Americans have ne’er been diffident about attaching labels to their history. and often they do so to qualify peculiar old ages or decennaries in their distant or recent yesteryear. It is dubious. nevertheless. that any period in our nation’s history has received as many tricky denominations as has the decennary of the 1920’s… “the Jazz Age. ” “the Roaring Twenties. ” “the dry decennary. ” “the prosperity decennary. ” “the age of normality. ” “and merely the New Era”… ( page 198 ) In the 2nd edition of Taking Sides: Reconstruction to the Present.
William E. Leuchtenburg. a history professor. and David A. Shannon. an writer. turn to their places on how the 1920’s received every bit much attending as it did and why it was tagged with such specific categorizations. as noted in the quotation mark above. Leuchtenburg argues that the mid-twentiess was an epoch labeled for its secularized growing of American society. “the demands by freshly enfranchised adult females for economic equality and sexual release.
and the hedonic temper in the state. which produced a young person rebellion against the symbols of the Victorian authority” ( page 198 ) .
Shannon. nevertheless. does non back up the popular impression that the 2nd decennary of the century was one praised because of the “‘flapper. ’ ‘saxophone. ’ ‘bathtub gin. ’ ‘and speakeasies’” ( page 210 ) . Using facts and statistics produced by the developed economic system. Shannon farther explains that the mid-twentiess were labeled by such “shallow” categorizations. because of the self-praise from the imperativeness during and following the decennary. Leuchtenburg’s “The Revolution in Morals. ” illustrates the 1920’s as an epoch of dramatic alteration which would non merely act upon the hereafter of America. but set a standardised profile of Americans to the remainder of the universe. He proclaims that Americans. particularly the newer coevals. had lost their fear for faith. Therefore. society had no involvement in the religious life. but instead in the secular life in which they were physically populating in. A new revolution came about which focal point was the life and clip that people were traveling through at that minute. non Heaven nor Hell. The turning secularisation of the state greatly weakened spiritual countenances.
Peoples lost their fright of Hell and at the same clip had less involvement in heaven ; they made more demands for material fulfilment on Earth. ( page 200 ) He uses adult females as an illustration and how the ideal above became their motive to make their end of release that they had so long strived for. Their extremist energy that sounded the blow of women’s voices across the state and throughout history. “The utmost women’s rightists argued that adult females were equal to work forces. and even more so” ( page 201 ) . The energy that would subsequently make a truly equal state where adult females would portion offices and professions with work forces. outside of the place. This extremist moving ridge was set by the Nineteenth Amendment that had late been adopted during the Woodrow Wilson disposal in 1920. Another jurisprudence that went into consequence were the prohibition Torahs that had ideally created a “dry” state. but realistically was an unsuccessful measure. It was during this epoch that the Americans. turning new rebellious personalities. began bring forthing intoxicant. illicitly. from their ain places. besides known as “bathtub gin. ” Alcohol. being another focal point of the epoch. resulted as sex being an even bigger focal point.
The media of the epoch took its rights to the make bolding bounds by bring forthing literature on sex and psychological science. a consequence of post-World War I. In the old ages after the war. psychological science became a national mania… [ Sigmund ] Freud’s popularity had an inevitable consequence on the ‘revolution of ethical motives. ’ It was assumed that unless you freely expressed your libido and gave mercantile establishment to your sex energy. you would damage your health… Americans in the 1920’s became obsessed with the topic of sex. ( pages 203-4 ) Music was another illustration that Leuchtenburg uses to portray the rebellious American spirit of the mid-twentiess. “the Jazz Age. ” It was the music of the black adult male. that was non merely a hit among the black society. but the white society every bit good. Traditional dances were non as popular. in fact the was rather diminished during this epoch. Alternatively. the Jazz Age brought away more modern-day. more animal dances like the celebrated Charleston and the fox jog. Victorian dance signifiers like the walk-in yielded to the fast-stepping Charleston. the Black Bottom. and the slow fox jogs in which. to the syncopated beat of the wind set. there was a “maximum of gesture in the lower limit of infinite. ” ( page 205-6 )
These dances. like everything else during the epoch created an unbelievable sum of contention. like new things ever do. While broad Americans tried to take portion in their new civilization of hot dances. involvement in sex and psychological science. illegal production of intoxicant. the enjoyment and distribution of intoxicant. the American woman’s extremist and liberated psyche. and the enjoyment of it all. conservativists. including the hard-core Republican presidents of the epoch. radius against the passion that overtook the state. Censorship measures were rather common among the provinces. that instead than wholly snuff outing the fire of the new American rebellious spirit. it blew and made the fire grow. “Threatened by censoring measures in 36 provinces. the industry made a gesture toward reforming itself” ( page 205 ) . The American broad became the icon of the epoch and or decennaries to come. David A. Shannon’s “American Society and Culture in the 1920’s. ” on the other manus. reflects on the 1920’s as a decennary of “prosperity and economic growth” ( page 210 ) .
He argues rather strongly with the popular categorization of the epoch as an age of partying and rebellion. He claims that it is unfortunate and naif to label such a comfortable decennary as frivolous. therefore nonmeaningful one. To the authors who wrote and/or who are composing about the mid-twentiess. Shannon responds to their literature of the speculation that Americans treated themselves to an all-you-can-eat rebellion counter for a full decennary is through and through pathetic. He defends his place by proclaiming that the hyperbole of the exciting mid-twentiess. specifically made by authors. was a consequence of the great depression during the 1930’s. The 1920’s seemed to be a more attractive image. a “carefree existence” that had one time existed but was now diminished because of the deficiency of moderateness in fundss and societal civilization. therefore doing a dramatic bead in the “strong” American economic system. The reading of the epoch is that America went on a hedonic orgy for about a decennary. Obviously. such a word picture of an era is shallow and exaggerated…The great alteration in the conditions of society and the temper of the people after 1929 is the root of the cause of funny historiographical aberrance.
