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To what extent did America roar in the 1920s?

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Introduction

To what extent did America roar in the 1920s? In the 1920s America was the land of golden opportunities. It has the reputation of being a glamorous decade where people lived in prosperity and happiness. Indeed, this period has often been described as the 'Roaring Twenties' and this name suggests a time of riotous fun, loud music and wild enjoyment when everyone was having fun. This essay will explore whether life in 1920s America really did 'roar' for everyone. America joined the First World War on the side of the Allies in 1917 and made the deciding contribution that bought about the defeat of Germany. They came out of the war as the world's leading economy and in 1926, the government announced that the standard of living in the USA was the highest it had ever been in the country's history. The 1920s was a decade of contrasts. On the one hand there was a booming economy which made cheap, mass-produced consumer goods available to people in a way that had never been seen before. It was the age of the car and mass-entertainment, which bought about major changes in the American way of life. Attitudes to women improved and people began to accept their wider role in American society. However, on the other hand, not far below this seemingly perfect surface lay poverty, racial conflicts and violence. The 1920s saw the introduction of prohibition and the rise of gangsters and gang wars. Changes in industry and the introduction of new technological advances left many Americans in a poverty trap from which they could not escape and in the land of plentiful food, farmers could not earn enough money to support their families. The popularity of the Ku Klux grew, as did the number of immigrants, and the Wall Street Crash paved the way for worldwide depression. This essay will investigate which groups found the 1920s to be a time of wealth and indulgence, and which groups found it a decade of poverty and intolerance. ...read more.

Middle

Compared with most countries, America was the land of hope and dreams. They had the highest standard of living in the whole world and people were keen to cash in. However, the Immigration Act of 1921 limited the number of immigrants to 5% of the number of their nationality who were already living in America. In 1929 immigration was cut down to only 150,000 a year. New immigrants who arrived after World War One faced wide-spread discrimination. They took whatever work they could since there were often less educated than other workers. A large number worked in construction where there was a building boom but their wages only rose 4% in the 1920s because immigrants were a supply of cheap labour and more of the work was becoming mechanised. The unemployment rate amongst new immigrants remained high throughout the decade. By the 1920s attitudes to immigrants had been changing for some time. Americans were suspicious of foreigners and this led to a widespread intolerance of foreigners. There was not as much land available and as industry became more mechanised, the need for workers declined. Also, Americans believed that the quality of immigrants were declining with many of the newer immigrants having little or no formal education. The 1920s did not 'roar' for immigrants because they faced a lot of discrimination, but did not have to fear dictatorship or war. On the other hand, the 1920s did 'roar' for gangsters who were generally immigrants from Europe, although they were the exception. Native Americans were also greatly affected by the waves of immigration and they were gradually forced off their land and assimilated into white society. Mass immigration did not 'roar' for most American citizens because they believed that immigrants were just taking up all the space in America and stealing all the jobs. However, employers would have liked the immigrants because they were so desperate for a job, they were prepared to put up with low wages and poor working conditions. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, they ended up produced surplus food which nobody wanted so the money spent on the machinery had been wasted. Life in the 1920s 'roared' for women because this was the decade which saw a change in attitude to the role of women in society. They faced less sexism and it became more acceptable for a woman to have a job other than being a mother and wife. However, this change in way of thinking did not 'roar' for older generations because they would not have approved of these changes and might have been bitter that things were not like that in their day. The Wall Street Crash had a huge impact on most people's lives since a large proportion of the American population owned stocks or shares so the collapse of the stock market did not 'roar' for them because they would have lost a lot of money. However, the Wall Street Crash 'roared' for experts in the stock market because they saw the crash coming and quickly sold their shares before prices crashed. However, by the end of the decade no matter who you were, America no longer 'roared'. This is because when the Wall Street stock market crashed, the American economy collapsed and the USA entered a long depression that destroyed much of the prosperity of the 1920s. In conclusion, you cannot really say that the 1920s 'roared' since it didn't for everyone. America was a melting pot of different nationalities and one thing does not apply for everyone. Whether or not the 1920s 'roared' depended on who you were, what job you had, the amount of money you owned and where you lived to name but a few factors. Whilst there is no doubt that the 1920s were a time of turmoil for many Americans, for those who joined in 'the party', it was a time of liberation and rebellion against traditional values. For those who did not, it was a time of anxiety and worry. All this combined to make the 1920s a decade of contrasts. Alison Cheung Page 1 ...read more.

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