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American Life in 1920s and 1930s

The American life was centered on four main elements. They were prohibition, Model T, jazz age, and organized crime. The economic boom and prosperity transformed the life of Americans. They began to show interest in literature, music and film.
The prohibition was the culmination of the progressive era. Progressive era was the response to political and corporate abuses at the turn of the 20th century. A number of social reformers worked to heal the ills of the society. Led by anti-saloon league and the Women Christian Temperance Union, the US Congress passed the 18th Amendment. It was known as National Prohibition Act or Volstead Act. The Act came into effect on January 16, 1920. Even before the act was passed, most of the states had already banned alcohol. The Act was condemned by a large group of people in United States, as they viewed it as an encroachment into their constitutional rights. The prohibition was not only supported by the women but also the industrialists. Women supported the prohibition because the use of alcohol was connected with wife beating and child abuse. Industrialists like Henry Ford supported it because drinking will affect the labor productivity. The proponents of the prohibition argued that the outlawing of alcohol would end political corruption and improve the standard of the immigrants.
It is true that the law banned the production, sale and transportation of alcohol, but it resulted in the rising crime rate. One of the major results of the prohibition was gangsterism. People like moonshiners distilled alcohol illegally and the bootleggers sold it. The prohibition quickly created bootleggers, speakeasies, moonshiners, bathtub gin, and rum runners. Gangsters like Al Capone exploited the anti-prohibition environment. The prohibition destroyed the brewing industry of the nation. The drinking was also encouraged by the jazz age. During that period, Al Capone, nick named as Scarface controlled almost 161 illegal distillery drinking establishments. He followed a policy of eliminating all of his competitors by mass killings. There were mass murders in the city of Chicago as Al Capone was concentrated in the city. Only few of the murders were proved. Al Capone continued his illegal activities unabated using his money and influence. He also bribed the police officials and threatened the witnesses. The law enforcement agencies failed to control the illegal distilleries. Al Capone made money by gambling and he engaged in prostitution. Finally, when the police found no concrete evidence against him, he was arrested for income tax evasions and sentenced to eleven years of imprisonment. The public opinion turned against prohibition as there was rising criminal activities. In 1933, prohibition was repealed by the 21st amendment.
The rise in demand for the consumer in goods during 1920s led to a consumer culture in United States. The economic boom and rising wages added fuel to consumerism. For example, consumer goods like cars, refrigerators, radios, cookers etc were produced in large numbers. Henry Ford manufactured Model A cars in 1903. When he found that it was a success, he turned towards the production of Model T cars in large numbers. The production was based on assembly line method and it reduced the cost of the cars. Model T car became the symbol of America and it had transformed the life of Americans. The price of the Model T car came down to $250 that many working class people could afford it. Car, which was a luxury before was transformed to necessity due to mass production technique of Henry Ford. The demand for car also benefited other industries like oil. New and smooth roads were constructed throughout the country. The cars changed the American life in a greater way that they viewed the life in a different perspective. Foods and crops were able to transport from far and wide via trucks. People also began to settle away from the cities. This led to the development of suburbs.

The end of the World War I resulted in the victory of the Allied nations, but in home, the war tired the youngsters. The booming economy and newly found independence resulted in the development of a unique culture known as jazz age. Many Americans found themselves in the jazz culture of African Americans in Harlem. There were jazz artists such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. The jazz age also represented the freedom of women in society. In 1920, the 19th amendment gave the women, the right to vote. The increased financial freedom gave the American women independence. The young people led a rebellious lifestyle against the traditions of the orthodox American society. They attended the drinking parties and followed sexually suggested steps. The era was also known as the decade of flappers. The women of that period had short hairs and skirts. They also led an independent life. The modern trend in America was followed only in cities and not in rural areas. However, the rebellious lives of the Americans were used in advertisements and journalism. It was also a period of sexual revolution. Sex was not a taboo and it was openly discussed. Premarital sex was common and it ultimately led to the promotion of birth control.

The period also witnessed the cultural flowering of the African Americans known as the Harlem Renaissance. There was a large number of black migration from the south to Northern cities especially Harlem in Newyork. Blacks also migrated to cities like Chicago and Washington DC. The Harlem Renaissance brought great activity in the field of writing, art and music. One of the great poets of the time was Langston Hughes who published "Weary Blues" in 1926. Many of the literary figures of that time wrote against the activities of the lost generation. Prominent among them were F.Scott Fitzgerald, who wrote "This side of paradise" and "The Great Gatsby." Other notable literary figures who wrote in the postwar society were Sinclair Lewis who wrote "Babbitt." Some of the writers disgusted with the American way of life lived in Europe. One such writer of the period was Ernest Hemingway who wrote "The Sun Also Rises" and "A Farewell to Arms". Gertrude Stein was an American writer and poetess of the 20th century, who lived in Europe had impacted the American culture. The other important writers include T.S Elliot, Sherwood Anderson, H.L Mencken, and Eugene O'Neill.

One of the most important scientific innovations of that period was radio. Thousands of people had radio at that time as there was a spurt in consumer goods. Availability of cheap electricity enabled the Americans to hear their favorite programs through radio. There was a huge growth of advertising industry through radio. People listed to news, speeches, comedy, music and sporting events through radio. The era also witnessed Hollywood talkies as there was a boom in cinema industry. Glamorous actors had great popularity and dominated the American pop culture. The events and personalities mentioned above had happened during the same period (1920s and 1930s) and had great impact on the society.

Solution Preview

All the main elements mentioned had some comparisons. These events had happened during 1920s and 1930s. After the World War I, there was a great boom in the American economy. Higher wages, rising profits, and new technologies enabled the Americans to buy consumer goods. The new wave of prosperity helped Americans to find pastime. The rapid change in American culture led them to show interest in literature, music, film etc.

The prohibition was the culmination of the progressive era. Progressive era was the response to political and corporate abuses at the turn of the 20th century. A number of social reformers worked to heal the ills of the society. Led by anti-saloon league and the Women Christian Temperance Union, the US Congress passed the 18th Amendment. It was known as National Prohibition Act or Volstead Act. The Act came into effect on January 16, 1920. Even before the act was passed, most of the states had already banned alcohol. The Act was condemned by a large group of people in United States, as they viewed it as an encroachment into their constitutional rights. The prohibition was not only supported by the women but also the industrialists. Women supported the prohibition because the use of alcohol was connected with wife beating and child abuse. Industrialists like Henry Ford supported it because drinking will affect the labor productivity. The proponents of the prohibition argued that the outlawing of alcohol would end political corruption and improve the standard of the immigrants.
It is true that the law banned the production, sale and transportation of alcohol, but it resulted in the rising crime rate. One of the major results of the prohibition was gangsterism. People like moonshiners distilled alcohol illegally and the bootleggers sold it. The prohibition quickly ...

Solution Summary

This solution comprised of American life during 1920s and 1930s. Four terms were interrelated with each other. They were prohibition, Model T, Jazz generation, and organized crime. There was a period of prosperity after World War I and this resulted in the spurt of consumer goods. The American culture was also fastly changing. The era witnessed pop culture, Hollywood talkies and radios

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