This chapter covers the many changes in American life in the 1920s. After the war, Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover continued to encourage a foreign policy that would enhance American capitalism. A second Industrial Revolution of sorts took place, based on greatly expanded use of electrical power, a flood of consumer goods, easy credit, and new scientific management methods. The “Auto Age” produced profound changes in American life and housing patterns. Some areas such as agriculture, railroads, coal mining, and textile manufacturing did not share in the post-war prosperity. A new mass culture defined by radio, movies, music, newspapers, and advertising encouraged a kind of national community. Some groups such as the Ku Klux Klan resisted modernity, but met with mixed results. The postponement of democratic promise continued to stir reaction in women’s groups, in Mexican Americans and most especially the “New Negro.” Intellectuals tried to put into writing the alienation and doubts connected with headlong pursuit of material prosperity.
After reading this chapter you should be able to:
Describe the structural changes in the American economy that developed in the 1920s and the effects those changes had on American life.
Explain how Hollywood movies and other vehicles of mass culture created a new national community.
Describe how the new media of communication, particularly radio, reshaped American culture in the 1920s.
Summarize the continuities of the Republican administrations of Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover in domestic and foreign affairs.
Summarize the types of resistance to the major cultural changes of the 1920s.
Outline the efforts of various reform groups, ethnic groups, and intellectuals to redefine their missions, reshape their strategies and reexamine the material direction of modern American society.
Discuss the various connections between mobilization techniques used during World War I and events and behaviors during the 1920s. (Review Chapter 22.)