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Is it realistic to talk about ONE American society in the 1920’s?

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30th January 2002 Alex Wild 12V Is it realistic to talk about ONE American society in the 1920's? It is unrealistic to talk about just one American society in the 1920's. It was a time where there was infact an extremely divided society, which was not only divided in terms of wealth and area, but also in the way that people were treated. It was divided geographically, in terms of religion, the rights of different people, in the workplace etc. There had previously been a divide between the north and the south, and between the rich and the poor, but the boom period in America made this divide even more distinct. For many people the "roaring twenties" were about shorter working hours, higher pay, and more leisure. But, there was also a large percentage of the population who did not boom. The main two different societies were the north and the south. They differed in culture, and in economic systems. The north was the area which did see the twenties as "roaring" and the south was somewhat left behind. Access to the car opened people up to many new possibilities for entertainment, and there were also many labour saving machines such as the washing machine. There was a developing interest in games, and music and dancing, and new fashions emerged but this tended to be in the industrialised north - an ideal place for new business to begin, leaving the agricultural south behind. ...read more.


One group of people who stood in the way of the WASPs were the immigrants. They were harshly discriminated against, as they were threatening the "ideal" American society, and were taking away jobs for the Americans. The Red Scare was a trigger for the prejudice in America, as people were frightened that communism may spread to them. The uneasy feeling was represented by the number of strikes and then the Palmer raids. The president wanted to track down any radicals and set up a special division called the anti-subversive division of the justice department. The raids were aimed at the union meetings, private homes and infact anything that was remotely controversial or a potential threat. In 1920, 6000 people were rounded up and put into prison or deported. The effect of these raids was to divide American beliefs - those who thought immigrants were a threat, and those who believed that they contribute to society. The trial of Sacco and Vanzetti was also important as it highlighted the divisions and prejudice that was around. They were given the death penalty after an unfair trial of robbery and murder, and were refused a re-trial, just because they were anarchists, anti-war and Italian. They were victims of the discrimination and also of the conservative political mood of the time. If there had been just one society in America, then they would have been treated much more fairly. ...read more.


After this, support for fundamentalists died down but the idea of white supremacy remained, and was reflected in the treatment to blacks and immigrants. It was an example of the splitting society and conflict. For women, the twenties did show some signs of hope. Women gained confidence and began to show signs of confidence. A group called NAWSA was set up in 1890 and it regained more support in the 1910's, and women were on a quest for political emancipation. Their efforts paid off in 1920 when the vote to women became law in the 19th amendment. But, many women didn't know how to use this, and most women didn't want the vote anyway. More and more women were entering the professions, and there was a large increase in the number of women in higher education. However, education did not necessarily mean access to the professions, and society for women was only improving in a limited way. They kept to the more traditional jobs such as teaching and nursing and even if they were in the same job as a male, such as law, they were paid much less. They didn't really have a voice, so it was arguable whether or not they were making much progress. Therefore, in a way, it was one society, but it was far from united. People were all governed under the same laws and had the same president but within that there was a lot of discrimination and conflicts between people, areas and ideas, which split the whole community into pieces. ...read more.

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