U.S. History 1920-1940

U.S. History 1920-1940

During this time period of American history, the country could not have been more contrasting than from 1920 through 1940. The twenties were a period of fun, partying, and economic security hence the term “roaring twenties”. While the nineteen thirties were known as the time of the “Great Depression. ” From 1920 to 1940 our country saw five presidents, the first flight around the world, the completion of the worlds largest dam, a depression, prohibition, women given the right to vote, and new musical expressions. The 1920’s began shortly after World War I when the Americans and the Allies defeated the Germans in 1918.

It was a dawn of new politics in America when congress finally passed the women’s suffrage bill and the 19th Amendment became law, giving women the right to vote. Some twenty five million women had won the right to vote. This would play a major role in the up coming election. Many Americans were fed up with Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president from 1913 to 1921. The first election of the twenties saw Warren G. Harding win and become our nations 29th president. Unfortunately, Harding died before finishing his term and vice president Calvin Coolidge took over to become our 30th president. At the end of this term Coolidge was reelected in 1924.

The United States had one of the greatest periods of prosperity ever during his presidency from 1923 to 1929. Great technological advances were also made in the 1920’s. Our nation witnessed the first flights around the world. Inventions such as cars and radios improved the standard of living for the common man. These inventions as well as the conservative economic pollicies added to a huge economic boom. “The economy experienced growth of seven to ten percent in six years of the twenties” (Vanguard, facts on funds). Later, many of the economic procedures in the decade would lead to danger especially in the stock market.

The nations total income rose from 74. 3 billion in 1923 to 89 billion in 1929. “(Vanguard facts) In the 1920’s, pop culture thrived. Radio became a large form of entertainment. Jazz developed as a new form of music. Louis Armstrong, a trumpeter from New Orleans among others, led the emergence of jazz. During this time the Harlem Renaissance gained recognition, led by Langston Hughes it produced great accomplishments in poetry as well as jazz. In contrast to the twenties where people were having fun and enjoying economic security, the thirties were a very dark time for our nation.

The “Great Depression” was the worst economic slump ever in U. S. history. The depression began late in 1929 and lasted for about a decade. Many factors played a role in bringing about the depression; however, the main cause for the “Great Depression,” was the combination of the unequal distribution of wealth throughout the 1920’s and the extensive stock market speculation that took place during this time. This speculation kept the stock market artificially high, but eventually lead to large market crashes. These market crashes, combined with the maldistribution of wealth caused the American economy to capsize.

For the American people prosperity seemed destined to go on forever, and the stock market reflected the gains with steadily rising prices. However, by the summer of 1929 the stock market, fueled by speculation, was so far out of touch with economic reality that business began to slow and profits started to decline. Americans had a saying at the time, “we mortgaged not only the future, but the hereafter” (pretty scary). In September the market broke; in October it crashed. For the next ten years the economy was in an economic whirlpool sinking fast. Another blunder of this era was the passing of the 21st Amendment, “Prohibition.

Prohibition was passed at the beginning of the twenties, but was not enforced? Prohibition was a period when the sale, manufacture, or transport of alcoholic beverages became illegal. It started January 16, 1919 and continued to December 5, 1933. Although it was designed to stop drinking completely it didn’t even come close. It simply created a large number of bootleggers who were able to supply the public with illegal alcohol. During the 1920s and into the thirties, as the conflict over Prohibition grew and lawlessness spread, new political alignments took place.

Those opposed to Prohibition began drifting to the Democratic Party, while those favoring it voted Republican. In 1928 the Democrats nominated Alfred E. Smith–a candidate strongly opposed to Prohibition–for the presidency. He lost, but in doing so he carried many of the major cities. A new Democratic coalition was emerging. In 1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Democratic candidate, was elected president. Even before he was inaugurated, Congress adopted a joint resolution proposing the 21st Amendment. Upon its ratification in December 1933, the 18th Amendment was repealed, and Prohibition came to an end.

Another tragedy of the time was the Hindenburg exploding into flames over Lakehurst, New Jersey. After having made ten successful round-trips across the Atlantic Ocean, the Hindenburg exploded in flames as it came in to dock at the Naval Air Station in Lakehurst, N. J. , on May 6. The craft was destroyed in just one minute, with 35 of the 97 people aboard perishing in the flames. The cause of the disaster was never identified, though there was speculation that a spark from the zeppelin’s engines or atmospheric static electricity ignited highly inflammable hydrogen gas leaking from the craft, causing the explosion.

The possibility of sabotage against Nazi Germany was widely rumored but never proven. In conclusion, the 1920’s were one of the most prosperous periods in American history because it reflected in every aspect how to enjoy life. The prosperity of the people influenced society, culture, and politics. The thirties were a complete 180 degrees from the twenties. During the 1930’s prosperity crashed with the stock market and the nation fell into an economic slump that took years to climb out of. I don’t know if our country will see such contrasting decades ever again, but one thing will definitely hold true “learn from your mistakes. “

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