Was the decade of the 1920’s a period of opulence for the American people

The 1920’s in America are known as the roaring twenties, which suggests that everybody in America was benefiting from this industrial boom. For the first time in American history there were more Americans living in towns and cities than in the countryside. Throughout America many new cities were springing up. Because people were flocking to live in cities such as New York, skyscrapers were built to accommodate the growing population.

Traditional values held by people living in the countryside were being undermined by people living in the local cities. Farmers in the countryside felt that their way of life was being threatened by the growing cities where they felt morals were not so high.

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The entertainment industry also grew. People in the cities did not work such long hours, so had more time for leisure and more money from their jobs. People had more time to listen to the radio, jazz became popular and the film industry was developing. During the 1920’s movies became a billion dollar industry. Sex was widely acclaimed at the cinema and because of this people felt that morals were reduced.

Developing the motorcar meant that people could travel a lot more helping the cities to grow.

America was a country of immigrants which had people from 15 different countries in its population. Immigrants were allowed jobs but the rapidly growing population left many people without jobs. People started to resent new immigrants, causing racism to develop between different race people.

The period of the 1920’s was a period of luxury for people with a lot of money, as new technology had been developed and was available to those with jobs. The car was developed which allowed people to visit places that they had never been before. The radio was invented and that allowed people to listen to music regularly and because of this jazz became a popular style of music. Choices of programs to listen to grew and gave people a wide variety to listen to. The telephone was invented which allowed people to communicate easier and quicker with people far away.

Skyscrapers were being built which caused the city to grow and gave a lot more job opportunities to people.

New jobs were also available in the car industry as the sports car popularity grew. More people were required to assemble the cars in the factories. The wages for workers in the car industry increased by eleven percent as mass production was introduced. Mass production allowed large quantities of cars to be built in a short time to keep up with the growing demands for new cars. The cars were available in one color: black. This meant that more cars could be made as the specifications were always the same for whoever bought them. Credit was introduced which allowed people to purchase anything, even things that they couldn’t afford, and not have to pay for it at that time. This was good for some but a lot of people found themselves deeply in debt with not enough money to pay back what they owed.

The period was bad for a lot of people; for example farmers. Farmers were told to overproduce by the government in case of another world war and this left a lot of farmers with too much produce, which they had no need for. Overproducing meant that farmers had to destroy large amounts of crops that no one needed.

Because of the large amounts of immigrants that were moving to live in the supposed “land of the free” the Klu Klux Klan was formed. The K.K.K was a group of men that had a strong dislike for people who were black, African American or Jewish. They were known for their large white cloaks and white hats and for their enjoyment of killing black people because of their race as they believed they were inferior. The K.K.K would murder people in various horrible ways. The most common of this was lynching (hanging) in which they would a hang somebody from a tree in full view of the K.K.K and anybody passing by. The K.K.K would show that they were operating somewhere by burning any religious cross that they came across.

Prohibition was introduced. Prohibition was the banning of the selling and drinking of alcohol. This decreased the amount of money made by trade within the city as people couldn’t make money by selling alcohol. Gangsters started an illegal trade of alcohol; creating speakeasy’s which was the name for illegal bars. Alcohol that was traded was known as moonshine and a lot of people made a lot of money by selling it, the most famous of this was Al Capone. Al Capone became one of the richest men in New York because of his dealings with alcohol. This allowed him to have a strong hold over the police forces and made it very difficult to prosecute him because of this. Al Capone made 60 million dollars a year out of his speakeasies and used his power to “take over Chicago”. To defend his business from rival gangs Al Capone had his own private army of people who fought with other gangs. His gang had four hundred police officers working for him which allowed the murders of one hundred and thirty rival gang members without anyone being charged.

In an attempt to isolate itself from the problems that were occurring in Europe, America put high tariffs on any imports or exports from different countries. This caused America to lose money as the amount of international trade that was happening dropped. The little amount of money being brought into the country and the large amount of money being spent with the introduction of credit, America became a very unstable economy. The price of shares increased until in October, nineteen twenty nine, the Wall Street stock market crashed. This caused a deep international depression and all of the prosperity of the 1920’s disappeared.

Although the 1920’s was a period of luxury for many people and a period of rapid growth and prosperity for America, many of its inhabitants suffered, particularly farmers and coloured people. I think that the bad sides of this period (debt, gangsters, the Klu Klux Klan, lowered moral standards) that caused death, destruction and depression for millions of American people outweigh the good events of this period.

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