The ghastliness. desperation. and dowdiness of America in the 1930’s likely prompted authors to look back at the old decennary with a sort of nostalgia for a more unworried being and led them to look lovingly and excessively long at what were really shallownesss. ( page 210 ) It is of import to observe that Shannon’s purpose is non to extinguish the flappers. the wind. and the media from this age. but instead to exceed these symbols of the epoch and look beyond the frontage that sets the profile of the 1920’s. For illustration. Shannon discuss the fundss and the economical state of affairs of the United States during a clip that had proceeded World War I. At this clip the United States had become a universe power after its triumph as an Allie against the Austro-Hungarian government. where non merely was it the pop civilization and the manner Godhead for the remainder of the universe. but it was besides really comfortable and comfortable financially and economically. During the postwar epoch. before the 1930’s when the United States faced a dramatic bead in the stock market. the 1920’s faced minor “dips” that caused and helped the alterations that occurred during the decennary. For illustration. during World War I. many of the adult females stopped have oning girdles and frock with extra stuff. because the stuff and the fundss were needed for the war.
Therefore. to no one’s surprise. when the war had ended. and with adult females winning new release after the Nineteenth Amendment was put into action. the consequence was a new manner that required less than half the stuff originally needed to do frocks that were popular before the war. This set the manner for the flapper epoch. but economically it was a negative impact on occupation chances for textile workers. interior decorators. and dressmakers. “The universe market for fabrics declined when women’s manners changed. A frock in 1928 required less than one-half the stuff that a dressmaker needed to do a frock in 1918” ( page 211 ) . Then how did the mid-twentiess become such a comfortable age? Shannon uses the car as an illustration that reflects greatly on the development of American criterions and manner of life. After 1915 when the American discoverer. Henry Ford built his ill-famed Model T. the car industry in the United States grew more and more. particularly after the war when the demand for autos and occupations grew. therefore people were acquiring more occupations. while going a prima international car manufacturer. Cars seemed to be one of the “new age” things to hold ; anyone who was anyone at the clip. owned a auto.
The ownership of the car resulted in the development of the American place and the household. itself. For the clip period. Americans were technologically one of the most developed states in the universe. The usage of electricity. the wireless. and contraptions like vacuities. chainss. and rinsing machines had grown vastly during this epoch. Shannon besides comments that because of the high demand for these contraptions meant that the labour cost and chance was high every bit good. therefore making more occupations and at the same time doing greed and over production of merchandises. which would ensue in the great depression of the 1930’s. Finally. a point that Shannon concludes his essay with is the logic of instruction at the clip. Since. the war had merely ended. soldiers were returning with no anterior instruction to carry through the lone occupation chances on the market. In consequence of the demands. the soldiers went to colleges and universities. doing an flood. nevertheless. carry throughing the occupations that were needed to run the high demand merchandise corporations and besides puting a new illustration for coevalss to come. “…Enrollments increasing from about 600. 000 in 1920 ( larger than usual with soldiers returning from World War I ) to about 1. 200. 000 in 1930.
The greatest addition came to the vocational fields…” ( page 218 ) After carefully reading both of the brooding essays. I came to the decision that although Leuchtenburg’s essay seemed more entertaining and merriment with his descriptions of the “Roaring Twenties. ” Shannon’s statements seemed much more in deepness and more realistic. I think that Shannon truly added a 3rd dimension to the mid-twentiess by depicting the fiscal position of the epoch which. in bend. helps us as readers get a better apprehension of why the depression of the 1930’s was such a dramatic 1. I besides think that Shannon truly hits the mark when he described the person of the mid-twentiess. By 1929 the typical American had become a mass adult male. He worked for a immense industrial corporation ; he bought mass-produced articles made by the big corporation ; he more than probably lived in an flat house or in a little abode that differed small from 1000s of others ; he read mass newspapers ; he attended Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer films and listened to national wireless plans ; he avidly followed the athletic feats of Babe Ruth and Red Grange– and wonderfully. he voted for Herbert Hoover because the Great Engineer praised “rugged individuality. ” ( page 218 )
Personally I find this description to be an acceptable. logical. and practical profile of the American person of this epoch. This paragraph sums both essays. because Shannon does non denounce the being or the influence of the flapper and the wind age. but he does alter the focal point from the popularly labeled image to a more practical. yet hidden. image of the 1920’s. The 1920’s was a decennary of rebellion and prosperity. It was a jubilation of America’s expansive triumph as an allied force during World War I and an development of fundss and demands of the portion of the corporations and the American society. With a sable fiscal and economic foundation. Americans had the clip to concentrate on edifice civilization and media. A new personality was invented. the broad American. Womans were now persons with rights and freedoms equal to work forces.
The development the new sexual adult female had come approximately and in coaction with the new black-influenced music. wind. the flapper was created. The focal point was no longer on the middle-aged group in society. but instead on the younger group that was puting new tendencies for their state and the remainder of the universe. The “in” was booze. wind. the Charleston. and the flapper while the passe was the prohibition jurisprudence. classical music. the walk-in. and the dominant adult male. The 1920’s was genuinely a revolution of a new America and its ideals. that would be interrupted by the Great Depression and World War II. but would pick up in the 1960’s where America would confront more challenges but with a full-blown point of position.
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