities in construction and new industries such as the automobile, chemical industries and making consumer goods.
  • Many industrialists gained great wealth people like Henry Ford and Rockafeller, the boss of STandard oil made fortunes.