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How America Went From The Roaring 20’s To The Great Depression

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The time period in US American History known as “The Roaring 20’s and eventually the The Great Depression refers to a decade, of economic prosperity in major cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, London, Berlin, and Paris. It was an era of mass consumerism, with the bloom of Jazz, flappers, and the Harlem Renaissance redefining arts and cultures for African Americans. As an age of great change in social and political aspects as people indulged in new styles of dancing, dressing, and rejecting traditional moral standards and more Americans living in cities rather than farms, the nation's wealth more than doubled so it embodied the beginning of a modern America. The stereotyped view of the roaring 20’s as a decade of cultural milestones with increased personal freedom, wealth, jazz, radio, movies,illegal liquor, cars and prosperity was ubiquitous, although not for everybody. With a growing consumer culture based on credit, and a lot of prejudice toward immigrants it eventually led to the end of the economic boom and brought the worst crisis that America saw-- sending Wall Street into a panic, and essentially wiping out millions of investors. The dramatic end to prosperity was the result of an ordinary recession that turned into the Great Depression. Meanwhile in the midst of this was the bringing of the Harlem Renaissance with its large significance to the African American experience as it marked a moment when white America started to recognize the intellectual contributions of Blacks. moral spirits were high since America along with the Allied Powers had defeated Germany. There was a major shift in living conditions as people went from rural to urban areas, so big cities became central with new technologies, advanced medicine, roads, expressways, electrification, telephone lines and a flourishing economy. The use of refrigerators, toasters, washing machines, and vacuum cleaners meant that americans had more time for leisure, and this was provided by radios, games, boxing, vacations, dances like the charleston and foxtrot. Jazz was popular for its spontaneity and flare, capturing the new record industry that by 1924, there were more than 2.5 million radios in American households Meanwhile, things were changing for women as well, as they found numerous ways to express liberty with. fashion changing from the traditional Gibson Girl to the controversial flappers as young women wore their hair short, tight dresses with hemlines above their knees, and their outlook on the sexualization of women were beginning to be stood for. Liberation had its limits though, as women were still expected to marry, have children, and find their independence at home. Henry Ford’s assembly line concept is one of the most predominant ideas implemented since productivity rose dramatically when older industries adopted this techniques and new instsidties like electronics, aviation, and chemicals, grew to provide Americans with products and many jobs. annual production of cars then tripled to 4.8 million so by 1929, and half of all American families owned a car. Moreover american corporations extended their reach overseas in foreign investment, making it greater than any country worldwide so by the end of the 1920’s, america was producing 85% of the worlds’ cars and 40% of its overall manufactured goods. In Politics, Coolidge was re-elected president and J. Edgar Hoover was appointed to head up the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1924. Then In 1928 Herbert Hoover was elected president, and he shifted the country away from the economic regulation which was favored by progressives. The government was now able to help business grow largely by not regulating it, this is called laissez faire capitalism. The republican party dominated politics in the 20s since all the presidents elected in this time were conservative republicans. Prosperity in the 1920’s wasn’t equally distributed through the population though since by 1929, only 1% of the nation's banks controlled 15% of financial resources and the wealthiest 5% of american’s share of the national income surpassed the bottom 60%. And still about 40% of Americans were living in poverty. However Wall street was often considered a hero because by 1920, around 1.5 million Americans owned stock. But in 1930, 75% of american homes didn’t have washing machines and only 40% had radios. Meanwhile the agricultural area suffered since as farm prices kept dropping. While many had prospered during World War 1 providing food for american soldiers, farms had expanded enormously, and the government subsidized farm prices to keep them producing, but when subsidies ended, farmers incomes dropped, and many foreclosed their property. Even though it's tempting to see the stock market crash as the cause of the great depression, it's not actually the case. it did begin after the crash, but not because of it since the underlying economic condition in the US beforehand were already going downwards. So it’s actually series of multiple factors, the biggest being Americas weak banking system. Since the 1920’s was based on large-scale domestic consumption of products, much of it was fueled by credit and installments which as seen today didn't turned out successful. With the panic, depositors rushed to take money out of banks, but they went under since most didn’t have enough money on reserve. Ultimately, this led credit to freeze up and later destroyed the economy. As less money was in circulations, it led to deflation and when prices dropped, businesses reduced costs by cutting off workers, so they couldn't buy products which would have continued the build up of inventories, but since it was otherwise, prices drop even more. Banks also weren’t lending money so employers couldn't borrow any to pay workers their payroll, so when thousands of businesses when bankrupt, workers were left unable to purchase goods and services which would have keep businesses open so ultinaly, the Great Depression can be blamed on the failure of banks. Thento make matters worse, when the world needed trade, America’s response was to raise tariffs to it’s highest with the Hawley Smoot tariff aiming to protect the america’s industry but since Europe added high tariffs as well, it led to less buyers for american goods, declied trade, and in the end fewer jobs. The gold standard was a monetary system where a country's currency or paper money has a value directly linked to gold. So with America refusing to let go of the gold standard, which would have allowed the governments to devalue their currency and pump needed money into their economies, it led to the markets freezing up even further. So it started to take shape with well over 10 million people out of work. Hoover famously claimed that no one starved, but thousands were searching trash cans for food everyday and many were forced to use the relief programs.There were shantytowns for the homeless called Hoovervilles and there were protests like the bonus march on washington by veterans seeking an early payment. His solution was to encourage private charity through “president's organization on unemployment relief for the 800,000 people who were unemployed. In the end, the recovery of the Great Depression was largely a result of the abolishment of the gold standard and the New Deal from Franklin Roosevelt. In many countries, the negative effects of the Great Depression lasted until the beginning of World War II having left destructive effects in both poor and rich countries. More than 3,000 banks had failed by 1930 and many Individuals lost their money too with speculation beginning, the society was shocked and people began to withdraw their money quick, and by the end of the decade around 9,000 banks had closed. There was an even darker side to the Roaring Twenties though, since some troubling and events like, organized crimes, prohibition, nativism and the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan in a new and improved form, propelled by the hyper patriotism from during World War 1, making them denounce immigrants, jew, and catholics as less than 100% American and so the mid 20’s the klan accumulated over 3 million members marking it the largest private organization in Indiana. As more immigrants came from Europe, white protestants became more concerned about losing their dominant position in the social order, and eventually the first immigration restriction bill was passed in 1921 limiting the number of immigrants from europe to 357,000. These restriction were also greatly influenced by fear of anarchists ideas in regards to race since whites were seen as scientifically superior to people of color so president Coolidge signed the 1924 immigration law with the idea that “America must be kept American”. Nonetheless, America today has been able to recover from these troubling years of economic failure and political matters but there is still a long way to go in regards to social issues since it hasn’t fully been resolved in regards to African Americans and immigration affairs. But despite these not being settled and smooth, it’s safe to say that progress is what matters, and as long as America continues to practice what has worked for the government and its people for the past decades, we shouldn’t have to face any issues like the Great Depression again.

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How America Went From The Roaring 20’s To The Great Depression. (2022, August 12). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 21, 2024, from
“How America Went From The Roaring 20’s To The Great Depression.” Edubirdie, 12 Aug. 2022,
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